This article was translated by John R. Bopp

The Canadian daily The Star (The Toronto Star) has the largest readership in that country, with a readership of 400,000.  It’s been publishing a series of articles under the title “Undeniable: Canada’s Climate Change” analyzing how “in each province, in each territory, in thousands of towns and cities, in the First Nations and Inuit Communities, climate change in Canada is a reality”.

Among these articles, they dedicated one specifically to analyzing how these alterations are affecting Red Bay, declared a Canadian Historic Site by the national government and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  This was done because of the footprint the Basque whalers left in that part of the world, which is of incalculable historical value and which researcher Selma Barkham made known to the world.

It’s true that the article also speaks about other historical places located on the coast of Canada, but it’s clear that the core of the journalistic work is centered on this place that is so important for the history of the Basques and of Canada.

This magnificent article by Katie Daubs lets us understand how important the Basque presence was in that part of the world, as well as the important heritage it left behind, and the risk it’s now under due to the consequences of climate change.

Tejas vascas sel siglo XVI-XVII en Red Bay (Canadá)
Tejas vascas sel siglo XVI-XVII en Red Bay (Canadá)

Only one niggle.  In the article, Parks Canada supervisor Cindy Gibbons tells that when she “was a girl, bits of red rock were everywhere, great for making paint and sharpening knives. Nobody knew it was Spanish tile”.  Those tiles weren’t Spanish, but Basque, especially since it is known that the Basque whalers who reached Canada were from both sides of the Pyrenees, and those from Labourd were never, not even administratively, Spanish.  These tiles are also very significant for the Basques.

We found the article quite appropriate to get some basic information about this part of the world that is so important to Basque history.

The Star – 27/6/2019 – Canada


… Hundreds of years before Blanche Bridle and her husband raised their children here, Red Bay was a noisier, smokier place. In the 16th century, hundreds of men took over the rocky landscape every spring, hunting whales that made their seasonal migrations through the Strait of Belle Isle. They harpooned them from small chalupas and built work stations along usable shoreline, including Saddle Island, a rocky outcrop of land between Red Bay and the open water…


Selma Barkham, in black and red plaid, was on hand to advise archeologists during a 1979 excavation on Saddle Island.
Selma Barkham, in black and red plaid, was on hand to advise archeologists during a 1979 excavation on Saddle Island.

Last Updated on Dec 20, 2020 by About Basque Country

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