RED BAY, NL, July 23, 2014 /CNW/ - Residents of Red Bay, Labrador and the surrounding Labrador Straits region watched on today during a formal ceremony as three UNESCO plaques – one in English, French and Basque – describing the international significance of the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station World Heritage Site were unveiled.
The approximately 600 hectare World Heritage property that takes in a wealth of terrestrial and submerged cultural resources related to 16th century Basque whaling was designated by the World Heritage Committee when it met in Cambodia last year.
"This event is such a proud moment for all of us, especially since it's taking place during our Come-Home-Year," said Mayor Wanita Stone who chairs the World Heritage Site management committee.
"For more than 30 years the people of Red Bay have been involved in the study, protection and presentation of our community's history," Stone said. "I have to acknowledge the outstanding work of those who have volunteered tirelessly over the years to ensure that the remains of the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station are properly cared for and recognized. They include members of the nomination steering committee, the private sector, private individuals and volunteer and cultural groups at home and in the Basque Country, as well as members of the management committee. Without their dedication and commitment, a successful nomination would just not have been possible."
The site's management group also includes representatives from Parks Canada, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
"The inscription of the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canada's 17th World Heritage Site, is the highest recognition for a protected place in the world," said the Honourable Senator for Newfoundland and Labrador David Wells. "It's a commitment to protect Red Bay in accordance with the objectives of the World Heritage Convention. We are very pleased to share the story of Red Bay with the world."
"Our province boasts numerous sites of important cultural significance, and Red Bay is certainly one of Newfoundland and Labrador's greatest heritage assets. It is an honour that this important part of our history will be protected and preserved under this heritage designation and will take its rightful place among the other world-renowned sites," said the Honourable Nick McGrath, Minister of Transportation and Works, and Minister responsible for Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs.
Located on the Strait of Belle Isle, Red Bay was the largest and most important whaling station in the world in the 16th-century. The assemblage of submerged and terrestrial archaeological sites represents a thoroughly documented early example of economic exploitation of rich North American natural resources by European commercial interests. The site contains archaeological evidence of all the major elements of Basque whaling and associated activities. The Red Bay Basque Whaling Station is the first World Heritage site in Labrador and the third in the province as a whole, after L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site and Gros Morne National Park.
Red Bay Basque Whaling Station, Labrador
Designated June, 2013
Located on the Strait of Belle Isle, Red Bay comprises the largest known 16th century Basque whaling station in North America. The assemblage of submerged and terrestrial archaeological sites represents a thoroughly documented early example of economic exploitation of rich North American natural resources by European commercial interests. The site contains archaeological evidence of all the major elements of Basque whaling and associated activities. The remains of a network of more than a dozen shore stations represent the industrial processes of whaling to produce whale oil prized by the European market. Typically, the stations were comprised of rendering ovens, cooperages, workshops, temporary dwellings, and wharves. A cemetery and lookout sites are also present. Period artefacts and a massive assemblage of bowhead and right whale bones comprise the collections.
Submerged cultural resources include the well-preserved remains of a number of vessels that illustrate 16th century Iberian shipbuilding technology, including four whaling ships and a number of smaller boats used in the whale hunt. No known Dutch, English, or Basque whaling station equals Red Bay in the number and completeness of cultural resources illustrating the whaling industry technology of this period.
Justification of "Outstanding Universal Value"
Red Bay is the most complete and most extensive example of 16th century Basque whaling stations. It bears exceptional testimony to the Basque whaling tradition overseas.
Red Bay is an outstanding example of a technological ensemble—all the significant components of the industrial process, including exceptionally well-preserved vessels—illustrating early European commercial exploitation of the rich North American natural resources are present.
The World Heritage Property Boundary
The property of the Red Bay Basque Whaling Station World Heritage site comprises nearly 313 hectares of land and submerged land located within the Town of Red Bay on the south coast of Labrador. The boundary encompasses Red Bay National Historic Site, Red Bay Harbour, and the islands and shoreline that surround it. It extends from the eastern side of Steamer Cove westward as far as the summit of Tracey Hill and from the entrance to the Basin southward to include Saddle Island and Twin Islands. The boundary was assigned to include all of the areas at Red Bay that are known to or could potentially contain archaeological features and other cultural material related to 16th century Basque whaling in that port. Additionally, a buffer zone comprising some 285 hectares of land surrounds the whole property to ensure that the integrity of the site is maintained.
More celebration of Red Bay's ongoing connection with the Basque people
Parks Canada's second annual Red Bay Basque Festival runs from July 25-27. It will allow the residents of this Labrador Straits community and region, along with Parks Canada, to celebrate the historic and contemporary connections between Red Bay and the Basque Country. The weekend event is set to include a sampling of Basque cuisine, an evening of traditional Labrador music and dance, Basque games for children and adults and a Memorial Service for Basque whalers at the cemetery on Saddle Island.
SOURCE Parks Canada, Western Newfoundland and Labrador Field Unit