Parks Canada 2010 Arctic Surveys

Parks Canada’s Publication on the Underwater Archaeology in Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada is Recognized with International Award 

In April 2008, Parks Canada launched The Underwater Archaeology of Red Bay, the final report on the underwater excavations of 16th century Basque whaling vessels. This five-volume publication, edited by Robert Grenier, Marc-André Bernier and Willis Stevens, reported on the archaeological work conducted in Red Bay by Parks Canada from 1978 to 1984 and on the two decades of research that was necessary to analyze the massive amount of data collected in some 14,000 hours of diving. While the innovative underwater archaeological excavation work in Red Bay had already been acknowledged as a model in this field, the associated research presented in this publication has now received formal international recognition through a prestigious award, the 2009 Keith Muckelroy Memorial Award.

The Underwater Archaeology of Red Bay
The Red Bay report on the underwater excavations that won the Keith Muckelroy 2009 award
© Parks Canada

This international award attributed by the Nautical Archaeology Society (United Kingdom) is offered to "a work published after January 1, 2006 which best reflects the interests, aspirations and high scholarly standards of Keith Muckelroy", a pioneer in the field of underwater archaeology. In their comments, the judging panel wrote: "Keith strongly recognized the importance of good fieldwork and reporting as the foundation for the theories that could be constructed upon them. [...] The Red Bay report is exemplary. The breath of material covered, and the quality of the research, is outstanding, demonstrating the highest standards of recording, survey, illustrations, and interpretation, and the setting of findings into wider contexts. This report provides a multidisciplinary model for future generations of maritime archaeologists, methodologically, and intellectually."

The Underwater Archaeology of Red Bay presents the history of the Basque whalers and the methods used by the archaeologists to excavate their wrecks. Not only can we also find in this publication the description of the objects lost by the Basques and the analysis of the ships they used, but we are presented with the global picture of the industrial complex that was Red Bay in the 16th century.

If this publication is first and foremost an archaeological report, it is in many ways accessible to a wider public. As Lawrence E. Babits from East Carolina University states in his review of the report, it is “a guide book for maritime archaeological research and should be readily accessible to students as well as professionals. [...] The archaeological and historical communities owe Parks Canada underwater archaeologists a debt of gratitude for not only doing the field work and analysis, but for getting it out to the public in such a readily available form." (Historical Archaeology, April 2009).

This award is a testimony of the high quality work of Parks Canada professionals including underwater archaeologists, conservators, material culture specialists and historians, to name but a few. It also underscores the efforts to deliver to all Canadians, and especially to specialists and students of various ages, a tool to help them develop a deeper understanding of the treasured historic place that is Red Bay.

To purchase your copy of this 5-volume report, visit; Publication Information - Government of Canada Publications