Red Bay National Historic Site of Canada


Echoes from the Past—Enjoy your Visit

Visitor facilities and programs at Red Bay National Historic Site set the stage for learning about what is the largest known 16th century Basque whaling station in North America. Scale models of work buildings, reproductions, photographs and a feature film help you understand the activities that occurred in 16th century Red Bay. Displays of original artefacts recovered from archaeological excavations include a chalupa, tools and weapons employed by the Basques in whaling activities, household and personal items, and remarkably well-preserved examples of 16th century clothing.

This summer, children and their families should ask about Parks Canada’s Xplorers Club! This new program is specially designed for children between 6 and 11. A fun activity book helps Xplorers investigate, imagine, play, create and use all their senses as they discover the fascinating world of Butus, a 16th century whaling port. They can learn about right whales, play the Royal Game of Goose and learn how to use a capstan.

From 2–4 August, enjoy a new festival in the province—the Red Bay Basque Festival. People from this Labrador Straits community and region, along with Parks Canada, will celebrate the historic and contemporary connections between Red Bay and the Basque Country. The festival will be based on the shared history of the two places and on the development of relationships between the two areas now. The weekend event will include a screening of the film Apaizac Obeto (2006 chalupa expedition), a sampling of Basque cuisine and also of the types of food consumed by whalers at Red Bay during the 16th century, an evening of music, poetry and prose inspired by the 16th century Basques at Red Bay, Basque games for children and adults and a memorial service for Basque whalers at the cemetery on Saddle Island.

Parks Canada will also pilot a new visitor activity, “Echoes from the Past,” during the Basque Festival. Visitors can experience a tour on Saddle Island with an interpreter in period costume. The interpreter’s role includes storytelling based on actual events at Red Bay during the 16th century and giving visitors a snapshot of life as a 16th century whaler. The program includes an opportunity to sit and chat with the whaler and sample cheese, walnuts and other food associated with whaling activity at Red Bay.