Newfoundland and Labrador
Name of country: CANADA
List drawn up by:
Parks Canada Agency
25 Eddy Street
Gatineau (Quebec) K1A 0M5
Date: March 2004
NAME OF PROPERTY
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR 51,73 ° N – 56,82 ° W
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. Red Bay harbour is an outstanding natural shelter lying on a traditionally rich food resource funnel. Submerged cultural resources found in the harbour include exceptionally well-preserved remains of a number of vessels that illustrate northern Iberian ship- and boat-building technology and whaling activity of the 16th century. 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 tryworks, cooperages, workshops, dwellings, and wharves. A cemetery, other burial sites, and lookouts are also present. Period artifacts and a massive assemblage of bowhead and right whale bones comprise the collections.
JUSTIFICATION OF "OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUE"
(iii) 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;
(iv) It 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;
(v) It is an outstanding example of a land and sea use representative of Basque whaling culture in the 16th century.
Assurances of authenticity and/or integrity:
The outstanding wealth of archival resources and of archaeological remains, largely free of intrusive material or disturbance after site abandonment in the late 16th century other than recent professional archaeological excavations, yields a very high level of authenticity. The land base of the core shore station is a National Historic Site of Canada managed by Parks Canada, which provides ongoing conservation, monitoring and presentation programs. The underwater sites are subject to an established monitoring program.
Comparison with other similar properties:
The exceptionally extensive and well-preserved Red Bay remains represent all major components of a mid 16th-century Basque whaling station. Other Basque whaling sites on the Labrador and Quebec shores do not compare to Red Bay in volume or completeness of documented cultural and natural resources. Internationally, no similar site exists. Whaling sites at Spitsbergen of comparative value date from the 17th century, after important technological changes. The San Juan, located in Red Bay, is the oldest and most complete 16th-century transatlantic merchant shipwreck known. Similar known vessels do not compare in extent to the remains of the Red Bay ships. The underwater archaeological excavation at Red Bay (1979-1985) became the model for the field.