Big Basque celebration in Placentia
Ternua 2017 features rowing trek to Saint Pierre and Miquelon
The Town of Placentia is gearing up for a big celebration this summer, welcoming folks from France and its nearby island territory of Saint Pierre and Miquelon for Ternua 2017. A project spearheaded by an organization on the French island, the event will see a replica of a Basque traditional rowing boat travel from Placentia all the way to Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
A special celebration in Placentia and Saint Pierre and Miquelon will honour shared ties to Basque whaling traditions in a rather unique fashion.
On July 28, a team of rowers will board a traditional Basque boat and set off on a 400-kilometre journey to the French island for Ternua 2017. There will be several stops along the way, with the boat tentatively scheduled to arrive to Saint Pierre and Miquelon in early August.
Ternua 2017 will build on Grande Fête Basque, an annual celebration of Basque culture held on the French island. Placentia Mayor Wayne Power Jr. attended the event as an invited guest last summer.
“It was a great exposure to culture and the way that celebrations are held (in Saint Pierre and Miquelon),” Power said when asked about the experience last summer. “That was one eye-opener for us — the way the community came together.”
Representatives from La Ligue de Pelote Basque in Saint Pieree and Miquelon met with Placentia tourism staff last May to discuss a potential partnership on Ternua 2017. Council endorsed the project the following month. In August during the Grande Fête Basque event, Power and other town representatives met with a group from France as well.
Basque whalers from France and Spain were harvesting off the coast of Newfoundland in the 16th and 17 centuries, with Placentia being among the ports settled on a seasonal basis. The Spanish referred to it as Plazençia, while French speakers called it Plaisance.
The boat will be stored in Placentia this summer, with rowers set to train for a couple of days before leaving. They’ll need 30 experienced rowers, with some expected to come from the Placentia area.
The town expects to have dignitaries from Saint Pierre and Miquelon and France on hand for the festivities, which will run July 26 to 28 in Placentia.
“It’s shaping up to be an exciting couple of days here — looking back at the rich heritage we have here with the Basque being among some of the first settlers in Placentia,” Power said.
The rowing event will be one of two notable visits with a link to Basque culture. A cruise ship following in the footsteps of Basque whalers is travelling around the island in June, with a stop in Placentia scheduled for June 21.
The town is planning a ceremony to coincide with the ship’s visit.
Grande Fête Basque is an annual festival held in Saint Pierre and Miquelon to celebrate Basque culture. This summer, Placentia will have an active role in the festivities.
Representatives of Ligue de Pelote Basque met with Placentia town officials earlier this month. Front row (L-R): Philppe Hacala, Rhonda Power and David Lamoureux. Back row (L-R): Coun. Noella Collins, Mayor Wayne Power Jr. and Jim Dempsey of the Wooden Boat Museum in Winterton.