Big Basque cel­e­bra­tion in Pla­cen­tia

Ter­nua 2017 fea­tures row­ing trek to Saint Pierre and Miquelon

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON THE COM­PASS edi­tor@cb­n­com­

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.

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