Basque boat leaves Placentia on jour­ney to French is­land

The Compass - - Front page - BY TOM O’KEEFE SPECIAL TO THE COMPASS

— An in­ter­na­tional his­toric event took place in Placentia July 28 when a group from France, Spain and Que­bec gath­ered to row a tra­di­tional Basque boat from Placentia to StPierre-Miquelon for Ter­nua 2017.

Ter­nua means New­found­land in Basque. The trip started in Placentia be­cause of its strong con­nec­tion with the Basque.

Af­ter hav­ing used the lo­cal re­gatta site to pre­pare and prac­tice with the 15-crew boat, called In­di­anoak, the row­ers set out just af­ter 6 a.m. Fri­day for the start of a 10-day trip to StPierre-Miquelon.

One lo­cal, well-known Placentia Re­gatta coxswain Matt Foley, went with the crew. Speak­ing be­fore he left with the row­ers Fri­day, Foley said it was an hon­our and priv­i­lege to be in­cluded.

Say­ing he had some con­cern for the winds, Foley added, “How­ever, I can’t wait to make port and say I did it.“Their first stop will be Pe­tite Forte.

The vis­i­tors took ad­van­tage of the dis­plays in O’Reilly House Mu­seum and on Cas­tle Hill to see ev­i­dence of that in­volve­ment.

There was a two-day cel­e­bra­tion to share cul­tures of the lo­cals and vis­it­ing Basque.

Events started at the Placentia Arts Cen­tre with a per­for­mance by the Placentia Area The­atre d’Her­itage of vi­gnettes writ­ten by Lee Everts, with com­ple­men­tary work by the high school on dis­play from art classes taught by Christo­pher Ne­whook.

On Thurs­day, the 27th, ac­tiv­i­ties be­gan with a Eucharis­tic Cel­e­bra­tion in the Sa­cred Heart Church fol­lowed by the bless­ing of the boat by Arch­bishop Martin Cur­rie. The lat­ter gath­er­ing fea­tured a talk with for­mer fish mag­nate Gus Etchegary, a de­scen­dent of the Basque on St-Pierre-Miquelon.

A fes­ti­val in the Town Square fol­lowed, with en­ter­tain­ment in­clud­ing dance per­for­mances by a St-Pierre group and the Placentia Lancers.

Spon­sored by the Town of Placentia, the event was spear­headed by Rhonda Power, man­ager of tourism, mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, who is bilin­gual.


The crew of the In­di­anoak raise their oars in salute be­fore leav­ing the Jersey­side Har­bour for their 10-day trip to St-Pierre-Miquelon.


Matt Foley of Placentia stands be­side the In­di­anoak. He’s the only lo­cal rower on the 15-per­son crew.

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