Parts of Newfoundland predate confederation.
PORT AUX BASQUES, NL - According to Webster’s online dictionary, “sesquicentennial” is defined as pertaining to or marking the completion of a period of 150 years; a 150th anniversary or its celebration.”
This was the first time I heard of this term and was curious to see exactly what it meant. The 150th anniversary of Canada, or Canada 150, is occurring this summer all across the country as it marks such a milestone.
This year, the festivities across the country have highlighted the evolution of our country from its indigenous origins with National Aboriginal Day (June 21), the contact with the French and the birth of our Francophone heritage with Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day (June 24) as well as through recent waves of immigration that have led to the development of a diverse society with Canadian Multiculturalism Day (June 27).
These major celebrations have been completed with celebrating Canada Day on July 1 this past weekend. From small, rural communities to larger urban centres, people have participated in events, reflected on their histories and roots in addition to celebrating the rich culture of being Canadian. Our town here on the southwest corner of the province is no different as its history is quite interesting.
Channel - Port aux Basques, as one of the oldest settlements in Newfoundland, was named by the Basque fishermen who visited our shores in the 1500’s, as their safe haven in storms and who found the ice- free harbour very advantageous. The region gained a strong French influence following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and the legacy remains in many of the surrounding place names including Fox Roost (Fosse Rouge), Rose Blanche (Roche Blanche) and Isle aux Morts ( Isle of the Dead and named for the number of shipwrecks there).
With an emergence of the fishery, the town’s strategic location and union of the Newfoundland Railroad and the ferry crossing the Cabot Strait, Channel - Port aux Basques was growing rapidly and merged into a single community in November 1945.
This year will be remembered in our minds and in our hearts as Canadians everywhere, from locally to all other parts of the country, came together to remember our proud history, where some of our roots originated and to explore and enjoy the last 150 years. Here’s to another 150!
Port aux Basques has been a waypoint for fishermen for over 500 years.