Canada’s sesqui­cen­ten­nial

Parts of New­found­land pre­date con­fed­er­a­tion.

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - FRONT PAGE - mike­mercer4@out­ SUB­MIT­TED BY MIKE MERCER

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.

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