Basques, Whales, and Who are You Calling Archaic! – Canada Day 72

Blog72 around lighthouse

Day 72 29th June 2015 Port aux Choix

By Chris

Today we drove through the mist and arrived in a small village with a local museum called the French Room and was set up to record the impact of the Basque Fisherman who came to fish off Newfoundland.

Their access was allowed by Britain as the result of a treaty (Utrecht) after yet another war. The area became known as the “French Shore”.

blog72 HousewaterThis museum also had a film showing the results of a major historical event known as the “resettlement” which features strongly in discussions with the locals.

The video was excruciating. Seeing people forced to tow their houses across the water and then drag them into place-at every moment you expected the house to sink or crumble. It was a resettlement of the cruellest kind not unlike our local version in Western Australia.

We then headed out to find the other reason that makes Port aux Choix, a national heritage site. That is because there is the large gravesite of containing about 70 bodies of the people known as the Maritime Archaic.  After this group there is evidence of two other ethnic groups Dorset Paleo Eskimos and the Beothuk occupying the same area. As can be expected in Canada the interpretative centre was excellent and the guide informative.

The impression one was left with though was that there was a lot of mystery around why each group had moved on or died out.

Blog72 Museum1Back on the bus and on to see Ben Ploughman, a friend of Tony’s, who sounded quite eccentric. When we got to his Museum of Whales and Things there was some justification for having that impression.

After all, it is not everybody who puts together a sperm whale skeleton in his shed.

Blog72 Museum2

Blog72 Bens ArtHe is also a well-known ‘folk’ artist and we had seen his work as we travelled around.It is very engaging but we decided that shipping made it prohibitive.

He, like Tony, was a passionate Newfoundlander and railed against the Cod Moratorium, confederation with Canada and the “resettlement”. (More on those issues in a dedicated post).




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