Basque Whaling: Danger & Daring on a Distant Shore

The chilling waters and rocky shores of North America's eastern bays hold long-buried secrets of the ancient Basque whaler, secrets waiting to be told. The story of these men who risked their lives in this bold pursuit was told when the Basque Museum & Cultural Center unveiled thisexhibit in 2007.

Treasures from long ago have been discovered amid the splintered hulls of 16th century Basque whaling galleons in eastern Canada. Each one reveals clues about those who left their homes in the Basque Country to face the dark northern Atlantic, to cross its stormy seas, and to challenge the mightiest animals ever to inhabit the earth. A single cemetery in Red Bay, Labrador holds the remains of 140 Basque whalers and cabin boys, solemn testimony to the dangers these men and boys battled every day.

Skilled artisans from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have carefully replicated 16th century nautical instruments, barrels, whaling and rendering tools, music, coins, clothing, and much more to tell the tale of the ancient Basque whaler. In addition to the whaling theme, this exhibit reaches back in history to reveal the outstanding contribution Basques have made to shipbuilding, sailing, and exploration since before the Dark Ages. This is a little known story that carries amazing historical significance.