Friday, August 12, 2016
Going to Red Bay
Photos: August 9, 2016
The Labrador countryside is amazing. The roads take you up and down hills with vistas inland or towards the Strait of Belle Isle.
We drove past West St. Modeste and got out of the car to take a picture of the lighthouse. We were swarmed by black flies and where were our bug shirts? back at the hotel... In the short time we were out of the car they feasted on us.
The countryside is a combination of dense but short evergreens or barrens with lichen on the hills, as we got higher.
We went to the Red Bay Interpretation Centre, a two part exhibit that told of the Basques in Labrador. They came for part of the year in the 1500s first to fish and then to kill whales. The oil was rendered and sold for lighting around Europe. The baleen was used for stays in farthingales, stays and other things. It was big business.
The exhibit included this chalupa, the boat used by the men to hunt the whales. It is hard to imagine what that must have been like. This boat dates from about 400 years ago.
The wreck of the San Juan which was lost in 1565 was discovered near Red Bay. Careful archeological research was done both on the wreckage and in documents in Spain which tell the story of the ship. The exhibit included this model as well as artifacts which tell of the way of life of the men who came whale hunting. Many died of cold, malnutrition and drowning.
Saddle Island is where much of the whale processing took place. It was there they set up their tryworks (the place they rendered the blubber) as well as a cooperage to reassemble barrels to transport the oil. You can learn more about the Basques and whaling here.
Many of the residents of Red Bay still make their living through fishing. It is the last town on the paved road up the coast of the Labrador Straits. There is talk of paving more of the gravel road, but for now it is just talk.
Driving back through the pristine landscape...
And the view just outside our hotel - pretty much what we saw from our window.