Red Bay, NFLD- UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Red Bay Basque whaling station, established by Basque Mariners in the 16th century, provides the earliest, most complete and best-preserved testimony of the European whaling traditions. It became a major source of whale oil, which was shipped to Europe, where it was used for lighting. The site includes remains of rendering ovens, cooperages, wharves, temporary living quarters, and a cemetery. It also has the underwater remains of a vessel, and whale bone deposits. Red Bay Basque whalers station was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2013. Sites on the list have outstanding universal value and deserve protection for the benefit of all humanity. “Red Bay ranks among the major archeological properties of the world”- written on the UNESCO World Heritage plaque

200th blog post.

I am quite annoyed with myself. Upon arriving in the parking lot of the Red Bay National Historic site. I reach my hand up to remove my Parks Canadian National Historic site pass, which hangs on my mirror. I stop short when I realize it isn’t there. My forehead wrinkles up, puzzled as to where it could be. I would have used it at L’Anse aux Meadows-A Viking settlement. that was quite a few days back. I know I would have had show it at the visitor center to get in. Perhaps I stuck it in my pocket – I try try to think back to what I had on. Scrounging through the coat I have hanging in the cab I come up empty. I relocate to the back of the truck and start going through my suitcase looking for the pants I had on. I find nothing.

I remember I tidied up the cab of the truck up just before leaving St Anthony. I threw out the old 2020 park pass that was cluttering up my mirror. A little voice in my mind says ” are you sure it was the 2020 pass?” My hand comes up to cover my mouth at the realization that I am not 100% sure which year I threw out.

I clearly remember the cashier telling me to take a picture of it, when I purchased it at the visitor center in Gros Morne, National Park. The next logical thing to do was to start scrolling through my photos of that day, so many days ago. Two camera SD cards and a phone photo gallery produced nothing. If I took a picture of it, I can’t find that either.

I have one more idea. A shopping bag filled with brochures, maps and receipts. I start pulling stuff out and sorting it into piles. “Ah ha,” I say when I find the receipt I was given from the purchase. But there is no pass. When the bag is empty I express my dismay. “Damn!” I throw my hands in the air, cursing under my breath. I have to admit to myself the pass is lost. I re-stack my all the camping supplies, books, backpack dry goods, cooking kit, haphazardly back into the truck and lock the door. I will take the receipt into the visitor center and plead my case. Perhaps they will accept it and let me in.

They do not. ” I am really sorry but it will be $15 for a replacement pass.” The lady at the counter said. Boo hoo. I think to myself pinching my lips together. I pay the lady, then initial in the book beside the number change of my pass. I chalk it up to a minor road-trip inconvenience. I can now enter the building and look around.

I am at Red Bay despite my dislike for the whole whaling topic. I get angry thinking about the needless slaughter of the whales. During the summer months the North Atlantic Right whales that survive feed in the waters of the bay of Fundy between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. In spite of shipping speed limitations and fishing gear regulations, Right whale numbers continue to decline.

With a big exhale, I open my mind and go forward I am here to see the one attraction I consider worthy of world heritage status. The discovery location of the San Juan, a 16th-century Basque whaler ship that was discovered here in 1978. From what I have read, it was surprisingly well preserved in the cold waters. Its wood and ropes survived in the ocean muck. Many barrels of oil and artifacts of the ship have been photographed and catalogued and retrieved to display here in the museum. The San Juan itself remains on the ocean floor. There is collaboration between Canada and the Basque region to build a replica at a shipbuilding school in Albaola, Spain,

I read about the artifacts and the how the keel of the San Juan was measured, there is a small duplicate on display in a glass case. The arrows on the floor guide me forward to the end of the museum. A sign on the door says wait here, and another sign points to the ferry but it is roped off. I slip behind it and open the exit the door that leads out onto the wharf. This is where I am supposes to get the ferry to Saddle Island. there is nothing but wind pushing at the door – no people, no ferry. It looks very deserted and this makes me suspicious. I shut the door and follow the corridor backwards till I find an employee. ” Where do I get a ticket for the Saddle Island excursion?” The man in green shirt tells me apologetically that the tours are not running this year due the COVID. I am so disappointed. All I can say is, “Oh.”

I walk all the way back out – even the gift shop is closed. “Thank you for stopping by,” the lady says. I turn before exiting and ask, “Where are the UNESCO and Parks Canada Plaques?” She pauses at my question not understanding what I am asking. “You know, the big square brass plaques…..” I draw an outline with my fingers, “…that are dedicated to a site. I can’t leave without a picture.” “Oh yes,” she recalls and points me up the hill to the Whalers Museum.

I stand with my back to the wall of the whalers museum, sheltered from the wind, looking out at the stones that hold the plaques. It resembles a mini Stonehenge, one UNESCO plaque and one Parks Canada National Historic Site Plaque both in English and French.

I walk around the front of the building to the road where I can see the long wooden boardwalk of The Tracy Hill Trail, I climbed yesterday. Red Bay is a small place, not sure I could live in such a small town. I wonder what the Basque whalers thought about coming across the Atlantic to this remote area. Were they excited to see a new world? Or was it just about another job and the pay they would receive?

I climb back into the truck and look at the chaos I left behind while rummaging for my park pass. I am not in any mood to tackle it right now. I start the truck up and head back down the hill. I am pretty sure I saw a lady flipping the sign to open on the cafΓ© across the street. I think I will stop in and get a cup of coffee and some breakfast.

Hours of Operation

June 1st to October 4th 2022

Daily 9 am to 5 pm

Adults Daily entrance $12.50 annual Discovery parks pass $72.50

Seniors $10.50 / Annual parks Canada Discover pass $61.75

Youth Free

Annual family group $145.25

Replacements/ duplicates passes are $15.75

order you pass online here is the link;

Contact us

Telephone: 709-920-2142

Please join me again as I head to Mary’s Harbour.

No money, gifts or perks were received for writing this it is my own experience.


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39 thoughts on “Red Bay, NFLD- UNESCO World Heritage Site

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  1. You seem very disappointed, I would be too that the place wasn’t in full operation because of the stupid virus. You didn’t get your $15 dollars worth! 😠

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree. and I didn’t get a lot to work with for this post as I only used my phone to photograph and it suck. I was pretty excited to get here and the let down was just as big. I don’t doubt it is worth the money on a normal operation day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So often, when I lose something, it eventually turns up, but not immediately. I might go through a drawer or box several times and not find it. For days, I’ll have this nagging thought, “But it has to be here!” Weeks later, maybe, I’ll do a very careful search and (voila!) the item appears. Maybe the lost pass will turn up? Little consolation, though, since you had to pay for a replacement.

    In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the Enterprise had to return to the past to find a humpback whale because the species was extinct in the 23rd century. An alien probe was destroying the earth’s atmosphere because it was trying to communicate with a humpback but there were none. As Mr. Spock said, “To hunt a species to extinction is not logical.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. its unfortunate they didnt tell you or there would be some sort of signage saying things were closed etc. as you enter or before you enter. is there a web site that offers info which might have stated things that were closed?? to have lost a pass is very frustrating.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There is only the Parks Canada website. However. there was hardly any cell service in much of labrador, I did stop at the visitor center they said it was open with limited services, but no mention that the main attraction not in service


  4. I certainly know that feeling when you pay for a pass but then can’t find it. I’ve also experienced the disappointment that comes with getting into the park and finding things closed, under construction, or just otherwise not what I expected. Life in Canada 🍁.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, I was disappointed but I still got to see another UNESCO and National historic site so not all bad. Thank you Eileen for stopping by. I am a bit behind in my reading your blog I will be by soon promise πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Parks Canada red Bay site was a bit disappointing but If I saved someone a $15 fee by reminding them to take a picture of their pass, Then my post was helpful. Thank you for commenting πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I have been blogging consistently for 5 years. I’ve become a better writer, learned to focus my topics and try to produce quality stories with info reads want to need. I don’t have the biggest following but I’m much further a head than my first post.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I can see, you have many quality articles a good number of followers. It takes a lot to make such a progress. All the best for you! πŸ‘πŸ» πŸ’š

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Have you thought of laminating items like your park pass? I find that makes it easier to store them in a more convenient way. I feel sorry for the whales and would not enjoy a place that celebrates their destruction.

    Liked by 2 people

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