Expedition June 15th – 22nd 2017

May 23rd, 2017

Staff and Guides Aboard

Marine Archaeologist

Robert Grenier, Order of Canada is Chief of the Underwater Archaeology Service for Parks Canada, and the past President of the International Scientific Committee on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage, UNESCO/ICOMOS. He has conducted searches for shipwrecks in North American waters for over 45 years, and was Project Leader for Parks Canada’s Arctic Survey in the North-West Passage, an extensive search for the Franklin Expedition ships H.M.S. Erebus and Terror. Mr. Grenier led the Parcs Canada team that found the sunken Basque Whaleship San Juan at Red Bay in 1978.

Marine Archaeologist

Manu Izaguirre is a pioneer of Marine Archeology in the Basque Country. He has immersed himself in the field of protection of sub-aquatic cultural heritage since the 1970’s and was on the Parcs Canada team that discovered the San Juan. More recently he has worked at the Heritage Protection Department of the Foral Government of Gipuzkoa.
Expedition Leader

Jason is an Inuk from the communities of Nain and Makkovik, Nunatsiavut. He was an active youth, participating and contributing in local and regional Inuit youth groups as well as language and culture preservation committees. He grew up just twenty yards from the Atlantic Ocean, and was reared in a boat, travelling the coast of Labrador extensively while hunting and assisting his father with tours and boat charters. Coming from a family of politicians, Jason went on to study political science at Memorial University. Taking a break from academia, he then went on to study carpentry and tourism. Now, living just a stone’s throw from Lake Ontario in Port Credit, Jason is a professional expedition guide, bear monitor and Expedition Leader in the summer months with Adventure Canada and Students on Ice. During the Arctic winter months, he assists in the planning of quality Arctic and sub-Arctic expeditions. Jason has been recognized as a Youth Role Model by the Nunatsiavut Government for his work in education and has been inducted as a member of the Explorer’s Club, and a fellow in the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. When not working, he is a proud father to two girls.

Latonia has a PhD in Newfoundland, Labrador, and Arctic archaeology. Her exploration of this topic has taken her to the Canadian Arctic, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Scandinavia. For the last twenty years she has conducted excavations at her research project on Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula, where she has reconstructed five thousand years of Indigenous and European history. She is the President of AARA Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to Arctic and sub-Arctic studies. Latonia is also an award-winning filmmaker, specializing in both documentaries and narrative films. Works created by her company, LJH Films, have been seen in over thirty countries. For her community efforts, field contributions, and for preserving and promoting Arctic and sub-Arctic culture, she recently received Canada’s Outstanding Young Person Award, Hospitality NL’s Cruise Vision Award, and was admitted as a Fellow to the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. For her artistic work, she was named NL Arts Council Emerging Artist of the Year in 2015. She has worked with Adventure Canada since 2005, and currently lives in St. John’s.
Photographer and Naturalist

Dennis has been working with Adventure Canada since 2002 as a naturalist and photographer in the Arctic, Newfoundland, Antarctica, New Zealand, Galapagos, and Scotland. Dennis’s path, from his small island roots in Twillingate, Newfoundland to his current career as a photographer and eco-tour leader, has taken him through more than three decades of local and international work. Educated as a wildlife biologist, his first professional job was as the designer/manager of a nature education and wildlife rehabilitation centre. He also worked for nearly thirty years as an environmental educator in Newfoundland & Labrador, Africa, the Seychelles, and the Caribbean. Dennis is the author of nine educational and photographic books, and has tried his hand at dairy farming and even working as a polar bear guide in Churchill, Manitoba. He says, “I think that everything we do in life can help shape our vision, ethics, skills and commitments. All of these are ingredients of image-making.” For him, nature and photography are inseparable. Dennis immerses himself in nature through photography and seeks to inspire in the viewer a deeper connection with the natural world. “My goal in creating an image is, not simply to document, but to inspire an emotional response in the viewer that might echo what I feel when I am making the image. I think that outstanding photography should communicate through the eye to the heart and bring new awareness and respect for our amazing world.” His latest book, Newfoundland, An Island Apart, was published in 2015 and a sister volume on Labrador is expected in 2016. Dennis resides in Clarke’s Beach Newfoundland with his wife Antje Springmann and their Bernese Mountain dog, Thule. He is very proud of his three grown children and seven grandchildren.
Assistant Cruise Director

Ella was born in Invermere BC, a small interior town. Lucky enough to live in the mountains, she grew up skiing, skating, and hiking. Ella is also passionate about singing, songwriting, and other art forms—such as sewing and painting. She is currently studying Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria.This will be her second season sailing with Adventure Canada, and she is looking forward to seeing more of the beautiful East Coast.
Musician and Culturalist

Born in a tiny rural Newfoundland fishing village, Tony has lived and learned the charm of outport living. Although at the insistence of his father he choose a career path other than fishing, he has kept a close eye on the fishery’s evolution. In many of his provincial, regional and local volunteer roles he has been a strong and outspoken advocate for rural Newfoundland. Since 2005 he has enjoyed the opportunity to present the music, language and culture of his province to the friends of Adventure Canada who choose to visit. Delighted with AC’s preference for visiting tiny and sometimes remote communities, he’s quite eager to help present “the essence of who we are”. Visit www.tonyoxford.ca for more info.
Expedition Team

Born in the northern part of Sweden, Stefan began his expedition career at the age of 15 with a trip to Northern Greenland. Since then, he’s served on expedition ships all over the world, and led numerous expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. A member of the Explorer’s Club, our resident Viking looks forward to sparking your enthusiasm and curiosity for what the Arctic day will bring.
Geologist and Musician
Scott should have been born in Newfoundland and has spent more than half his life there catching up. After earning an M.Sc. in geology and Ph.D. in hydrogeology from Memorial University, he has worked nearly 30 years in geology and water-related geoscience. He has mapped geology in western, northeastern and central Newfoundland, and conducted geoscience fieldwork throughout Canada. He was a science technician aboard the MV Hudson on a marine seismic geophysical cruise between Greenland and Baffin Island. Scott is an avid outdoorsman and is interested in wilderness first aid. He and his wife Janet Bradshaw lived for 6 years around Lake Arenal, Costa Rica and once again make St. John’s their home. On the music front, Scott has played hammered dulcimer for over 40 years. He has played and sung with numerous groups in Newfoundland at folk clubs and festivals, and has recorded on five CDs. He performs a mix of Newfoundland and American folk music, and plays at The Rocket session in St. John’s every Tuesday at midday.
May 22nd, 2017

Recent News from Our Partners at the Basque Culinary Center and Gastronomic Proposal for our Trip


Those of you who read our newsletter regularly know a little bit about our partners The Basque Culinary Center and the culinary experts who will join us.
In keeping with the layout of a project to be developed in 5 phases (1. Research 2. Creation of initial gastronomic proposal 3. Preparation of final documentation 4. Development and supervision aboard 5. Analysis and evaluation) and after an extended period of investigation and research, we arrive at phase two: The Initial Gastronomic Proposal.
Without wanting to reveal everything, we can divulge that the proposal calls for a demonstration of the evolution of Basque Cuisine from the era of 16th century and the peak of transatlantic Basque whaling to today. One of our collaborators, Alfonso Manzanares, in the midst of his research into 16th Century culinary practices called us up and told us that he thought creating a full set of menus based out of this period wouldn’t allow them to show so much of what makes Basque Cuisine great. Here is a list of common foodstuffs carried aboard transatlantic ships of the era that Alfonso passed on to us as a form of evidence to back up his argument. We thought it over, and the truth is, he’s right. The proposal we have today does offer us much more and the best argument for this is that it still includes our initial idea within it. This gastronomic proposal will cover six of the seven nights, the seventh being a traditional cider house dinner from our collaborators at Astarbe Sagardotegui, and will of course be offered in conjunction with the menus that the Ocean Endeavour regularly offers on its cruises.
Here is how Alfonso describes his proposal.
“For six of the seven nights aboard we will have the opportunity to enjoy six unique menus created by the BCC, in which the evolution of Basque cuisine from the time of 16th century whale hunters to the modern era will be displayed.
We will commence with a first dinner based on the provisions aboard whaleships and the culinary techniques of the 16th Century. The second night will highlight the foods that entered the culinary panorama as a result of European contact with the Americas. For our third dinner we will elaborate a menu rooted in the older traditions of Basque cuisine and its most quintessential dishes. The fourth will be rooted in the four classic sauces of Basque cuisine (Red, Green, Black, and White). Finally, the last two nights we will honor the New Basque Cuisine movement which revolutionized and brought to brought Basque cuisine to the summit. On the fifth night we will reproduce one of the menus which members of this movement served on February 20th 1978 in Madrid as part of the first exposition of this movement outside of the Basque Country. Lastly, as a farewell to the expedition, our sixth dinner will offer a menu based on some of the most significant creations of Nouveau Basque Cuisine.

So, to recap, these are the themes of the different menus for each night:

  1. June 15th: 16th Century Basque Whalers
  2. June 16th: Contact with America
  3. June 17th: Traditional Cider House Dinner
  4. June 18th: Basque Cuisine before “New Basque Cuisine”
  5. June 19th: The Basque Sauces
  6. June 20th: Menu prepared at the first event of New Basque Cuisine in Madrid, Monday 2/20/1978
  7. June 21st: Modern Basque Cuisine Gala Dinner

It’s unnecessary to say that we are very pleased with this proposal. What do you think?

May 21st, 2017

Labrador Student Wins Scholarship to Produce Work Based on the Basque Presence in Newfoundland and Labrador

Some of you may remember a story we reported last year about a non-profit, the Amina Anthropological Resources Association Incorporated (AARA Inc.) headed by one of our expedition guides Latonia Hartery and that they were offering a scholarship to students for work that was based on the Basque presence in Newfoundland and Labrador. Well, last month the scholarship was awarded to Aiden Hartery (No relation) from Labrador, and a music composition student at Western University in London, Ontario who is writing an opera about Basque whalers in Red Bay for his PhD thesis. Here’s a link to the full story via the CBC. Zorionak Aiden!

February 27th, 2017

Gastronomic Experts Aboard!

foto equipo final

We have finally identified the gastronomic experts from the Basque Culinary Center who will be joining our expedition. Last week we had a chance to sit down and talk with them about their participation in our project and the ambitious parallel work they are undertaking in preparation of our June 14th launch.

It is an honor to present Elena Pozueta Larios and Alfonso Manzanares Barchino, two members of the Basque Culinary Center who will travel with us aboard the Ocean Endeavour and will be in charge of an important part of the culinary program aboard.

Elena is a leading professor in the Culinary and Gastronomic Arts Department at the Basque Culinary Center, she holds a degree in tourism and a postgraduate degree from the École hôtelière de Lausanne. Alfonso, a resident of Donostia is finishing his Gastronomic and Culinary Arts degree at the BCC and his participation in our expedition will count as his final project and degree requirement.

Both of them are currently researching 16th century Basque gastronomic practices and foods in order to incorporate them into the menu aboard. Their project will be rolled out in five parts.

1.- Research
Bibliographic documentation and contact with various anthropologists and experts on the topic of 16th century Basque sailors, in order to present an analysis of the culinary panorama of the time.

2.- Creation of initial gastronomic proposal
This will include an array of different ideas to be incorporated in the final menus, the building out of initial recipes and prototypes, filming of tutorial video of recipe preparation, storytelling behind the menus and initial proposal to the ship crew.

3.- Preparation of final documentation
Preparation of presentations and talks to be given aboard the Ocean Endeavour on the menus and their relation to the gastronomy of the time period.

4.- Development and supervision aboard
This phase includes the execution of the gastronomic program aboard and its presentation to the crew and guests

5.- Analysis and evaluation
Once our expedition is finished there will be a collection of feedback, analysis and evaluation.

It’s important to highlight how unique this is and why this is so exciting to us. First, as far as we know, this is the first study ever done on the gastronomic panorama of 16th century transatlantic Basques by culinary experts. Second, the building out of actual menus to be eaten from this research and analysis is something pretty special. We are so pleased to have a program like this as part of our project.

February 26th, 2017

Red Bay Red Ale is Here!


We’ve spoken here about our collaborators Mala Gissona Craft Beer Brewery before and about how they are preparing a commemorative beer for our expedition. Well, today, we are thrilled to present to the world Mala Gissona’s newest beer, the Red Bay Rye Red Ale.


The rye style red ale is a drier beer of reddish color with malty aromas and light floral notes. An initial sweet taste with hints of caramel and cookie gives way to a dry finish. Recommended pairings are dried fruits, grilled meats, soft cheeses and creamy desserts. Oh yeah!

Printed on the label will be the following:
Brewed by Mala Gissona to celebrate the 1st expedition “In the footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador” June 14th – 22nd 2017.

We are so thrilled at this news and grateful to Mala Gissona for having generously donated an ample batch of the ale for us to serve on the Ocean Endeavour. We’re honored to be able to have such a unique product aboard but also and especially because it commemorates Red Bay and the Basque whale hunters who worked there so long ago.


Mala Gissona is a Basque brewery and Beer House located in Donostia/San Sebastian, Guipuzkoa. We encourage anyone in the Basque Country to visit their Beer House and a drink and a meal. They are located at Zabaleta Kalea, 53, 20002 Donostia, Gipuzkoa. We leave you with some pictures of the team at Mala Gissona that we are so grateful to for having brought the Red Bay Red Ale in to existence.

MG_15 copia_

MG_19 copia_

February 24th, 2017

Astarbe Sagardotegia

Our collaborators at Astarbe Sagadotegia are preparing something big. The cider house which is right smack in the middle of its Txotx! Season is converting its dining room and cider house into a hub of information about our expedition, Newfoundland, and the tradition of Basque whaling. It’s to be expected from a place that has been producing cider for over 450 years, been run by the same family for 15 generations, and whose oldest legal document dates back to 1563, the apotheosis of Basque whaling activity in Canada. Cider, of course, being an indispensable provision for the sailors and whale-hunters of the period. We want to encourage anyone who is interested in having one of the best meals of their life to visit Astarbe and check out what they’ve put together.


Camino de Txoritokieta, 13,
20115 Astigarraga, Gipuzkoa.
There is one detail we would like to mention. The muselet or seal of the bottles of champagnois style cider Byhur produced by Astarbe will have a special design on them this year: A map of Newfoundland, the words Basque Whalers Expedition with the years 1563 – 2017. The first year references the oldest known document referencing the cider house in their possession. 1563 is also a year when it would have been extremely probable that Astarbe and most, if not all cider houses in the Basque Country would have sold cider to sailors and whalers to take with them to Canada.  2017 marks the year when Astarbe cider will definitely be making a return to the Canadian coasts. We couldn’t be anymore thrilled by this news, by the commemorative edition of the Byhur cider and by all the other efforts by our friends to incorporate this important piece of Basque culture into their day-to-day operations.
January 31st, 2017

Spotlight on Destinations Part II: Red Bay, Gros Morne, St. Pierre, and Placentia

This is the second part of our two part series that aims to highlight and offer a more detailed picture of each of the places our expedition will stop at. This month we train our sights on Red Bay, St. Pierre, Gros Morne and Placentia. Read our first instalment here.

Red Bay



Red Bay is a tiny inlet situated on the northeast tip of the province of Labrador on the Strait of Belle Isle. It was, in the mid-16th Century the center of the whaling industry worldwide.  At its peak throughout the 1560’s and 1570’s over a thousand men would arrive annually to hunt and work in the business of hunting whales. This work was operated almost exclusively by Basques and up until the beginning of the 17th Century, Basques held a virtual monopoly on the very lucrative industry or whaling. The geography was important. The island of Newfoundland sits right inside the migratory path of whales going from north to south. While many whales would travel south on a path east of Newfoundland on the open Atlantic, many would also head down west of the island through the tiny Strait of Belle Isle that separates Newfoundland from Labrador.  This created a natural bottleneck of the migrating cetaceans and unparalleled opportunity for hunting.

Here is where Basques set up the very first large scale industrial endeavor in North America.

We know this thanks to the work of many people over decades, but the primary RedBay2discovery to shed light on this history is the Nao San Juan. In 1977 a team from Parks Canada led by the underwater archaeologist Robert Grenier (O.C.) identified the remains of the Nao San Juan just a little ways off the coast at Red Bay. Built in Pasaia, Guipuzkoa in 1563 and sunk at Red Bay, the Nao San Juan is the oldest, best conserved and most studied example of the earliest transatlantic ships that were used for the purpose of hunting whale.

The innovative techniques that were used in the raising of the San Juan, the extremely well conserved state it was found in, and the very thorough documentation of the process has made the San Juan famous throughout the world of subaquatic archaeology.  Today the image of the San Juan serves as the logo of the Subaquatic Cultural Heritage Division of UNESCO.

The Basque Whaling Station at Red Bay was built in the early fifteen hundreds and was used as a base for the hunting and butchering of the whale as well as the rendering of blubber into oil. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2013. Today there can be seen vestiges of ovens, cooperages, docks, tile, and temporary living quarters. There is also a museum erected on the site that holds the world’s oldest chalupa, found in the Nao San Juan discovery. There is also a small island cemetery where 140 Basques who perished at Red Bay are buried.

Gros Morne National Park


With over 1800 Kilometers squared of protected parkland on the west coast of Newfoundland, Gros Morne is the second largest national park in Eastern Canada. Holding forests, fjords, cliffs, bogs, mountains, flatlands and coastline within its extended reach, the geographical and biological diversity here make this park a destination for photographers, athletes and nature lovers from around Canada and the world.

There’s even a section of the park -the Tablelands- which is unlike almost anywhere else on earth. The tablelands are made up of the flat and extremely compact rock peridotite which is mostly found deep inside the earth and is theorized to make up the majority of the earth’s mantle. A massive collision of tectonic plates over 500,000,000 years ago forced the peridotite to the surface and this is the site where scientists were able to prove the theory of plate tectonics for the first time.

GrosMorne2Walking along this stretch of exposed mantle surrounded by so much living nature one has the impression of passing through a desert, or a stretch of Mars. The park was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

St. Pierre


StPierre2St. Pierre is the capital and largest island of the St. Pierre and Miquelon archipelago situated 25 kilometers south of Newfoundland. It has the distinction of being the last vestige of the former French empire in North America. Today it is still considered French territory; the Euro is the official currency and residents enjoy French citizenship and suffrage.

In the early 16th Century the islands served as important fishing sites for Portuguese, Breton and Basque fishermen who gave this islands their names. Today the island pays homage to its Basque history by including the Ikurriña in the top left corner of its flag. There is an Euskal-Etxea on the island with one of the oldest frontons in North America. Every year during the third week of August the islands celebrate its “Fete-Basque” or Basque Festival with cultural, folkloric and athletic activities.




The city of Placentia situated on the southern coast of the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland has had an extensive and important role in the history of Canada, and one that has always been intertwined with the Basques. Placentia was, until the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the capital of French Canada. The city’s name appears in the oldest original Canadian civil document which happens to be the will of a Basque fisherman.

Dated May 15th, 1563, the will of Domingo de Luca of Hondarribia, Guipuzkoa includes the line “Should this sickness take me from my present life that my body should be buried in that port of Plazencia to a place where those who die are often buried”.

In Placentia there are also several engravings on funereal stones in French and Basque, including the gravestone of Giannis de Salle which can be found in the local Castle Hill Museum and represents the oldest Basque inscription in North America. Other relics are held at the O’Reilly Museum in the center of town.

It’s also believed that Placentia was named by Basque fishermen after the town of Plentzia, Bizkaia in the Basque Country, a town with a long history of fishing and whale hunting. Today both towns recognize their historical ties and are in the process of finalizing a town twinning agreement which will culminate with a celebration in Placentia coinciding with our expeditions stop there.

January 30th, 2017

The New York Times Names Canada the #1 Place to Visit in 2017



Earlier this month The New York Times released its annual list of the 52 places to go for the year. Topping the list this year, Canada. We couldn’t agree more. According to the Times, one of the principal reasons 2017 will be especially good for visiting Canada is that this year marks the 150 year anniversary of confederation, when the original colonies banded together to form a country. Though Newfoundland wasn’t a part of the original confederation of colonies, the province does celebrate several days important in its own origins. Chief among these are Discovery Day and the St. John’s days celebrations that take place in the city of St. John’s at the end of June coinciding with the dates our expedition returns to that city. Though we can’t be sure if news of our expedition influenced the editors of the venerable newspaper in their decision, our trip undoubtedly lends further credence to the argument put forth by the paper that “2017 offers an ideal time to go north.” We couldn’t agree more.

December 23rd, 2016

Our New 2017 Brochure

2017 is almost here. To celebrate the New Year we are releasing a new and redesigned brochure that includes updated descriptions, pictures and more information. Included here is information on the night of the 14th of June, the night before our ship sets sail. We are including accommodations at a port side hotel that night for all our clients in order to encourage everyone to arrive that night and avert any complications that might arise from delayed flights on the day our ship leaves port. Check it out!
To everyone interested in participating in this expedition In The Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador, the first expedition and cultural route celebrating the legacy of 16th Century Basques in Canada, contact us here
December 21st, 2016

Spotlight on St. John’s, Fogo Island & Chateau Bay

As we announced in our last newsletter, we want to bring you more detailed information on each of the destinations our trip will arrive at. Here is the first installment, a more in depth spotlight on St. John’s, Fogo Island and Chateau Bay.

St. John’s

The capital and principal city of Newfoundland, St. John’s is the closest North American city to Europe and also one of the oldest. There exists an urban legend that the city was named by Basque sailors from Pasaia, San Juan in Guipuzkoa after their home town. Another version of this story tells that the city was named by the Genovese explorer Giovanni Caboto on arriving at this port on the feast day of St. John, 1497.

St. John’s has played an important role in major world events throughout the past five hundred years including at the Seven Years’ War and World War II. Despite the city’s participation in events of international, historical importance, the city has always maintained alongside its urban facet, a distinctly provincial character; built around the fishing industry and proud of its distinctive people and culture. St. John’s -like all of Newfoundland- didn’t officially incorporate as a part of Canada until 1949 and there are still today, people who regard the referendum that made that happen with great skepticism.

Today St. John’s is home to some of the most important museums in Canada and also a few of the most renowned restaurants in country. These restaurants base themselves proudly on the autochthonous cuisine of Newfoundland.
Water Street, near the docks is recognized as the oldest Street in North America and along with the colorful Jellybean Row nearby it displays a unique and landmarked architectural style. This part of downtown is full of stores, restaurants and bars and fills up with music, dancing and revelry every night.
Check out this video of the city prepared by the tourism bureau of Newfoundland.

Fogo Island

The largest of the offshore islands on Newfoundland, Fofo Island measures 254 kilometers squared and is home to approximately 2400 inhabitants. The island probably received its name from Portuguese fishermen (Fogo is Portuguese for fire.) sometime in the 16th Century. The island and its harbor Tilting – recognized as a Nationally Historic Site of Canada- were well known to the Basque sailors of the era too. Starting in the 18th Century the island became an enclave for Irish fishermen who built the first year-round settlement there. Many of the residents on the island today can trace their lineage back directly to these first Irish families who settled there. They maintain a distinctive dialect and culture which is also on display in the fishing structures and houses, many of which, though restored, date from this initial Irish-Canadian settlement.
The contemporary community of the island has a strong artistic bent. Surrounded by a picturesque landscape it is a center of film and other cultural production.

Chateau Bay

Chateau Bay, sits on the Labrador Peninsula across the Strait of Belle Isle from Newfoundland. The first mention of this bay and fishing settlement appears in the first detailed navigational rutter of Newfoundland “The Adventurous Voyages of Captain Martin de Hoyarsabal, Inhabitant of Cubiburu. Containing the Rules and Instructions Necessary for Good and Safe Navigation” written by the French-Basque sailor Martin de Hoyarçabal and first published in 1579.Archeological investigation has identified Chateau Bay as the location of at least two 16th Century shipwrecks believed to be of Basque origin. The “Maria” built in Mutriku and the “Magdalena” built in San Sebastian. In 1985 an archeological study was undertaken by Basque and Canadian institutions.
Two hundred years later the a military fort was built by the French here on land which was later taken by the English.
October 29th, 2016

Site inspection visit to Newfoundland, Labrador and the Ocean Endeavour


Just over a month ago our expedition was confirmed. Contracts were signed, negotiations were concluded positively and we set ourselves to the next task. There were several at hand but one of the most important was to visit the Ocean Endeavour and the different destinations in Newfoundland and Labrador that comprise our trip.
The Ocean Endeavour coincidentally happened to be scheduled to dock at port in St. John’s at the beginning of this month. We sent a small team up to St. John’s that boarded the Ocean Endeavour, spoke with some of the staff aboard, took some pictures of the facilities and later drive around the province to visit as many of our expedition’s destinations as time would allow. In coming newsletters we will provide detailed reports focusing on each individual destination.
While in St. John’s we met with Latonia Hartery one of the special guests of our expedition, we visited the colorful houses of Jellybean Row and Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. We also made an effort throughout our trip to taste as many of the regions more peculiar and emblematic culinary benefactions as possible, these included cod tongues, hay ice cream, Jiggs Dinner, Newfie Steak and of course, at almost every meal, the ever-present fish cakes. St. John’s truth be told, is an open, vibrant city, proud of its idiosyncrasy, and full of life.
From St. John’s we drove up the entire island and across the Strait of Belle Isle which separates it from Labrador, all the way to Red Bay where the Nao San Juan lies underwater. We met there with representatives of the Basque Whaling Station inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites by UNESCO in 2013. Though the museums they have up there had already closed for the season, the folks were kind enough to open them up for a tour and then sit down with us to plan out what an official reception might look like.
When finished with this meeting, we hit the road again (We drove over 2,000 miles in a week!) towards Gros Morne National Park, an enormous expanse of cliffs, fjords, and mountains overlooking forests full of wildlife. As we drove through we kept commenting to ourselves that it looked sort of like if the landscape of New England or upstate New York had been transposed on the topography of the Grand Canyon. A paradise for nature photographers.
Twelve hours after having left Red Bay we arrived at the tiny town of Fortune on the southern coast of Newfoundland. Fortune is where “Le Cabestan”, the tiny passenger boat that ferries people over to the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon departs from. Le Cabestan might be a tiny catamaran but the crossing is serious. Before boarding and once you disembark there are customs offices to pass through, passports must be shown, and the reason for your visit must be declared. The islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon are legally part of France and the European Union, and the procedure for entering is the same as if you had just landed in Paris on a 747. Once on the island and past the customs office, we were received very warmly by our friend David, treasurer of the Euskal Etxea of St. Pierre. It was wonderful to see him and plan out the details of the “petit fete” we plan on throwing at their beautiful fronton -one of the oldest in North America- when our expedition arrives next year. After lunch David gave us a tour of the island; we gazed out across the water towards the ghost town at L’Île-aux-Marins, an island whose last residents abandoned it for St. Pierre fifty years ago. We visited the Musée de l’Arche and the downtown where we spent our few Euros. It was a special visit to a very curious place; a French island with an outsize Basque presence smack in the middle of Canadian waters.
We retraced our steps back through customs and Le Cabestan to the parking lot in Fortune where we had left our car. We had one stop left to go.
Placentia sits on the Avalon Peninsula opposite St. John’s. Here we found not just a wealth of Basque vestiges including the oldest original Canadian civil document (The will of a Basque sailor who requested to be buried there.) but also a beautiful town and some wonderful folks in the persons of Tom O’ Keefe, President of the Placentia Area Historical Society and Charlotte Hickey, Chief Administrative Officer of the town. We were able to sit down with them and talk about the future town twinning being planned between their town and Plentzia in Bizkaia and the celebration we plan to set up in Placentia during our trip which will coincide with the signing of the document that will make the towns of Placentia and Plentzia officially twins. We visited the boardwalk and museum, the cemetery and local monuments. Most importantly we were able to see firsthand the depth of connection the town has with its Basque heritage and the importance it has there. In coming newsletters we plan on preparing detailed reports focusing individually on each of the destinations at which our expedition will stop. Today, back in New York we can declare that we have seen something very special: an enormous, beautiful province linked through its history to the Basque Country across the ocean, and a wonderful group of people and places that await us.
October 29th, 2016

Delegation from Placentia, NL Visits Plentzia in Bizkaia.

Delegation from Placentia, Newfoundland Visits Plentzia in Bizkaia to begin Process of Town Twinning

Mayor Wayne Power and Councillor Noella Collins of Placentia, Newfoundland are presented with a makila by Mayor David Crestelo on the steps of Town Hall in Plentzia. Picture L. Jauregialtzo
Mayor Wayne Power and Councillor Noella Collins of Placentia, Newfoundland visited the town of Plentzia, Bizkaia in the Basque Country with the goal of strengthening ties between the municipalities and hammering out the details of a future town twinning agreement. Mayor Crestelo had written a letter this summer inviting them to visit. The visit was a result of years of work and contact between the municipalities and especially by the historian Sabino Laucirica of Plentzia who was awarded the Placentia Area Historical Society Heritage Award last year for promoting the connection between Plentzia and Placentia in his work.
                The visit took place from the 13th to the 17th of October and the delegation from Placentia participated in a public ceremony on the front steps of town hall where they were presented with a Makila (A Basque walking staff, traditionally a symbol of authority) by mayor Crestelo.  Watch a video of the ceremony here.
Afterwards there was a public roundtable discussion held inside town hall that included both mayors and councillor Collins, the historian Sabino Laucirica and Aimar Arizmendi, one of the organizers of the expedition “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers” The delegation were also welcomed during their stay by representatives of the provincial government of Bizkaia and of the government of the Basque Country at the Palacio de la Diputación in Bilbao where a meeting was later conducted between all authorities present.
Leyre Madariaga, Director of Foreign Affairs of the Basque Government and Ibone Bengoetxea, Deputy of Provincial Public Administration and Institutional Relations for the Government of Bizkaia welcome representatives of Placentia and Plentzia
               As you know if you read our newsletter regularly, the connection between Placentia and Plentzia is something we have given coverage to in the past. Placentia is one of the stops on our expedition and the town twinning will culminate and become official with a celebration in Placentia coinciding with our stop there.
August 29th, 2016

Our Expedition is confirmed!

Our Expedition “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador” is confirmed!

Good afternoon friends and collaborators. It is with great joy that we announce today that our expedition “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador” – the first ever cultural expedition to celebrate the Basque legacy in Atlantic Canada- has been confirmed and will set sail on June 15th of next year 2017.
As many of you know, we have been working towards building this first of its kind trip highlighting 16th century Basque culture on the eastern coast of Canada for two years now. Throughout these two years our team has thrown itself into historical research, negotiation with our collaborators, dialogue with experts and authorities, presentations and promotion of our project to the public, and more. After these two years it is truly exciting to be able to say that our expedition is confirmed and guaranteed, and that on June 15th 2017 it will set sail for Newfoundland and Labrador.


This will mark the opening of the first cultural route and touristic venture ever built around the legacy and vestiges of the Basque fishermen and whalers who built large first scale industry on, and were among the first Europeans to reach the American continent. We would be remiss if we didn’t express our profound gratitude for their support to all of our wonderful friends and collaborators, Canadian and Basque entities, and especially to the many of you who took a chance and signed up to be a part of our trip before we could say with complete certainty that our project would become a reality.


The trip nears. In subsequent newsletters we will bring more reports about our ship “The Ocean Endeavour” and the many activities and destinations which will fill our expedition. What receptions await us at the UNESCO World Heritage Site Basque Whaling Station at Red Bay? What engagement will we have with the Basque community in St Pierre and Miquelon? What are the Menus that the Basque Culinary Center will prepare for us on our trip? Stay tuned, we will talk about these things and much more in the coming months.

Until then, we want to encourage those less familiar with our expedition to take a look at our brochure booklet and our previous newsletters.




For those interested in signing up today please look at our Registration Form.

Again, thank you so much for your support and interest and we’ll be in contact next month! Don’t hesitate to write us before then if you have any questions or comments!

Ondo izan,


June 14th, 2016

Official Smithsonian Folklife Festival Released



The Smithsonian has published a detailed calendar for all the events during the Festival which kicks off the 29th of this month. This is so exciting! We can’t wait. Here is the official schedule http://www.festival.si.edu/schedule

Here is an article we published last month that provides some more context

We hope to see you all there, we will be there in full force taking in the festival and hoping to spread the word about our project too. Also, we are a travel agency. If any of you out there is interested in booking a trip out to The Festival or a tour, reservations, etc. email us here.


June 13th, 2016

The AARA Offers a Scholarship for Research About the Basque Presence in Newfoundland and Labrador



The Amina Anthropological Resources Association Incorporated (AARA Inc.), a not-for-profit organization that researches, preserves, and promotes archaeology, cultural heritage and artistic resources in Newfoundland, Labrador and the Arctic has recently launched The Pioneers Scholarship Fund – Honouring  Basque Research in Labrador. The AARA Inc. Is headed by one of our collaborators, the tireless Latonia Hartery, an expert in the Basque presence in Newfoundland and Labrador in her own right.

June 12th, 2016

Presentation at The Astarbe Sagardotegia in Astigarraga This Friday!

We are very pleased to invite anyone of you out there who happens to be in Gipuzkoa this week to come out to our presentation this Friday. Our presentation will be held at the Astarbe Sagardotegia (Cider House) Camino de Txoritokieta 13, Astigarraga, Gipuzkoa 20115, the headquarters of our collaborators Astabre on Friday June 17th at 6:30 pm. Our collaborator the marine archaeologist Manu Izaguirre will be present to talk about his experiences in the discovery of the San Juan.  Again, we invite all of you to come out and hope to see you there!

June 10th, 2016

8 Probintziak: A Basque Diaspora Radio Show



This month we are very grateful to the radio show 8Probintziak. 8Probintziak is a radio show “For and with the Basque diaspora”. The name references what is called the 8th of province of The Basque Country which refers to Basque heritage and presence outside the geographical delineations of the seven provinces -Araba, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa, Lapurdi, Nafarroa Beherea, Nafarroa Garaia and Zuberoa- of Euskal Herria. The radio show is hosted by Benoit Etcheverry and is broadcast every month, simultaneously in 4 languages. It really is something very impressive to listen to. This month, we were very honored to have been invited on to speak about our project. Listen to the complete program here.

May 21st, 2016

Smithsonian Folklife Festival Updates


As we get closer to the 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival and begin to count down the days (39 left!) we thought we would share some updates. Though the official schedule likely won’t be released until mid-June, there are already several events that have been announced for both during and before festival.  Here is the most complete list of events that we’re able to put together based on what The Smithsonian has released up until today. We hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 22nd

6:30 p.m.

Txotx! A Basque Ciderhouse Experience

3118 Georgia Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC, 20010


Saturday, May 28th

2–4:30 p.m.

Basque Journeys: Stories in Film, Part Two

Warner Bros. Theater
National Museum of American History


Tuesday, June 21st

6:45–8:45 p.m.
Basque Untapped: Ciders of the Basque Country
Smithsonian Castle Commons
1000 Jefferson Drive SW


Concert Series

Throughout the festival there will be evening concerts related either to the Basque theme or the California theme. Click here for full descriptions of each act. Below are just the listings.


Wednesday June 29th

6:30 p.m.
Kepa Junkera & Sorginak
Kirmen Uribe


Friday July 1st

6:30 p.m.
Biotzetik Basque Choir
Saturday July 2nd
6:30 p.m.
Quetzal & Meklit Hadero


Sunday July 3rd
6:30 p.m.
Ralph Rinzler Memorial Concert
NEA National Heritage Fellows: Celebrating 50 Years of the National Endowment for the Arts


Thursday, July 7th
6:30 p.m.


Friday, July 8th 
6:30 p.m.
Kalakan with Aukeran
Kern County Basque Club Klika


Saturday, July 9th
6:30 p.m.
John Santos Sextet & Bobi Céspedes

Along with these events, there are a series of activities and ongoing exhibitions which will take place throughout the festival. Here is a list of the ones we know about. Below is a map of the festival layout.

 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Map_v2 



That’s right guys, there’s going to be a frontoia! They’re calling it The Folklife Festival Frontoia and it’s a venue that will allow visitors to watch and participate in pilota lessons and games, bolo (bowling) lessons and games, sokatira (tug-of-war), lokotz bilzea (cob gathering), demonstrations of other bertoko kirolak (local Basque sports), music and dance performances, and bertsolaritza.




The folks at the festival are also putting together a series of exhibits under the heading of Baserria. These exhibits include some of what you would expect to find at a traditional baserri including:

Traditional Idiazabal Cheese Making by the Goiburu Murua family from Segura, Guipuzkoa

Cooking Exhibitions Chefs  Igor Ozamiz Goiriena and Gorka Mota, culinary students Hasier Acebes and Rakel Rey, and other Basque artisans will teach visitors how to prepare iconic dishes, such as piperrada (pepper-based sauce) and marmitako (tuna and potato stew) at the Ostatua Kitchen


Baratzeak (Kitchen Gardens) which will include three types of Basque peppers Gernikako Piperra, Ezpeletako Biperra, and Tolosa Piperrak


Añana Salt Valley This one is really impressive. The Festival will build a small scale salt flat with the Salt Valley of Añana Foundation which Alberto Plata and Edorta Loma  will tend to each day in order to exhibit the salt production process and provide seasoning for the Ostatua Kitchen cooking demonstrations. Visitors can try salt samples and buy Añana salt to take home from the Festival Marketplace.




There will also be a series of exhibits and activities that recognize and highlight the vast maritime heritage of the Basque Country.


ALBAOLA SEA FACTORY Based out of Pasaia, Guipuzkoa, the Albaola Sea Factory and Maritime Museum is bringing a few of their skilled craftsmen with the skeleton of a twenty-six-foot txalupa, which they will rebuild on the National Mall to demonstrate traditional techniques.


Saregileak literally means net-menders or makers but is a word that has come to represent the many faceted role of women in the fishing industry. While men are out to sea for months, the saregileak do the bookkeeping, mend nets, prepare hooks, and often sell at fish markets, all while taking care of their families. Maria Elena Garate Astralaga from Bermeo, Bizkaia show will Festival visitors how she mends large fishing nets and also cook up traditional food in the Ostatua Kitchen tent.


Tknika Tknika is Basque country’s Center for Innovation in Vocational Training. Engineer Miren Canellada has been working with Jon Lasa, who came to Tknika with the idea to create a carbon fiber traineru, a traditional fishing boat now used in competitive racing. At the Festival, Canellada and Lasa will demonstrate the carbon fiber fabrication process and the pressure sensor system for each rower’s oar. Alongside a full forty-foot-long traineru, they will also build miniature prototypes.


Wow. This is a lot of stuff, and this isn’t even the full list. Stay tuned for more updates. This is going to be awesome.


May 21st, 2016

Absolute Last Chance to Take Advantage of our Special Promotion for Signing up Early

These are the final days to take advantage of our special promotion that includes a three night stay in St. John’s and a guided tour of the city at no extra cost. This extension overlaps with the beginning of St. John’s Days, the annual celebrations of that city.
We hope that this will provide the final bit of encouragement to the many, many of you who have expressed interest in registering for this unique trip. This is the time.
After June 1st the extension in St. John’s will be offered but for a fee. We encourage everybody to sign up and take advantage of this offer as we approach being a year out from the expedition and when our shipping partners need us to meet our goals.  We remind everyone who is interested to email us here or fill out our registration form here and send it to us.
Our Special Promotion
Our special promotion includes an additional three night stay in city of St. John’s. This stay will coincide with St. John’s Day and St. John’s Day Eve both important dates in Newfoundland and The Basque Country. There will be included: assistance to and from the airport, a tour of the city, optional programs, and immersion into the celebration of The St. John’s Days festivities which we will give a distinctive Basque flair to.
May 20th, 2016

Eskerrik Asko New York City Euzko-Etxea

We want to thank everybody who came out a few weeks back to our presentation at the Euzko-Etxea of New York. It is always nice to be able to go to Euzko-Etxea and it was especially rewarding to have filled the house. We want to especially thank Iban Ubarretxena, president of the Euzko-Etxea of New York for his introduction, Iñaki Bakedano for all his work in helping us put together the presentation, and Baraxil Bengoa for the photographs! Keep an eye out for our next presentation which will be at our partners’ Astarbe Sagardoegi Cider house in Astigarraga, Guipuzkoa sometime mid-June. Eskerrik Asko!!

April 24th, 2016

Special Promotion Extended Through June 1st


We want to take this opportunity to inform you all that given the wonderful response that our special promotion of three additional nights in St. John’s at no extra cost is having, we will make an extra effort and extend our special promotion until June 1st of this year.

We hope that this will provide the final bit of encouragement to the many, many of you who have expressed interest in registering for this unique trip. This is the time.

After June 1st the extension in St. John’s will be offered but for a fee. We encourage everybody to sign up and take advantage of this offer as we approach being a year out from the expedition and when our shipping partners need us to meet our goals.  We remind everyone who is interested to email us here or fill out our registration form here and send it to us.


Our Special Promotion

Our special promotion includes an additional three night stay in city of St. John’s. This stay will coincide with St. John’s Day and St. John’s Day Eve both important dates in Newfoundland and The Basque Country. There will be included: assistance to and from the airport, a tour of the city, optional programs, and immersion into the celebration of The St. John’s Days festivities which we will give a distinctive Basque flair to.
April 23rd, 2016

Dr. William Fitzhugh at Wagner College

Wagner University


Last Sunday Dr. William Fitzhugh gave a lecture entitled “Basque Whalers and Southern Inuit: Worlds in Collision? – or Collaboration?” The lecture was given at Wagner College campus in Staten Island overlooking the Verrazano Bridge and sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America in conjunction with the Archaeological Society of Staten Island.



In his lecture which lasted approximately an hour and a half Dr. Fitzhugh spoke at length about the Basque presence in Atlantic Canada during the 16th Century, how they lived and what vestiges he left behind, the relationship between the Basques and the Inuit –which he posits may have been in many instances collaborative- and about his own experiences leading teams of archaeologists at Quebec’s Hare Harbor and elsewhere.

His findings at Hare Harbor of abundant red tile, Basque ceramic and stoneware, iron, clay pipes and more were especially notable in that amongst these relics were also soapstone and Inuit fishing implements. Taken together what these findings indicate is that at this Basque site there also lived an Inuit family. This type of cooperation between Inuit and Basque is significant in that almost chronicles of early contact between Europeans and Native Americans in Atlantic Canada indicate hostile relations.
He also made mention of another interesting phenomenon we were not previously aware of. His team excavated Basque sites from the 17th Century, well after the heyday of Basque whalers in Canada. These sites show that Basques returned much later to this land, though in this second wave, instead of hunting whales they mostly fished cod.

William Fitzhugh is Director of the Arctic Studies Center and Curator of the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, and holds his degrees from Harvard (Ph.D. and M.A.) and Dartmouth (B.A.).  Dr. Fitzhugh’s areas of specialization are arctic archaeology, circumpolar cultures, Mongolia, and Vikings (especially in the Western Atlantic).  He has done fieldwork in the North Atlantic regions and arctic Russia, and in Mongolia, and has been recognized for his work in exhibits, documentaries, and research.

Mr. Fitzhugh will also be presenting his work at The Smithsonian Folkife Festival this summer. Here’s an article on Mr. Fitzhugh’s work from The Smithsonian that explains in detail his research at Hare Harbor.

March 29th, 2016

Basque-American News Outlets, Buber, and the Wonderful Articles of Vince Juaristi


We want to take a minute here to talk about Basque and Basque-American news sources available in the U.S., where they are, and how far we’ve come.

It’s become obvious that we’ve entered a phase of unprecedented access for the Basque community to news from the Basque country and other Basque communities throughout the country and the world. Truth is though, it’s kind of shocking to look at the scale and breadth of Basque media available considering what was available just five, ten or fifteen years ago. Clearly, the advent of the internet has radically altered and expanded access to information and advanced the reality of cultural equity for all types of communities, ideas, opinions and possibilities. That said, and since we have always had our eye on that particular corner of the internet concerning anything Basque, we thought it would be nice to share with you at least some of the Basque oriented news sites and blogs that we regularly read.

         Here is a brief list with links of the (English language) stuff we are reading:

New PictureA Basque in Boise This is a blog written by “a girl from Bilbao who calls Boise her home”. She sometimes aggregates and translates news stories, posts interesting original stories and is an especially great source for goings on in the Basque community of Boise, Idaho.

About Basque Country This website has been around for a while in Basque and Spanish and recently launched an English version last May. These folks have a big presence on social media, send out a daily newsletter, do a very thorough job of aggregating all types of Basque related news stories in the media, and following through with their stated goal which is “to present the world’s view on the Basques… to gather information on how the international media describes the reality of our country.”

The Center for Basque Studies Blog The blogging arm of The William A. Douglas Center for Basque Studies at The University of Nevada, Reno. Their pages “provide a wealth of research, interesting stories, and complete up-to-date information about what is going on here at the Center.” Always really interesting stuff.

Euskal Kazeta This is a news website based out of Los Angeles, the brainchild of Nancy Zubiri, the author of A Travel Guide to Basque America a book we highly recommend. They specialize in “covering stories on Basque events, issues and personalities across the U.S.” But they cover Basque stuff from all over the world as well. They also have some pretty impressive archives, research, and community specific news sections published.


Euskal Kultura This is definitely the premier website for news about the Basque diaspora worldwide. Their website and daily newsletter covers “Basques, Basque clubs and Basque culture outside the geographical limits of Euskal Herria” They also offer a huge and really diverse set of resources including a daily events listing for Basque events around the world, resources for learning Basque online or in person, tools for those interested in Basque genealogy and a host of other things.


Irekia is a website run by the Basque Government. It specifically points out that it “does not seek to be a news portal” but rather a tool for transparency in government. They disseminate news about the government both on their website and in their newsletter.


NABO or the North American Basque Organizations is an organization that has other Basque organizations as members. Their goal is to help them “assist each other in the pursuit of the same objective: the perpetuation of “Basqueness”” They also put out ASTERO, a weekly news bulletin we always read.

Hats off to all these purveyors of Basque news and the many more like them that we haven’t mentioned here. Basque centered news outlets and the representation of diaspora communities in media occupy a very important place in the landscape of awareness and self-perception of Basques in the United States and indeed around the world.

We would be remiss if we went any further without mentioning Buber and his website, Buber’s Basque Page. I cannot overstate how important this website is.

Now that there are several Basque and Basque diaspora themed publications sometimes with teams of full-time employees dedicated to their maintenance and daily newsletters, one might overlook Buber. There was a time though, not too long ago when it was just Buber. Before any of the aforementioned and omitted websites or bloggers, before you could read El Diario Vasco , Deia or Gara or access Eitb from your computer, before social media, before Wikipedia, there was Buber. If you had a Basque related query or if your question was simply “What is Basque?” more likely than not you’d end up at Buber’s page pretty quickly.

imageedit_1_7253896411Buber’s Basque Page was built by Blas Uberuaga in 1994 when he was just 23 and a graduate student. It’s often cited as the first website dedicated entirely to The Basque Country and Basque culture. For several years it remained the authoritative online compendium of all things Basque. Today Buber’s work is recognized by having the annual awards for best Basque website named in his honor, the Buber Sariak. On the homepage of his website he describes it as a page that

“…attempts to compile information about the Basque people. The pages contain many contributions from volunteers from all over the world. The topics span history, language, sports and games, folklore, politics, and genealogy, among many others.”

There’s really so much stuff in there that I can’t list it all here. What I can say is that for a long time I believed Buber was somehow going to catalogue the entire Basque universe. Part of me still believes that. At the time of this writing the most recent article posted was an interview with Christine Bender an author whose work we’ve recommended in the past.

We encourage anyone who has some free time to check out Buber’s page. If you don’t have time to do a lot of exploring and want to choose one thing, we recommend looking at a series of articles Buber is reprinting written by Vince J. Juaristi in the run up to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival  to be held in Washington D.C. this summer and which will celebrate Basque Culture.

Vince J Juaristi

Vince Juaristi, a native of Elko, Nevada and author of Back to Bizkaia, was asked by the Smithsonian to write a series of articles that highlight how the Basques have crossed paths with the United States throughout the years. The series of articles they have named Intertwined are being published in the Elko Free Daily Press and they highlight “how the Basque history has “intertwined” with that of the United States”.

We’ve been reading these articles and absolutely love them. Mr. Juaristi will publish one article of the series monthly through June of 2016. Here are links to the first three.

The Work of a Generation

Intertwined: John Adams Encounters the Basque

Intertwined: The Tail of the Comet

Reading these stories, we are struck by how profoundly emblematic they are of the type of community and identity building that media can help create and how valuable places like Buber’s Basque Page are. Twenty years ago it would have been incredibly unlikely for us to have come across a series of articles published in Elko. Today, thanks to the growth and accessibility of Basque American news outlets we can say that these are some of the most satisfying newspaper articles we’ve read in years.

March 28th, 2016

Cider Aboard from Astarbe Sagardotegia!


Our expedition “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers” and the Astarbe cider house located in Astigarraga, Guipuzkoa have come to a collaborative agreement to bring their cider aboard our expedition.

After over a year of careful searching for a traditional cider producer from the Basque Country to provide cider for our expedition, today we are very pleased to announce that we’ve come to an agreement with Astarbe Sagardotegia, one of the oldest cider producers in the Basque Country.

We based our decision not just on the superb quality of their cider and traditional cooking at their cider house but especially on the long history and tradition of cider making at Astarbe. With over 450 years of experience, Astarbe is one of the oldest cider producers in the Basque Country. Also  noteworthy is that during these past five centuries the cider house has been run continuously by one family. Today it’s the fifteenth generation of this family that cultivates the same orchards, processes the apples into cider and runs their year round sagardotegia (traditional cider house restaurant). The first document pertaining to cider production at the Astarbe Sagardotegia site dates back to May 20th 1563. The year is notable as it’s the same year that the whaleship San Juan was built just a few miles away in Pasaia. The San Juan of course was sunk in Red Bay, Labrador, Canada two years later during a violent storm. The discovery of the well preserved wreckage of the San Juan in 1978 was a huge catalyst for the study of Basque history in Canada and Basque transatlantic whale hunting. Today the San Juan is the basis of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Red Bay, A National Historic Site of Canada, one of the most valuable underwater archeological sites in the world, and one of the places our trip will visit in 2017.



In a previous article we’ve spoken about the importance cider had aboard Basque whaleships. Cider was the most important beverage of the time in the Basque Country and given that it didn’t corrupt as easily as wine or beer it was a natural choice for stocking long term seafaring expeditions. It was so fundamental to whale hunting expeditions that sailors were often paid in cider – sometimes up to two bottles per day. Bringing cider aboard was a peculiarity specific to Basque whaleships and it came with an unexpected but very fortuitous side effect. The cider, and the apples that it is made from are packed with vitamins, vitamins not found in either wine or beer. The result of having this vitamin rich beverage aboard was that it protected sailors aboard Basque whaleships from contracting scurvy which was an absolute scourge to sailors around the world.

Given Astarbes’ longevity and proximity to the coast, it’s more than reasonable to believe that during the apogee of Basque transatlantic whale hunting, Astarbe may have provided some of the cider aboard the dozens of Galleons that crossed the Atlantic annually. The idea that on our expedition -which aims to pay homage and explore the legacy of the very first Basques in the Americas- we will be able to drink cider that comes from apple trees that are the direct descendants of the ones that provided for our sailing ancestors makes us profoundly happy.

More information on Astarbe, their cider and cider-house here.

Astarbe - 314-138

March 27th, 2016

Special Promotion in St. John’s


We would like to remind everybody of our special promotion launched last November to encourage folks to sign up for our first of its kind expedition before May 1st. All new reservations made through May 1st 2016 will include a free 3 night stay at the Hotel Quality Harborview or similar in the historic center of St. John’s during the St. John’s festivities. Also included is a guided visit of the city. This promotion extends our trip to 10 nights at no extra cost to those who sign up early. In order to take advantage of this offer kindly fill out our Registration Form and return by May 1st. We encourage you to take part in this unique opportunity!

We have put together this offer because though our expedition is over a year away, having people sign up this far in advance sends an important message. It signals to our providers, collaborating partners and followers all over the world that a cultural route built around this Basque history is a viable, sustainable thing. That, even though 16th Century Basque whale hunting in North America is a little known topic; it deserves a comprehensive, accessible and worthwhile way of visiting. Like the Viking trails of the North Atlantic, Route 66 in the western United States, or The Silk Road between China and the Mediterranean Sea, we believe that the heritage surrounding the transatlantic odysseys of Basque fishermen and whalers is valuable enough that it deserves to be visited and celebrated. We hope that this promotion will help you decide to join us in opening up this important piece of history to the world.

March 24th, 2016

The Aita Guria Whaleship and Museum Opens for the Season in Bermeo.

One of our cooperating partners, The Aita Guria opened its doors for the season last week. The Aita Guria (Our Father) is a 17th Century whaling interpretation center docked at the port of Bermeo, Bizkaia. It is a replica of the type of whaleship that would sail from The Basque Country to Newfoundland, built entirely out of wood and from plans dating from the 17th Century. The whaleship is open to the public and offers guided tours as well as audiovisual tours in Basque, English, French and Spanish. They will be open Wednesday through Sunday (as well as Tuesdays in the summer) until the last day of October. That said, we recommend calling ahead before visiting given that the museum may modify their hours due to storms or very high tide.

A visit to this museum is a wonderful way to experience a significant and fundamentally Basque part of maritime history. There will also be information aboard the museum pertaining to our 2017 expedition. Admission is 2 € per adult and 1 € per child. We encourage anyone who is planning on taking a trip to the Basque Country to check out this very special, one of a kind, floating museum. More information about the Aita Guria at their official website here.

Galeon Ballenero Aita Guria

January 30th, 2016

Special Promotion Extended!



As you might remember, last November we launched a special promotion to encourage folks to sign up for our first of its kind expedition before January 1st 2016. Well, this promotion was very successful for us and we have decided to extend it through May 1st of this year. What we are offering is the following: All new reservations made through May 1st 2016 will include a free 3 night stay at the Hotel Quality Harborview or similar in the historic center of St. John’s during the St. John’s festivities. Also included is a guided visit of the city. This promotion extends our trip to 10 nights at no extra cost to those who sign up early. In order to take advantage of this offer kindly fill out our Registration Form and return by May 1st. We encourage you to take part in this unique opportunity!

January 28th, 2016

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2016


The Smithsonian Folklife Festival, launched in 1967 is an international exhibition of living cultural heritage presented annually for two weeks in the summer at The National Mall in Washington, D.C. It is the largest annual cultural festival held in the nation’s capital and attracts over one million people annually. Every year the festival chooses a different culture and living heritage to celebrate and in 2016 the selected culture is Basque! The festival, which is free to the public, will be celebrated in two parts: from June 29th to July 4th and from July 7th to July 10th. Here is an overview of the event put out by The Smithsonian.


The corresponding theme will be “Innovation by Culture” To this end they are gathering together musicians, dantzaris, boat builders, bertzolaris, cooks and anyone who is an expert or  has knowledge of a traditional Basque craft to share their expertise. This is open to people from the Basque Country or Basque people around the world. Here is a link to their announcement for prospective participants and presenters. Here you can find the guide for people interested in vending at the festival. Finally here is some general information for anyone who would like to start planning their visit.


 The selection of Basque culture as this years protagonist is a very powerful acknowledgement of our culture and traditions and a special opportunity to showcase our heritage to the world. We are very excited about this and would encourage everyone to come check it out this summer!


January 27th, 2016

Donostia 2016



After more than four years of preparations, the city of Donostia-San Sebastian along with Wroclaw, Poland took up the mantle last week of European Capital of Culture for 2016. The European Capital of Culture is a designation by the European Parliament to one or two cities in Europe for the purpose of organizing cultural events which exhibit those cities’ development and unique cultural heritage throughout a calendar year.

This is the very first time ever that a Basque city has been awarded this distinction and we couldn’t be prouder. Opening ceremonies were held last Saturday January 20th in conjunction with the annual Tamborrada Festival. Watch a brief video on the opening ceremony at the official Donostia 2016 website here. Check out the full program for the calendar year here. With so many events, activities, conferences, concerts, lectures and more going on, it is making us seriously considering a visit back to San Sebastian. (Check out the Time Machine Soup event on page 40 of the guide.) This is a once in a lifetime celebration!



December 11th, 2015

Special End of the Year Promotion



In order to encourage those who may be interested in signing up for this once in a lifetime expedition to do so before the end of this year we are launching a special promotion! All new reservations made before January 1st 2016 will allow anyone who signs up to continue the trail of Basque whalers on land with a free 3 night stay at the Hotel Quality Harborview or similar in the historic center of St. John’s during the St. John’s festivities. Also included in this promotion will be a guided visit to the city. In order to take advantage of this offer kindly fill out our Registration Form and return by January 1st. We believe that this small extension is a valuable addition to the overall experience as it comes over the St. John’s Days festivities which are important both in St. John’s and the Basque Country.

We encourage you to take advantage of this special offer!

December 10th, 2015

Basque Culinary Center



A few weeks back, in November, we sat down at The Basque Culinary Center with their General Manager Joxe Mari Aizega to begin planning and collaborating on our project “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers” for 2017.

The Basque culinary Center is the premier gastronomic university in Europe, located in San Sebastian; it will be one of our most important partners on this voyage. In subsequent newsletters we will detail how our culinary plan develops. What we can say for now is that, under the supervision and coordination of a world renowned center of gastronomic education and research like The Basque Culinary Center, we will have a unique opportunity to dine with one of the finest institutions in the field. For more information on The Basque Culinary Center click Here.

December 9th, 2015

Basque Country and Quebec Meet to Discuss Economic and Cultural Cooperation Pact



Last Tuesday December 8th the Lehendakari of the Spanish provinces of The Basque Country, Iñigo Urkullu and the Premier of Quebec, Phillipe Couillard announced in Paris that they would sign an economic and cultural cooperation pact that will include the opening of a new maritime route between Quebec and The Basque Country.

Urkullu and Coillard were both in Paris where they serve as Co-chairs of The Climate Group States and Regions Alliance as part of the COP21 Climate Talks. Lehendakari Urkullu said the maritime route which would exist between the ports of Quebec and Bilbao would be worked on “Shortly” and that “Euskadi would represent to Quebec a point of access to Europe… meanwhile, Quebec would facilitate the access of Basque products to the Canadian and American market.” Both men also made special mention of the shared history between The Basque Country and eastern Canada underpinning their cooperation that dates back to the 16th century Basque whalers who inhabited the area.  We are totally on board with highlighting and building on this shared history. Read the whole story Here in English.

December 5th, 2015

Pictures From Our Recent Presentations

November 13th, 2015

Document Presented To Mayor of Plentzia, Spain Certifying the Presence of Plentzian Sailors In Newfoundland in 1726

Sabino Laucirica

Historical investigator Sabino Laucirica, recent recipient of the Placentia, Newfoundland annual Heritage Award participated in a panel discussion on the topic of historical Basque whaling held at the Plentzia, Marine Station Research Center last October 23rd. His presentation focused specifically on whalers from Bizkaia, the westernmost province of the Basque Country in Spain and their experiences in Newfoundland in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Mr. Laucirica closed his portion of the discussion by presenting the mayor of Plentzia, David Crestelo with a copy of an original document certifying the presence of Plentzian sailors engaged in whaling in Newfoundland over 350 years ago.  The document, a letter written by Juan Jose Goitia, official recruiter for the Spanish Navy, dates from 1726 and was located by Mr. Laucirica in the Historical Archives of the Diputacion Foral de Bizkaia. In it the recruiter complains of being unable to complete his designated quota of men due to “… all the people being engaged in Newfoundland and the hunting of whale…” Mr. Laucirica who was awarded the Placentia Heritage Award this past August for his work in promoting the connection between Placentia and Plentzia which the Newfoundland town was named after, said “It’s thought that the voyages of Basque whale hunters to Newfoundland were primarily undertaken by fishermen from the province of Guipuzkoa and that’s so but documents like these present a fuller picture that affirms that sailors from all provinces of the Basque Country came to Newfoundland.” He also said “It’s my hope that by bringing information like this to light we can leverage our shared history to forge stronger bonds between Newfoundland and The Basque Country.” Mayor Crestelo for his part accepted the document to much applause from the crowd and vowed to put the document on permanent display in the municipal museum. See the original document here. Read the text here (Spanish)

Sabino y DavidDavid Crestelo

November 8th, 2015

Special End of the Year Promotion


In order to encourage those who may be interested in signing up for this once in a lifetime expedition to do so before the end of this year we are launching a special promotion! All new reservations made before January 1st 2016 will allow anyone who signs up to continue the trail of Basque whalers on land with a free 3 night stay at the Hotel Quality Harborview or similar in the historic center of St. John’s during the St. John’s festivities. Also included in this promotion will be a guided visit to the city. We hope that this offer will have the desired effect and believe that this small extension is a valuable addition to the overall experience as it comes over the St. John’s days festivities which are important both in St. John’s and the Basque Country as well. We encourage you to take advantage of this special offer!


New Picture


November 5th, 2015

Current Reservation Status

As many of you know, this project is very special to us. The opening of the first cultural route celebrating the experiences of 16th Century Basques in Newfoundland and Labrador is a very large undertaking but one that we feel is important and will be a valuable contribution to the world of cultural tourism. To try and help push our project forward we would like to share a graphic we have created showing our current reservation status and what we would like that to be by the end of the year to feel comfortable going forward. To this end we are launching a special promotion that rewards clients who sign up before the beginning of next year with an opportunity to continue the trail of the Basque whalers with a three night stay in St. Johns for free at the conclusion of the expedition. The promotion also includes a guided visit of the city of St. Johns and coincides with the feast day of St. John, an important day in that city.

We invite everyone interested in this project to take advantage of this offer and in this way help make this unique project a reality



As can be seen in this graphic, we are looking for 50 brave souls to sign up before the end of the year and to this end we have prepared this special promotion. Consult all the details here.

November 3rd, 2015

Agreement of Cooperation with The Whaleship Aita Guria

Aita Guria

The Aita Guria (Our Father) is a 17th Century whaling interpretation center docked at the port of Bermeo, Bizkaia. It is a replica of the type of whaleship that would sail from The Basque Country to Newfoundland, built entirely out of wood and from plans dating from the 17th Century. The whaleship is open to the public and offers guided tours as well as audiovisual tours in Basque, English, French and Spanish. It will open for the season this coming 20th of March. Should you find your way to Bermeo we recommend the visit. You can access more information on the Ait Guria here and information on our trip “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador” will be available there when it opens next season.

Aita Guria2

October 31st, 2015

Upcoming Presentations in Madrid and Beasain

We continue or series of presentations this month in Beasain, Guipuzkoa (Palacio Igartza) on Saturday November 21st at 7 pm where we will be joined by our friends from the artisanal Basque beer brewery Mala Gissona and then we will be at the Madrid Euskal Etxea on Tuesday November 24th at 7 pm. We hope to see you there!

Invitacion Beasain ES_2


October 15th, 2015

New Round of Presentations in the Basque Country and Spain

We have the great pleasure of announcing our next round of presentations. Following the ones held in San Sebastian, Bilbao and Boise, Idaho we have organized five more for this October and November in the Basque Country and Spain. We will be presenting in Plentzia, Lekeitio, and Bermeo in Bizkaia, in Beasain Guipuzkoa and Madrid. We use these presentations to speak about this singular history and explain our project; the aperture of the first-ever cultural route celebrating the legacy of the Basque fishermen and whalers who crossed the Atlantic to Newfoundland and Labrador in the 16th Century. You are all hereby cordially invited to join us on the following dates.

Friday October 23rd at 7:30 p.m. at the Plentziako Itsas Estazioa, Areatza Hiribidea 47, 48620 Plentzia, Bizkaia


Wednesday October 28th at 7:30 p.m. at the Kultur Etxe, Resurrección María Azkue Kalea 5, 48280 Lekeitio, Bizkaia


Thursday October 29th at 7:00 p.m. at the Arrantzaleen Museoa, Torrontero Enparantza 48370 Bermeo, Bizkaia

Invitacion Beasain ES_2

Friday November 20th at 7:00 p.m. at the Palacio Igartza, Beasain, Guipuzkoa


Tuesday November 24th at 7:00 p.m. at the Madrid Euskal Etxea, Calle Jovellanos 3, 28014 Madrid

Stay tuned for news about a December presentation we are preparing in Eastern Canada which will be accompanied by traditional Basque food.

For more information on how to have an “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador” presentation in your city, town, museum, cultural center or library contact us here.

October 10th, 2015

Cabin Availability

As we indicated a little while ago, cabins in categories 1 and 10 have sold out. Do not worry though, there are still many cabins in all other categories. We do recommend that people interested in this first of its kind expedition to take a look at our brochure here and that those who have made the decision to sign up to fill out our Registration Form.

Top Deck Twin - Category 7

Top Deck Twin – Category 7

Superior Twin Matrimonial - Category 8

Superior Twin Matrimonial – Category 8

Lounge Deck

Lounge Deck

Polar Restaurant

Polar Restaurant



October 8th, 2015

Artisanal Basque Beer Brewery Mala Gissona To Join Our Expedition!

Mala Gissona_

We are proud to announce our partnership with Mala Gissona, a new brewery from Oiartzun, Guipuzkoa, who will provide their craft beers aboard our expedition “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador”. Mala Gissona is a brewery that “Picks up the spirit of the Basque whalers of old on their long campaigns in the north Atlantic. A personality forged by “sea and wind” which left a profound mark. An honest and intrepid beer which is true to its values.” Find out more about this new brewery, their curious name rooted in the Icelandic-Basque pidgin of the 15th Century and, of course their beers here


September 8th, 2015

Itinerary Modification – Placentia June 21st

As you know, we had planned to stop in Port Aux Basques on June 20th, but after much discussion with our cultural partners, expedition leaders and historical experts we have deciced to tweak the itinerary of our trip just a little bit. We have resolved to substitute our stop in Port Aux Basques for a stop in the town of Placentia on the 21st. The genesis of this change came at the beginning of April when we received an email from Tom O’Keefe, the director of the Placentia Area Historical Society telling us about the historical significance of his town and their connection to the historical Basque presence. Soon thereafter we began receiving news from Basque historian Sabino Laucirica also very keen to make us aware of how important Placentia is to scholars of the Basque experience in Newfoundland and how important it was to Basque sailors of the 16th century. Here are some quick facts. Placentia is a coastal town of approximately 4,000 people. Placentia was named afer the town of Plentzia, in Bizkaia (Historically a major port for whaling in the Basque Country.) by Basque fishermen because of the geographical similarities shared by the two towns.


Placentia, Newfoundland

Placentia, Newfoundland

Plentzia, Bizkaia

Plentzia, Bizkaia


There remain several vestiges of the Basque endeavours from the 16th century including tile from the Basque country. But Placentia was not just a key place for the Basques to carry out their work of fishing and drying their catch, there was also significant graveyard there. Today several headstones remain of Basques who perished and were buried in Newfoundland.


Also in Placentia, at their O’Reilly Museum, which we will visit, is a copy of the oldest original civil document written in Canada: The last will and testament of the Basque fisherman Domingo de Luca from Hondarribia in Guipuzkoa. He wrote his will in Newfoundland on May 15th 1563 and in it he asked:

“That if the will of God Our Lord were served to take me by this illness from the present life, that my body be buried in this port of Plazençia in the place where those who die here are usually buried.”

Given all these things, and the very convincing arguments of the two historians, we have decided to Include Placentia in our trip. While Port Aux basques is a very beatiful outpost known to the Basques of the 16th century as a place to take on supplies and fresh water on their way out back home, we, along with our cultural partners and expedition leaders have decided that the artifacts and history in Placentia make it a more significant site and worthwhile docking point for our trip. We hope you will agree.


September 7th, 2015

Recommended Reading

Though we are still over a year and a half away from the start of our expedition, we have compiled a breif list of recommended books for those of you who might be interested in a little prepatory reading.


  1. The Whaler’s Forge by Christine Echeverria Bender

The Whaler’s Forge by Christine Echeverria Bender“The activities of Basque whalers in early northeastern North America are the biggest historical secret of New World history. Christine Echeverria Bender brings their lives to light in a spell-binding story about a Basque man living among Native Americans. Information from history, Native life, and archaeology all contribute to a dramatic tale that is so plausible, it makes you think it really happened.”

- Dr. William Fitzhugh, Archaeological Curator of the Smithsonian Institution





  1. Joanes or The Basque Whaler Trilogy (Graphic Novel) by Guillermo Zubiaga

Joanes or The Basque Whaler Trilogy (Graphic Novel) by Guillermo ZubiagaThe Joanes trilogy follows the adventures of the titular Basque whaler Joanes, his hardy crew, and their amazing flying whaleboat. The story is a series of graphic novels set in the Golden Age of Basque whaling, following a fictionalized Joanes and departing from historical fact while weaving in elements of Basque mythology. The Author Guillermo Zubiaga believes “The Basque whalers as a genre come to represent not only a very important symbol but an epic equivalent to that of the cowboy of the Americas, the Viking of Scandinavia or the Samurai of Japan”





  1. The Basque History of the World by Mark Kurlansky

Basque-History-of-the-World-The-Mark-KurlanskyA history of the oldest and least understood European culture, their history, food, culture, and their ancient language that is not related to any other known language. The New York Times called it “an unorthodox approach, mixing history with anecdotes, poems and recipes.” an international best seller, translated into numerous languages. Illustrated by the author.






April 4th, 2015

Video: In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers NYC Presentation

March 29th, 2015

Photos: NYC Explorers Club Presentation

March 11th, 2015

NYC Presentation of “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers” Friday at 6:00 pm

In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers- (2)
Don’t miss our New York presentation of “In the Footsteps of Basque Whalers in Newfoundland and Labrador” this Friday at 6:00 pm!
Special guests include: The esteemed sub aquatic archeologist Robert Grenier, archeologist and filmmaker Latonia Hartery, the Basque-American soprano Amaya Arberas, the comic book artist Guillermo Zubiaga and much more…..

For those of you who will not be able to attend, a reminder: You can watch this presentation live at www.explorers.org

March 11th, 2015

Watch: Presentacion Bilbao