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Basque boat leaves Placentia on journey to St-Pierre-Miquelon


Published on July 28, 2017

The crew of the Indianoak raise their oars in salute before leaving the Jerseyside Harbour for their 10-day trip to St-Pierre-Miquelon.

©Tom O'Keefe/Special to The Compass

PLACENTIA, NL — An international historic event took place in Placentia July 28 when a group from France, Spain and Quebec gathered to row a traditional Basque boat from Placentia to St-Pierre-Miquelon for Ternua 2017. 

Ternua means Newfoundland in Basque. The trip started in Placentia because of its strong connection with the Basque.

After having used the local regatta site to prepare and practice with the 15-crew boat, called Indianoak, the rowers set out just after 6 a.m. Friday for the start of a 10-day trip to St-Pierre-Miquelon. 

Matt Foley of Placentia stands beside the Indianoak. He's the only local rower on the 15-person crew.
Tom O'Keefe/Special to The Compass

One local, well-known Placentia Regatta coxswain Matt Foley, went with the crew. Speaking before he left with the rowers Friday, Foley said it was an honour and privilege to be included.

Saying he had some concern for the winds, Foley added, “However, I can’t wait to make port and say I did it.“ Their first stop will be Petite Forte.

The visitors took advantage of the displays in O’Reilly House Museum and on Castle Hill to see evidence of that involvement.

There was a two-day celebration to share cultures of the locals and visiting Basque.

Events started at the Placentia Arts Centre with a performance by the Placentia Area Theatre d’Heritage of vignettes written by Lee Everts, with complementary work by the high school on display from art classes taught by Christopher Newhook. 

On Thursday, the 27th, activities began with a Eucharistic Celebration in the Sacred Heart Church followed by the blessing of the boat by Archbishop Martin Currie. The latter gathering featured a talk with former fish magnate Gus Etchegary, a descendent of the Basque on St-Pierre-Miquelon. 

A festival in the Town Square followed, with entertainment including dance performances by a St-Pierre group and the Placentia Lancers. 

Sponsored by the Town of Placentia, the event was spearheaded by Rhonda Power, manager of tourism, marketing and communications, who is bilingual.

You can track the rowers' progress by clicking this link.