RED BAY, N.L. -- A small community on the southern coast of Labrador with a rich history in early North American whaling has become Canada's latest world heritage site.
Red Bay, N.L., is home to the most complete and extensive example of 16th-century Basque whaling stations.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recently made the decision to grant the site the international designation at its annual meeting in Cambodia.
Cindy Gibbons, a spokeswoman for Parks Canada, said the world heritage status is the highest honour a cultural site can receive.
"It feels absolutely wonderful to have been part of the process of getting the Red Bay Basque whaling station to that point," said Gibbons, who has worked for the past five years to achieve UNESCO recognition.
Although only a couple hundred residents now live in Red Bay, during its heyday, more than 1,000 whalers travelled annually to the community from the Basque region of France and Spain to take part in large-scale commercial whaling, said Gibbons.
The area encompasses six square kilometres of both terrestrial and underwater archeological sites, a Parks Canada news release said, adding it has more than a dozen shore stations containing well-preserved remnants of rendering ovens, workshops, wharfs and sunken galleons.
"Red Bay became the largest and the most important whaling port in the world during the 16th century," Gibbons said Saturday.
-- The Canadian Press