Nearly everything is within walking distance in Channel-Port aux Basques! To discover many of the town’s hidden treasures, take a leisurely sightseeing tour. Stroll along the Scott’s Cove boardwalk, through our historic downtown area or drop by our museum, shops, restaurants, and local establishments.
Channel-Port aux Basques, the Gateway to Newfoundland, has been welcoming visitors for 500 years, from Basque Fisherman in the 1500’s who found the ice free harbour a safe haven, to ferry passengers who commenced arriving on the “Bruce” steamship in 1898 to take the railway across the island.
The area was not settled on a year-round basis until fisher-folk from the Channel Islands established Channel in the early 1700’s, although people had been working the south coast fishery year-round for a century before this. The name Port aux Basques came into common usage from 1764 onwards following surveys of Newfoundland undertaken by Captain James Cook on behalf of the British Admiralty. Captain Cook went on to fame, if not fortune, as a result of his surveys in the Pacific Ocean, but it was he who surveyed the St. Lawrence prior to Wolfe’s Assault of Quebec and was awarded 50 pounds gratuity for his “selfless service”.
The region gained a strong French influence following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and the legacy remains in many of the place names on the coast. Fox Roost used to be Fosse Rouge, while Rose Blanche was Roche Blanche, or white rock, which is very obvious when you walk to the lighthouse. Isle aux Morts, or Isle of the Dead (named for the number of shipwrecks there) has retained its identity unscathed.
A major change occurred in southwest Newfoundland in 1818 when England ceded fishing rights on the coast to the American’s who had been fishing the coast for two decades. This treaty continued into the 20th century and, as a result, the area is often referred to as the American Coast. The American connection gave the local occupants a back door through which they could trade and avoid the control of the fishery exercised by the English and Jersey merchant companies. As a result, the coast also has strong family connections with New England States.
The development of Channel – Port aux Basques is closely intertwined with that of communication and transportation in Newfoundland. In 1856, Samuel Morse (of Morse Code fame) investigated the possibility of laying submarine cable from Cape Ray to Nova Scotia. One year later the cable became a reality.
What created Port aux Basques was the coming of the railway in 1898. The location was chosen by the Reid Company, who had been contracted by the Newfoundland government to build a railway across the province, partly because of its proximity to Cape Breton, but also because the area was usually ice-free through the winter. By 1881 construction began on the Reid Newfoundland Railway and on June 29th, 1898, the first train left St. John’s at 7:00pm. It arrived in Port aux Basques on June 30th at 10:45pm … a journey of 27 hours and 45 minutes!
Railroad passengers then went by sea to North Sydney, Nova Scotia, on the first ferry, the “S.S. Bruce”. This passenger-freight vessel made the crossing for 20 years before being replaced by other vessels.
Newfoundland saw much activity during the Second World War with one of the Loran C master stations on Mouse Island operating from 1942-45. Also in 1942, the US military erected radio and telephone repeater stations on Table Mountain, one of seven installations across the province.
In 1942 one of the most notable vessels, the “S.S. Caribou” was sunk on the gulf crossing by a German U-boat. Of the 288 on board, 187 lost their lives. A monument now sits at the Legion Memorial Park to commemorate this tragic event. Today, a new super ferry “M.V. Caribou” with luxury accommodations, named after its predecessor, is making the crossing in less than six hours.
With an emergence of the fishery, union of the Newfoundland Railroad and ferry crossing the Cabot Strait, Channel and Port aux Basques was growing rapidly and merged into a single community in November 1945.
Port aux Basques owes is settlement in part to its strategic location, aiding transportation, and its rich fishing grounds. Today, Channel – Port aux Basques is a community of some 4,319 people. The town, with its modernized facilities, provides shopping, business, education and recreational services to the area; is known as the hub of Southwestern Newfoundland.
The town of Channel-Port aux Basques is located on southwestern tip of the island of Newfoundland, fronting on the eastern end of the Cabot Strait. Read more below on traveling within our region.
If you are travelling by road there are 2 exits off the Trans Canada Highway into Channel-Port aux Basques:
• Exit Port aux Basques (Via Grand Bay West) is at Grand Bay West near the Industrial Park
• Exit Port aux Basques (Downtown) is at High Street and centre of the community
DRL provides daily motor coach service with 25 stops across the Island of Newfoundland. The westbound coach departs St. John’s at 7:30 a.m. en route to Port aux Basques; the eastbound coach departs Port aux Basques at 8:00 a.m. en route to St. John’s. “Getting you there, 365 a year”. For further information on coach services, visit the DRL website at http://drl-lr.com or call 1-888-263-1854.
The Deer Lake Regional Airport is 265 km (164 miles) east of Channel-Port aux Basques. Air Canada has daily flights to St. John’s, Halifax, and Toronto. West Jet flies six days a week to Toronto during the peak season of May to October. Provincial Airlines has several flights daily to St. John’s, Goose Bay, and Wabush.
Marine Atlantic operates a ferry service from Channel-Port aux Basques to North Sydney, Nova Scotia. For further information on ferry services, visit the Marine Atlantic website at www.marine-atlantic.ca or call 1-800-341-7981.
During peak summer tourism season, car rentals often book to capacity often. With a limited vehicle supply, make sure to book your car rental early to ensure availability.
Car rental agencies are available at the Stephenville International Airport located 155 km (96 miles) east of Channel-Port aux Basques.
National Car Rental
Tel: (709) 643-5121
Budget Car Rental
Tel: (709) 643-5913
In Deer Lake:
Car rental agencies are available at the Deer Lake Regional Airport located 265 km (164 miles) east of Channel-Port aux Basques.
Avis Car Rental
Tel: (709) 635-5010
Toll free: 1-800-879-2847
Budget Car Rental
Tel: (709) 635-3211
Toll free: 1-800-268-8900
Tel: (709) 635-4667
After Hours: (709) 635-4668
Worldwide Reservations: 1-800-736-8222
National Car Rental
Tel: (709) 635-3282
Toll free: 1-800-227-7368
Dollar/Thrifty Car Rental
Toll free: 1-800-563-8644
Gateway Taxi: (709) 695-3333
Scott’s Taxi: (709) 695-7777
Summers in Channel-Port aux Basques are comfortably warm. Fall brings cooler temperatures and vibrant autumn colours, which are normally in their prime around mid-October. Winter months tend to be mild and snowy.
• Population: 4,319 in town; 9,120 in immediate Southwest Coast region
• Tax: 13% Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) will be applied to most goods and services
• Language: English
• Area Code: (709) for the province of Newfoundland Labrador
• Time Zone: NFLD Standard Time (-3:30 GMT; ½ hr. ahead of Atlantic Time)
• Smoking: Banned on all public transport, public buildings including restaurants, bars, and workplaces
• Cell Phone Usage: Handheld cell phone use while driving is against the law. Use a hands free device or pull off to the side of the road. (Rogers’ cell service is not available in Western Newfoundland)
• Alcohol: You must be 19 years of age to consume or purchase alcohol in Newfoundland and Labrador
Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre
1 Grand Bay Road
Tel: (709) 695-4555
19A Grand Bay Road
Tel: (709) 695-2405
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Trans Canada Highway
Tel: (709) 695-2149/2140
Province Wide Emergencies: 1-800-709-7267
Hearing/Speech Impaired TYY-TDD: 1-800-563-2172
Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department
18 Marine Drive
Emergency: (709) 695-2323
Social Hall: (709) 695-7418