Welcoming more than 300,000 travellers each year, Channel-Port aux Basques is a tourism hotspot in Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s a small town, but nearly everything you need is within walking distance. Take a sightseeing tour and discover one hidden treasure after another—from a delightful array of shops, restaurants, and museums, to beautiful boardwalks and colourful kiosks lining the harbour. Enjoy a day on the beach basking in sunshine, be guided by one of the lighthouses, and take a stroll through the town’s vibrant downtown in this charming community. 

Considered the gateway to Newfoundland and Labrador, Channel-Port aux Basques is situated at the tip of the rugged southwestern coast of the province. It’s also positioned at the eastern end of the Cabot Strait, the widest outlet flowing into the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. 

If you’re planning a visit by air, flights land at the regional airport in Deer Lake, as well as Stephenville Dymond International Airport in Stephenville. By car via the Trans-Canada Highway, Deer Lake is a 265-kilometre drive, while Stephenville is 165 kilometres away. To reach Channel-Port aux Basques from Newfoundland’s capital, St. John’s, the Marine Atlantic ferry service is recommended—if a scenic nine-hour road trip is preferred, there’s lots to explore during the 903 kilometre drive. For those travelling from Nova Scotia, Marine Atlantic operates year-round ferrying passengers between North Sydney and Channel-Port aux Basques regularly. The crossing takes seven hours on average.  

What to know about Channel-Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Labrador

Like many villages along the coast in Newfoundland and Labrador, the history of Channel-Port aux Basques is closely tied to fishing. In fact, it’s said the area was first discovered by fishermen in the 1500s seeking a temporary haven from the ice-laden waters of the Atlantic during the winter. 

Later, in the 1700s, French fisherfolk from the Channel Islands—a group of islands located in the far off English Channel—arrived and populated Channel-Port aux Basques full time. The French influence in the region is apparent, largely due to the Treaty of Utrecht between Britain and France, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession (or Queen Anne’s War). These early settlers established other villages as well, such as Fosse Rouge, Roche Blanche (now known as Fox Roost-Margaree and Rose Blanche-Harbour le Cou), and Isle aux Morts. 

Isle aux Morts, which translates to “Isle of the Dead”, was given its name because of the number of shipwrecks that occurred along the Granite Coast.    

The development of Channel-Port aux Basques is also tied closely to communication and transportation. In 1856, Samuel Morse (innovator of the Morse Code) researched the practicality of running submarine cable from nearby Cape Ray to Nova Scotia. A year later, Morse’s research became a reality. A much larger project—laying the Transatlantic Cable and connecting Heart’s Content, Newfoundland and Valentia, Ireland—began in 1866. However, the most influential factor of Channel-Port aux Basques’ growth came in between 1881 and 1898 when the Newfoundland Reid Railway was constructed. The railway ran throughout the province, connecting St. John’s to Channel-Port aux Basques where passengers could then journey to North Sydney, Nova Scotia aboard the S.S. Bruce ferry.

Finally, Channel-Port aux Basques played an important role during the Second World War. Radio communication equipment was installed on Mouse Island and Table Mountain in 1942 to assist the United States military. During that time, the first passenger ferry between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, the S.S. Caribou was sunk by a German U-boat—a monument is now found at Legion Memorial Park in honour of this tragic event.

What to do in Channel-Port aux Basques

Planning a visit to Channel-Port aux Basques? Make sure these attractions are on your itinerary: 

If you’re interested in heritage, visit the historic St. James Anglican Church or one of the community’s museums. This includes the Hook & Line Museum, Channel-Port aux Basques Railway Heritage Centre, and the Royal Canadian Legion Memorial Park. Channel-Port aux Basques is also home to two working astrolabes (ancient astronomical instruments)—the Mushrow Astrolabes are a rare discovery and can be viewed at The Gulf Museum. 

 A boat on the shore of Port aux Basques
Image via Rod Brazier on Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

Golfers, rejoice! St. Andrew’s Na Creige Golf Course offers panoramic views of the Long Range Mountains and Little Codroy River. This scenic, nine-hole course is located just outside of Channel-Port aux Basques in the stunning Codroy Valley, providing some of the best golfing and scenery in all of Newfoundland and Labrador.  

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, belly up to one of these local favourites: 

With Channel-Port aux Basques being such a small village, you may want to explore some of the surrounding areas during your visit. If so, Codroy Valley has a lot to offer—from birdwatching and outdoor adventures in Codroy Valley Provincial Park, to the 15 charming communities nestled along western Newfoundland. For urban excitement, take the ferry to St. John’s and enjoy a few days in the city!  

Housing market stats and where to live

Sales declined 7.4% in June 2022 compared to June 2021. However, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of REALTORS® (NLAR®) registered 649 homes sold through the MLS® System during the month, which is the second highest performance for June on record. Additionally, over the first six months of 2022, units sold totalled 2,860, a modest 3.2% increase year-to-date compared to 2021. 

That said, prices continue to rise year-to-date during the first half of 2022. According to NLAR®, “The benchmark price for single-family homes was $283,200, an increase of 10.9% on a year-over-year basis in June. By comparison, the benchmark price for townhouse/row units was $276,700, a moderate gain of 6.6% compared to a year earlier, while the benchmark apartment price was $216,600, increasing by 9.2% from year-ago levels.”

Despite these rises, Newfoundland and Labrador’s overall benchmark price of $271,700 as of May 2022 is still well below the national average of $711,316. As for the median price, detached homes across the province rose 7.6% to $265,000, while similar units in St. John’s dropped 3.1% to $319,900. 

Channel-Port aux Basques is a small coastal village home to 3,665 residents (2016 Census Profile), so properties in the area are limited. Current listings can be viewed on REALTOR.ca, where you’ll find a mix of single-family homes. This includes compact one-storey units for as low as $30,000 and larger four-bedroom houses beginning at $409,000 as of July 2022. 

For more options, consider looking further afield to places like Corner Brook or Deer Lake. Of course, if you’re most interested in urban living, St. John’s has more to choose from and the province’s largest urban centre. To find the perfect spot for your family, connect with a REALTOR® who is familiar with the area. Give them your list of can’t-live-withouts and can’t-live-withs, and they’ll help find you a place within or close to Channel-Port aux Basques. 

Whether you’re just visiting or interested in making the move to Newfoundland and Labrador, Channel-Port aux Basques is your gateway to a unique lifestyle. Charming character, vibrant history, and an extraordinary landscape awaits.  

Courtesy: realtor.ca

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