Red Bay, NL, incorporated as a town in 1997, population 169 (2016 census), 194 (2011 census). The town of Red Bay is located on the Strait of Belle Isle, off Labrador’s south coast. Named for its prominent red cliffs, it was one of two major Basque whaling stations established in the 1540s. After research into Spanish documents and archaeological finds on Saddle Island and under water, Red Bay was designated a historical site in 1978-79 (see Red Bay Archaeological Site). In 2013, the whaling station at Red Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A sunken whaler, San Juan, one of the oldest-known and best-preserved shipwrecks of the post medieval period, yielded information about some of the estimated 2,000 men who caught and processed right and bowhead whales at Red Bay at the peak of the fishery. Several other sunken ships have since been discovered in the area.
The community, settled by Newfoundland fishermen from Conception Bay by the early 1800s, originally alternated between winter and summer sites. It now occupies the former summer harbour year-round. Red Bay was the site of the first co-operative store in Labrador, the second such venture in the colony.