Channel-Port aux Basques is a town at the extreme southwestern tip of the island of Newfoundland fronting on the eastern end of the Cabot Strait. A Marine Atlantic ferry terminal is located in the town which is the primary entry point onto the island of Newfoundland and the western terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway in the province. The town was incorporated in 1945.
Port aux Basques is the oldest of the collection of towns that make up the present-day town, which consists of Port aux Basques, Channel, Grand Bay, and Mouse Island. Amalgamation took place in the 1970s. Channel refers to the narrow channel of water that leads into the local harbour (and not to the Channel Islands).
Port aux Basques refers to the harbour that was a favoured sheltering and watering place for Basque whalers who hailed from the Basque region of the Pyrenees of France and Spain during the early 16th century. After leaving the harbour the whalers either proceeded to the main whaling grounds off southern Labrador, or headed home to the Basque country.
They almost certainly took on fresh water from Dead Man's Brook, which flows into Port aux Basques harbour, during their stopovers.
Port aux Basques is first seen on a 1687 Johannes van Keulen map of the area. Permanent settlement came from French fishermen who overwintered on this, the "French shore", using rights given under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht which saw France cede its claims in Newfoundland to Great Britain in exchange for right of use of coastal lands for the fishery. With the fishery being the economic mainstay for both French and British settlers in the area, Channel-Port aux Basques appeared destined to remain a collection of small fishing villages.