St. John's is a city rich in beauty and steeped in history. It is not only the capital of Newfoundland, which was Great Britain's first colony, but is also the oldest city in all North America. With high hills encircling much of the city, the winding streets running throughout the downtown area, and the numerous historical landmarks and structures, St. John's is most certainly a sightseer's delight. With all our city has to offer, any attraction which stands out must be special indeed, and this is undoubtedly the case with Bowring Park. Bowring Park is perhaps the jewel of St. John's, certainly one of the city's most prominent attractions. Throughout its history, it has been a source of great enjoyment for countless numbers of visitors, and continues to attract hundreds of thousands of local residents and tourists annually. The main reason for such popularity lies in its unique design and layout. Bowring Park offers unparalleled natural beauty peacefully coinciding with many recreational and leisure attractions. The park is within three miles of downtown St. John's, and this was, at one time, considered to be the city's outskirts. Over time, urban areas have risen up to surround it. That such a facility can continue to exist in such a way makes it all the more impressive. While it is certainly a popular tourist attraction, the importance of Bowring Park to residents of St. John's and surrounding areas is impossible to downplay. It would be no exaggeration to say that anyone who has grown up or lived in its general vicinity has fond recollections of time spent there. For me as a child, this included countless family picnics and hours of play. As I grew older, I spent a great deal of time exploring Bowring Park's many trails and other attractions.
This particular project has been a very enjoyable experience to say the least. It is my sincere hope that the information contained herein shall serve to delight and educate, and in the process add to one's appreciation of this beautiful park, as it has done with me.
In 1583, soon after Sir Humphrey Gilbert first arrived in St. John's, a group of local residents apparently brought him to view an area they referred to as "The Garden." Upon reaching this area, he discovered that it was not man-made, nor had it been cultivated or groomed in any way. One member of this expedition described the scene as "...nothing...more than nature itself without art, who confusedly had brought forth roses abundantly wild but odoriferous and to sense very comfortable." Though the lack of historical evidence makes it impossible to verify the exact location of this place, it is not far-fetched to assume, as many do, that "The Garden" lay within the boundaries of present day Bowring Park. In 1847, William Thorburn obtained fifty acres of land under Crown Grant from the Newfoundland Government, which he turned into a rather prosperous farm. Eventually, this land was acquired by the Newfoundland Savings Bank, who in turn leased it to a Mr. & Mrs. Neville. This piece of property, encompassed by the Waterford and Kilbride Rivers, was subsequently named Rae Island Farm by the Neville family. Through the generosity of Bowring Brothers Limited, Rae Island Farm would eventually become what we now know as Bowring Park. Bowring Brothers celebrated their one-hundredth anniversary of business in Newfoundland in 1911. In commemoration of this; it was announced that the firm would present a gift to the community in the form of a park. To this end, they purchased the fifty acre Rae Island Farm, with the intention of developing it into a place suitable for the
recreational and leisure pursuits of the citizenry. Construction on these fifty acres began soon afterward, and Bowring park was officially opened on July 15, 1914. Thousands of people and numerous dignitaries, including the Duke of Connaught, were on hand that day. On declaring the park officially opened, the Duke remarked: "May it ever be a source of pleasure and enjoyment to the citizens of St. John's and to Newfoundland in general." Much of the credit for the beautiful design and layout of Bowring Park's original fifty acres must go to Mr. Rudolph Cochius. Mr. Cochius, a landscape architect from the prestigious Montreal firm of Frederick Todd's, was commissioned by Sir Edgar Bowring to carry out this task. He went to work at Bowring Park on May 8, 1912, and remained until March 25, 1917. While construction continued after his departure (some say Bowring Park will forever be under construction!), it was during these five years that the Park was truly born. Cochius was responsible for creating the Park's unique atmosphere and mystique, which lingers to this very day, and countless numbers of visitors have all been, and continue to be, the benefactors of his vision and talent. Just past Whale's Back Falls, on the Waterford River, we notice a small plaque on our right which reads simply "R.H.K. Cochius, Landscape Architect." Mr. Cochius did not want a larger monument commemorating his efforts, although he almost certainly deserves one. This little plaque is reminiscent of an artist's signature tucked away, out of clear sight, on a great painting or piece of sculpture. Rudolph Cochius was a main figure in creating the masterpiece known as Bowring Park, and left his small but indelible signature on this rock. The park was handed over to the City in 1921, and since then, it has continued to grow and develop. Throughout the years, many statues and monuments have been unveiled,
such as Peter Pan and the Fighting Newfoundlander. Numerous ornamental trees and plants have been put in place as well. Various trails, walkways and bridges wind in and out among areas of great natural beauty. Recreational facilities, like the swimming pool, tennis courts, playground and picnic areas have been situated in such a way as to peacefully co-exist with the spectacular natural landscape. The original 50 acres has since been expanded and Bowring Park now covers approximately 200 acres. The boundary between old and new Bowring Park exists in the form of a large vehicular bridge overlooking the railway lines. This vantage point provides a splendid view of the surrounding valley, which plays host to many frolicking children and sun bathers during summer, and is one of the City's most popular sliding areas in the winter. One can also see a lovely section of flowering crabs and laburnums. All of the recreational facilities in this area of the park were constructed during the 1960's. The year 1967 was Canada's one-hundredth birthday, and during this period, the Federal government established a civic beautification and development fund for municipalities across Canada. It was, in effect, a giant make work project, commemorating our country's centennial. Our pool, ball field, bridge and playground areas all were put in place thanks to special funding. From its humble origins as a remote farm on the outskirts of the city, Bowring Park has grown to become one of the most beautiful parks in all North America. This most generous gift from Bowring Brothers has served to delight generations, and has indeed become an institution in itself.
BOWRING FAMILY HISTORY IN NEWFOUNDLAND
The firm of Bowring Brothers, and the Bowring family, have enjoyed a long and illustrious association with St. John's, ever since the arrival of Benjamin Bowring in 1811. He was born at Exeter, England, in 1778. His father, Nathaniel Bowring, died when his son was barely three years old. His mother then moved the family to her hometown of Moretonhampstead, where Benjamin spent his formative years. After his education was completed, he began an apprenticeship in watchmaking. While the exact details of his apprenticeship are rather sketchy, we do know that the October 6, 1803 edition of the "Exeter Flying Post" contained an advertisement announcing that "Benjamin Bowring, Watch-maker, Silversmith, Jeweller and Engraver" had opened his own shop for business. At the age of twenty-five, Benjamin Bowring had created the company that would bear his family's name for generations to come. He was married to one Charlotte Price less than a week later. Over the next few years, Benjamin became a rather prominent citizen in Exeter, running a successful business as well as being a great contributor to local charities. However, by 1811, with most of England suffering through a period of widespread unemployment and social unrest, Benjamin began looking towards Newfoundland. Indeed, it appears that, by this time, he may have already been engaged in some trans-Atlantic trade. Perhaps another factor in his eventual move was his ardent anti-slavery stance, which made him unpopular with certain parties at Exeter. Eventually, after many voyages to St. John's between 1811 and 1815, he decided to move his young family here. They arrived in the spring of 1816, settling into a home on Duckworth Street that doubled as Benjamin's new shop. Over time, Benjamin's little shop branched out into other areas of commercial activity
in Newfoundland, such as shipping, sealing and trade. Throughout the 1800's, Benjamin's descendants created a very powerful and successful company on both sides of the Atlantic, and by the turn of the century, Bowrings had become one on the leading firms in the British Empire. Benjamin himself remained a positive influence over the firm for several years after his sons had taken over its direct management. Indeed, Charles T., Henry P., Edward and John Bowring (the original partners of Bowring Brothers) had built the company upon the foundations laid by their father. All of these men eventually returned to England, leaving the management of the St. John's firm to successive generations of the family. Benjamin, the man who had started it all, died on June 1, 1846. His legacy lay not so much in the actual business he had created, but in the integrity, spirit, and generosity with which he conducted himself. In a letter written on March 19, 1841, he outlined such qualities in wishing his sons"...every success which can be expected to result from combined industry, careful speculation and unanimous determination to forget the interests of the individual in the better interest of the whole." Bowring Brothers celebrated their centenary in 1911, and in doing so, remained true to the "interest of the whole." The senior partner of the firm at that time was the son of John Bowring, Edgar, who succeeded his cousin Charles in 1890. Edgar announced at the centenary dinner that employees of the firm would receive an extra month's salary. Generosity, however, did not stop there, for it was also announced that the firm would present a gift to the community as well, in the form of a park. Rae Island Farm was purchased by Bowring Brothers Ltd. in 1911, and construction soon began on what was to be known as Bowring Park.
ORNAMENTAL GREENHOUSE The mention of exotic plants, bubbling waterfalls and tropical fish often conjure up images of warm southern locales. However, such a scene can be found within the confines of Bowring Park, namely at the Ornamental Greenhouse. This was originally a working greenhouse, supplying Bowring Park with its many plants and flowers. Currently, the two greenhouses located in the west end of the park serve this purpose, and in fact supply all the city's parks with such vegetation. Our Ornamental Greenhouse has been converted into a conservatory of splendid beauty, as any visitor will attest. It is brimming with many varieties of lush and vibrant plant life, such as the thick English Ivy, delicate Mexican Lace and many types of ferns, the aptly named Mother-in-Law's Tongue and the gently cascading String of Pearls, to name but a few. The Greenhouse, located directly behind the Bowring Park Lodge, was one of many gifts bestowed upon the park by Sir Edgar R. Bowring. A plaque is situated above the entrance to the Greenhouse, which reads in part: May it serve as a Memorial to him (Sir Edgar) and a reminder of his generosity during his lifetime and his great love of trees, lawns, streams and flowers whose natural beauty he wishes us to enjoy. St. John's, Newfoundland, 1947. This beautiful and generous gift has served to delight countless visitors over the years. Plans are currently underway to refurbish it, so as to ensure that future generations can continue to view it in all its glory.
BRIDGES OF BOWRING PARK Bowring Park's impressive landscape includes many waterways, wooded areas, and gently rolling hills. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that numerous bridges can be found within its confines, serving both functional and aesthetic purposes. Many of the small foot bridges found primarily in the park's east end are known as rustic bridges. They are easily distinguishable because they are made almost entirely of unprocessed black spruce. Black spruce, also used in the construction of various other rustic work in Bowring Park, has been a prominent feature here for quite a long time, and once in place, lasts for around ten years. It should be mentioned, however, that the mature black spruce necessary for this kind of work is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain. One has to go farther now to obtain it, and therefore the cost has risen accordingly. Nonetheless, these rustic bridges and trails winding along the Waterford River remain as yet another beautiful fixture at Bowring Park, giving the visitor access to numerous areas of natural splendour. The entire route is encompassed by many trees and other lush foliage, with the rustic bridges situated at various points along the river. One can cross the majestic Whale's Back Falls, or stand on other bridges crossing clear pools where the water flows gently along, admiring the many brown trout or simply relishing the elegant atmosphere. Another impressive piece of landscape architecture found in Bowring Park is the Pink Granite Stone Bridge, which crosses over South Brook near the tennis courts. This bridge was constructed by Bowring Park personnel under the watchful eye of the designer, then superintendent Alfred Canning, and was completed on September 1, 1931. It is built in the form of an arch, with bent railway tracks inside to give it its shape. The stones forming the
bridge's exterior were collected along the railway line. Since its completion, the Stone Bridge has been admired by countless visitors. Not long after its official unveiling, a Landscape Architect from the United States became quite impressed with it while on a visit to St. John's. He himself was busy designing a park in an American city, and was eager to add two similar bridges to the park in question. In a letter written to the Bowring Park Committee, he inquired as to the possibility of obtaining the services of a couple of men who built the Stone Bridge at Bowring Park. His request included the assurance that all expenses would be paid, and that no reasonable request for compensation to Bowring Park would be refused. The decision was put to the men, and despite the attractive offer, all decided to stay in Newfoundland with their families. The fruit of their labour remains in place over South Brook, and stands as a testament to the great care and ingenuity of Mr. Canning and his entire staff. Construction on Bowring Park began in 1912, and when the park was officially opened two years later, it encompassed fifty acres in total. In the 1950's, the City acquired numerous pieces of property, primarily to the west, and expanded Bowring Park to its present acreage of approximately two hundred. For the most part, the old and new sections of Bowring Park, as they are commonly referred to, are separated by a vehicular bridge which crosses the old railway line. This bridge is located roughly between the Bungalow and the swimming pool. It was erected in the early 1960's as part of the Van Ginkel development plan, and refurbished in the early 1990's. From this vantage point, one is provided with a splendid view of the surrounding valley, which plays host to many frolicking children and sun bathers during summer, and is one of the City's most popular sliding areas in the winter.
Taken as a whole, the bridges of Bowring Park are not only functional and visually pleasing, but they also hold special historical significance. This is especially true of the bridge located just inside the park's east entrance. Construction on it began in 1913, and it is a point of particular interest because it was the first concrete bridge ever constructed in all of Newfoundland. There is soon to be another bridge added to Bowring Park. It will be situated over Captain's Falls, in the far south west corner of the park. This is a truly spectacular location and most advantageous. It will command a wonderful view of the impressive falls, and it will also allow visitors to walk the entire length of the park uninterrupted.
TREES OF BOWRING PARK It would be no exaggeration to say that an individual could travel anywhere in Bowring park and find themselves in the shadow of trees. The variety found throughout the park is quite impressive to say the least, whether in the naturally wooded areas or among those carefully planted and cultivated. But all trees in Bowring Park share, in many ways, similar beauty and significance. One could write a very lengthy report on Bowring Park's trees alone. However, the constraints of space allow only for the description of a select few, which I shall endeavour to do here. It should therefore be noted that any tree or trees not mentioned is in no way indicative of any lack of significance or level of appreciation. Many impressive trees come into view immediately upon entrance via Bowring Park's east gate. Some are over 140 years old, planted by William Thorburn, who acquired the property in 1847. Across the road from the duck pond, there are two elm trees with moss on their trunks. It is certainly not unusual to find moss on the trunk of a tree, especially one that
is quite old. In Newfoundland, however, this particular kind of moss is quite significant, as it is found in only two places: on both these elms at Bowring Park, and on elm trees located at the Whitbourne estate that at one time belonged to former Newfoundland Prime Minister Sir Robert Bond. The elm trees at both locations came from England in the same shipment many years ago, and carried with them this moss, which is native to England. That this moss has persisted in Newfoundland since then, exclusively on these trees, is yet another interesting footnote in the colourful history of Bowring Park. Near these trees, one also notices some tall and majestic ceders as well as some lovely rhododendrons. Many trees in this area were planted by the Arbour Society in 1889. As we continue along this same road, we come to a truly spectacular Linden, or Lime tree. This was planted by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught, on the occasion of Bowring Park's official opening on July 15, 1914. Underneath the tree sits the Gnome, designed to commemorate the tree planting. To the right of the Linden tree is a white oak planted in 1920 by Sir Edgar R. Bowring, who was perhaps the greatest benefactor Bowring Park has ever known. On the left is a red oak. This tree was planted on September 19, 1964 by Princess Mary, who was the Colonel in Chief of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in 1964, the 50th anniversary of their involvement in World War I. She is the niece of the Duke of Connaught, and it is quite fitting that her tree sits in the shade of her uncle's. Further along this same road, one will notice a Copper Beech standing behind the Horse Trough. The Copper Beech is another very prominent tree found in Bowring Park, and the visitor will notice many of them throughout the park. This particular tree was planted on August 29, 1949, by then Canadian Governor General Viscount Alexander on the occasion of
his visit to St. John's. Standing alone in the middle of this field and surrounded by rustic benches, it is a very attractive stop. In its shade, one will find a commemorative plaque, which is somewhat special in itself, having been made in Newfoundland by the United Nail and Foundry. The area surrounding the Caribou monument, which is along this road, is not without its own beautiful flora. Indeed, noted horticulturalist Mike Manning refers to the entire area as the Caribou Gardens, for obvious reasons. Beautiful trees like the Flowering Dogwood add to an already impressive scene. On the eastern side of the Caribou, one will find a short rustic path leading to one of many shadow pools, and if we look further down river from this location, a magnificent five needle White Pine comes into view. This type of tree is native to Newfoundland, and the one in question was planted in 1913. At one time, it was our country's chief lumber tree, but has grown increasingly scarce over the years. Nowadays, one often sees it planted specifically as an ornamental conifer, which is the case here. The Van Ginkel vehicular bridge, which divides old and new Bowring Park, offers a vantage point from which to admire many other splendid trees. The always popular Laburnums, as well as many Flowering Crabapples, enhance the beauty of the surrounding valley, which has been a popular picnic and leisure area for a number of years. The Bungalow lawn plays host to perhaps the most spectacular array of trees in the entire park, many of which having been planted by visiting dignitaries over the years. In the far south- east corner, we see another Copper Beech, planted on August 22, 1955, by Governor General Charles Vincent Massey. On the left is a Beech Tree planted by Sir John Middleton in memory of Dr. Frederick Bruton, who died January 10, 1930. Dr. Bruton was a noted
botanist who was among the first to recognize the vast educational potential of Bowring Park, and made it a habit of bringing students here. This tree was planted on August 25, 1930. To the right of the Copper Beech stands a small English Oak, planted by Prince Edward on June 9, 1988. Another significant English oak can be found on the lawn's north-west corner, planted on July 9, 1968, by Governor General Roland Mitchener. At one time, there was a tree planted by the Queen Mother near this one, but it became badly damaged and had to be removed. Bowring Park's most famous and popular tree is also located on this lawn. It is the extraordinary Weeping Beech, one of only a handful of such trees in the world. Planted in 1916, it stands out because it is a grafted tree. The root system for the Weeping Beech is not hardy enough for the Newfoundland climate, so the top part of the tree was grafted onto the trunk and root system of a green beech. One can notice a prominent bump on the trunk where the graft was made. It has recently undergone some repairs and doctoring, which will hopefully ensure that this special tree is around for a long time to come.
THE LODGE Originally, the Bowring Park Lodge was constructed in 1913 to serve as a residence for Rudolph Cochius. Mr. Cochius was a landscape architect from the prestigious Montreal firm of Frederick Todds, who was commissioned to design Bowring Park. He resided in this building from its construction in 1913 until March 25, 1917. The succession of park superintendents (Al Canning, Harry Hamlyn, Hubert Noseworthy, and Chris Baird) have all occupied the lodge at one time or another. It presently serves as the City's Parks Services office. While having been renovated over the years, it nonetheless retains its rustic beauty.
DUCK POND The body of water known simply as the Duck Pond is almost entirely man made. Originally called the Boat Lake, it was completed in June of 1913, and rental boats were a popular attraction here for many years. Being an artificial body of water, it has to be dredged every few years to remove the silt that is carried down river and deposited. The island located in the middle of the lake was once much larger, and obstructed the view of the opposite side. It has been reduced and remodelled to its current state. The Duck Pond is also, as its name suggests, home to many water fowl. Most of these beautiful creatures are tame and flightless, but it is no surprise to see some wild ducks paddling about, who land when they see the others.
THE SWANS Bowring Park has provided a home for these elegant animals for over fifty years, and in the process, the swan has become a symbol for the park and its immense beauty. On July 1, 1946, six swans were released into the Duck Pond, and their arrival was cause for great excitement. Harry Hamlyn, former park superintendent, had acquired them from the personal collection of King George VI while on a visit to England, the acquisition having been made possible by Mr. Cyril Bowring. However, these six swans, three "cobs" (males) and three "pens" (females), were not the first swans to grace the Boat Lake. A few years beforehand, some were released there, but unfortunately were killed by roving dogs. Currently, only two swans grace the waters in Bowring Park, one male and one female. Both are around ten years old, but they are not reproducing as was hoped. The difficulty lies in the fact that they share the same gene pool, being either brother and sister, father and daughter, or mother and son. They did produce one "runt" offspring a little while ago, but it was deformed and sickly, and ultimately died. Up until a few years ago, Bowring Park had a third swan, who unfortunately had to be removed. The reason for this was that the two swans presently residing at the park would constantly harass and even pursue him out of the park waterways. Almost every week park officials would receive notice that this third swan had been chased down the Waterford River. On one occasion, he had actually travelled down river to the area of the Water Street - Leslie Street intersection, where Bowring Park personnel, with help from the Coast Guard, managed to capture him and bring him back. This underscores an important point concerning swans: they are very territorial creatures. As far as our two remaining swans are concerned, they rule Bowring Park's waterways, and all other water fowl had best beware. They have little patience for any creature ignorant or foolish enough to cross their path. In August of this year, one of our swans actually drowned a duckling that didn't known enough to maintain its distance. Also, during their annual rut, the swans will actively pursue other white waterfowl. Faced with the swans inherent nature, the introduction of other swans at this time is an impossibility. The only way to increase their numbers here would be to remove the current inhabitants, and any number of new swans would have to be released into the water at the same time. They nonetheless remain very beautiful and alluring attractions at Bowring Park, as any visitor will attest. Over the years, these animals have become fixtures at the park, and should continue to be for many years to come.
HORSE TROUGH As one travels westward along Bowring Park's northern roadway, one will notice a cast iron horse trough on the left, a remnant of the days before "horseless" carriages took over the streets of our city. At one time, such horse troughs were common features in downtown St. John's, but with the advent of the automobile slowly pushing horse travel aside, these troughs became unnecessary, and all were eventually removed. The one found here is especially significant because it is the last of its kind, originally located on the east end of Duckworth Street near the War Memorial. It is therefore quite fitting that this important link to our past can be found in Bowring Park, where it can be admired by our numerous visitors, young and old alike. Another interesting feature of this stop are the many cobblestones that adorn the surrounding alcove, which were once a part of Water Street's main thoroughfare. As a matter of fact, such cobblestones can be found all over Bowring Park. The stone steps nearby are from Fort William, and these too can be found in other places throughout the park. Our horse trough, beautifully cast and attractively coloured, is a very inviting feature, especially to thirsty park patrons on a hot summer's day.
Upon entering the rustic path directly across from the horse trough, one need only walk a short distance and come upon the area known as the Slate Quarry. The Slate Quarry is a serene and sheltered little alcove that has been, and continues to be, the "secret hideaway" for so many people. It should be noted that Mr. Rudolph Cochius would frequent this particular spot quite often during Bowring Park's formative years. He would spend hours here in deep thought and quiet reflection. It would therefore not be improbable to suggest that many ideas which led to further development and beautification of the park were hatched right here. This area has both beauty and historical significance, and we hope that at some time in the future it can be developed in such a way as to ensure its upkeep and maintain its inherent qualities.
As one leaves the Caribou and heads eastward down a short rustic path, you encounter one of our many shadow pools. These pools, one of Bowring Park's original features, were specially created to give a clear and brilliant reflection. The entire shadow pool system starts father upriver, just before the vehicular overpass bridge. Part of the Castor River was diverted to make the effect, which continues down until it rejoins the river near the horse trough. The pool located just east of the Caribou is very important because it is one of the trout's prime spawning areas. Brown trout reside here in large numbers, and one need only throw a few bread crumbs onto the water to see them dart and splash about.
FOUNTAIN POND Travelling west along the main road, just past the playground, one sees the Fountain Pond on the left. It is an attractive and quiet rest area for the weary park patron, adorned with many benches. The Fountain Pond is also frequented by many ducks, who either immerse themselves in the refreshing spray, or paddle along contentedly. The concrete slabs encircling the pond are from Fort William, and the fountain itself came from the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, made available when the church was renovated. The entire area was constructed in the early 1970's, and will soon undergo a major reconstruction.
BUNGALOW Ever since its erection in 1915, the Bowring Park Bungalow has been a popular meeting place for park patrons. In its early years, people would gather there to warm themselves by a roaring fire after a day's ice skating. For many years, a canteen was in operation, providing cool refreshment on hot summer's days. Also, the front lawn of the Bungalow has always played host to numerous concerts and festivals annually, attended by countless happy visitors. The lawn is also quite popular for sun bathing and family picnics, all amid a lush carpet of grass and many blue chip trees. In fact, the majority of trees found in the Bungalow area have been planted by visiting dignitaries. Being a place of such impeccable beauty, it also comes as no surprise that the Bungalow is a favourite location for wedding receptions. All in all, the popularity of the Bungalow is easily understandable. It stands almost at the heart of Bowring Park, quite majestic and impressive as it overlooks a sizable area of unparalled beauty.
PETER PAN Upon entrance through Bowring Park's main gate, he comes into sight almost immediately, nestled among the trees and other foliage on the left, just west of the duck pond. Striking an almost animated pose atop a stone-like pedestal, he beckons the young and young at heart with outstretched arms. One can almost hear a lively tune emanating from the pipe held delicately in his left hand as it charms the fairies and woodland creatures below him, all of whom clamour to hear the music. This is the abode of Bowring Park's beloved Peter Pan, certainly one of the park's most prominent and popular attractions. Peter, of course, is the boy who will never grow up, representing the joy, wonder and innocence of eternal youth. Not surprisingly, he is constantly playing host to a steady stream of visitors, both young and old alike. The Peter Pan monument was donated to Bowring Park by Sir Edgar R. Bowring, in memory of his little granddaughter, Betty Munn. Betty was the daughter of Sir Edgar's stepson, John Shannon Munn, who was the managing director of Bowring Brothers. She was just four years old when she and her father boarded the S.S. Florizel on February 23, 1918, bound for Halifax. There, they were to meet Mrs. Munn and go south for the rest of the winter, due to Mrs. Munn's ill health. However, the ship never did make Halifax. It was to be a short and tragic voyage for the mighty steamer and her 138 passengers and crew. Early Sunday morning, February 24, a message reached St. John's concerning a large steamer ashore near Cape Race, on the southern shore of the Avalon Peninsula. As preparations were being made to send relief to the area, the startling news of the ship's identity reached the Admiralty wireless station in Mount Pearl: the S.S. Florizel had crashed into rocks off Cappahayden during a terrible storm. When all was said and done, 94 people perished in the icy waters, including John and Betty Munn. Sir Edgar commissioned the renowned sculptor, Sir George Frampton, to create the bronze memorial, which was unveiled as part of a special "Children's Day," August 29, 1925. After a brief speech by then city mayor Tasker Cook, who urged the children to "learn to know him and love him with all your hearts," Peter Pan was introduced to Bowring Park for first time, much to the delight of the more than 3000 children on hand. There were a number of other dignitaries present, including Frampton himself, who performed the actual unveiling. The acclaimed sculptor was also quite popular with the children, explaining that: ...the animals and fairies on the statue are listening to the pipes of Pan, one of the mice is completing his toilet before going up to listen to the music, (and) the squirrel is discussing political matters with two of the fairies. Bowring Park's Peter Pan is one of five such monuments in the world, the others found in Toronto, Brussels, Melbourne, and the original , located in London's Kensington Gardens. While all five are similar, they are not identical, and in Frampton's opinion, the Bowring Park version is superior in location to the one found at Kensington Gardens, due to "the wholly natural surroundings and flowing river being more in keeping with the spirit of Peter and particularly the animals & fairies." Peter's likeness at Bowring Park is of course unique for the inscriptions adorning it, the first of which reads: Presented To The Children Of Newfoundland By Sir Edgar R. Bowring In Memory Of A Dear Little Girl Who Loved The Park. The second inscription can be found on the opposite side, which simply says "Betty Munn." It is situated in such a way as to appear as if a fairy is forever reading it. Today, Peter is still loved and adored by the thousands who visit him every year. It would be no exaggeration to say that one could visit him any time of the day, any part of the year, and find children frolicking around him, regarding the animals and fairies with youthful excitement and wonder. Some adventurous youngsters even climb the pedestal to embrace him. All in all, since his introduction on that August day in 1925, Bowring Park's Peter Pan has been a constant reminder of the generosity of the Bowrings, as well as an unparalleled source of wonder and enjoyment for all his visitors.
CARIBOU Bowring Park's Caribou stands atop an outcrop of rock nestled within a grove of trees, overlooking a shimmering waterfall and a serene, limpid pool. It is a perfectly natural location for this majestic monument, because this Caribou, the symbol of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, is a replica of a woodland caribou. Woodland caribou live a mostly solitary life in the forest, unlike the barren-roaming herds our province is usually noted for. The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, which celebrates its bicentennial in 1995, possesses a long and distinguished history. However, it seems that one event in particular has become synonymous with the Regiment: the tragic battle at Beaumont Hamel, which occurred on July 1, 1916. On that fateful day 752 young Newfoundlanders went "over the top," pouring out of their trenches toward the German front line. The brave young soldiers, picking their way over barbed wire and trenches, were unaware of the impending doom they marched towards. Approximately one hundred feet behind the enemy line, hundreds of German troops were hiding and waiting to reinforce their position. This German unit was known as the 6th (Brandenburg) Division, aptly nicknamed the "Iron Division." When the Newfoundland troops came into sight, they were attacked head on, blasted by heavy shelling and sprayed with machine gun fire; yet they continued their march with unshakeable resolve and overwhelming courage. By the end of the day, only 68 of the Regiment, which had numbered 802, remained unharmed, the rest either wounded or killed. July 1 is, of course, celebrated as Canada Day in our country. But for Newfoundlanders, July 1 is also Memorial Day, in honour and remembrance of the many young Newfoundlanders who answered the call to arms and made the ultimate sacrifice on that day in 1916. Before going to war in 1914, the Newfoundland contingent adopted the woodland caribou as its official emblem. In recognition of their battle at Beaumont Hamel, a life size caribou monument was erected there, overlooking the actual place where so many died. There are also two other such monuments in France, as well as two in Belgium, commemorating the Regiment's role in World War I. The Caribou monument which stands in Bowring Park was a gift of Major William Howe Green. It was presented as a tribute to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, with whom Major Green served as Musketry Instructor during World War I. Major Green resided in St. John's for a number of years. A successful architect, he designed several buildings in the St. John's area, including the famed Cabot Tower on Signal Hill. The bronze memorial was sculpted by Bazil Gotto, and Rudolph Cochius, the man who designed Bowring Park, chose its location and supervised its erection, approximately 100 yards north of the Bungalow. Mr. Cochius had also been responsible for designing the layout of Beaumont Hamel's Memorial Park and the Caribou monument located there. It was indeed quite fitting that this monument was unveiled on Memorial Day, 1928. It was, at the request of Major Green, a rather low key ceremony. The city Mayor at the time, Tasker Cook, read a communication from Colonel Nangle of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The Colonel pointed out that Bowring Park's Caribou should not be considered as a memorial to those who died, the European monuments being testimonials to that effect. Instead, he continued, it should be regarded ... as an everlasting tribute to the espirit-de-corps and loyal comradship during these stirring years when they so gallantly and honourably wore the Regimental Badge and an expression of the hope that the spirit of comradship then formed shall remain unto the last. The sacrifices made by the Regiment during World War I are nonetheless recognized at Bowring park, as is evident by the bronze cross nearby which bears the inscriptions of the battle honours won by the Regiment. Everyone who visits Bowring Park, and all those who cherish it, are, in a way, beneficiaries of the overwhelming courage of so many of these young Newfoundlanders. The beautiful Caribou Gardens is a fitting tribute to their memory.
THE FIGHTING NEWFOUNDLANDER The sacrifices made by the many young Newfoundlanders who fought overseas do not go unnoticed at Bowring Park. The majestic and lifelike "Fighting Newfoundlander" stands as a testament and a constant reminder of the price of liberty. It is located atop a lofty embankment on the far end of the Bungalow lawn overlooking the Waterford Valley, and depicts a soldier in full World War I battle gear, his right arm cocked and ready to throw a Mills bomb while he holds his rifle in his left hand. This monument, which stands at an impressive height of 15 feet, including pedestal, was unveiled on September 13, 1922. It was donated by Sir Edgar R. Bowring, one of many gifts he gave to the park which bears his family's name. "The Fighting Newfoundlander" was posed for by Corporal Thomas Pittman, a native of Fortune Bay, who died on April 10, 1966. Corporal Pittman received the distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M.) and the Military Medal (M.M.) for his service during World War I as a member of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. He went overseas for the first time in the fall of 1915, with 250 other young Newfoundland men, and was at the front lines during the famous Battle of Beaumont-Hamel on July 1, 1916. Of the 802 young Newfoundlanders there on that fateful day, 752 went "over the top," while the remainder were kept back for defensive purposed. Corporal Pittman was assigned to the latter group that day, but it wasn't long before he found himself plunging headlong into battle. When he did, he was wounded three times - in the shoulder, side and head - by flying shrapnel. After receiving treatment for these injuries, he returned to the front lines once again, and promptly suffered another injury, a bullet to his shoulder. One day in 1918, while Pittman and the other members of the Regiment were stationed at Hazley Down Camp near Winchester, England, he was called to the orderly room and given some rather unusual orders: he was to dress in full battle gear and proceed to the Winchester School of Art. Once there, he reported to Captain Basil Gotto, a very famous sculptor commissioned to create a statue of a fighting soldier. Basil Gotto also designed the Caribou monument found at Bowring Park. The artist then closely scrutinized his would-be model before saying simply "all right, you'll do."
Over the next two months, for about an hour each day, Corporal Pittman held a steady pose while Captain Gotto worked away. The original statue, approximately four feet in height, was completed by early 1919. It is believed that this statue was soon purchased by a member of the Bowring family in England, and from that was created the monument which Sir Edgar Bowring donated to Bowring Park. The original still resides in England.
Throughout his two month modelling session, Corporal Pittman was often visited by members of his nearby Regiment, who would come to the studio to see, as they put it, "The Fighting Newfoundlander." This is how the monument got its name. Perhaps the most striking feature of this statue is its lifelike appearance. Indeed, Basil Gotto's meticulous attention to detail is clearly evident in "The Fighting Newfoundlander," a quality Corporal Pittman himself was not fully aware of until one day in St. John's during World War II. While visiting Bowring Park with his wife on this particular day, he stopped to admire his 15 foot high likeness. Another park visitor happened to stop by, and remarked that the soldier who posed for the statue must have been "very untidy," all the while not realizing who he was talking with. The stranger pointed out the unbuttoned tunic and the soldier's gas mask which was out of its pack. Corporal Pittman explained: Well this is true and the way it should be because the statue is supposed to be the statue of a Fighting Newfoundlander. If you notice the shoulder tab is unbuttoned, the tunic is open at the neck and the gas mask has been pulled out and not replaced: this is the way the sculptor wanted it.
Corporal Pittman went on to mention how the heel of one of the statue's boots is worn down on one side, something he had always done inadvertently with his own footwear. "Captain Gotto noticed this," he said, "and put it on the statue." Corporal Thomas Pittman may not have realized it, but in those two months spent with Captain Basil Gotto, he became a symbol of the brave and gallant Royal Newfoundland Regiment, having himself served with honour and distinction. Bowring Park's "Fighting Newfoundlander" will forever remain, as its inscription says, A Tribute To The Undying Memory Of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment 1914-1918.
THE GNOME AND THE CONNAUGHT STONE
When compared to the other attractions and monuments one can find in Bowring Park, this particular little monument maintains a rather low profile. It lays comfortably in the shade and shadow of the enormous and majestic Lime Tree, just west, across the road, from the duck pond and Peter Pan. During the winter months, it often goes through a hibernation of sorts, buried underneath blankets of snow. Given its size and location therefore, it can almost go unnoticed by visitors. Nonetheless, it remains a very interesting and historically significant attraction at Bowring Park. The small bronze sculpture is known simply as The Gnome, and is placed atop a piece of native granite called the Connaught Stone. The entire monument is situated beneath the tree planted by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Connaught, on July 15, 1914, when the park was officially opened. The idea and design for the Gnome was put forward by Major Howe Green (the man responsible for the impressive Caribou monument), who presented it to Sir Edgar Bowring. Sir Edgar, in turn, commissioned the renowned British sculptor, Edmund Blundstone, to create it. Shortly before this particular request, the Queen herself had purchased some of his work, certainly a testimony to his skill and popularity. The Gnome was unveiled at Bowring Park on August 31, 1931. An original work, it depicts the little creature sitting at a small writing board, giving the appearance that he had just finished writing the inscription, which reads: Lime Tree Planted By His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught on the occasion of the opening of Bowring Park
Our dwarfish friend seems to have made a small error, however. The date given on the plaque is July 14, 1914. It should read, as it does on the Connaught Stone, July 15, 1914. The Gnome, a popular figure in legend and folklore, is described as being a dwarfish spirit or goblin that lives close to or underneath the ground, away from sight, and often presiding over treasure of some sort. Bowring Park's gnome is certainly no different, surrounded by mice, rabbits, and toads, the entire scene topped with a crown interwoven with ivy. The watchful expression on his face is certainly not surprising, because his treasure is indeed very large and invaluable: Bowring Park itself. One of Bowring Parks most intriguing and colourful stories concerns the Connaught Stone, on which this monument rests. This block of native granite was the original foundation for the Gnome, and its exact history is shrouded in mystery. We do know that it was once used as a headstone for a dog belonging to former Newfoundland Prime Minister Sir Richard Squires. The dog's name, "Humber," is still clearly visible on the Stone, behind the Gnome. The Stone itself was put in place at Bowring Park in 1931.
Sir Richard Squires served two terms as Newfoundland's Prime Minister, 1919 to 1923 and 1928 to 1932. At one time, he resided on a piece of property called Midstream, and his house itself was known as Cherry Lodge. This estate is now part of Bowring Park, and is located near the compost garden operated by St. John's Clean and Beautiful. His house was demolished in the early 1970's, but his well still stands in that area. In 1925, Bowring Park's first landscape architect, Rudolph Cochius, returned to Newfoundland to take over as Superintending Engineer with the Newfoundland Highroads Commission. During this time, he planned the layout for Squires' estate. In regards to the origin of the Connaught Stone, one school of thought claims that the Stone originally belonged to Squires, and was given to the park for use as the Connaught Stone. If this was indeed the case, one must wonder why the Connaught Stone was replaced soon after its unveiling in 1931. The original cornerstone for the Reid Sanatorium was the Gnome's foundation for around twenty years, after which time the Connaught Stone was put back in place to remain as we see it now. This brings us to the other belief which claims that the Stone went missing a year or so after its official unveiling, and it was not recovered until the 1950's, when the City acquired an additional 150 acres for the expansion of the park. Included in the acquisition was the Midstream estate, and it was here that the Connaught Stone was supposedly recovered, being used as a headstone for Humber. All in all, one must draw their own conclusions on this issue, based on evidence that is mostly second hand and scanty at best. But nevertheless, it is worth reiterating what we know for certain: the Connaught Stone was, at some time, used as a headstone for a dog owned by Sir Richard Squires. Also, the Stone was removed for whatever reason soon after it was unveiled, and replaced by the Reid Sanatorium cornerstone. The Reid stone was in place for around twenty years, after which the Connaught Stone re-emerged. Still, this situation will likely remain a mystery, one that only serves to enhance this little monument's attraction. Sir Richard Squires must have known the truth, but he took his leave of us many years ago. The only other individual who knows the whole story is content to sit atop the Connaught Stone, shaded by his Linden tree and forever working on an inscription. Chances are no one will ever know because the Gnome isn't talking.
JOHN CABOT AND HUMPHREY GILBERT STATUETTES
In the early morning hours of June 24, 1497, John Cabot and his sixteen crewmen, aboard the "Matthew," finally sighted land weeks after leaving Bristol, England. Upon their return, they announced far and wide that they had reached the New Founde Land. We all know the results of this journey, and history will remind us of its importance. On September 15, 1937, four hundred and forty years later, a bronze statuette of this renowned explorer was unveiled at the Bowring Park Bungalow, one of the many gifts donated to the park by Sir Edgar Bowring. The John Cabot monument was removed from the Bungalow and placed in City Hall some years ago. However, it was returned to the Bungalow in June of this year. The second statuette found at Bowring Park's Bungalow is a likeness of Sir Humphrey Gilbert, donated by Eric Bowring on July 20, 1947 to commemorate the 450th anniversary of Newfoundland's discovery. As part of the unveiling ceremony a plaque was laid by Governor MacDonald in memory of Sir Edgar Bowring. Sir Edgar was never one to seek the spotlight, and though many of his contributions to the park are well known, records show countless unpublicized gifts. He was, in all probability, Bowring Park's single most significant benefactor.
The sacrifices made by so many Newfoundlanders during war time do not go unnoticed at Bowring Park. The Caribou, Fighting Newfoundlander, and the monument known simply as the Field Gun stand as constant reminders of the courage and heart shown by those who fought in defense of the liberty we all enjoy. The Field Gun is located south of the Bungalow, across from the Fighting Newfoundlander, and to the immediate left of the pedestrian bridge which leads to the tennis courts. It stands as a tribute to all the Newfoundland field gunners of World War II. The salvage and restoration of this gun coincided with "Come Home Year," in 1967. The royal Canadian Legion Branches of Newfoundland used this theme to encourage Newfoundlanders living outside the province who had served in war time to come for a visit and partake in festivities, which included a large parade. This particular gun was discovered in Torbay by Mr. Cecil Mercer, lying forgotten and in disrepair. He persuaded Government to allow him to restore the gun to its original glory, which he did with the help of other members of the 166th Field Artillery Association. Mr. Mercer, along with Messrs. Leo Knox, Reg Young, Frank Walsh, Ted Caines and Reg Pye, carefully salvaged and restored the Gun, with the work being carried out at Mr. Mercer's home. The men then used it as the centrepiece of a display they entered in the Legion parade. They recreated a vividly realistic battle scene, complete with dirt and sand bags scattered around the Field Gun. The Gun was donated to Bowring Park in September of 1967, with Mr. Mercer himself on hand for the formal dedication. The Gun was moved to City Hall in the early 1980's, but has since returned to the Park, much to the delight of our many visitors. The work of this dedicated group of men has resulted in providing a fitting tribute for their comrades, and all those who view the fruits of their labour are no doubt thankful in more ways than one.
RECREATIONAL FACILITIES AND PROGRAMS
By many accounts, the lawn bowling green found at Bowring Park is the best of its kind in the entire province, providing the participant with a lovely setting in which to play this enjoyable game. It has been in place for ten years, having formerly been a soccer field. Lawn Bowling is truly a game for everyone, and the program carried out each summer reflects this. Youth, adult, and senior groups are offered instruction and playing time daily, under the watchful eyes of trained personnel. If one prefers to play without a fixed schedule, public playing time is also provided. All these services are provided for a nominal fee. Located just inside the park's west gate on the left, the lawn bowling green is becoming an increasingly popular destination for recreational pursuits. The game itself offers many opportunities for socializing and activity, regardless of skill level, and is a great way to spend a lovely day or cool summer's evening.
One of the most popular recreational pursuits among the citizens of St. John's and surrounding areas is tennis, and Bowring Park is a great place to play. The park has four doubles and one singles courts located next to South Brook near the duck pond, just east of the Pink Granite Stone Bridge. During the warmer months, young and old alike flock there throughout the day to participate in this exciting sport. Tennis courts at Bowring Park have been in place since the 1920's, when two grass courts were quite an attraction, so much so that people would form long lines waiting to play. Other grass courts were soon constructed to meet the ever growing demand, with hard courts appearing in the 1940's. The courts were also popular in winter, when park staff would flood them to create a skating rink. Nowadays, the City operates a very successful summer tennis program complete with well-trained and enthusiastic personnel. During the week, these instructors are available for both youth and adult lessons, catering to all skill levels. Private lessons and family tennis activities are carried out on the weekends, complete with instruction. Also, courts can be reserved in advance for those wishing to avoid the ever-present line ups. All is provided for a nominal fee.
For those youngsters wishing to engage in less-structured activities, Bowring Park offers a large playground complete with slides, swings, sandboxes, merry-go-rounds, monkey bars and other popular features. Located just east of the Fountain Pond, the playground constantly echoes with the shouts of happy children. Oftentimes, parents sit in the shade of the many surrounding trees as their little ones play. Pony rides are also carried out in this area, much to the delight of the many families one finds here. This playground was constructed in the 1960's, replacing the old playground which was located near the tennis courts. Such areas are a constant attraction and a favourite place for family fun.
DAY CAMP Bowring Park offers a supervised day camp for children during the summer months. This camp is designed to foster appreciation for the park's environmental features among the participants through a variety of activities. The day camp caters to two age groups, 7 to 10 and 11 to 13 years of age. A bus service is provided at various points throughout the city to benefit the busy parent, complete with counsellors. Once at the park, campers participate in numerous games, including archery, tennis and many more. Composting and river ecology are also offered, all serving to provide the children with an enjoyable and educational summer.
On a hot summer's day, nothing is more refreshing than a cool dip in Bowring Park's regulation size pool. It is certainly a major attraction for park visitors of all ages, and the long lines found there daily attest to this. The pool is regulation sized with diving boards, as well as a large water slide, which is quite popular. There is also an adjacent wading pool for the smaller children. The pool is supervised at all times by staff who also conduct daily lessons. This pool, erected in 1968, was not Bowring Park's first. A pool was built right on South Brook in the 1920's. The river was dammed at the Stone Bridge, and filled up naturally. By all accounts, it was extremely popular for many years. Nowadays, our current pool carries on that tradition.