During the more than 35 years I spent in the Canadian Forces, proudly wearing our nation’s uniform, I had the privilege to command Canada’s finest sons and daughters all over the world - in Canada, Europe, Southwest Asia and across the U.S. As a lifelong soldier, it should come as no surprise that I fully support the efforts of The Rooms to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel and the First World War.
I support this initiative not just as a soldier; I support these efforts to commemorate, to remember, to educate, to appreciate our forefathers’ service and sacrifices, because I am a very proud son of Newfoundland and Labrador and my support comes from my heart.
Where once our forefathers stood we do indeed now stand. It is our duty to honour them and to ensure that this important moment in history is not lost to future generations. We are calling upon you to help us in that endeavour.
General R. J. Hillier (Retired) Campaign Co-Chair
IT IS OUR DUTY TO ENSURE THAT THIS HISTORY IS NOT LOST.
A 2-93, Ceremony for unveiling the National War Memorial, 1 July 1924 / Elsie Holloway, Holloway Studio (St. John's, N.L.)
A RARE OPPORTUNITY
The work of The Rooms, its role in documenting and preserving our unique cultural identity, is of great importance to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Rooms is where people go to get a sense of our place in the world.
It has been a privilege to serve on The Rooms Board of Directors for the past decade. Now I look forward to serving as co-chair of the Where Once They Stood We Stand campaign, an initiative which will support The Rooms in its efforts to document and preserve some of the most important stories in our history - the stories of Newfoundland and Labrador’s involvement in Beaumont-Hamel and the First World War, and the profound impact it has had on who we are today.
From the National War Memorial in downtown St. John’s to the Trail of the Caribou monuments erected in France and Belgium, generations before us have worked to honour the stories and sacrifices of the First World War. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, it’s our turn now.
As it says In Flanders Fields: “The torch; be yours to hold it high”. The torch has been passed on to us. It is our duty to honour and preserve our history for future generations. Our time is now.
We hope you will answer the call.
Seamus O’Regan, The Rooms Board of Directors Campaign Co-Chair
THERE IS NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW TO HONOUR OUR HISTORY
A 49-2, Royal Newfoundland Regiment soldiers eating at camp [postcard: 1914-1919], Parks Canada collection of Bartlett records
Call for Recruits poster - MG 632.1
IT'S OUR TURN NOW
From the establishment of Fort Townshend by the British in the late 1770s to Newfoundland’s decision to join Canada in 1949, our military history - and particularly the social, political and economic impact of Beaumont-Hamel and the First World War - has had a profound impact on our lives, and on who we are as a people. Newfoundlanders and Labradorians still possess thousands of stories about the First World War that will soon pass from living memory into ancient history unless they are captured now. On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the battle of Beaumont-Hamel, the responsibility of honouring the sacrifices made by our ancestors here at home and overseas has been given to us.
The Rooms, sitting as it does above the former Fort Townshend where Newfoundland raised its first regiment in 1795, will ensure that the stories of our military sacrifices are fortified and augmented for future generations through the following projects:
NA 3106 Opening of the Newfoundland Memorial Park, Beaumont- Hamel, France, 7 June 1925
The exhibition will encompass:
The Battle of Beaumont-Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou: the progress, triumphs and tragedies of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in Europe.
The Royal Naval Reserve, the Merchant Marine and the Women’s Patriotic Association: these organizations and many others were integral to the war effort.
The Home Front: the impact of the war on the home front and the contributions of those who remained at home.
Political, Economic and Social Impact: the exhibition will consider the legacy of the war for Newfoundland and Labrador, its impact on the economy, politics and broader society to 1949. The tremendous toll that the war took on Newfoundland and Labrador, including the challenges facing returning veterans and their families, will be addressed.
Contemplative Space: An area of the exhibition gallery will be dedicated to quiet reflection on the First World War and its lasting impacts. The ambience and content will encourage visitors to consider the legacy of the First World War on many levels.
Beginning in June 2014 and continuing to the spring of 2015, a community engagement lab will invite the public, the family and friends of First World War veterans to share their personal stories and artifacts. The lab will also travel to communities across Newfoundland and Labrador in the spring of 2014 to ensure that living memory of the war is documented before it is lost forever.
2. SITE DEVELOPMENT
The Rooms is located on the site of the former Fort Townshend, an 18th century British star-shaped citadel that was the second-largest British fort in North America. To recognize the historical importance of the site around The Rooms, a site plan was developed that will feature the demarcation of the perimeter of Fort Townshend. Visitors will be able to walk around the perimeter of the old fort on a lighted pathway while learning about the history of the structure which dominated the skyline of St. John’s for most of the 1800s.
Phase 1 of site development will be completed in the fall of 2013. The Where Once They Stood We Stand campaign encompasses Phase 2. As part of this second phase, the walking trail around the perimeter of Fort Townshend will be completed. In addition, construction of an amphitheatre and outdoor classroom space will extend the educational outreach of the exhibition, and other Rooms programming. Interpretation will include recognition of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and St. John’s Fire Department’s history on the site.
Extensive landscaping, tree-planting and sculpture courts for public art installation will beautify the site, transforming it into an educational community park space for visitors to The Rooms.
3. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Education and outreach is a cornerstone of The Rooms. Commemorating the First World War and its ripple effect on Newfoundland and Labrador will serve to honour and remember past generations and educate future ones.
To further enhance the accessibility of the exhibition, The Rooms will develop a companion exhibition catalogue and website which will be incorporated into The Rooms school programs and made available to schools throughout the province. This catalogue and interactive website will expand students’ engagement with the exhibition, extending the possibilities for exploring this important part of their history. An endowment for First World War public school programs will also be developed.
In addition, a Beaumont-Hamel travelling exhibition will be developed in partnership with the Canadian War Museum and will visit communities across Newfoundland and Labrador from 2016 onwards, ensuring that this treasured piece of our history is accessible to as many people as possible.
4. ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXHIBITION
The location of The Rooms was chosen for many of the same reasons that British military planners chose to build Fort Townshend on the site in the late 1700s - the vantage point provides an exceptional view of the harbour and The Narrows, the traditional gateway to St. John’s. Telling the story of the significant role this location played in the defence of British North America through excavation of the archaeological remains of Fort Townshend has always been part of The Rooms master plan. The Provincial Archeology Office provided guidance and expertise during the building of The Rooms and will continue to provide such input over the course of the excavation. Revealing these significant military ruins and incorporating an active archaeological site within the walls of the building will create a unique interpretation opportunity for visitors, and complement the exterior demarcation of the star-shaped citadel of Fort Townshend on the grounds of The Rooms.
THE TIME IS NOW
Not since the National War Memorial was built in St. John’s and the caribou monuments were placed in France and Belgium in the 1920s has there been an effort of this magnitude to honour and keep alive the memory of our fallen ancestors and the story of our remarkable history.
On the eve of the 100th anniversary of the most formative event in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador, we would be honoured if you would join with us to capture the remarkable story of the First World War and its profound impact on our history and culture.
We can think of no greater way to commemorate our ancestors who sacrificed so much than to ensure that nothing be forgotten.
We have enlisted the help of many prominent Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to serve on our campaign cabinet and hope you will aid us in our efforts.
Dean Brinton, CEO
The Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador
Tom Foran, Chair
The Rooms Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador
Board of Directors
General Rick Hillier and Seamus O’Regan
Lisa Browne Vice-Chair, The Rooms Board of Directors
Enlist Now poster, courtesy of the Virtual Reference Library, Toronto Public Library.