Nfld. & Labrador

Caribou badge: St. John's street signs changed to honour WW I history

More than three dozen streets in St. John's are involved in a new project to honour the soldiers and wartime service of the Newfoundland Regiment.
The noble bronze caribou is the emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. (CBC)

If you have been out and about in St. John's lately, you may have noticed some street signs have a slightly different look.

In a project to honour the soldiers and wartime service of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the image of the caribou — the regimental badge — is now affixed to the signs of more than three dozen of the city's streets.

"Everybody thought it was a terrific idea, council approved it and it became a reality," said St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe, adding the city didn't hesitate to honour the regiment using the street signs.

"We have a very broad policy down at City Hall for commemorating and celebrating the involvement of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in World War One into our existing program,"  told CBC's St. John's Morning Show.

The caribou statue in Bowing Park in St. John's. The Caribou is the symbol of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. (CBC)

O'Keefe said there has been a noticeable renewed interest in Newfoundland and Labrador's involvement in the two world wars, as well as more recent conflicts. So the city decided to go to their archives department to see what streets had names related to the regiment.

The department identified 37 known streets, and the city got to work replacing them with the new ones that have the regimental badge on them.

"You go down through the names, and in some cases they reflect a location, in some cases they reflect a battle and in other places they reflect individuals who took part in World War One," he said.

"We very well may have missed one or two, I'm not sure, but if we did and anybody is aware of an example, just let us know and we will incorporate it into the project."

Scroll through the photos below to see just a few examples of St. John's streets that were named in honour of the Newfoundland Regiment's World War One history.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Beaumont Street, which is located between Merrymeeting Road and Empire Avenue, was named for the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel, which took the lives of 255 Newfoundlanders, with 386 wounded and 91 missing.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Hamel Street, which runs between Freshwater Road and Empire Avenue in St. John's, was formerly known as Oak Street before being renamed to also commemorate the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Edinburgh Street, formally known as Cornell Street, is located between Calver Avenue and Empire Avenue. Named on July 6, 1922, it is a tribute to the capital city of Scotland — where many Newfoundlanders were billeted during World War One.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Aldershot Street, which is in the area of St. John's known as 'Rabbittown', was known as Plum Street before being renamed in 1922. It is named after an area where the Regiment stayed in the U.K. during the war.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Cairo Street, which runs between Empire Avenue and Rankin Street, commemorates the time the Newfoundland Regiment spent in Cairo, Egypt. The men spent two weeks in the North African country, acclimating to the stifling heat they would encounter at the battle of Gallipoli.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Captain Whelan Drive, which is in the city's west end and connects Columbus Drive to Blackmarsh Road, was named on June 1, 1988. 

Captain John Joseph Whelan,was a Lieutenant Commander in World War II and was in charge of the Naval Fleet in St. John's Harbour. He was also a member of the First 500 in the Newfoundland Regiment in WWI.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Suvla Street, off Empire Avenue, was previously known as Pine Street. Suvla Bay is in the Gallipoli Peninsula — a Turkish-controlled area in southeastern Europe. There, the Regiment would join the British Army.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Ricketts Road, located between Wales Street and Campbell Street, was named on March 1, 1967. The caribou insignia has not yet been added to the street sign.

The street is named after Thomas Ricketts, a Newfoundlander who was awarded the Victoria Cross — the youngest recipient of the medal. Ricketts was seen as a war hero for his actions during the Commonwealth's advance from Ledgehem, Belgium.

(Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

Another street yet to have the caribou insignia added, Regiment Street near Quidi Vidi Village is named after the Royal Newfoundland Regiment itself.

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