Caribou war memorial returns to Bowring Park
Monument needed repairs after antlers damaged by vandals
The Caribou monument was returned home to Bowring Park on Saturday, after undergoing repairs for damages caused by vandals.
The 85-year-old bronze statue commemorating Newfoundlanders who died in the First World War was taken out of the park in early September.
Repairs took months — but for the people involved it was a labour of love.
Frank Gogos, with the Newfoundland Bronze Foundry, said everyone involved was more than happy to take part in the repairs and reinstallation.
"I've been studying the history of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment for a number of years, and to be involved in such a monumental icon of Newfoundland history is just something I'll take with me forever," Gogos said.
"This is a life-changing moment to be able to work on the caribou, and everybody who's been involved in it, their life changes a little bit when they understand how much this means to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador."
Morgan MacDonald, sculptor and project director, said he was hoping to get the project finished in time for Remembrance Day.
"We didn't want to disappoint the veterans, and of course it's a special memorial for Bowring Park and the city of St. John's. It's an iconic piece," he said.
MacDonald said to be selected to work on the famous caribou was a pleasure.
"The caribou has been such an icon for the city, and for the province as a whole, and to be connected and part of that history right from the First World War, and to be picked to do this … it's truly an honour to be a part of this. It's an icon, in our history and in our heritage."
Repairs to the monument cost nearly $45,000, but military historian Tony MacAllister said it's impossible to put a price on what it means to remember the young men who lost their lives fighting for Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Most people think, when they see the caribou, it represents those who died at Beaumont Hamel, but really it's more than Beaumont Hamel," MacAllister said.
"I hope [people] remember the supreme sacrifice that was paid by Newfoundlanders. When you go to France and you see the ages on the gravestones — 17, 18, 19, 20 — these were young boys from a very unfortunate generation that gave [their lives] up."
These repairs mark the first time the caribou statue as been removed from the park since 1928.