Trail of the Caribou doc looks back at Beaumont-Hamel

Allan Hawco and Mark Critch visit the battlefields and walk the trenches on the Trail of the Caribou.

Allan Hawco and Mark Critch visit the battlefields and walk the trenches

CBC Newfoundland and Labrador is following the Trail of the Caribou, a new CBC documentary commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War battle at Beaumont-Hamel, France.

The tragic event marked the first day of the Battle of the Somme and caused the near annihilation of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment on July 1, 1916.

Hosted by Allan Hawco and Mark Critch, the documentary tells the story of what happened at Beaumont-Hamel when more than 700 young men from Newfoundland were wounded or died.

The documentary also takes viewers to locations in France and Belgium where caribou monuments have been erected to honour Newfoundland soldiers. A portion of the documentary focuses on Newfoundlanders who fought in Gallipoli, Turkey before being sent to Beaumont-Hamel, France.

"Growing up, you'd hear each year of the huge loss at Beaumont-Hamel. The Newfoundland Regiment's great victories were overshadowed by this terrible loss. It was a real honour to walk in their footsteps in Turkey, Belgium and France and celebrate those victories and celebrate the brave young men who walked those same fields a hundred years before," said Critch.

Both Critch and Hawco have a keen interest in the history of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and stories about the involvement in the First World War.

"I've always felt like it was our story and I was afraid I was never going to get a chance to be a part of the story, to tell their story. I'm very proud to be part of it," said Hawco about his involvement in the documentary. "So many generations now will be able to get a piece of what happened, a piece of history from this documentary."

"My buddy Allan Hawco and I have had a lot of adventures together but this one will never be topped. In researching the Regiment, we discovered a personal connection a hundred years old. It was chilling and showed me just how interconnected we all are in this province," said Critch.

The City of St. John's partnered with CBC on the documentary project. Councillor Danny Breen from the City spoke to the St. John's Morning Show. "We felt that it was an important legacy project that we'll have forever, for future generations. And the idea of having people, young people in particular, connect with telling the story was important to us," said Breen. "It's a must-see for everyone. Not only is it moving, but the landscape and just watching the video is quite special." 

Trail of the Caribou will air July 1 at 9 p.m. AT / 9:30 p.m. NT on CBC Television. The documentary will also be available online at

Free Public Screenings

There are a number of free public screenings taking place this summer:

  • June 24, 10:30 a.m., Scotiabank Theatres, Avalon Mall, St. John's - FULL (presented by the City of St. John's)
  • June 24, 10:50 a.m., Scotiabank Theatres, Avalon Mall, St. John's - REGISTER (presented by the City of St. John's)
  • June 27, dusk (9:20-9:30 p.m.), REEL Downtown, St. John's - (presented in partnership with the City of St. John's and Downtown St. John's)
  • June 30, 10 a.m., Cineplex Cinemas Millbrook, Corner Brook
  • July 1, 4 p.m., Signal Hill National Historic Site Visitor Centre theatre
  • July 7, 12 p.m. Lunch & A Movie, CBS Manuels River Hibernia Interpretation Centre
  • July 1, 8:30 p.m., Outdoor Theatre at Terra Nova National Park
  • July 2 and 3, screenings throughout the day, The Rooms, St. John's
  • St. John's International Airport will be showing the documentary throughout the summer
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