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Following the Trail of the Caribou a memorable experience for west coast students and teacher

Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador photo
(From left) Maggie Barter, Vanessa Pittman-Baker, Taylor Cave, Emily O'Quinn and Kyle Pike started out the Trail of the Caribou pilgrimage to Beaumont-Hamel with a stop at The Fighting Newfoundlander statue in Bowring Park in St. John's.
Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and Labrador photo (From left) Maggie Barter, Vanessa Pittman-Baker, Taylor Cave, Emily O'Quinn and Kyle Pike started out the Trail of the Caribou pilgrimage to Beaumont-Hamel with a stop at The Fighting Newfoundlander statue in Bowring Park in St. John's. - Contributed

Four students and a teacher from the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador were among the more than one-hundred strong delegation that recently followed the Trail of the Caribou in the annual pilgrimage to Beaumont-Hamel in France.

The students were among 19 who were selected as ambassadors through their participation in school and regional heritage fairs. Each of the students completed projects on the First World War.

This year’s pilgrimage, which took place from June 27-July 4, is part of the Honour 100 initiative to commemorate the province’s First World War story.

It included stops at Beaumont-Hamel for a special Canada Day ceremony, a visit to Vimy Ridge and meeting the family of First World War hero Private Thomas (Tommy) Ricketts

Here’s some of what the local participants had to say about the experience.

Taylor Cave

Hampden Academy, Hampden

Grade 7

Project: Thomas Ricketts

What was it like to meet the family of Thomas Ricketts?

“It was nice. You could tell that they really appreciated the people who did projects on Thomas Ricketts. I think they really cared that people really thought about this and really thought that Thomas Ricketts was a hero.”

What did you think about the ceremony at Beaumont Hamel on Canada Day?

“It was definitely a moving experience, because so many people cared about the people in Beaumont Hamel.

“It was privilege getting to go to that ceremony.”

Emily O’Quinn

St. Peter’s Academy, Benoit’s Cove

Grade 9

Project: Monchy-le-Preux — the Monchy 9

What was it about the story of Monchy-le-Preux that interested you?

“Because it’s kind of like a Holywood moment. Those nine men held off 700 Germans for 11 hours without any other help. And if they didn’t it’s been estimated that it would have taken 40,000 soldiers to get it back.”

Is there anything that you learned that you didn’t know when you did your project?

“I didn’t know that there was so much Newfoundland support with the war. I didn’t know that all five caribou were Newfoundland memorials. I thought that they were Canadian memorials. And to get there and hear all the stories that it was mostly Newfoundlanders doing these big battles. It was pretty amazing.”

Kyle Pike

St. Peter’s Academy, Benoit’s Cove

Grade 9

Project: The Life and Times of World War One Medic

Your why did you chose the topic you did?

“Because I like science and medicine. And I thought why not put medicine and science stuff together with history.”

What was the highlight of the trip for you?

“It was probably Vimy Ridge. The tunnels in Vimy Ridge were probably one of the best parts of the trip.

“The idea that there were actually these secretive tunnels back during World War One and actually being in them was interesting.

“When we went to Beaumont Hamel on Canada Day and there was a big ceremony there, that was another highlight of the trip.”

Maggie Barter

École St. Anne, Mainland

Grade 8

Project: Tommy Ricketts

What was the highlight of the trip for you?

“I don’t think really there was any highlights. I just think it was everything all together. It was amazing really.

“I really liked going to Vimy Ridge and seeing the monument.

“I did get to meet some of his (Tommy Ricketts) family members which I found very interesting.”

What did you learn while on the trip?

“I learned how hard it was in the trenches. Life in the trenches.

“Like reality hits you when you actually see how deep they were and how they were just all over the place. Filled with mud and dirt.

“I found it really hard to imagine how people lived in those for so long.”

Vanessa Pittman-Baker

Teacher

Xavier Junior High, Deer Lake

Grade 7, 8 and 9 social studies and technology

What was a highlight of the trip for you?

“I got to visit all the places that I actually talk about in my (Newfoundland History) course. So, now I have real pictures instead of showing textbook pictures.

“And it also gives me the opportunity to talk to the kids about the trip and to encourage more of my students to do projects on World War One, in the hopes that they might get chosen.”

What was it like watching the students experience the trip?

“The expressions on their faces said a lot. Because it’s almost like they knew, but they finally understood after they saw it. Seeing it in real life.”

Kyle Pike of Benoit's Cove is seen holding flowers honouring the Newfoundland Regiment at Ameins Cathedral in France.
Kyle Pike of Benoit's Cove is seen holding flowers honouring the Newfoundland Regiment at Ameins Cathedral in France.

 

Emily O'Quinn and Kyle Pike of Benoit's Cove are seen at the Newfoundland Memorial in Courtrai, Belgium.
Emily O'Quinn and Kyle Pike of Benoit's Cove are seen at the Newfoundland Memorial in Courtrai, Belgium.

 

Taylor Cave of Hampden is seen at Beaumont-Hamel.
Taylor Cave of Hampden is seen at Beaumont-Hamel.

 

Some of the students at the Monchy-le-Preux memorial, (from left, front) Kyle Pike of Benoit's Cove and Taylor Cave of Hampden and (from left, back) Maggie Barter of Mainland, Jillian Codner of Torbay and Emily O'Quinn of Benoit's Cove.
Some of the students at the Monchy-le-Preux memorial, (from left, front) Kyle Pike of Benoit's Cove and Taylor Cave of Hampden and (from left, back) Maggie Barter of Mainland, Jillian Codner of Torbay and Emily O'Quinn of Benoit's Cove.

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