Life Can Be A Walk in the Park!
“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
Thank you for dropping by. I hope you can spare a little time to come for a walk in the park with me. It is a bright and invigorating day and so I am bringing my camera along to capture some of the winter beauty…
“After a day’s walk everything has twice its usual value.” ~George Macauley Trevelyan
Our small city of St. John’s, Newfoundland of about 100,000 people is touted to be the oldest city in North America (I’m not sure how factual the claim because I once visited St. Augustine, Florida and I believe this, too, is their claim). I do know that St. John’s is steeped in history with a colourful culture and a warm, fun-loving people. Here’s an introduction to some of the flavour of our city:
Bowring Park is a well-loved destination here and is synonymous with the beloved literary figure Peter Pan! Are you curious to know more while we walk? It’s a bit of a story…
The Bowring family has had a long history with Newfoundland since the early 1800’s when first Benjamin Bowring came from England with his family to set up shop as a watchmaker and jeweller. His wife later set up a small dry goods shop which evolved into a general department store. Five generations of the Bowring family would branch out, very successfully, and build a global empire of trade and shipping including oil tankers, cargo fleets, passenger liners as well as a coastal mail service. In 1911, to commemorate their 100 years of successful business in Newfoundland, the Bowring family dedicated 50 acres of parkland to the City; today Bowring Park encompasses over 200 acres.
Two world wars wiped out much of the Bowring fleet. Following the Second World War, the main business of the company in Newfoundland became retailing. For many years, the company operated its famous department store on Water Street in St. John’s (I remember it well – my husband and I still have many of the Christmas ornaments we bought there when we were first married). The stylish downtown store was later expanded into a chain of “little shops”. These were the basis for the nation-wide chain of 50 plus beautiful Bowring stores that exist today. Interestingly, the company logo “Terra Nova” was a Bowring ship that was chartered by the British Navy for Admiral Scott’s famous journey to the Antarctic in 1911, although the stores are no longer connected with the Bowring family. The chain is currently celebrating 200 years of business in Newfoundland and Bowring remains one my favourite places to shop.
Replicas of Frampton’s Peter Pan statue, cast from the original mold, can be found around the world including: Liverpool’s Sefton Park, the Gardens of Egmont Palace in Brussels, Toronto’s Glenn Gould Park, Queen’s Gardens in Perth, Australia and Rutgers University’s Johnson Park in Camden, New Jersey. Frampton commented that his Bowring Park version of Peter was superior in location to his statue in London’s Kensington Gardens due to “the wholly natural surroundings and flowing river being more in keeping with the spirit of Peter and particularly animals and faeries…” If you have seen the other statues of Peter Pan, I would love for you to share them with us…
The enormous resplendent linden tree located in the park near Peter Pan fell during Hurricane Igor on September 21, 2010. It had been planted nearly a century earlier by England’s Duke of Connaught when Bowring Park was opened on July 15, 1914. Since Igor, a class of local elementary school students helped our Mayor plant a new linden tree in its place.
Russell further wrote, “Pan, the boy who never grew up, could be used as a metaphor for the people of Newfoundland. They are, in the best possible way, an innocent people. Newfoundlanders have a reputation the world over for their warmth and friendliness…” I love this!
DID YOU KNOW? Sir Edgar Frampton’s original sculpture of Peter Pan ‘magically appeared’ in London’s Kensington Gardens on May 1, 1912. The statue was erected in secret overnight at the expense of J. M. Barrie, the author and creator of Peter Pan. The next day, an advert by Barrie appeared in the British newspaper The Times: “There is a surprise in store for the children who go to Kensington Gardens to feed the ducks in the Serpentine this morning. Down by the little bay on the south-western side of the tail of the Serpentine, they will find a May-day gift by Mr J.M. Barrie, a figure of Peter Pan blowing his pipe on the stump of a tree, with fairies and mice and squirrels all around…”
Barrie chose the exact location of the statue in Kensington Gardens. It was lovingly placed there because Peter made his first appearance in literature in Barrie’s novel “The Little White Bird” which is set in Kensington Gardens. It was also in the Gardens where Barrie spent cherished time with the children who inspired his creation of Peter Pan.
The network of serene walking trails and attractive bridges feature magnificent views complete with flower beds, a rose garden, waterfalls, duck families and graceful swans. Indeed, countless children have had their picture taken by the Duck Pond feeding the ducks. Through the years, the park as become deeply rooted in the lives of those who live here.
I hope you enjoy seeing the details of the statue. A collection of faeries, mice, squirrels, rabbits, birds, frogs and salamanders climb their way up the tree trunk to Peter Pan listening to the notes of his magical flute…
DID YOU KNOW? It is recommended that you not feed bread to the ducks and birds. Bread has little nutritional value and its high salt content dehydrates the birds. It also promotes bacterial growth in the ponds and rivers. By purchasing healthy duck food, you will be doing the birds and their environment a favour. Duck food is available at various Marie’s MinMarts around the city for just $1.00 a bag; 100% of the proceeds from the feed sales is forwarded to the Bowring Park Foundation in support of the park. 🙂
DID YOU KNOW? The statue of Peter Pan is probably about 10-feet high. The widespread popular appeal of his Peter Pan statue led Frampton to produce a 18.5″ bronze reduction of the main figure expected to bring at auction £50k. Bowring Park will proudly celebrate its centennial birthday next year. Wouldn’t you love to have your very own miniature of Peter Pan to commemorate the anniversary? Hmmm….Special celebrations are being planned by the Bowring Park Foundation for the park and its patrons. We will all look forward to the party!
Bowring Park is a gift to all who visit, the crown jewel of our city. If you live near a beautiful park, I hope you will enjoy a walk there very soon. Oh, and remember to bring your camera and share the beauty…
An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day. ~Henry David Thoreau.
Wasn’t that a beautiful walk? Shall we go inside where it’s cozy? I hope you have a little more time to join me in a hot cuppa. I am using some of my prized teacups in your honour today. This stunning tea set was a ‘surprise gift’ to me by a dear friend. I’d be delighted to share that story with you on another day, if you wish…Now, how would you like your tea?
I am thrilled to be sharing at Mop It Up Monday, Tea Time Tuesday, Teacup Tuesday, Tuesday Cuppa Tea, What’s It Wednesday, What We Accomplished Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesday, Pearls and Lace Thursday, Treasure Hunt Thursday, Feathered Nest Friday, Fabulously Creative Friday, Show and Tell Friday, Saturday Show Off, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Sunny Simple Sunday, Seasonal Sunday, Sunlit Sunday, Home Sweet Home, Open House, Be Inspired, You’re Going to Love It!
Sources: Bowring Park Foundation, Newfoundland Tourism, The Telegraph, Bowring.com