It is not always the case in the newspaper business that a story along with some photos get an immediate response from those involved to fix the situation. However that is what happened a few weeks ago here at the Telegram.
On Tuesday, July 30, the Telegram ran a story on the front page written by Telegram reporter Andrew Robinson with photos I had taken for the assignment. The story was about the dilapidated state of the historic war bunkers at the foot of the North Head Trail leading to Signal Hill.
The bunkers were used to store artillery to protect St. John's Harbour during the Second World War. The story focused on war historian Paul Collins, and his outrage at the state of the historical structures in such a well travelled hiking area. Collins, who wrote his doctoral thesis on the history of St. John's as a naval base during the Second World War, stated he would rather have the bunkers torn down if Parks Canada would not address the situation.
When I shot the assignment the day before it was published I was also disturbed by what I saw. Not only were the bunkers covered in graffiti, but when I stuck my head inside for a peak (since two of the bunkers had the doors wide open) there was garbage and debris, with more graffiti on the walls inside, and a stench that can only be described as disgusting.
The North Head Trail has always been one of the most popular, picturesque trails we have in this area. Of course it reflects badly on the city and province when the first thing tourists and locals alike see on the trail are those structures in such a poor state. This city is so rich in history it is important to preserve what we can.
Therefore, I was thrilled to come to work the day after the article appeared in the paper and learn that Parks Canada had (on the same day the Telegram article was published) cleaned up the bunkers, gave them a fresh coat of paint, patched up repairs to concrete and repaired the steel doors with new iron gates so no one could get inside. I know it is a small victory but I would have been very disappointed if they had to be destroyed. I've been down to the trail a few times since the day of the assignment and, so far, no new graffiti.