Wearing a black top hat and fairly old-fashioned formal attire, a man holding a scroll stood on the front steps of the Bowring Park Bungalow and offered a loud pronouncement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my pleasing duty to declare this park open, and may it ever be a source of pleasure and enjoyment to the citizens of St. John’s and Newfoundland in general,” he said, standing before a large crowd that gathered at the park Tuesday evening.
Actor Keith Power played the role of His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught as part of a re-enactment of the official opening of the park. Tuesday marked the 100th anniversary of the park’s opening on July 15, 1914.
Local company The Bowring Brothers purchased Rae Island Farm and offered the land to the City of St. John’s in 1911 to eventually create a park. The gesture was made to honour the company’s own centennial anniversary.
Tuesday’s re-enactment of the official opening ceremony — during which the duke assisted in planting a linden tree — was organized by local theatre company Spirit of Newfoundland.
The duke’s linden tree was one of many trees destroyed during hurricane Igor in September 2010. The city planted a new linden tree to replace it a few months later, on Arbor Day in 2011. A podium made from the downed linden tree was publicly unveiled Tuesday.
Also during Tuesday’s event, St. John’s resident Victoria LeMessurier Badcock helped Mayor Dennis O’Keefe plant a new red oak tree to mark the centennial anniversary. Badcock was three months old when the park opened and reportedly attended the original ceremony as a baby.