“I’ve always said the naming process in this province is one of our best kept secrets,” says Randy Hawkins, provincial secretary of the Newfoundland and Labrador Geographic Names Board.
But now, in honour of deserving veterans who have died in service of their country, the naming process is a “best kept secret” no longer, as people can view the memorial names via a national commemorative map.
As part of the Geographical Names Board of Canada’s commemorative map, the Newfoundland and Labrador Geographical Names Board has been naming unnamed topographical features in the province after veterans who have sacrificed their lives in combat.
According to the group’s website, it has long been a practice in Canada to name geographical features in honour of the men and women of the Canadian military who have died in service of their country.
The names of the fallen are featured in the online commemorative map for war casualties, soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen, military leaders and civilians recognized or decorated for outstanding acts of bravery and sacrifice in battle.
They also commemorate notable battles in which Canada participated, and Canadian military units, regiments, squadrons, and ships in which Canadians served.
As for the Newfoundland and Labrador provincial names board, it’s one of the oldest in country, dating all the way back to 1904.
Hawkins told The Packet, in Newfoundland and Labrador, the commemorative naming initiative picked up steam in recognition of the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Beaumont Hamel during the First World War.
He explains, upon receipt of recommendation of a place or person for naming, the board can then approve the area for inclusion.
Hawkins says they try not to rename a particular feature or area unless the community itself lobbies for it.
“Normally we prefer to adopt names for previously unidentified features,” he says.
“We generally rely on the expertise of local trappers and residents around the province to give us the correct (existing) place names.”
The most recent additions include some names from the Southwest Arm area, as suggested by Lester Green and the Southwest Arm Historical Society.
• Leander’s Lookout, which commemorates the efforts of Able Seaman Leander Green, a First World War veteran.
Leander Green was the first Newfoundlander to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in the Royal Navy in the First World War. On Jan. 31, 1915, while escorting a lone cargo ship loaded with war material to England he volunteered to swim to a sinking ship in which he secured a line that enabled the lives of many sailors to be saved.
Leander’s Lookout was adopted Oct. 19, 2016. It was published in the Newfoundland and Labrador Gazette.
• Richard Spurrell’s Mountain, commemorating Private Richard James Spurrell, a former resident of Butter Cove.
Richard Spurrell’s Mountain was adopted March 28, 2018. It was also published in the Newfoundland and Labrador Gazette.
Richard Spurrell was a stretcher-bearer in the First World War. He was shot while retrieving wounded on the battlefield. He died on Jan. 4, 1917 as a result of gunshot wounds.
• Five Smith Brothers’ Beacon, which recognizes the sacrifices of the sons of Joseph and Mary Martha Smith, former residents of Gooseberry Cove, who sent five members of their family to fight in the First World War.
Five Smith Brothers’ Beacon was adopted March 28, 2018 and published in the Gazette.
Leander’s Lookout is already part of the commemorative map, while Richard Spurrell’s Mountain and Five Smith Brothers’ Beacon have been adopted by the board and are will be added to the site.
There are five other sites named for First World War veterans on the map in Newfoundland and Labrador, in Bay Roberts, Glovertown, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook and Blanc-Sablon, along with three Second World War designates in St. John’s and Placentia.
The board still accepts recommendations for inclusion in the commemorative map.
“We started the process in 2006 and said we were going to continue it for the foreseeable future,” says Hawkins.
For those interested in viewing the interactive map, go to the following link, or go to www.thepacket.ca for a clickable link to reroute to the website: