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Provost on the trail of the Caribou

 29 June 2015  |  


The Caribou head was presented to the people of Ayr by the Right Honourable Sir Edward Patrick Morris, Prime Minister of Newfoundland in 1916.

The Caribou head was presented to the people of Ayr by the Right Honourable Sir Edward Patrick Morris, Prime Minister of Newfoundland in 1916.

South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie welcomed Canadian soldiers to South Ayrshire to visit war graves of Newfoundland Regiment Soldiers from the Great War at Ayr Cemetery and to see if they could trace a very special Caribou reindeer. 

Retired Major Michael Pretty from Canada arranged the visit to Ayr Cemetery, where he was accompanied by South Ayrshire Provost Helen Moonie and his fellow travellers. A short remembrance service, led by the Rev David Gemmell, gave the group an opportunity to lay wreaths and pay their respects to their countrymen buried there.  

There was particular interest in the grave of Newfoundlander James Cooper who following the end of the war married a local girl and remained in Ayr and is buried there. 

The Caribou head that the visitors were searching for is now located in South Ayrshire Council's Rozelle House Galleries in Ayr and Provost Moonie took the Canadians to see it. 

On 15 September 1916 a Caribou head was presented to the people of Ayr by the Right Honourable Sir Edward Patrick Morris, Prime Minister of Newfoundland, as a gesture of gratitude to the people of the town for welcoming new army recruits to the town. The Caribou head hung for many years in Ayr town hall before being transferred to the Council's museums collection at Rozelle. 

Provost Helen Moonie said: "It was a very moving moment when we visited the war graves and paid our respects. Our visit to Rozelle enabled the visitors to see the Caribou which was presented by the Newfoundland Regiment to acknowledge the warm welcome and support they received when they came to South Ayrshire." 

The Caribou and the Canadian soldiers formed links with South Ayrshire, and some of the soldiers descendants live in this area, so the Caribou is a symbol of our connection to them. 

The Caribou of Ayr is going to be a central part of the prestigious free Next of Kin exhibition which will be on show from 4 July to 28 September 2015 at Rozelle. The exhibition tells the story of local families, supported by photographs and artefacts, there will also be activities for schools, family history workshops and a series of talks by expert speakers. 

Next of Kin, a free exhibition created by National Museums Scotland, opens on 4 July 2015 at Rozelle House and will be on display until 28 September 2015. It presents a picture of Scotland during the First World War through treasured objects from official and private sources, passed to close relatives and down through generations. 

Further information will soon be made available at www.south-ayrshire.gov.uk and through the local press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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