...the history behind Bowring Park's Peter Pan statue?
On February 23rd, 1918 the S.S. Florizel set out from St. John's harbour, enroute to New York City. One day later, fierce weather off the Southern Shore resulted in the ship striking a rock called Horn's Head near Cappahayden.
Ninety-three souls were lost in the wreck. One of the lost was little three-year old Betty Munn, who was torn from her father's arms during the disaster. Like Peter Pan, this little girl would never grow up.
Betty Munn was the granddaughter of Sir Edgar Rennie Bowring, who was a prominent business man and a partner in his family's business, Bowring Brothers Ltd. The firm was involved in various ventures, one of which was shipping. The Florizel was one of their vessels.
Four years before the disaster, Bowring Park was opened near downtown St. John's. The land was donated to the city in celebration of the firm's 100th year doing business in Newfoundland. After the Florizel disaster, Bowring commissioned a duplicate of the Peter Pan statue that stands in Kensington Gardens, London in memory of his granddaughter. This statue was placed in the park, where it still stands today, inscribed "In memory of a dear little girl who loved the park, Betty Munn."
To learn more about the S.S. Florizel disaster, check out "A Winter's Tale: The Wreck of the Florizel" by Newfoundland authour Cassie Brown. A Winter's Tale can be found now at the Heritage Shop at 158 Duckworth Street.