History in the Making: InnovativeNL Engineering Completes the Trail of the Caribou.

The road to finish the Trail of the Caribou in Turkey has been a long journey. InnovativeNL is proud to have had the opportunity to make history and close the book on Newfoundland and Labrador’s First World War Trail of the Caribou more than 100 years later.  

The term, Trail of the Caribou was first coined in 1917 by Major Thomas Nangle, the unflappable, hugely patriotic and popular Roman Catholic priest and padre to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

At the end of the war Nangle was tapped to become the Newfoundland’s Director of Graves Registrations and Enquiries. His job brought him in contact with many notable movers and shakers in commemorations, especially Rudyard Kipling and Douglas Haig. In this role he pushed the Newfoundland Government to raise national memorials as he observed other nations preparing to do the same. 

As a part of the commemoration effort Newfoundland’s Prime Minister Sir Richard Squires appointed Nangle to the Battle Exploits Committee that was struck in Great Britain to bring order to anticipated chaos of multiple organizations, military units and Dominions seeking to erect memorials to their fallen.

In short order Nangle convinced the committee to allow Newfoundland to erect six national memorials identified as important areas for commemoration. While he had already been working with local land owners to secure ground at Beaumont-Hamel it was confirmed in the final recommendations from the committee along with sites in Masnieres, Monchy le Preux, Gueudecourt in France, Keiberg Ridge in Belgium and Caribou Hill in Gallipoli, Turkey.  

It was decided that each memorial would have a Caribou on a rocky outcrop by British sculptor Basil Gotto.  He based the design of the now iconic muscular king-sized caribou on a famous photograph by a well-known Newfoundland photographer, S.H. Parsons. The photo was titled Monarch of the Topsails, a nod to an original painting, Monarch of the Glen by Archibald Thorburn.  The caribou was considered the national symbol of Newfoundland at that time and the symbol was adopted by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

Monarch of the Topsails
Basil Gotto with life size clay model of the Caribou

Due to conflict in the region, change in the Newfoundland Government and Nangle’s heavy work load, the only piece of the trail not completed was the one destined for Suvla Bay, Gallipoli in the Republic of Turkey.

90 years later efforts were launched to rectify the missing link and in 2020 InnovativeNL was the successful bidder to complete the trail. InnovativeNL’s team was led by Project Manager Frank Gogos, no stranger to monument building in Newfoundland having spent years involved on many large projects such as Conception Bay South’s Monument of Honour, Corner Brook’s Remembrance Square and Newfoundland’s Memorial to the Missing in Bowring Park. Mr. Gogos is also a military historian who has written numerous articles, several books and given countless presentations on commemorations specifically relating to the Newfoundland in the First World War.

Assisting Mr. Gogos and the InnovativeNL Team during planning and construction was a Newfoundland ex-pat living in Turkey, Mr. Keith Sherren. Sherren took great pride in the project having been a vocal advocate of finishing the Trail of the Caribou for just as long as Mr. Gogos. Sherren was indispensable member of the InnovativeNL team in a most unusual year during the spread of COVID. Always available for site visits and dealing face to face with our contractors in Turkey we have no doubt Mr. Sherren will always cherish the opportunity to have been one of the rare breed to have worked on, and completed, the Trail of the Caribou.  We are grateful for Mr. Sherren’s service and recognize that his work and attention to detail kept things running smoothly. Thank you Keith!    

Final touches being applied to the statue at EFES Bronze

We could not have accomplished building such a beautiful monument to our fallen soldiers without our Turkish contractors who took every bit of pride in the project as we did. They understood more than anybody the extraordinary decision by the Turkish Government to allow a foreign country to build a monument in the heart of Suvla Bay, let alone Gallipoli, in almost 100 years. We thank Situla Design for their attention to detail in the park construction and EFES Bronze Foundry for the magnificent job they did in replicating the caribou statue.  There were many others on both sides of the Atlantic who offered their time and expertise to help complete the memorial. While there are too many to mention we will single out David Mercer who time and time again lent his expertise to InnovativeNL and asked nothing in return. Thank you David!      

 “Only serendipity brought me to this point in history. 12 years ago when I first became involved in the movement to see the Trail of the Caribou completed, giving advice and research, I could never imagine an opportunity would arise that would allow me to lead the team to complete the work that Nangle started so long ago.  A lot of steps and changes in jobs had to take place for me to be in this position, with the unwavering support of InnovativeNL owners Craig Moore and Wanda Butler, to bid on the project and see it through to completion. This project is very personal to me.”   Project Manager, Frank Gogos

At InnovativeNL Engineering and Project Management we take pride in our work and are not afraid to tackle any job that requires innovative and forward thinking to accomplish goals many think are impossible.

To all servicemen and women from the past and today we thank you for your service. For those who never returned home,

We Will Remember Them