• Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recreating the March to the Florizel

Commemorating the departure of the ‘First 500’ from St. John’s in October, 1914

By the first week of October 1914, the first recruits of the Newfoundland Regiment were ready to ship overseas to join the war effort. Hundreds of locals crowded the streets of St. John’s as the so- called ‘First 500’ marched, from the training ground at Pleasantville, to the St. John’s harbour front to board the SS Florizel for England. Nicknamed the Blue Puttees, because they wore blue instead of the standard khaki leggings, they were greeted at dockside by a contingent including Governor Sir Walter Davidson, Prime Minister Sir Edward Morris and music from bands representing the Church Lads Brigade, Methodist Guards and Salvation Army.

On Sunday, October 5, 2014 approximately 350 individuals, from across Newfoundland and Labrador, took part in a re-creation of the historic march to the Florizel. Led by the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, participants marched the actual route, taken by the original recruits, from Pleasantville to the St. John’s harbour front, culminating with a special ceremony at the Harbour front.

This event was a partnership between the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador – Honour 100, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Royal Newfoundland Regiment Advisory Council, and the City of St. John’s.