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Peter Pan and The Hope Of Heaven…

St. John’s is the oldest of all the cities in North America. Embedded in this 400-year-old city are many stories. Bowering Park is one of the oldest parks in St. John’s. It was established by a grant of land from the Bowering family in 1911 on the 100th anniversary of their business operations in St. John’s. The park opened on July 15, 1914. In Bowering Park you will find a very old monument to a very young child in the character of Peter Pan. Peter Pan, the fictional creation of J.M. Barrie, was a free-spirited, fun loving child who could fly and never grows old.

Just 4 years later on February 23, 1918, at 8 PM, the Florizel, owned by the Bowering Shipping Co., sailed from St. John’s bound for Halifax and New York City. The Florizel had a length of 305 feet and a top speed of 12 knots. Onboard were 78 passengers and 60 crew, including many prominent Newfoundland business people. Among the passengers were John Shannon Munn, managing director of Bowring Brothers, with his three-year-old daughter, Elizabeth Shannon (Betty) Munn.

After leaving the harbour the Florizel encountered rough seas and had difficulty navigating its course. After losing sight of land at 10:20 PM, none of the three lighthouses south of Bay Bulls were visible. After eight hours of sailing south, Captain William Martin was convinced he had rounded Cape Race on the island’s southern tip, and ordered a course change at 4:35 AM to West by South. The Florizel struck a reef near Cappahayden, Newfoundland, and sank with the loss of 94 people - including three-year-old Betty Munn and her father.

To honour and remember his granddaughter, Sir Edgar Bowering commissioned an exact replica of the statue of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, London, by the original sculptor George Frampton. The sculpture was unveiled in August 1925, inscribed with these words, "In memory of a dear little girl who loved the Park".

To visit Bowering Park and see the striking sculpture reminds us of the hope of heaven, where little boys and girls never grow old and where death and grief will be no more.

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