Forget-me-not: public history education about the Newfoundland regiment at ‘The Rooms’, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

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University of New Brunswick


A ‘Beaumont Hamel-centric’ myth of heroic, yet tragic, sacrifice surfaced following the Newfoundland Regiment's July 1, 1916 advance on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. That myth continues to be central to Newfoundland and Labrador's collective memory, reinforced in school curricula, public commemorations, and provincial museums. Grounded in interpretivism, and driven by case study research and narrative enquiry, this study employed document evaluations, exhibition examinations, interviews, and observations to explore the approaches The Rooms, Newfoundland and Labrador's cultural hub, takes in several of its programmes to educate visitors about the Newfoundland Regiment's Great War military engagements. Consistent with previous research about this war, my study demonstrates that The Rooms takes a didactic approach to its First World War education. The site offers remembrance education and heritage education as opposed to contemporary approaches to critical history education. The focus is on nation- or community-building rather than on developing facility with historical thinking and disciplinary processes.