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Beaumont-Hamel National Historic Site of Canada

Beaumont-Hamel National Historic Site of Canada is located in northern France, nine kilometres north of the town of Albert. Beaumont Hamel, Veteran Affairs Canada/Anciens Combattants Canada, 2008Part of the western front during the First World War, this site comprises two main resources: the preserved core of the battlefield and the memorial monument erected in 1922-1924. It serves as the principal memorial to all Newfoundlanders who served in the Great War in France and Belgium, to those killed and to those with no known grave. The battlefield landscape retains significant features, which include the Allied trenches occupied by the Newfoundlanders, shell craters, saps, tunnels, and also the German lines. On a rise of land in the battlefield, the Government of Newfoundland erected a cairn of Newfoundland granite that resembles a natural outcrop. Upon the cairn stands a majestic bronze caribou, the emblem of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, its antlered head facing the German trenches. Official recognition refers to the whole 25-hectare site, its component parts including the remains of the battlefield and the war memorial in their existing spatial relationships.

Heritage value of historic place:

Beaumont-Hamel was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1997 because:

  • Newfoundland's accomplishment, contribution and sacrifice in the First World War are themselves of major national significance;
  • the loss of Newfoundlanders in the First World War had a profound impact on the colony;
  • Beaumont-Hamel speaks eloquently to the bravery and sacrifice of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment at the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916;
  • it memorializes Newfoundlanders lost in the conflict who have no known grave. [HSMBC Minutes 1996]

On July 1st, 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme, over seven hundred members of the First Newfoundland Regiment were either killed or wounded in fierce fighting during an Allied attack against the German Army. Advancing steadily in formation over open ground against strongly held German defences, the regiment suffered horrific losses that devastated Newfoundland and had a profound impact on the colony. Determined to erect a permanent memorial to their dead, the Government of Newfoundland acquired a 25-hectare portion of the battlefield in the early 1920s. Beaumont Hamel, Anciens Combattants Canada/Veteran Affairs Canada, 2008The battlefield was preserved, and a memorial park was created with plantings, pathways, fences, and a central large cairn, featuring a life-sized bronze sculpture of a caribou. Other plaques and memorials have also been installed in the park. Upon entry into Confederation in 1949, the Beaumont-Hamel war memorial has been managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and all of the people of Canada.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1996; Commemorative Integrity Statement, June 1997.

Character defining elements:

Key elements contributing to the heritage value of this site include:

  • its location in Northern France, nine kilometres north of the town of Albert;
  • its siting on a landscape associated with the Western Front and the Battle of the Somme;
  • the topographical features and natural landscape orientation, which formed an important part of the military tactics of the opposing German forces and which communicate in part the tragic casualties of the assault on Beaumont-Hamel; 
  • the battlefield as a cemetery, as well as the formally designed cemeteries on the site; 
  • the site of the 'Danger Tree';
  • the 'Y' Ravine;
  • the site's surviving battlefield remains, including shell holes, craters, trenches, dugouts, tunnels, archaeological resources and in situ German strong points representative of the Western Front of the First World War; 
  • the memorial features of the landscape, including the original perimeter fencing, the original planting scheme with its locations and choices of plant species some native to Newfoundland;
  • the monumental sculpture of the bronze caribou on its plinth; the original network of paths; the ceremonial entrance; all other memorials and plaques, including the three bronze plaques at the base of the statue that bear the names of  814 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve and the Mercantile Marine who gave their lives in the First World War and have no known grave; 
  • viewscapes to Hawthorne Cemetery Number One and the Hawthorne Crater; 
  • viewscapes from the north side of the Park toward the village of Beaumont Hamel and the 'Y' Ravine.

Name of Historic Place: Beaumont-Hamel National Historic Site of Canada
Other names: Newfoundland Beaumont Hamel Memorial Park
Province, territory: France
Community: Albert
Street and street number:Highway D73
Boundary description: The designated place consists of the 25-hectare site as it was when the Government of Newfoundland acquired the site in the 1920s.
Number and type of contributing resources: 4 structures; 5 landscapes or landscape features; 1 archaeological site/remains; 1 monument, 1 battlefield, 1 Danger Tree, 1 trenches, 1 shell-pocked landscape, 1 Y-ravine, 1 park, 2 plaques, 1 archaeological vestiges from war)

Original functional category and type:  Defence - Battle Site

Defence - Military Defence Installation
Current functional category and type:  Leisure - Historic or Interpretive Site
Community - Commemorative Monument
Leisure - Park
Religion, Ritual and Funeral - Mortuary Site, Cemetery or Enclosure
Ownership of historic place (current):Department of Veterans Affairs (Government of Canada)
Construction date range:   1922-1924
Significant date range:1916-1924


Associated event/person/organization/
architect/builder:First World War (event)
Battle of the Somme (event)
1st Newfoundland Regiment (organisation)
Royal Newfoundland Regiment (organisation)
Royal Navy Reserve (organisation)
Mercantile Marine (organisation)
29th British Division (organization)
Major Thomas Nangle (person)
Basil Gottouilder)  Rudolph H K Cochius (architect)
Thematic category and type:Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life - Architecture and Design
Governing Canada - Canada and the World
Governing Canada - Military and Defence

For more history of the site, visit Veteran Affairs Canada

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