St. John's quietly changes name of Quidi Vidi Plantation ahead of royal visit

·2 min read
Prince Charles and Camilla are pictured in Brigus, N.L., on Nov. 3, 2009, during a previous royal visit. The couple will tour Quidi Vidi in May. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images - image credit)
Prince Charles and Camilla are pictured in Brigus, N.L., on Nov. 3, 2009, during a previous royal visit. The couple will tour Quidi Vidi in May. (Chris Jackson/Getty Images - image credit)

The City of St. John's has quietly rechristened a building nestled on the craggy shore of Quidi Vidi gut ahead of next month's visit by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

The former Quidi Vidi Village Plantation, a two-storey wooden structure in the picturesque fishing community, will welcome Prince Charles and Camilla during their tour of the city on May 17.

By the time they arrive, all hints of its prior name — and its associations with slavery and colonialism — will be erased.

"There's been a lot of confusion around the name because it doesn't actually refer to what's going on in the building," said Mayor Danny Breen on Wednesday.

The city-owned former Plantation is now called the Quidi Vidi Village Artisan Studios, a nod to its tenants: a smattering of craftspeople and vendors managed through the Anna Templeton Centre. It's where Charles and Camilla will learn about rug hooking during their visit.

The new name wasn't formally announced, however.

Malone Mullin/CBC
Malone Mullin/CBC

Breen says the city had already planned to change the building's name but the royal visit sped up the process. The building's social media accounts have been scrubbed, and a new website domain reflecting the name change was purchased last week.

The "plantation" part of the building's sign has also now been removed.

Visit comes amid turbulence in former colonies

Charles and Camilla are touring St. John's as part of a three-day Jubilee celebration marking Queen Elizabeth II's 70th year on the throne.

The visit comes just months after Barbados dropped the British monarch as its head of state and weeks after Jamaica's prime minister told visiting royals that the country intended to become a republic. That visit in March was marked by protests and demands for slavery reparations from the royal family.

Breen says no royal scout was involved in prodding the city to rebrand the Quidi Vidi Plantation, a name that refers to the building's history as a fish plant, according to a spokesperson for the Anna Templeton Centre.

Breen pointed to ongoing talks in recent years to choose a name more reflective of the building's current use, but said he suspects city staff also considered the colonial implications of the term when discussing how to rebrand.

"I think we're all recognizing and evaluating the names of certain facilities as we consider our colonial history, and this is one of those," he said.

"I think that this name really reflects what we're showcasing here."

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