The city of St. John’s has quietly renamed a building nestled on the steep bank of the Quidi Vidi Gut ahead of a visit by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall next month.
The old plantation in the village of Quidi Vidi, a two-storey wooden structure located in the picturesque fishing community, will host Prince Charles and Camilla during their visit to the city on May 17.
By the time they arrive, all allusions to its former 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 refer to what’s going on in the building,” Mayor Danny Breen said Wednesday.
The former city-owned plantation is now called the Quidi Vidi Village Artisan Studios, a nod to its tenants: a handful of artisans and vendors run by the Anna Templeton Centre. This is where Charles and Camilla will discover rug hooking during their visit.
The new name, however, has not been officially announced.
Breen says the city had already planned to change the name of the building, but the royal visit sped up the process. The building’s social media accounts were cleaned up and a new website domain reflecting the name change was purchased last week.
The “plantation” portion of the building’s sign has also been removed.
Visit comes amid turmoil in former colonies
Charles and Camilla are on tour in St. John’s as part of a three-day Jubilee celebration marking Queen Elizabeth II’s 70th anniversary on the throne.
The visit comes just months after Barbados relinquished the British monarch as head of state and weeks after Jamaica’s Prime Minister told the 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 scouts were involved in pushing the town to rename the plantation Quidi Vidi, a name that references the building’s history as a fish factory, according to a spokesperson from the Anna Templeton Center.
Breen pointed to ongoing talks in recent years to choose a name more representative of the building’s current use, but said he suspects city staff also considered the term’s colonial implications when designing the building. discussion on how to change brands.
“I think we all recognize and evaluate the names of certain facilities as we consider our colonial history, and this is one of them,” he said.
“I think that name really reflects what we’re presenting here.”