The caribou stag design was chosen from 16 designs submitted to Capt. Thomas M. Nangle. It was designed by British sculptor Basil Gotto in 1920. Gotto was born in London, England and studied art at prestigious schools in London and Paris. He served in World War One as a staff-officer for musketry at the artillery depot in Winchester, Hampshire. It was there, in 1918, that he got to know some members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, who were stationed nearby.
In selecting a caribou stag for the major battlefield memorials in France and Belguim, Gotto was able to call upon the affinity and pride a caribou held for the Regiment – being its Regimental Badge. Nagle provided him with a variety of images of caribou in various positions and of the “Monarch of the Topsails”, a term coined by photographer J.C. Parsons, that surely was the inspiration for his design. Nangle supported the Gotto design and urged the Government of Newfoundland to adopt his design for identical, bronze caribou stags, standing atop a cairn of Newfoundland granite. Nangle wrote that Gotto's design was "most distinctive, his idea being a giant caribou somewhat like the 'Monarch of the Topsails' carved in bronze on a rough cairn of Newfoundland granite about ten to fifteen feet high. This will be distinctive of the regiment and of Newfoundland. It will be artistic and cheap, all five being cast from the same mould.” Regiment historian, Col. G.W.L. Nicholson describes the woodland caribou statue with its “head thrown high in defiance, bugling his battle challenge.”
The Government not only accepted Nangle’s recommendation of using the caribou at the five battlefield memorials, but used the bronze caribou statue on the grounds outside its Newfoundland Pavilion at the British Empire Exhibition, held from April to October 1924 in Wembley, London. The caribou showcased the Newfoundland Pavilion and its exhibits highlighting our industries and the attraction of sport hunting. It was later installed at one of the Newfoundland Memorials in France.
The five bronze caribou statues cost approximately £750 each ($1,497) for a total of £3,750 ($7,485). The funds to help create these caribou memorials, along with individual headstones to the fallen, were raised in every community in the then Dominion – hardly a family was not affected by WW1. The impact on all who stand in awe and admiration while looking at this emblem of the Regiment and a symbol of all that Newfoundland and Labrador represents is indeed priceless.