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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Beautiful St. John's, Newfoundland - Part 1

In early June, I was pleased to represent the board and membership of Saskatchewan Publishers Group/SaskBooks at the annual meeting and professional development sessions of the Association of Canadian Publishers in beautiful St. John's, Newfoundland. (To see what I learned there, read my blog - Hug A Canadian Book Publisher Today!)

My husband/DriverWorks Ink publishing partner Al Driver came with me to St. John's, so we could have a little vacation at the end of the meetings.

What a gorgeous city and province!

Our first view of St. John's was from our taxi ride to our hotel. The hills, rock and bountiful trees were a welcome sight to this girl raised in the forested area of central Alberta.

The street-level mural in front of these colourful houses stopped us in our tracks several times as we walked by, enjoying the history of this, Canada's oldest city.

Downtown St. John's is known for its brightly coloured, historic rowhouses that are all referred to as 'Jellybean Row'.  (There is no specific street by this name.)

The CBC-TV series 'The Republic of Doyle' has made these rowhouses even more popular. We were stopped one day by a women who asked us to take a photo for her and her husband as they stood by one of the bright blue rowhouses near our hotel. She was excited when we said we would. "I just love Republic of Doyle and I've been sick on this vacation and I really needed to see this before I go home tomorrow!"

The rowhouses can be seen on local mailboxes...

as the subjects of local art (we saw this one in a gallery window) ...

and as knick knacks for tourists.

Look at the above picture again.
Do you see the 'Newfoundland chain saw?' That cracked me up!

And of course, this is why I was in St. John's - to attend the ACP meetings. Various hotels, restaurants and shops displayed these welcome signs in their windows. 
I wish our city would do something this more often to welcome travellers and conventions. It's an easy, wonderful way to welcome guests when you aren't physically in their presence. Hey - I was so pleased that I took a photo of this sign!

On the first night, we attended a welcome reception hosted by four local publishers - Creative Book Publishing, Breakwater Books Ltd., Boulder Publications, and Flanker Press. The Screech Room in the historic Masonic Temple in downtown St. John's boasted this great sign above its door. Strangely, we did not sample screech or kiss the cod during our trip, but we did enjoy a few other local treats.

We enjoyed the music of local singer-songwriter Pamela Morgan...

the storytelling of author Andy Jones...

and the music of local artists Duane Andrews and Craig Young.

Oh, and I LOVED the fish and chips in Newfoundland! A little too much. By Day Three, I'd had cod and chips four times! Overdoing it, maybe?
Well - two were intentional and two were not. I enjoyed the tasty cod and chips dish above on our first two evenings there, from the Duke of Duckworth pub (the best fish and chips in St. John's, we were told). On my third day in St. John's, cod and chips was served as the lunch during the conference. Who knew? That evening, Al and I ordered crabs' legs at a restaurant to celebrate his birthday, then were told they ran out of crab. We were a bit astounded by that, but what can you do? We ordered a seafood platter - which included ... you guessed it - cod! Mmmm good! 

What were some other meals we enjoyed, you ask? 
Seafood chowder with huge chunks of local salmon in it.
Seafood au gratin. Unbelievably wonderful. 

And touton - a local treat that tastes like french toast combined with a donut. The locals eat this with molasses,  and we did try that - see our sample of molasses on the right side of the plate. We enjoy syrup more than molasses, though, so we devoured this tasty treat with syrup. 
We were told that touton came from what is left of the bread dough when making loaves of bread. They fry it up and enjoy.

Maritimers kept encouraging us to try cod tongues, which look like little balls of deep-fried cod, but we were admittedly cowardly about that. Just as I've never tasted prairie oysters (bull testicles which are considered a delicacy in some Western Canadian restaurants), I wasn't interested in tasting the real tongues of Maritime cod either.

The American Hockey League St. John's IceCaps were playing the first game of the finals one night, and these avid fans were encouraging passing motorists to come into the game - or at least honk their horns in support of the team!
There wasn't much danger that these enthusiastic fans would be hit by the traffic while on the boulevard. We found St. John's motorists to be overwhelmingly gracious in stopping as soon as a pedestrian might even be thinking of crossing the street at a corner. Apparently, there are serious fines in St. John's for not stopping for pedestrians at an intersection. There are in other cities, too. People in St. John's actually obey those rules, though!

A sign in a shop window. Heh heh heh.

The view from our hotel window in downtown St. John's on our first night there. It rained a bit the second evening of our trip, but then turned sunny and warm for the remainder of our stay in St. John's.

Here's Al, reading the sign for Angel's Corner, which reminds everyone they have a role to play in ending violence and abuse against women.

Oh! Al caught a big one!

Stay tuned for St. John's and area - part 2.


  1. I just stumbled upon this through my google search for "Angels Corner". I'm the face behind that mural. :) Glad to see tourists are taking the time to enjoy it!

    1. That's great, Elizabeth. Your artwork is what drew us to that corner and caused me to take those photos. Well done. And thank you.