Newfoundland is a strange and remote island off the East Coast of Canada, in the cold and sometimes violent Atlantic Ocean. Its culture is difficult to define, as it’s a one-off anomaly and there are very few places like it in the world. It has the harsh weather and the stunning landscapes synonymous with the rest of Canada, but it has distinctive elements that are more similar to Ireland – such as the unintelligible accents, enthusiastic drinking culture and the love of a great party.
Newfoundland was an independent dominion until the economy started to collapse during the Great Depression and the people had to relinquish their independence and become a British colony. The history of this province was built upon fishing and sailing, the sea affecting almost every aspect of daily life.
Lee and I spent four months living in St. Johns over the winter and then a month hitchhiking around the island to the smaller towns and villages. I fell in love with The Rock and it continues to fascinate me. Here are a few of the things about Newfoundland that make me smile when I think about them:
The Matter of Fact Friendliness of the Locals
While many other Canadians tend to be friendly in a very sweet, timid and polite way, I found that Newfoundlanders had a more straightforward demeanour – similar to what I experienced in the UK. Whereas ‘mainlander’ Canadians would be very careful not to offend a visitor, Newfoundlanders seemed to feel more comfortable throwing around playful insults and making jokes. I love experiencing this type of hospitality personally, it makes me feel so comfortable.
A great example of this was the host of our Bed and Breakfast in Gander. She made us a gorgeous breakfast and served it to us saying, “I’ll make you a candlelit breakfast. If you have a shitty day after that, it’s your own fault.” Priceless.
The Strange Turns of Phrase
“Stay where you’re at and I’ll comes where you’re to.”
In Newfie, that means “stay where you are and I’ll come pick you up.”
Newfoundland seems to have its own language complete with unique phrases that you will only hear on the island. When you visit, you will be called “b’y” and you will be asked “Whaddya At?” all the time, which means “How are you”.
It’s difficult at first to understand what everyone is saying, but some of the phrases are pure poetry, such as “I’m so hungry, I could eat the arse off a low flying duck.” What a great image.
The Breathtaking Landscapes
I can’t even….
The landscapes in Newfoundland are not pretty like a little pastoral English village, or tranquil like a tropical beach – they are rugged, remote and badass. The rocks have been battered by the rough and violent sea, the trees bow under the weight of the snow and the simple square white houses are like polished stones set in a circle around each little isolated harbour. Just watch the commercials from Newfoundland and Labrador tourism – they give me goose bumps.
I could go out about Newfoundland forever, but these are just a few of the reasons why I love spending time here so much. Have you ever visited this island? Share your stories in the comments below.
Lee and Kelly are two creative and passionate travelers who have teamed up to create an unconventional life together working as digital nomads and exploring this big and beautiful world. Everything they own fits in their backpacks and with no permanent address they are perpetual wanderers on not just a Gap Year but a “Gap Decade”.
Together this Canadian girl and English guy have created Global Goose, a comprehensive travel resource for those who have been stricken by wanderlust. Their blog contains practical guides, stories from the road, interviews with inspiring travelers, and much more.