When I began dating my wife in university I knew next to nothing about Newfoundland: it was an island way out East, it rained a lot, and people from there were very friendly. I think it’s safe to say that’s the impression a lot of “mainlanders” have about Newfoundland. After university we lived for a few years in my hometown of Ottawa before making the move out to St. John’s. I had a pretty good idea of what to expect having visited my wife’s family many times over the past few years. However I was still surprised by a great many things. Over the past four years of living here I have learned a lot about Newfoundland and Labrador and continue to learn something new almost every day. Here are some tips for any other mainlanders thinking of making the move to the rock:
1. You will not understand all the slang. And it’s fine. Many times I have had to ask someone to repeat what they were saying or ask what a certain word means. This is usually followed by a friendly chuckle and a “you must not be from Newfoundland”. Learning all these different Newfoundland words has been a lot of fun.
2. It’s hotter than you think. As I write this we are currently entering our 14th straight day with temperatures above 25C.
3. The opposite of #2: RDF. Rain, drizzle, fog. Yes the weather does suck at times.
4. People go out late. In Ottawa the bars close strictly at 2am, last call is at 1:45 and then you are herded out the door so we would usually start the pre-downtown festivities at around 8 o’clock and head downtown by 10. Not so much here. Expect to head downtown post-midnight and not come home till 3 or 4 in the morning…unless you go to an afterhours bar, then it’s closer to 5 or 6.
5. A lot of cool shit happened in Newfoundland. Look up Terry Fox, Amelia Earhart, Frederick Banting, both World Wars (when Newfoundland fought for the allies before they were part of Canada – very cool), Gander and 9/11, Marconi, etc. There are too many to list. Google it.
6. You will get an accent. Accept it. Embrace it.
7. Stuff is not “cheaper” out here. I naively assumed that I could buy a mansion in Newfoundland for 100k. Yah not so much. Housing prices and cost of living in St. John’s are pretty comparable to the rest of Canada.
8. Don’t make fun of Newfoundland or Labrador. Ever. Don’t do it. And don’t refer to people as “Newfies”. Only Newfoundlanders can do that. And even then, they usually don’t.
9. Enjoy yourself. It’s lots of fun out here.