Best pics of Newfoundland Blizzard 2013


“Cold and wet. Nothing a cup of tea and dry socks won’t cure!”

That’s the sentiment a day after a big blizzard in St. John’s closed the city down. On Friday January, 10th, 2013, the power went out for the whole day as the winter storm with wind speeds topping 110 km/h dumped from 25 to 55 cm of snow on the Avalon. Reports say it’s the worst storm in 7 years. But around here, it’s no big deal.

And that’s why I live here. No drama, sensationalism, or fear-mongering.

“It’s winter, and we live in the middle of the Atlantic – what are you expecting?”

Here’s how to deal with a blizzard in Newfoundland.

Some people see this as an obstacle.

snowstorm in Newfoundland blocks the door.

Others see it as an opportunity.


blizzard fridge


Shouldn’t be too much longer…

(This great shot from made it onto CBC.)

newfoundland turkey cooks over tealights during a power failure


Dude, where’s my car?

(crtsy Steve Halley)

car covered by snow, Newfoundland blizzard 2013





Climb to the back door…


I listened to Frankie, and stayed indoors.


Then I ventured out Friday at about 2 pm to catch these pics.
Owly Images

Owly Images

Thanks for the photos. If I haven’t credited the photos properly, let me know.

Car Rental St. John’s Newfoundland

Renting A Car in St. John’s, NL

Here’s your tip: BOOK EARLY!! Renting a car in Newfoundland in the summer can be frustrating.

St. John’s Airport

Avis Rent A Car – St. John’s Airport
+1 (800) 879 2847
View Website

Budget Car Rental
1 (800) 268 8900

View Website

Hertz Car Rentals – St. John’s Airport
1 (800) 263 0600

Near the mall

Capital Car
120 Kenmount Road, St. John’s
(709) 726 7111

Dollar Rent A Car
497 Kenmount Road, St. John’s
1 (800) 800 4000

Thrifty Car Rental
278 Kenmount Road, St. John’s
1 (800) 563 8411
View Website

St. John’s West

Discount Car & Truck Rentals
709 Topsail Road, St. John’s
1 (800) 263 2355

909 Topsail Road, Mount Pearl, NL
1 (800) 239 7990
View Website

Mount Pearl – The suburbs, just southwest of St. John’s
Enterprise Rent-a-car
Mount Pearl
1 (800) 325 8007
View Website

National Car Rental
St. John’s
1 (800) 387 4747
View Website

Scorched Starts Feb 2 at the A&C

Scorched postcard - by Beothuck players St. John'sPresented by the Beothuck Street Players, directed by Clar Doyle  –  Wajdi Mouawald’s multi award-winning Scorched.

St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre from Wed., Feb 2nd – Sat. Feb. 5th.

“Scorched is a gift that will touch your heart.”

“This haunting work may be the best piece of theatre this country has produced this millennium.”

“Intelligently stimulating, politically relevant.”

“A beautiful, compassionate, lyrical and ultimately reconciliatory piece of theatre.”

The play revolves around letters Nawal Marwan leaves to her children to be delivered to their father and brother. The children did not know there was a living father or brother. The journey to find these relatives might also reveal why Nawal did not speak for the last five years of her life. This journey from Montreal to her Middle Eastern country moves between time and space and weaves an intriguing and masterful story.

Playing currently in the cinema as Incendies where it’s been adapted by award-winning director Denis Villeneuve and nominated for a best foreign-language film Oscar.

Tune in this Sunday morning to Weekend AM for an interview with some of our “Scorched” cast and follow the link, below, to an article on “Scorched” featured in the Telegram.

“Funny, heart-breaking and totally engaging, this is storytelling at its powerful best.”

Beothuck Street Players
St. John’s, NL

Whale Watching Newfoundland

Including Whale watching videos!
Whale Watching Newfoundland
Creative Commons License photo credit: cgreb

I am finally going whale watching this year. I have a car and I can almost drive it. Please note, driving a standard in the hilly town of St. John’s is mighty scary. Please stay back if you see me.

I know nothing about whales, but this is what I have gathered from all the literature I am reading, or by talking to people I have met and asking them questions, which, as Ms Judith Keenan  ( book trailer guru ) will tell you, is my fave thing to do.)

At least 15 species of whales will come by in the spring and summer months to feed in the Newfoundland waters. They are coming up after spending their winters down south where they calve – and they are arriving hungry. The humpbacks (not sure about the other species) haven’t eaten all winter, so they are coming up to feed off the capelin (caplin) – a small smelt-like fish which lives in plentiful numbers off Newfoundland’s coast.

The reason we see whales more often in the spring and early summer off Newfoundland’s Avalon coast is that the whales are close to shore. They are following the capelin, and the capelin have come in to shore to “roll.”

The capelin roll is quite a site I am told, as millions of fish “roll in” with the waves and onto the beaches to spawn. The waves are literally made of fish and it is common for people to be on the beach with buckets and rubber boots, ready to snap them up for a fish-fry meal.

That is if the whales don’t get them first. Here’s a humpback caught on video only 30 feet from shore at Middle Cove Beach – just 15 minutes away from downtown St. John’s. Middle cove is a popular spot for bonfires and picnics for St. John’s residents, and the capelin roll here too.

As for when the capelin roll – it’s usually  mid-June to mid-July but last year they didn’t roll until August 2009.

The humpbacks will continue north, following the capelin, and once fed and full, will swim out into the ocean, farther away from shoreline and camera’s view, to return back to their winter birthing grounds.

But while they are here, you may have encounters such as this one while kayaking with humpbacks in Mobile, Newfoundland, Canada. Yes, I believe “Holy shit” is the proper expression to say if one of these surfaced near your kayak.

Here are some of the whale species that you might see here in Newfoundland.

Minke Whales – arrive earliest in the season, they are here by June, and also leave the earliest. Minkes are very shy and unpredictable and smaller than the Humpbacks and Fins.

This is a baleen whale. Baleen is the stuff that hangs in place of upper teeth in this type of whale’s mouth – think Finding Nemo. The whales feed by filtering fish through these long fibrous plates. Here’s an interesting fact – baleen was once one of the products that made whaling hunting so profitable – it’s a hard yet flexible fibrous substance and was used as the “stays” in Victorian corsets and early bras – to keep women nice and rigid. I used to work at the Ontario Science Centre, where we had a piece of baleen on display at the Health and Beauty demonstration. We would corset up volunteers good and tight, to make sure they weren’t “loose.”

Back to whales. A Minke will average about 16 feet long, is the smallest baleen whale, and will not show its tail when diving. You can see them from the shore in the summer and fall as they feed on capelin, herring and mackerel.

Here’s a minke seen by a whale watching group in Bay Bull’s Newfoundland.

Humpback Whales – arrive from the Caribbean in the early spring to feed. They can be spotted mid-June to mid-November and arrive super hungry. Humpback whales are huge and can grow to 50 feet long and weigh up to 40 tons.

Here’s a video of a humpback showing off his tail (in Bay Bulls again.)

The humpback, like the minke, is also a baleen whale, eating up to 2 tons of fish and planktonic crustaceans a day, in 2 to 4 meals.

Humpbacks are the bales that breach – that’s the word for used for when whales jump out of the water and crash on their sides. No one knows why whales breach – some think it’s a way to get barnacles and parasites off their hides.

Some think the whales are actually “showing off” and many people I’ve spoken to said that they’re sure they are doing that – breaching multiple times if a boat is near.

Fin slapping is another popular whale activity. Though you may not see them breach, you may see the Humpbacks slap their flippers on the surface, roll over, and play.

Humpbacks are also the whales who show off big fan tails when they dive.

Fin Whales are the second biggest whale after the Blue Whale and will arrive late July. These are less acrobatic, but at 80-feet long, they will outsize most tour boats. A fin whale’s back is black and its underside is white. Their blows are high and straight – reaching 20 feet. They travel in groups of 2 – 8, are fast swimmers and are generally a bit farther off shore.

These whale watchers get so close to a fin whale they are rendered speechless for a few seconds.

The Pilot whale is Newfoundland’s only toothed whale. These whales thrive on the abundance of squid in the southeast coasts and like to travel in a pod. You’ll see pilot whales, known as potheads to locals, from early May through October.

Here’s a pod of pilot whales chasing squid at King’s Point, NL

The Harbour Porpoise – is the smallest of the whales and is called a “puffin pig” locally because of the grunting sound it makes while breathing. Usually seen alone or in small groups of 3 to 5 playing and spinning amongst each other.

It’s skin is dark grey on the back and speckled white underneath with a rounded head with no beak. The shy animals are listed as “threatened” on the Canadian Endangered Species List.

You might also spot an Orca – in fact the 1977 eco-cult film Orca was filmed in Newfoundland. These whales travel in pods and can be spotted year round.

Orcas have teeth and are predatory animals – they hunt seals, salmon and other large fish and may even attack other whales including the much larger fins and humpbacks. They are very curious and will often come quite close to a boat – like these orcas din in Quirpon, NL. More “Holy Shit.”

Other whales you might see are the occasional Beluga or Sperm Whale, though these are less common.

Excited yet? Here are a few companies that will take you whale watching.

Stay tuned for my whale watching newfoundland report.

TeD Talk: How We Wrecked The Ocean

You can’t live in Newfoundland without thinking about overfishing. In this TED video the truth about it is driven home – it’s bad news.

Coral reef ecologist Jeremy Jackson lays out the state of the ocean today: overfishing, pollution, habitat destruction and ocean warming have fundamentally changed marine ecosystems and led to “the rise of slime,” and it’ll only get worse.

For example: a typical trophy fish today

sport fishing trophy fish

Sports fishing today - the day's trophy fish

VS. trophy fish in the 50s weighing an average 250-300 lbs. This is a photo taken from the same ocean, same boat, on the same dock, as the one with the tiny fish above.

Sport fishing in the 50s

Sport fishing in the 50s

What will the oceans be like in 20-50 years? It’s ridiculously scary.

Can we fix it? Yes, but not if we don’t change ourselves and our addiction to growth.

But we better – the future of life depends on it. Is anyone listening?

*Jeremy Jackson is the Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Road Map Dance Project Rolls Out Across the Province

left-block_dancenlAre you involved in dance activities in Newfoundland and Labrador? If so, DanceNL is looking for you with the innauguration of the Road Map project. This project aims to bring the Newfoundland dance community together.

You can participate in the Road Map by visiting and filling in the online form, or by e-mailing

The DanceNL Road Map document and website will serve as a vital reference to ensure DanceNL is inclusive of all forms of dance being practiced in our province. As well, it will act as a catalyst to network dancers, practitioners and dance enthusiasts giving dance a stronger presence provincially, nationally and internationally.

“We are looking to hear from everyone. If you’re a dancer, a dance teacher, a choreographer, a dance writer, a social dancer, we want to learn more about you and your dance activities,” says Kristin Harris Walsh, chair of DanceNL. “This is our first step at connecting people involved in all kinds of dance across the province and to spread the word about DanceNL. It’s a great opportunity for dancers to make their voices heard and share their activities.”

Dance NL is the province’s first sectoral association for dance. The mandate of DanceNL is to preserve, promote and support all forms of dance and dance activity throughout the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

For more information, please contact Lynn Panting (coordinator of DanceNL Road Map project) or Kristin Harris Walsh (Chair, DanceNL) at

visit Dance NL:

Newfoundland Theatre Companies

Theatres in St. John’s, Newfoundland

Resource Center for the Arts Theatre

Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland
PO Box 23193, Churchill Square
St. John’s, NL, Canada A1B 4J9

Shakespeare By The Sea Festival (Saint John’s)

Wonderbolt Productions (Saint John’s)
Wonderbolt is an innovative, critically acclaimed, and unabashedly entertaining theatre troupe that draws on diverse traditions such as clowning, puppeteering, acrobatics and more…

She Said Yes!
By mail: She Said Yes!, 64 Quidi Vidi Rd, St. John’s NL, A1A 1C1
By email:
By phone: 709-739-0702

Artistic Director Lois Brown

C2C theatre
29 William St.
St. John’s, Newfoundland
A1C 2S2

Beothuck Street Players’ (Saint John’s)

First Light Productions Theatre Company (Saint John’s)
First Light Productions-Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web

Wreckhouse Theatre
Frank Barry

White Rooster
Ruth Lawrence

Rabbittown Theatre
Rabbittown Theatre Company Inc.
(709) 739-8220
106 Freshwater Road
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) A1C 2N8 CANADA

Spirit of Newfoundland Productions
6 Cathedral Street
St. John’s, NL A1C 3Y3

Phone: 709.579.3023
Toll Free: 1.877.661.3023

Theatre companies in Newfoundland

Rising Tide Theatre
Trinity Box Office – Local (709) 464-3232 Fax (709) 464-2206
Trinity Box Office – Toll Free 1-888-464-3377 1-709-464-2206
Donna Butt Artistic Director and Executive Producer
Local (709) 464-3232 (709) 464-2206
St. John’s Office Administration (709) 747-1501

Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador
Eight productions! Two plays a night! Over thirty professional Newfoundland actors, musicians, technicians, directors, writers and front of house staff are waiting to entertain you this summer …
P.O. Box 655
Corner Brook, NL
Canada    A2H 6G1
Phone (709) 639-7238
fax (709) 639-1006

Another Newfoundland Drama Company (Grand Falls-Windsor)
AND Co. was formed to give the local arts community an opportunity to take a more active part in local tourism. This would in turn create a new awareness of the rich and varied heritage of our …

Stephenville Festival Theatre

Everyone is Talking About Republic Of Doyle

One thing I actually like about living in my new small city is that when you walk downtown, you will always bump into people you know. This I actually find very uplifting now that I have learned it’s impossible to just sneak out to the corner store and make sure that I am sufficiently unstinky and out of egg-stained pyjamas.

This past week, when bumping into buddies, there was one topic of conversation one was sure to engage in:

“Did you watch Republic of Doyle?”

“Of course, b’y.”

“So, what did you think?”

“It was great, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah. I liked it.”

“Were you in it?”

“I was an extra on the street,”

“I saw you, you were great.”

“St. John’s looks good, too.”

“Yeah, the photography is beautiful.”

Republic of Doyle is a big deal in town. Just about everyone in the TV, film or arts community has had a hand working on CBC’s new TV show as cast, crew or background performer and with 13 x one-hour episodes shot in and about town since last August, it is understandable that everyone is sufficiently anxious. We all want this baby the village raised together to be good. We all want it to be something we can be proud of.

And it is.

I did not work on the show but have lots of friends who did. As a filmmaker and actor, I am always hoping that Canadian TV and film productions will be hits and super successful. It’s good for the industry, good for morale, but more importantly it’s fun to watch stories on TV that I can relate to.

This is not often the case for me with Canadian TV, as I have not witnessed many “blue murders” in my life, and find most of the comedy too broad and hence unfunny, or just strangely pretentious. (Exceptions are The Newsroom and Made in Canada, which I found brilliant.)

So, did I like Republic of Doyle? Yeah, I did, and that’s a big “phew” for me. It would really suck not liking something that has touched this much of the town. It’s much more fun to be rooting for something.

The new show didn’t creep me out at all. I was worried that it would have that Canadian “smell” that I have thus far identified as the result of dull/wooden acting, spiritless and censored dialogue, plus a weird sound mix. The first two just make the show boring while the last adds an eerie and vacant quality that makes it distant and unrelatable.

Though the first episode had its moments of frozen acting, and a few icky musical stings that made me clench my jaw, for the most part I was able to enjoy the show without thinking about the technical or creative deficiencies. And that’s pretty good for me.

I was also worried that I would hate the female characterizations, as most of the casting calls I saw were looking for strippers, skanky bar maids and party ravers. I hate stereotypical or two-dimensional depictions of women in the media – it’s my biggest pet peeve. But for the most part the female leads in Doyle (as it’s now affectionately known) have some brains written into their parts as well as some guts, and thus far haven’t sat around the table lamenting their lack of boyfriends, babies or shoes. Not crazy about the over-the-top ex-wife role though, it’s a little cliche, a lot ridiculous, and I don’t buy her as a doctor. Hope that  scenario fades out quickly.

However, by far the best comment and compliment to the show has been “Republic of Doyle is not embarrassing.” For most of my friends in town this means the show does not embody the much-hated Newfoundland stereotype of a bumbling but lovable set of characters with strange accents living in a backward province AKA the butt of every joke. The series depicts St. John’s much more accurately – as a thoroughly modern city infused with a regional charm.

Best comment yet. “Alan Hawco is doing us proud.”

Will I keep watching? You bet. Word on the street is “it gets better.” I have taekwondo on Wednesday nights, but the CBC is streaming full episodes off its web site.

Watch Republic of Doyle here.

Afraid of Hiking Heights

I seem to be afraid of heights. Perhaps I haven’t phrased that correctly. I am afraid of death seems more like it. Afraid of the sure death that is to come if you trip and slip off a cliff and crack your head open on the razor sharp rocks below.

Yes. The perils of hiking have me a-feared.
It’s the second time I have walked out past the Battery to the start of one of the North Head hiking trails on Signal Hill – and the second time I said “no way,” and turned back.

Perhaps the fear comes from my over-protective mother, who so worried about my catching cold and dying (just like her 3 brothers and one sister did back in Ukraine when she was a kid ) that she insisted on over-dressing me in pants and sweaters even in the heat of summer. And when I fell and scraped a knee, mother would chastise me with her well-rehearsed script  “see what happens when you run?”

So, I learned better not to run, let alone on high cliffs.

Or maybe it’s because the paths which come terribly close to the edge of the cliff, are peppered with plenty of jutting rocks that you can trip on –  and I have a tendency to gaze at the panoramas, ignoring the trail at my feet to admire the vistas.

And then there’s the wind.

The shot above is taken just passed the entrance to the trail.  I clung to a rock and stuck my arm out to take the pic as a wave of anxiety washed over me when a thought of how easy it was to trip and go over the edge. Then a 50 year old woman breezed past me – jogging!

I dunno. I have no fear of heights in a plane, and even on amusement park rides, if I am closed in, I feel safe and secure and will give all my trust to the device, relishing the speed with abandon. But if it’s an open space or contraption and something I can fall out of,  I just don’t seem to be able to trust myself. Hmm – mental note – I think there’s something here for my therapist.

I called my friend, Andrea, from my cell phone and she told me that it does get easier the further you are along the path. The trail is well-maintained, with many sections of wooden boardwalk or steps for the steep parts. In some places there are chains built into the rocks for you to cling to. Small comfort.

She also told me she had heard of people falling or being blown over. Foreign students she recalls. Which reminded me of the news story in Toronto when a family of tourists were blown off the City Hall ramp by a freak downtown wind gust.

Obviously, tourist boards shouldn’t hire me to talk up their tourist attractions.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day yesterday, and just being out and about near the water was a joy. I bought a yum yum spice apple cake at Sappho’s Cafe on Duckworth, the new lunch spot opened up by NIFCO’s executive director and wonderbar Jean Smith, which I ate while sitting on the foundations of old bunkers still on the hill.

I had to tell myself it was a lovely spot, because in truth bunkers scare the shit out of me, and I had to pretend I wasn’t jealous as hell watching the groups of mostly women trot by fearlessly in jogging shorts for their regular after work hike and chat. But I was sure glad to be out, and have decided that I want to buy a house in The Battery for sure, because it’s just too damn charming. Did you hear that universe?

One day maybe I will walk the trail, and enjoy it. But for now, though I know I can do it, it’s just a bit too angst-ridden for me. I am a water gal, not rock gal.

”]”][ shack for sale in The Battery. Maybe with a few curtains and a paintjob? ]”]”]”][ North Head trail starts here. ]”]”]”][ First you walk through narrow little streets inbetween the crazy cute homes. Definitely not for suburbanites ]