After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Hello, my name is Kei and I’m from Away

A view from St. John's Harbour by the foot of the Signal Hill trail.

I arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland yesterday to cover the 2010 Juno Awards Week. I was expecting horrid weather. Instead, I was welcomed by clear, sunny skies. Something tells me this is going to be an amazing week.

 I made my way to one of Leaside Manor’s executive apartments, where my colleague  Amalia  and I will be staying for the rest of the week. Leaside Manor has generously sponsored our stay here for the JUNOS. Our apartment is situated on a quiet, lovely street called Old Topsail Road. The apartment is contemporary and fully furnished. What I love the most about the space is the kitchen, which is fully equipped with cooking pots, utensils, and basic ingredients like salt and olive oil.

Maresheen ApartmentLeaside Manor Executive Apartments offer all the amenities and comforts of home. 

Maresheen KitchenI cooked two meals in this kitchen already. It's also equipped with a dishwasher so it's easy to clean after cooking.


After getting settled, I took a quick stroll to Leaside Manor’s main property, which was just down the road from our apartment. Elaine Hann, owner of the Leaside Manor, took me around St. John’s downtown area and showed me some of the best places to check out while in the city.

“Everyone in this town is either a ‘Missy’ or a ‘Buddy’ and if you’re from elsewhere then you’re from Away,” explained Elaine with a big grin. “From now on, you should introduce yourself like this: Hello! My name is Kei and I’m from Away.”

I couldn’t help but look forward to the first opportunity I get to introduce myself using that line. I missed an opportunity to do so when I met my next door neighbour, Kate. That’s ok. More opportunities to come, more people to meet.

Everyone who lives here seems to possess a unique affection for this place. They love it here. They love it so much that every person I’ve encountered tells me the same thing: “This is your first time here? You’re going to love it.” They say it knowingly like it’s etched in stone, like I’m meant to fall in love with this town too.

 “The relationship people have with this place is umbilical. People move away temporarily and they always come back,” Elaine said, as we drove past St. John’s Harbour and into a tiny alley-sized street where Signal Hill’s trail begins.  Overlooking The Narrows and old tattered shacks where fishermen used to dry cod, I came to appreciate the simplicity of life in this town.

Shack with red doorA charming, old shack used for drying fish.

Tall, skinny, houses lined steep streets in lime green, peach, yellow, and turquoise. A few blocks up, several old brick buildings are labelled for demolition to make way for new housing and condo developments.  Real estate in this city has been on the rise ever since the off-shore oil drilling industry expanded here last year.

We drove to the top of Signal Hill, where Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901. On one side, a breath-taking, panoramic view of St. John’s and on the other, deep blue, crisp waters against rust-coloured cliffs.  I watched the Atlantic pound the jagged rock face as the wind whipped my red scarf. In the right season, visitors can watch icebergs float by.

View from Signal HillA view of St. John's from Signal Hill.


blue waters red cliffA view of the Atlantic Ocean from Signal Hill.


According to Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, this province is for the traveler, not the tourist. In their 2010 Traveler’s Guide, they recommend “getting lost” and letting go of expectations in order to find whatever it is you are looking for. I tend to agree.

As I stood looking over the Atlantic, I fell in love with St. John’s.

To say that the landscape is rugged and the people are friendly sounds a bit clichéd, but once you get here, you too will realize that this is true about St. John’s. This is a destination that is meant to be discovered and rediscovered again and again.

(Editor's Note...full disclosure: Leaside Manor Executive Apartments generously provided Kei and Amalia with accommodation for one week while they report  from St. John's and cover the Juno Awards. Thank you, Leaside!)

More in The Junos

Having a time with Grahmzilla

DJ and producer Grahmzilla is the Juno-nominated music mastermind behind Thunderheist’s kickass, booty-shaking beats. He spent some time with the Vancouver Observer during the 2010 Juno Awards...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.