Newfoundland tends to be a difficult name for many to pronounce, but once mastered, you can’t help but want to say it as often as possible. Newfoundland (pronounced New•fun•LAND – with extra emphasis on the ‘LAND’) is Canada’s most eastern province, chalk full of incredible seafood, maritimes culture, and some curiosities you simply can’t find elsewhere in this great nation. I had the opportunity to explore Newfoundland and some of its many picturesque islands in Central Newfoundland with a born and bred Newfoundlander, Candice Walsh of Candice Does The World, alongside my newfound travel companion, Riley Platt of Riles for Miles. Together, Riley and I were going to find out straight from the horses mouth (aka Candice’s mouth), what it truly takes to become an Honourary Newfoundlander in 5 days.
1. Eat Cod Tongues
While most pubs across North America are all but too happy to serve you french fries, sweet potato fries, or even some chicken wings – out east in Newfoundland, they accompany their beers with something a little different. Who wants those gosh darn salted potatoes when there’s giant cod tongues just begging to be battered and deep fried to perfection. Yes, Cod Fish do in fact have tongues, and I can attest that they’re larger than you’d imagine. Cod tongues are roughly the size of a adult human male’s big toe, squashed down to tongue shape.
One might think that a big slimy atlantic Cod fish’s tongue would taste a bit off, but hand over heart, they were deeeeeeeelish. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, spiced to perfection and the perfect complimentary snack to go alongside an ice cold Newfoundland Beer. I hope their quirky pub grub makes it off the island, because I have been craving to pop some more of those tasty Cod tongues back in my mouth.
2. Drink Newfoundland Beer, then drink some more
Newfoundlanders drink the most beer per capita in all of Canada. Perhaps it’s the sporatic weather that changes on a whim, or the fact that they have a wide variety of beer to choose from. Dominion, Jockey Club, India, Blue Star, Black Horse, While some might complain that all of the local Newfoundland beer have been bought up by the big boys (Labatts, Molson, etc), served cold, there’s worse things to drink.
Local Newfoundland Beer
Beer afficianados will rejoice though, as there is still three local Newfoundland Beers you can sample on the island. I’m speaking of none other than Quidi Vidi Brewing Company, Yellowbelly Brewery, and Storm Brewing. While you’re much more likely to find Quidi Vidi throughout the island, any of the larger liquor stores will carry both Yellowbelly & Storm.
3. Hike to the Edge of the World
One of the coolest hikes you can possibly do, particularly for bragging rights & the stunning vistas, is the Brimstone Head hike on Fogo Island. According to the Flat Earth Society, a slightly kooky bunch who promote all things Flat Earth related, Brimstone Head is one of the four corners of the “Flat Earth”. Whether or not you are a flat earther or a “rounder”, the hike is absolutely breathtaking. Sharp cliffs, pounding waves, strong winds, and a stunning panorama of Fogo Island. It’s a fairly easy hike, and definitely worth it. If you’re curious about the Flat Earth Society I recommend reading Man on the Lam’s post. It’ll give you a couple chuckles.
Be sure to dress appropriately on these hikes. I highly recommend bringing a rain jacket at the very least. After all, it’s Newfoundland. One of the few places where you can experience every season in a day.
4. Rock out at a Kitchen Party
We were fortunate enough to get to visit the small town of Twillingate, made famous in the Newfoundland Folk Song, “I’s the b’y“. Driving into town, we blasted the song on the car stereo, as we pulled into the Anchor Inn, a cute little hotel with a fantastic restaurant, a pub, and a weekly kitchen party, which just so happened to be taking place the night we pulled into town.
After a few warm-up drinks at the Anchor Inn restaurant, we made our way down to the pub and pulled into a kitchen party. Despite being 20-30 years younger than most at the party, we were committed to having a time. We filled our table up with beer, grabbed an ugly stick, a wood clacker, and rocked out. After my 10th beer I had enough liquid confidence to hollar up to Karen Churchill, the host of the Twillingate Kitchen Party, and happily informed her that I was eager to back her up with some guitar. She invited me on stage and next thing I know it I’m rocking out on stage, having the time of my life.
5. Get Screeched In
This is the official “Become an Honourary Newfoundlander” tradition that has been taking place for years, with the help of a tremendous amount of alcohol. In order to get screeched in the willing participant has to reply to the epic question, “Is ye an honorary Newfoundlander?” with the phrase, “‘deed I is me ol’ cock, and long may your big jib draw.” The ceremony continues as you’re asked to kiss a Cod fish, followed by taking a shot of Screech. What is screech you might ask? Very strong, and very nasty rum. This is usually done in front of a crowd, and accompanied by several more pints and some heavy amounts of laughter. Sort of like the Sourtoe Cocktail, only more fishy. You’re given a certificate at the end to brag to your friends & family about how awesome you are.
I got screeched in at the Kitchen Party in Twillingate, but many insist the best place to get screeched in is at Kristians in St Johns, Newfoundland.
6. A night on George Street
George Street isn’t just famous in Newfoundland, but across all of Canada as being the street that makes St Johns the city with the most Pubs & Bars per capita than any other city in Canada. The Newfoundlander’s know how to party, and a night on George Street will show you exactly how much. People pour out of bar after bar, jumping from dance clubs to pubs to greasy spoons, all in the name of a good time. Cheap drinks, greasy food, one of the liveliest atmospheres mixed with people speaking with their nearly indecipherable accents, and all I can say about George Street, is “Go for it!“.
In the two weeks I spent in the province of Newfoundland & Labrador (note: I haven’t visited Labrador… yet), I was greeted with open arms from some of the warmest people you’ll find in all of Canada. Their unique sense of humour and ability to find a laugh in every situation makes them the type of people you can’t help but want to spend more time with. The culture & scenery that overflows in Newfoundland is hands down one of their greatest treasures. Kissing the cod, drinking the screech, and experiencing such a remote and special part of Canada, that’s the stuff you write home about!