Lots to love about Newfoundland

I’m always in a bit of a slump after the Scotties and the Brier have wrapped up. Yes, there is more curling to come but it’s never as good as the Canadian championships.
I particularly enjoyed this year’s Brier. That’s not a real statement; I always enjoy the Brier. But this one from Newfoundland had such a positive air to it, so much excitement as the home town cheered on their own Brad Gushue team, which made the win all that more gratifying for host St. John’s.
I was standing and cheering in my living room while I watched; my hand clamped over my mouth to contain the outbursts.
The Newfoundland fans were ecstatic and I was cheering for the fans just as much as I was for the Newfoundland team.
I was thinking of our perception of Newfoundland, “The Rock,” which is stuck out in the North Atlantic, far away from everything (so far, in fact, that it has its own time zone).
Newfoundlanders have been the butt of many jokes, the “Newfie notion” pervasive in Canadian humour. But they, the Newfoundlanders, are so certain of their value that they laugh right along with everyone and produce some of the planet’s funniest comedians, with the brilliance of Rick Mercer and Cathy Jones and Mary Walsh and a host of others.
I used to think that Newfoundland must feel forgotten at times, considered one of the “have-not” provinces, and I suppose, in economic terms, that could be true. But I’ve changed my perception.
I’ve decided that Newfoundland isn’t off in the distance, out in the fog, lost at sea. Rather, it anchors us, keeps us from drifting to the south, pulls at us; being a reminder of friendliness, of building lives from very little.
There are lots of fun Newfoundland facts that many of you will know. There are no crickets in Newfoundland, for instance. And that’s a good thing if you remember my column written on those noisy demons.
There are no porcupines, skunks, snakes, or deer, which surprised me, though they have more moose than anywhere else in Canada.
St. John’s is the oldest city in North America after John Cabot visited in 1497. The Vikings set up the first settlement at the northern tip of the island in 1000 A.D., which is the only known Norse site in all of North America.
Newfoundland also is home to four UNESCO World Heritage sites. That’s impressive.
Maclean’s magazine credits Newfoundland with the kindest people in Canada, as well as the lowest crime rate.
I’ve visited Newfoundland–once. I was there for a week on a writers’ retreat. It is a beautiful place and the rumour about the friendliness of Newfoundland is true. And I could listen to that accent all day long.
But the curling went by all too fast. I taped the big games so I can watch them over and over. My memory isn’t that keen anymore, so it’s like watching it for the first time.
The Worlds are coming up, but we all know the best curling happens right here in Canada. For those of you who don’t like curling, you need your head examined, but I’m willing to overlook your flaw with my generous spirit (just this one time).
The 2017 world men’s curling championship kicks off April 1 in Edmonton. Not too many time zones will separate us. Good luck to Team Gushue. Long may your big jib draw (that’s what they say in Newfoundland).
I’m going to take up “Newfie” speak so I can put it on my résumé and claim bilingualism.
I’m just ’bout gutfounded. I think it’s time for a cookie.
wendistewart@live.ca