BOSJ 2008: City Life

Best St. John’s Citizen (Female) ◆ Best St. John’s Citizen (Male) ◆ Best Local Politician ◆ Best Reason to Move to St. John’s ◆ Best Local Activist ◆ Most Important Local Issue ◆ Best Effort to Improve the City ◆ Best Neighbourhood ◆ Scariest Intersection ◆ Best Animal ◆ Best Local Blog ◆ Best Local Organization ◆ Best Local Slang ◆ Best View ◆ Best Lane ◆ Best Day Trip ◆ Best Place to Go When It’s Raining ◆ Best New Local Trend ◆ Worst New Local Trend ◆ Best Place to Meet a New Lover ◆ Best Pick Up Line ◆ Best Make Out Spot ◆ Most Psychedelic Spot ◆ Best Drag Queen ◆ Most Fashionable Local ◆ Best Cheap Thrill ◆ Best Bathroom ◆ Best Local Event of ’08

Best St. John’s Citizen (Female): Shannie Duff

Shannie Duff

No matter what time it is when you read this, former mayor, present city councilor at large, and recipient of the Order of Canada, Shannie Duff, is probably in a meeting. Or scrutinizing the landscape from some far-off hill to determine the impact a proposed building would have on the area. Or overseeing a public meeting about downtown theatre space. Or trying to figure out a way to bring in more affordable housing. Or advocating for downtown architectural heritage preservation. But maybe, just maybe, she’s getting a bit of rest. For the hard work she does, she deserves it. SS

Runner up: Lorraine Michael
Other: Gerry Rogers, Sheilagh O’Leary, Mara Lang, Debbie Hanlon, Sarah Hansen, Marilyn Cooper “because she doesn’t give a fuck!” and “the girl who smiles at Tim Horton’s in the Avalon all the time.”

Danny Williams

Hall of FameWhat do we want in a politician? Wisdom? Experience? ‘Spose so, but more importantly, they gotta look good.

I’m not kidding. This goes way back. We’re talking shades of fishing admirals and St. John’s merchant families here. As Newfoundlanders, and particularly as townies, we expect the person in the seat of power to cut a dashing figure. I mean, it’s our representative, after all! What would people think if the premier showed up looking like a dishevelled retired teacher or something? We want the person speaking for us to be successful, powerful, rich, attractive, and given to fiery scenes and romantic rhetoric.

As to his civic duty, who else has done more for St. John’s this year? Danny Chavez endured national ridicule when he made the big hold-out for the big oil money. Now that deal and related developments are keeping this town in a little cash bubble, secure (perhaps) against the current economic crisis. Whatever you might think of his suits, you must admit he does us proud. DC

Runner up: Jack Harris
Other: Andy Jones, Andy Wells, Donnie Dumphy, Andrew Snelgrove, Dave Hopely, Jason Sellars, Jamie Piercey, Terry Reilly.

Danny Williams

See Best Citizen (male)

Runner up: Jack Harris. In fact, Danny only took this one from Jack by a mere three votes. That’s close, guys.
Other: Lorraine Michael “for being sensible,” Andy Wells and “anyone but Andy Wells”

The people

Hall of Fame
If you ever want a fresh perspective on this mouldy old town, talk to someone who has just arrived. I have a close family member who has just moved here, and he’s floored. The fact that everybody knows one another may be old hat to us seasoned townies, but to a newbie, it’s magical. Forget six degrees of separation: around here it’s a degree and a half at most.

We’re a talented bunch, too, and we’re prolific. The calendar-busting schedule of book launches, album releases, art openings and theatre runs proves that. So what if nobody comes to your album release because they’re all busy mixing albums of their own? At least they’re really, really nice about it. DP

Runner up: Music scene
Other: “The air, the cheer and the beer,” flipper pie, culture, community spirit, cheap rent, cheap tuition, George Street, weather, “it has a soul,” “love?”, “da oil!”, “no earthquakes or tornados,” fish and chips, fog, “yummiest bagels this side of Montreal,” “you can come here to drink your life away and actually be praised for it,” and “sit on the stairs at the war memorial facing the narrows–it’s right in front of you.”

Best Local Activist: Gerry Rogers

Gerry Rogers

It’s a little intimidating to meet filmmaker and activist Gerry Rogers. She’s animated, passionate and never turns a blind eye. Rogers was born of a working-class family whose strong social views provided the template for her political consciousness. From there, she credits the experience of working at the Women’s Centre alongside the likes of Iris Kirby with having fueled her passion for activism and community involvement. She was voted in because that passion drives her to speak when others can’t or won’t. To bastardize a truism, if Gerry Rogers didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent her. AC

Runner up: Katie Temple
Other: Jessica Rendell (Heavenly Creatures), Cara Lewis, Mark Wilson, aka “that vegetable guy from the Idlers,” Erin Aylward, Danny Williams, Gemma Schlamp-Hickey, Greg Malone, Hans Rollman, Lorie Heath, Lorraine Michael, Robin Grant and “Andy Ploughman is the best recycler…”

Lack of curbside recycling

What are we even supposed to do? Laugh? Cry? Build giant sculptures of sad earths with plastic bottles poking cruelly out of their would-be earth hearts and parade down to city hall en masse, wearing clothes made of old newspapers and plastic bags, throwing yogurt containers and glass jars, and yell and bang our heads repeatedly against the wall until someone comes out and throws us a frickin’ blue box already? I have no idea. SS

Runner up: Harbour clean-up
Other: Snow clearing, arts funding, “building real-city infrastructure while retaining affordable housing,” health care, environment, cycling plan, ”city planning for happy lives for all citizens no matter what their circumstances,” “worms in the summer,” “the amount of small businesses that close,” education, economy, “downtown crackheads,” potholes, “dog poop in public areas,” and “being part of Canada sucks.”

Harbour sewage treatment plan

Though most of us don’t like to admit it, the St. John’s harbour has been a big part of our lives. Who hasn’t spent a romantic night around Harbourside, gotten a whiff of its majestic stench and been overcome with symptoms ranging from nausea to seizure to acid flashbacks? That’s all come to a grinding halt now, as the city has invested millions in the multi-step, still-incomplete process of cleaning up our harbour—the butt of more jokes in St. John’s than Brian Tobin and the Strictly Adult Video sign combined. Alas, it’s for the greater good. AC

Runner up: Proposed bike path
Other: George Street revival plan, St. John’s Safer Soils, “getting rid of Andy Wells,” and road repair.


Hall of Fame
Three years running, good old George Winter’s Town, as it once was known, is still coming up tops among Scopie voters. G-town’s got an annual street sale, the best bakery ever, a seemingly inordinate number of ethnomusicology buffs, and a good-time neighbourhood pub. Add to that the awesome experimental garden set up behind The Gathering Place by the Safer Soils crowd and you get a wicked sense of community building and neighbourhoodly love. DP

Runner up: Downtown
Other: Rabbittown, “behind the Delta,” “by The Rooms,” “Quidi Vidi Village … it’s always a few degrees warmers ’round my hood!”

Rawlins Cross
(aka “Rawlin’s Cross Your Fingers and Run For Your Life” / “The one by MooMoos… scary enough to melt the cream right off the cone.”)

Intersection? “Intersection” would suggest a proper right-angle of contact between two, and only two, streets. Rawlins Cross is so very much more than that. It’s a veritable asphalt orgy, with Prescott and Monkstown having their dirty way with Military Road, while King’s and Rennie’s Mill Roads peer lewdly and Queen’s Road listens in. It’s a frigging madhouse. The fact that Rawlins Cross was the site of the city’s first stoplight suggests that it’s been a zoo since Sin City’s youth. Throw in today’s cell-phone-talking-while-driving-even-though-it’s-illegal ne’er-do-wells and a good measure of construction, and you’re in a very dangerous place indeed. DP

Runner up: Allandale and Prince Philip. “Even with thirty lights telling people where to go, there are still accidents.”
Other: “All the intersections nearby the Memorial Stadium Dominion,” “Anything along Kenmount Road (for pedestrians anyway),” and “Prince Philip & Thorburn.” Both ends of Garrison Hill got serious votes. That one’s a nightmare.


I don’t know. I’m a cat person, myself. It would seem to me that having a dog, by which I mean “animal that has to be walked about town several times a day just to relieve itself and to work off enough energy to not destroy your house,” in one of the country’s most hellish climates would be, well, stupid. But there’s no arguing with the masses of leash wielders and poop-baggers out there. Did you see the Santa Claus parade this year? Beagles, greyhounds, dachshunds, golden retrievers… all out there, proud as could be. But are they any good at catching mice and alternately sucking up to and ignoring you? I thought not. DP

Runner up: Cat
Other: “Cat Stevens”, “Tuffy, the Georgetown Pub cat,” Chuckie Beans, dust bunnies, “excessive ducks,” “Fish Depot cat,” “flying purple people eater,” mermaid, carpenters, “castrated bull moose,” Goldendoodle, “Kate, cow #260,” “Matty from the Lost/Found cat posters (of staple-gun salute fame),” “Milo the cat from Barnes Road,” “murre–overshadowed by the undeservedly A-list puffin,” Mr. Handsome, “one-legged herring gull atop salt pile,” “shit otters at Harbourview Park ,” Shmoo Dog Roid, “Shylow the Tangled dog,” “snake at Roxxy’s,” “the Labradoodle,” “window and street cats,” “Yow the Cat,” Special Eddy, “orange cat outside Halliday’s,” and “mysterious bird of prey I saw in my yard yesterday.”

Blue Kaffee

First things first: Blue Kaffee isn’t a blog. It’s an online journal service provider with social networking features and forums.

But now that the technicalities are over with, let’s get into the reasons why it deserves the award. Blue Kaffee started with one guy, then-Holy Heart student Chad “Kaffee” Levesque, who coded his blog in .php as a way to learn the coding language. He then gave his friends usernames, profiles, and eventually their own journals, and the rest, as they say, is history. In five or six years the site grew to have almost 30,000 registered accounts, the majority belonging to local users. During that time the site’s features have been overhauled and improved countless times—painstaking work to do for free. The site almost went tits up more than a few times; it has been funded by small scale fundraisers like movie nights, and oftentimes Levesque’s pocket. Now supported by ads, the site is still alive and kicking, and it’s a strong competitor for the attention of the young despite the prevalence of mega-sites like Facebook and Myspace. KB

Runner up: Sir Robert Bond Papers
Other: Meeker on Media, 48th Parallel Project.

Stella Burry

Stella Burry Community Services oversees Naomi Centre (an emergency shelter for young women) and Emmanuel House (a residential counseling program for adults returning to the community), all the while advocating for affordable housing, and providing residential counselling services and occupational skills training from their Rawlins Cross location. In April, as part of their culinary skills training program, they opened the popular Hungry Heart Café in the old WJ Murphy’s store space, and by mid-next year they hope to have fully transformed the former Lawton’s building across the street into 18 long-term housing units. Whew! That’s a lot of accomplishments for one organization. EM

Runner up: Heavenly Creatures
Other: Farmers’ Market, MUN Oxfam, and… uh… CBTGs?

“Yes b’y”

The Urban Dictionary gives a perfect example of this one in action:

— “I want a gold toilet”
— “Yes b’y”

Thrown around by bayfolk and townfolk alike, “yes b’y” is about as multipurpose as it gets when it comes to NL slang. It runs the whole gamut of emotions from amazement and agreement, to disbelief and sarcasm. It’s also useful when trying to reassure others of your supreme powers, although in that case, you’d do well to stretch it out to more of a “yiiiiiiiis b’y”. AP

Runner up: Impossible to calculate. Looks like “Whaddya at?”
Other: “Deadly,” “just for badness,” “dolly used like duckie or m’love,” “Fi’ n’ chi’ (fee-an-chee) = fish and chips,” “howsshecuttin?”, “Luh,” “Missus, yer hot as balls,” “she’s on wheels tonight,” “stunned as me arse,” “yisss,” and “’on a go forward basis’ sorry, this is the WORST line to ever see the light of day and I think I will puke if I hear another politician use it.”

Signal Hill

Even a cynical-type like myself can go all squishy with St. John’s love staring out across the endless waves or down onto the bustling wee city of legends below. On a real nice night, when you and your mate are holding hands and gazing out at the moon’s reflection on the black, icy ocean, you might be so lucky as to have a bus roll up behind you and let out a dozen drunk office guys with their teetering, permed lady friends, and maybe you’ll get to share the spectacular view with three dudes peeing over the side of the hill, beers in hands. See? Even inebriated morons agree that the view from Signal Hill is awesome. DP

Runner up: The Rooms
Other: KFC on Duckworth, “narrows before the fog comes in,” “first-person point of.”

Willicott’s Lane

Although slightly less accessible since the enjoyably dangerous stairs behind The Casbah were closed off, Willicott’s Lane is a brilliant spot if you want to listen in on whatever crazy dinner theatre is happening at the Masonic or take the sneaky route to the Hall. It would be a sweet place to live, I’m sure, so long as you didn’t have to get a car out of there in the winter. Or even get yourself out of there. How would a snow plough even fit down Willicott’s Lane? With great difficulty, my friends, with great difficulty. DP

Runner up: Solomon’s Lane
Other: Mc Murdo’s “You can get a beer, a hot dog, a-ssaulted, and a-rrested all in one night.”


I had the pleasure of attending a reading at the Ferryland lighthouse this summer past, and I’d recommend it in a second. Don’t worry when the lady at the interpretation centre refers to the walk to the lighthouse as “a bit of a hike”; I was hugely pregnant when I went, and I still managed the walk without losing my breath. Once you’re at the lighthouse, which has been gorgeously restored, you can sit in artist Gerry Squires’ old studio and look out onto the desolate, windswept sea. When it starts to get depressing, you get to go downstairs, grab your picnic lunch, and chat with the friendliest lighthouse-turned-picnic-site staff ever. And maybe see whales. DP

Runner up: East Coast Trail
Other: Bell Island, Bidgood’s, “crazy lawn flea market in Mobile,” Cape Spear, Flat Rock, La Manche, “petting the sea slugs at Logy Bay,” Salmonier Nature Park, “Trouting on the Barrens,” “Bay Roberts for some Country Delight Chicken,” “2 grams of mushrooms, walk down Empire, hanging out in a graveyard in Quidi Vidi for two hours.”

The Rooms


You know that kids’ book, Olivia, about a little pig who, on rainy days, likes to go to the museum? Well, you won’t see work by Jackson Pollock or Edgar Degas at The Rooms, but you will see a giant squid. And, if you get there soon, you’ll art by the likes of John Haney, Janaki Lennie, Scott Walden, Peter Wilkins, and Ray Roddick. Plus some very cool old bay furniture. There’s every chance it might rain in January, but if it doesn’t you should make your way over anyway. DP

Runner up: Tie between the Avalon Mall and home. Go figure.
Other: Geo Centre, “Outside–you’ll find it a lot less populated,” “wherever you want cuz it’s St. John’s. It rains. Lots. Deal with it!” and “under a tree.”

St. John’s Farmers’ Market

When some friendly think-global-buy-local types set up at the pre-dinner-theatre Masonic back in aught-seven, the place was mobbed by downtown folk desperate for Avalon produce and artisanal goodies. Through summer and fall 2008, the market divided its time between the Lions Club chalet and the CEI Club on Hamilton Avenue, bringing organic pea shoots, rhubarb-ade, and piping-fresh waffles to the people. Apparently there were enough townies out with their reusable bags and sense of community to make the whole thing stick; the farmers’ market promises to be back at the Lions Club next summer, and is looking for vendors already. DP

Runner up: Donnie Dumphy
Other: Rubber boots, dance parties, fair trade coffee shops, use of verbal -s with stative verbs in non-3rd singular, Hater Blockerz, havin’ babies, bands with xylophones.

Skinny jeans

For the second year in a row, skinny jeans are the main target of your loathing. And who can blame you? As difficult to pull off as a leopard print unitard, they can make an unsightly ass-loaf out of the most shapely and firm derrières. These days we’re contending with them in crayon-box hues, à la 21 Jump Street. Some clever youngsters have even worked them into the Pants To Hang Your Butt Out Of arsenal, wearing them with a huge, drooping waist and skin-tight legs. I wonder if Mr. Potato Head put up much of a fight when they stole his pants. SS

Runner up: Emo, and things emo-related
Other: Hipsters, “car mania,” “people leaving their Tim Horton’s garbage everywhere,” Donnie Dumphy, “paying $250,000 for a two-bedroom house that’s attached on one side, with no basement,” “boots that look like Peter Pan’s,” “poorly dyed hair,” cocaine, “glass that used to be car windows in the gutter,” “People wearing too many patterns at once. I am going to have a seizure,” “the media and politicians shouting the evils of graffiti,” and traffic.

George Street

Yes, George Street is still the place to pick up in St John’s and can be a lot of fun on big event nights like Mardi Gras, New Year’s or the George Street Festival. So—though you may regret it in the morning—give ol’ George some love. AC

Runner up: MUN
Other: The Ship, “at a show,” Mighty Whites, Quidi Vidi Dominion on Sundays,, “in a Joel Hynes novel,” “at a wedding,” and “I fail at that one.”

“Whaddya at?”

The essential Newfoundland greeting, which, again, can be used in a seemingly infinite number of cases, including as an effective pick up line.

“Nudding. Youat?”
“Comin’ over to your place.”
“Yes b’y!”

The slurred form of “What are you at?”, slang for “What are you doing (right now)?” People unfamiliar with the dialect are initially confused by the use of “at” in the place of “doing,” but are just so proud of themselves when they finally understand, god love’em. AP

Runner up: Hi
Other: “Come here ‘til I hauls the slacks off ya,” “I work for Jiffy Cabs,” “I aint no fisherman like me father, but I can still reel em in,” “for Political Science types: ‘I’ve got a concentration of power. Can I put it in your system?’”, “By’s I think we’re in Terra Nova, cause I sees a fox,” “Get at me wolf!” “Hey you want to jig my cod?” “Hey misses, what’s ur digits?” “Misses, some cute,” “Trade ya a Bar None token for a kiss,” “Want me to club your seal?” and “Yeah, I worked with Hawksley Workman too!”

Signal Hill

Hall of Fame
Ok, I’ve got to ask: why Signal Hill? Do you find the history of transatlantic broadcasts romantic? Does Deadman’s Pond make you shivery? Is it the noon-day gun? Or do you just like to make out collectively, together with dozens of your closest parking buddies? Because on any given night, Signal Hill is _busy_! I must be missing something. Aren’t there other darker, quieter, and more private outdoorsy places to make out within city limits where you are perhaps less likely to encounter a flashlight from your dirty parking neighbour or a patrolling cop car? Here’s hoping the trail crew will be installing some condom machines in the near future. EM

Runner up: Bowring Park
Other: In and around Bar None, at the Farmers’ Market, at home, in a cab, at the office furniture depot on Topsail Road, on a stranger’s lawn, the floating docks by Harbourside Park , and “right here, right now.”

Bannerman Park

Most psychedelic spot, or do you mean ‘Best Spot to Enjoy Psychedelics?’ We’re beginning to suspect those people skulking around in the park after the first frost are not really looking for a lost contact lens. AP

Runner up: Bar None alley
Other: Signal Hill, Party Bus, glow golf in the Avalon Mall, “the mortal combat style line of trees at the top of Bowring Park,” The Gut, shipyard after midnight, “the white fluffy clouds on the ceiling at Hava Java, and “when the light hits off the Scotia Building on the right side onto that other building.”

Joey Mackey

Drag as an art form has a long, colourful history and is always political, even without the competitive elements of Drag Idol. There’s a level of bravery and strength of character one must possess to achieve success at drag, or even to attempt it publicly. The lively scene the queens and kings of St. John’s are creating flies under the radar of many of the city’s denizens, but more than likely they have seen or know the guy who brought a little bit of drag presentation out into the every day. It has been several years since Joey Mackey has performed officially in St. John’s, and he has not lived here for the greater portion of the year, but Joey has left a lasting impression. RJH

Runner up: Betty “Boo” Kakke
Other: Lola, Felicia Cox, Doris Anita Douche, Barry Buckle, “the guy in The Satans,” “No one now that Joey’s moved, “ “the guy who jogs in leotards”, “buddy there, the last mayor,” “I’m a decent tranny,” “I wish I knew their names! They are fabulous,” “I don’t know any drag queens :(“

Best Fashionable Local: Ruth Lawrence

Ruth Lawrence

From the way she tells it, Ruth Lawrence was not the most fashion-conscious growing up and no-one who knew her then would expect her to be singled out for her fine clothes and style. Nowadays it’s a completely different story, as she’s often complimented for her day-to-day fashion sense, as well as her skills in costume design for stage and screen. A self-confessed shopping enthusiast with a love for the feel of clothes and fabrics, Lawrence definitely found her calling which led to costume work on The Divine Ryans and Mary Lewis’ When Ponds Freeze Over. AC

Runner up: Barry Buckle
Other: The Neon Girls, “Our street friend, Marilyn…best platforms and fur coats Ever!”, “Man with rubber boots, suit, tuque, and sometimes sideburns,” “well..if u are looking for your name here..i hate you!”

George Street

See “Best Place to Meet a New Lover.”

Runner up: Various Signal Hill-related activities, including driving with no brakes.
Other: Free art openings, “$2 drinks at Distortion,” church sales, “pissing into the wind,” “racing shopping carts at the Village Mall parking lot,” “scoping out Signal Hill make-outs,” “foam pole jousting at the Regatta,” and “revenge sex with your lover’s brother. By far.”

Tangled up in Blue

5 Bates Hill (738-0008)

“We get a lot of screams coming out of there,” laughs Tangled up in Blue’s chief tangler, Mara Lang. It’s all Peeping John’s fault, really. He’s the dude in the guy’s washroom watching everyone pee, and he was made by Mara’s friend Pete Myers. Pete even gave him a real glass eye! Things seem tamer over in the women’s washroom, whose stall walls are covered in collages made from pictures from European fashion magazines. But there’s a surprise peeper in there, too . “That one’s more hidden,” Mara says. “You have to look for it.” SS

Runner up: Yellow Belly
Other: The Vault, Basho, Bar None, Coffee Matters on Military Road, Home Depot, “dropping a stinko in the Inco.”

Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival

Because acoustic guitars, harmonicas and fiddles sound great, even in the rain. Because Bannerman Park feels like your own backyard. Because the province needs more festivals like this one to showcase the talent we’ve got. Because folk music is music, and honestly so. SB

Runner up: 24-Hour Art Marathon
Other: Pride Week, Leonard Cohen at Holy Heart of Mary, A1C Gallery opening, “Uhhh… has anything good happened this year? Let’s see – got my heart broken, had to move in with my mother, dad has terminal cancer… but that C’mon show in April was fun.”

Photos by Mark Bennett

One comment

Other events Tuesday

Auntie Crae’s house Band, lunchtime, free & no purchase required, Fishhook Neyle’s Common Room, Auntie Crae’s Book Launch: Michelle Butler Hallett author of The Shadow Side of Grace, 6pm-8pm, Bianca’s Bar

7 November 2006

  1. Teddy · November 7, 2006

    Well then, congratulations to those who won. I know that you all deserve it. Keep up the good work!