2011 News in Fours

We’re sick of top fives and tens. For us, 2011 is all about fours.

Four is the natural number following three and preceding five. It’s the smallest composite number, as well as the second square number and centered triangular number. How many fingers, minus your thumb, do you have on your hand? Four. It also rhymes with “door.” Four is great.

Here’s a look back at local news in fours.

By Sarah Smellie and Morgan Murray. Illustrations by Ricky King.

 

ANIMALS

HONEYBEES
Colony Collapse Disorder has been wiping out honeybees across the country, but not in Newfoundland. CCD doesn’t exist here, nor do any other other buzz-killing parasites, and in May, Swiss entomologists declared Newfoundland a honeybee haven in The Muse. (www.goo.gl/fyZZd)

COD
In July, the respected journal Science published a study that found that Atlantic cod populations were increasing on the Scotian Shelf (the south east coast of Nova Scotia). The study has hopeful implications for the decimated cod population in other fishing areas. Things will then go back to normal, right? Guys? Where is everybody? (www.goo.gl/RQRMM)

EARWIGS
Another population on the rise: our crappy, rainy summer led to an earwig explosion in the fall. St. John’s area exterminators told the CBC in November that the city was crawling with the horrific little bastards. Fun fact: they can fly. (www.goo.gl/hQX8x)

BLACK WIDOW SPIDER
Also terrifying was the appearance of a black widow spider in Corner Brook. Not to worry though, said The Telegram, their bite only causes nausea, sore muscles and diaphragm paralysis. If you manage to keep breathing through that, you won’t die. (www.goo.gl/zqm0h)

 

INVASIVE SPECIES

PORCUPINE
The rest of the country gets to enjoy the site of perpetual road kill along highways, but Newfoundland has a dearth of fuzzy little flattened creatures on the side of the road. That may be changing as the first squished porcupine in Newfoundland was found roadside in the Codroy Valley in October. (www.goo.gl/0PI1Z)

SNAKES
Porcupines, while prickly, are at least cute. Snakes on the other hand, are only useful as tattoo inspiration and nicknames of action heroes, organized crime heavies, and pool sharks. That hasn’t stopped real snakes, garter snakes, pregnant ones, from hitching rides in hay bales to the island to start eating us out of small vermin and creeping us out. (www.goo.gl/NpPRU)

MOOSE
Moose aren’t a new invasive species, but they are the most successful ones, with their numbers pushing 200,000. As we reported in July, there has been a lot going on this past year to try and get a handle on the moose eating Newfoundland out of foliage and motorists. In the past year they’ve been sued, hunted, fenced, tracked, and tweeted. (www.goo.gl/6mVQy)

MAINLANDERS
Cheap tuition and a booming, worker-thirsty, economy has made the province that has long been grappling with “out-migration” a haven for “in-migration.” Or, well, at least the North EastAvalon. Ah, don’t worry, we’re all invasive species in one way or another. (www.goo.gl/hM5Uh)

 

QUOTES

“In Ontario we have inland seas, the Great Lakes, and it would never occur to any of us, even up in the Ottawa River, to count on the Coast Guard to come and help us.”­
Ontario Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant speaking in January as she told an audience at a February St. John’s defence committee meeting (some of whom had lost family in maritime accidents) that people who make their living from the North Atlantic ocean shouldn’t rely on the Coast Guard to help them. (www.goo.gl/vkNnW)

“Ask the Premier.”
A cryptic message from the recently stepped down Danny Williams. He said this to the media at the airport in March when they asked whether he and Dunderdale were at odds. Williams was about to board a plane to take him far, far away from the farewell tribute Dunderdale & Co. had planned for him at her leadership convention dinner a week later. (www.goo.gl/t0WRF)

“Prime Minister Harper and I have a serious disagreement.”
Speaking of rifts, here’s Dunderdale diplomatically flipping off her ex-BFF, Stephen Harper, after his government announced in June that the Marine Rescue Centre in St. John’s would be closed. (www.goo.gl/OCaeX)

“Whoa-OOAAAHHH!”
This was yelled by pretty much everyone watching the Stanley Cup fall to the ground and dent after a gust of good ol’ St. John’s wind sent it flying from a tabletop this August. The cup was getting ready to board a helicopter to Bonavista along with former Boston Bruin Michael Ryder, who helped the Bruins win it that June. Thankfully, it’s not the first dent it has ever received, or else the Newfie jokes would flowed free. (www.goo.gl/gAW1o)

 

NEWFOUNDLAND IN THE NATIONAL/ GLOBAL MEDIA

WOO HOO KERI
Wooooo! Woooo-Hoooo! Keri Rodden-Kemp from Kilbride hosted the Grammys for The Ellen Degeneres Show, after impressing Ellen with both her unstoppable enthusiasm and her towering Kilbride kurl. (www.goo.gl/VroUW)

MOUNT PEARL TWEED
Mount Pearl-based AbbyShot Clotheirs caused a kerfuffle when they didn’t use authentic Harris Tweed in their Dr. Who jacket replicas. The company was commissioned in the spring by the BBC to make the coats. (www.goo.gl/tSKM5)

DIRE STRAIGHT
St. John’s made international headlines this year when a university student managed to get “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits temporarily pulled off the air. The student was apparently miffed by the song’s use of the word “faggot” and complained to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Commission about it. (www.goo.gl/jKUwO)

HAUNTED VAULTS
It must have been a slow news day in June when the CBC picked up a story about a photograph taken at a wedding reception at the Newman Wine Vaults which showed something that looked a bit like a ghost. Strangely enough, that story wound up making it all the way to the Daily Mail, in the UK. (www.goo.gl/cNruZ)

 

ODDBALL NEWS

MEAT BEATING
A man in the St. John’s area made headlines in January when Chantille J. Rodway beat him up with a package of frozen ground beef. She was charged with assault and assault with a weapon. Mercifully, the man’s name was not released. (www.goo.gl/HlX8L)

WRESTLE AND DASH
Remember when Hulk Hogan came to Mount Pearl? Wicked, right? Well, in September, the RNC announced that they were investigating their promotion company, Championship Wrestling, for allegedly leaving behind a whack of unpaid bills and very unhappy ex-Hulkamaniacs. (www.goo.gl/9O7V3)

ZOMBIE INVASION
Zombies invaded Portugal Cove Road, or at least that’s what a hacked construction sign said on the morning of June 27th. The sign flashed “Expect apocalyptic doom!” and “Zombie Invasion! Run!” before it was hauled away by city workers. (www.goo.gl/pmVHV)

PRISON BREAKS
And it was a good year for unusual prison breaks in Newfoundland. In February, a Happy Valley-Goose Bay man ducked out of custody through an unlocked door; in September, a guy hoisted himself up and out of the holding area at Atlantic Place through a ceiling tile; and in April, a Clarenville man ran into a nearby trailer and hid behind the couch upon which the trailer’s owner remained sleeping throughout the entire ordeal. (www.goo.gl/Ugtsg)

 

MOVIN’ ON UP

RAYMONDS RESTAURANT
Raymonds restaurant is so good, it’d be in the list of victories even if it hadn’t won anything aside from Best Restaurant in our Best of Food survey earlier this year. But win it did: EnRoute, Air Canada’s in-flight magazine, named Raymonds restaurant Canada’s Best New Restaurant of 2011. (www.goo.gl/t2xiR)

MUMMERS IN THE WALRUS
The Walrus has always been happy to feature writing from Newfoundlanders like Lisa Moore and Michael Winter, but they outdid themselves this May with a full feature about Newfoundland’s present trajectory, complete with the cloaked eyes of a mummer and his/her hobbyhorse staring out from the cover. (www.goo.gl/ExEeO)

ICE CAPS
Newfoundland has a hockey team again. Well, Danny Williams has a hockey team, but he did it for Newfoundland, dammit. Even though the Dunderdale government turned down his $500,000 subsidy request, he made it happen. Tickets for St. John’s Ice Caps hockey games are available to Mile One box office. (www.goo.gl/Hdg0w)

VIOLENT CRIME
And, hey, Newfoundland was the only province in Canada to have an increase in violent crime! Nyah, nyah, nyah, suckaz. Pass me a pack of frozen meat! (www.goo.gl/RJ5Hd)

 

ENVIRONMENT

SANDY POND CONSERVATION AREA
In June, people were very happy to hear that the Nature Conservancy of Canada picked up six hectares of land on Sandy Point, as part of the Natural Areas Conservation Program (www.goo.gl/2iuIs)

TIRE RECYCLING
Surely you recall those giant piles of tires in Placentia that the province amassed as part of its tire “recycling” program. Well, for the low, low price of $4.9 million dollars, they’re shipping them to Quebec to be burned. ‘Cause burning is kind of like recycling, right? (www.goo.gl/TPW7s)

NO CATASTROPHIC SPILL PLAN
In the event of a catastrophic spill, we’ll also be burning oil, on the suggestion of master mariner Mark Turner, as he outlined in his April report on the province’s oil spill response plans. Otherwise, said the report, we’re pretty much screwed. (www.goo.gl/6Pj9I)

BIKE PLAN
But that’s okay; we’ve finally got some bike lines in St. John’s. They may not be interconnected or easy to find, but gosh darn it, they are somewhere in town. (www.goo.gl/XoidC)

 

LABOUR DISPUTES

VOISEY’S BAY NICKEL MINE
Nickel miners at Vale’s Voisey’S Bay mine in Northern Labrador were on strike for 18 months—from August 2009 to January 2011. Eventually the workers and the Brazilian Nickel barons agreed to a five-year contract. But a few months later the union was complaining Vale wasn’t playing nice and another strike could happen soon. (www.goo.gl/D3wi5)

METROBUS
Luckily St. John’s is such a walkable city in the winter, it was barely noticeable that Metrobus was shut down from early November until the end of January. It didn’t make navigating the unploughed city sidewalks inconvenient at all. Hahaha, sigh. (www.goo.gl/FzLnb)

CANADA POST
The Internet was supposed to make snail mail obsolete, but just when we thought it had Canada Post workers went on strike were locked out of work for a month in June and all sorts of important eBay purchases got held up, so the Feds ordered them back to work. (www.goo.gl/cS5IT)

PURITY
You can take away our nickel, you can shut down our buses, you can stop delivering the mail. But, whatever you do, do not mess with our Jam Jams. The makers of Red Rose Tea, Carnation Condensed Milk, and nans everywhere sighed a big sigh of relief in early January when the lockout at the St. John’s Purity factory came to an end. (www.goo.gl/799Go)

 

GORDON PINSCIDENCES

DOYLE
The first appearance happened in January of this year. Gordon Pinsent returned to Republic of Doyle this year as a hardened con on the episode “Popeye Doyle.” His ‘thug’ was played by Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea. (www.goo.gl/oCsSX)

FRIES
Pinsent also did ads for New York Fries this year. “They’re so good,” he said, “it’s like finding the perfect jeans for your kitten.” (www.goo.gl/6dk8x)

TAR SANDS
Aside from loving kittens, he also likes the environment. In September he came out in support of the protest against the Keystone XL Pipeline and the tar sands. “I can’t think of anything—here, now, or in our future—that would rank above the tar sands for sheer, blind, stupidity,” Pinsent said in a press release by Greenpeace Canada. (www.goo.gl/9moTA)

MUSIC
Travis Good of The Sadies and Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo performed an evening of music set to the poems of Gordon Pinsent this March. However, none of those poems contained references to kittens in jeans. Next time. (www.goo.gl/dk96W)

 

FAKE LOCAL TWITTER ACCOUNTS

@NEWFIEHULK
“HULK ALWAYS WALK IN ROAD REGARDLESS OF SIDEWALK SNOW CONDITION! #OCCUPYSTREETSTREET” 27 Nov

@FakeJohnCrosbie
“Seriously considering a run at the federal NDP leadership. “A Fake Crosbie is better than a Real Dipper,” think its got legs?” 7 Nov

Fake Geoff Stirling (@CaptAtlantis)
“Meet Fidel Castro #HardestThingToDo” 30 Oct

@City_Gull
“HIYAKAKA AK AK AK AAKK!” 18 Nov