Golden Pheasant Tea mural

110 Water Street

Despite my best Googling efforts, I’m still not sure whether or not I can get a hot cup of Golden Pheasant Tea anymore. But every time I walk past Turner’s Tavern on Water Street, I want one.

My cravings for Golden Pheasant—an old British tea that was once popular in St. John’s—surface whenever I see the huge mural painted on the Tavern’s west wall, facing St. John’s Lane.

The mural boasts a colourful pheasant against a dark blue background, and an old-fashioned font that reads: “The grey beard calls for it to wet his throttle/on every housewife’s table it will be/the infant cries to get it in his bottle/even the dog loves Golden Pheasant Tea.”

“The slogan on it is ridiculous,” says Mike Gear, one of the owners of Turner’s Tavern. Nevertheless, he enjoys the bright addition to his establishment.

“I think it’s best kind,” Gear adds. “I wish [the tea] still existed, so there was a functional ad on the side of the building, but it’s nice to have a bit of the culture, the history, on the building.”

The mural is a re-imagining of a real ad that first graced the wall in 1930, but faded in the ‘50s.
In 2004, the City of St. John’s and the Downtown Development Commission paid $10,000 to restore the historical artwork. Local artists Derek Holmes and April Norman painted the image based on the memories of some of the city’s older residents. No images of the original painting exist.

Turner’s Tavern is a good place for a nostalgic homage to times gone by. The building is a provincial heritage site that’s existed in some incarnation since the 1500s, and survived three fires, including the Great Fire of 1892. Plus, the painting is good for business. The pheasant’s bright colours serve as a landmark for the slightly out-of-the-way music bar and recording studio.

“You can easily tell people where to go to find the place by saying it’s where that big painting of the Golden Pheasant is,” Gear says, laughing.

—Sheena Goodyear
Suggestion for a nook?