Some helpful hints and pointers for the outharbor youth planning his First visit to suave, swinging, sophisticated Sin John’s. They are being presented here in hope of saving many youthful Baymen from the pitfalls and tight spots that bestrew the boulevards and avenues of the glittering Capital.
Excerpt from the article “Outharbour Youth’s Guide to Sin John’s” by Ray Guy.
A short touring guide by locals, for locals. Like you… maybe.
By Alex Pierson, Brad Hodder, Dana Cooper, and Adam Clarke
Warning: Does not contain all neighbourhoods.
Regarded by many as a fish and chip mecca, Rabbittown is a quiet residential neighbourhood nestled between the stoic intensity of the University area and the vomit-stained perversion of downtown (not to say that’s bad). Urban legend has it Rabbittown was named for the Catholics in the area who were “breeding like rabbits” after the war. Either that or that there were lots of rabbits living in the area when it was mostly farmland.
Merrymeeting Road is pretty much the main drag here, and that’s where you’ll find many of the highlights of this student-heavy neighbourhood.
The Hub (21 Merrymeeting Rd., 754-0352) does it all—printing services, wedding services, adult education, bingo, darts and card nights (yeah 120s!). They also have a drop-in centre, and the NL Association for the Deaf has an office there.
Further up is Coleman’s (129 Merrymeeting, 722-5115) a small grocery store that is part of a Newfoundland-owned chain. It still seems to be doing okay, despite the big green galoot down the road.
Just across Linscott Street, is The Rabbittown Theatre (106 Freshwater Rd., 739-8220). Home to a theatre company of the same name, it has gained a strong reputation as a very open and versatile venue for small theatre productions as well as live music, film screenings, and charitable events.
Facing the theatre on Merrymeeting as your belly is rumbling is Fabulous Foods (or “Chalker’s”, 166 Merrymeeting Rd., 579-7666). You really can’t go wrong for good eatin’ here, unless of course you are strictly a Ches’s (9 Freshwater Rd., 722-4083) person, or forever loyal to the Big R (69 Harvey Rd., 722-2256). (Some will say you will have left Rabbittown proper by venturing as far as the Big R or Stoggers Pizza, (77 Harvey Rd., 579-STOG), but at this point, they are splitting hairs.) Being a staunch Leo’s fan (27 Freshwater Rd., 726-2658), you may be having none of it. But don’t forget Mea Mei Wok (12 Freshwater Rd., 726-8424).
Now that you have cured your Monchys you can walk off your meal(s) with a nice disorienting stroll through the side streets between Merrymeeting and Empire Ave. Should you get lost, just give a good Howley, somebody’s bound to come along and Suvla.
All right. Simply put, The Battery is the best area of St. John’s. It’s a place for walking, hiking, and looking. At its fringes you get the suggestion that you’re really leaving town behind. At it’s heart you get colorful houses, long history and narrow roads. It’s like town, except without the “town” part. Much like Quidi Vidi Village, this place is a world unto itself.
It starts with a five-way intersection (Quidi Vidi Rd/Duckworth St/Signal Hill Rd/Temperance St/Battery Rd) that beats even Rawlin’s Cross as “Most Entertaining Place to Sit With Popcorn and Watch Drivers Get Confused”. Stand facing Signal Hill Rd. To your left you’ve got International Flavours (4 Quidi Vidi Rd, 738-4636), one of the city’s best-kept secrets when it comes to affordable, tasty and good quality ethnic food that comes in two delicious varieties: meat or not. Further along is the best damn grocery store in town, Belbin’s Grocery. Straight ahead, up Signal Hill Road is The Battery Hotel (100 Signal Hill Rd, 576-0040) The Geo Centre (175 Signal Hill Rd, 737-7880) and, at the top of Signal Hill, the historic Cabot Tower. These three give you: a drink with a view, a geothermic place to look at rocks and the traditional place to get down and dirty in a car.
Back to the five-way intersection. Head right, along Battery Rd. Veer left at the fork in the road and continue up Battery Rd, which will lead you down into the Battery itself. As you walk along, look back over the bubble, the docks and the city on your right.
Keep going. Unless you’re on a bike, skip the hill and keep walking. Get to the top of Battery Road, chill with the canon and you’ll find Fort Waldegrave. There’s a set up stairs going down that weaves through houses and trees. It ain’t private, it just feels that way. Pop out at the bottom and now you’re on Outer Battery Road. Sheer cliff to one side, ocean to the other, and now you and a few foolish houses perched somewhere in between. Go left and quickly on the right you’re going to come to Blue Moon Pottery (17 Outer Battery Rd, 576-0831), where you’ll find the beautiful work of Isabella St. John and a few others. Keep walking, hop over the patio at 45 Outer Battery and start the Signal Hill Trail. Look across the narrows at Fort Amherst and wind your way around the edge of the world up to Cabot Tower. There’s also a bunch of smaller trails branching off and around the main artery on Signal Hill, so don’t take the road back down to where it all started—find another trail! And another one.
Just don’t fall off the cliff. BH
Georgestown, (don’t forget the S!), sits just north of downtown, and is predominantly residential. The original suburb, as it were. Strolling through, you’ll find desperately dilapidated shanties next to hulking concrete condos and everything in between.
At Georgestown’s South-East corner is Rawlin’s Cross, one of the city’s oldest intersections, and one that many drivers avoid like the plague for it’s twisting, one-way madness. However, those brave enough to navigate further are rewarded for their perseverance. At the corner of Military and Monkstown, in the old W. J. Murphy building, you’ll find the Hungry Heart Café (142 Military Rd., 738-6164), a great spot for lunch. Capitol Video (134 Military Rd., 722-2150) lies right on the cusp of Georgestown, and boasts the widest/wildest variety of films for rent that you’ll find anywhere on this side of the country. The Brothers Conway really know their stuff… in fact, they’re so good, they don’t even have a sign on the building.
Heading down Monkstown Road you’ll want to take a left up Maxse Street, towards Hayward Avenue. …Smell that? Oh yes. You’re heading straight for G-town’s soft, chewy centre: Georgestown Bakery. Nothing I say here will come close to doing it justice, so I will leave it to you to discover for yourself. Chances are you have had the pleasure already. Isn’t life wonderful?
Getting thirsty? Game of pool? Take a right on Hayward towards Fleming, and you’ll hit the Georgestown Pub (80 Hayward Ave., 754-6561). That dude standing out front smoking is probably Carl. He doesn’t say much, but he’s a nice fella. On Tuesday evenings there’s a session of Traditional music, Friday is Open Mic Night, and Saturday there’s karaoke. AP
THE EAST END
Always a few degrees colder than the middle of town, the East End gets a great deal more fog than the rest of St. John’s. It’s a rare fine day when the fog doesn’t loom just off of Torbay and Logy Bay.
But oh, the view!
Most of the East End is at a higher elevation, so whether you’re on Ridge Road or at Convergys, you get to look out over the city and feel like you’re surveying your domain.
Let’s start from Ridge Road: Fisheries and Marine Institute and the College of the North Atlantic Engineering Technology campus (Metrobus 1, 9, 14). Across the road is Pippy Park Driving Range (682-8152, open 9am to dusk). Admiral’s Green Golf Course (753-7110) is just up the hill.
A trail leads from the schools down to Kent’s Pond and the CONA main campus (Metrobus 1) at the intersection of Portugal Cove Road and MacDonald Drive.
From here, you could go north on Portugal Cove Road and hit Dairy Queen (ice cream cake!), a strip mall, and Old Town Pizzeria. This is as far as Metrobus Route 1 will take you.
For shops, from Kent’s Pond head east on MacDonald Drive to the Torbay Road Mall (Metrobus 2, 3, 9). Highlights: Shopper’s Drug Mart with postal outlet, China House Restaurant (affordable, tasty buffet Thurs, Fri, Sat 754-2892), and Frenchy’s Thrift Boutique (579-7390).
North of the Torbay Road Mall, you’ll pass the Second Page Bookstore (722-3638), loads of fast food spots, Coaker’s Meadow Plaza (highlights: a physiotherapist, Jungle Jim’s and Brewcraft), and the road into Wedgewood Park (formerly its own town, still has a great rec centre and pool 576-8631).
Further out Torbay Road, Holland Nurseries has all your plant needs. West Side Charlie’s pool hall is the traditional outer limit of what’s considered “town” on a Friday night. Mama Soula’s does good Greek.
For easterly scenic walks, get on the Grand Concourse (grandconcourse.ca) at Kent’s Pond and let your feet lead you. DC
Mount Pearl… Invoking the name strikes fear into the heart of many a Townie who, like the inimitable “Crazy Ralph” of Friday The 13th parts I and II, will run to you and cry “Doomed! You’re all doomed! That place has a DEATH CURSE!” as a charming, thoroughly folksy way to dissuade you from entering. Though the city has long since been free of machete-wielding mutants, the unease still exists as Mt. Pearl may not have much to offer students… but it has its highlights.
Commonwealth Avenue spearheads the list with restaurants and stores dominating the lengthy street. While used bookstores have the tendency to be stocked full of V.C. Andrews and precious little else, Books-R-Us-Plus (13 Commonwealth Avenue, 747-7243) sports some good finds and also sells band t-shirts and flags, as well as gothic jewelry. The Never Ending Story (7 Commonwealth Avenue, 368-1838) has little more than protection from Falkor, the luck dragon. A block away from that store is the NLC (11 Commonwealth Avenue, 724-1610) for all your drinking needs. Across the street from the liquor store is a real highlight, Berg’s Famous Ice Cream (inside the Commonwealth Ultramar, 745-7557) which serves “80 different flavours of milkshake” (so the billboard boasts), soft serve, two kinds of whipped cream, and ice cream flavours too numerous to count.
Video stores in the city are paltry, but Allan’s Video (19 Commonwealth Avenue, 364-3256) stocks some older titles while Blockbuster (40 Commonwealth Avenue, 368-5803)… is a Blockbuster. Lastly, the strip mall on 50 Commonwealth Avenue houses affordable restaurants like Dougie’s Bar & Grill (747-6010) and Around The World (368-3494), as well a billiard hall (Player’s Cue, 368-2500) and a sizeable and nicely-stocked Our Pleasure — Canada’s Sexual Health Store (745-5683).
Further restaurants of note include: Lucky’s (949 Topsail Rd, 368-5169), a superior Chinese eatery with great lunch specials and the thriftily-priced Chilly Willy’s, which offers sandwiches, ice cream and, seriously, some of the best pizza in Newfoundland. Smitty’s (Unit 2 – 26 Gibson Drive, 368-8690) is also worth mentioning for its superior breakfasts.
For recreation, Nubodys opened a co-ed location on 12 Merchant Drive (368-8347) that also provides a private section for women, while New World Fitness (644 Topsail Rd, 368-3422 (St. John’s)) offers pool and child care services. Moving away from chain stores, there are tennis and softball complexes on St. David’s Avenue, a small street off Commonwealth. AC