|Rooms to the left, Basilica to the right. What do you think?|
When I got off the ship in St John's just to walk around a while, I had not contacted any of my local friends. I was thinking it's probably a chore when people say "Hey, I'm just in on a cruise ship -- entertain me." This way I got to follow my own inclinations, and go to places like Devon House,the gallery and shop of the Newfoundland and Labrador Craft Council on Duckworth Street (not to be missed), and the Jumping Bean Coffee Company, where the coffee is "ground on the rock" and the wifi is reliable and free.
At the dock, a "St John's ambassador" asked where I was from. She was a bit nonplussed when I said Toronto, as we have a very non-Canadian contingent aboard. I explained I was here to give some talks on Canadian history.
"Did'ye give one on Newfoundland?" she asked instantly, and I admitted that, Come From Away that I am, I had indeed.
'I'd like to have heard that one!" she said. I've had warmer welcomes, you might say! But I'm giving a talk on "French Quebec" tomorrow (with some Quebecois aboard), and have no shame.
What I wanted to talk about was The Rooms. What a terrific museum and gallery of Newfoundland The Rooms is -- both for its historical exhibits and for its gallery shows. I was gratified later when people aboard told me they had gone to The Rooms (as I had recommended) and found it addressed and amplified things I had tried to say aboard about the uniqueness of Newfoundland.
I wish we had a museum in Toronto half so committed to local culture and history as they have in St. John's.The Edward Procunier collection of Canadian art currently on display is something quite special.
I did, I confess, tell the joke about people who say The Rooms looks like the box the Basilica came in. Even if that's true, the inside is something special.