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St. John's, NL



Republic of Ireland



Originally from the Republic of Ireland, Ross came to Canada in 2004 as an international student and has been living in St. John’s, Newfoundland primarily. Currently, Ross works as a municipal officer.

The history and connection of the area to Irish emigrants keeps me connected to my new home.


This image was taken in Torbay, NL north of St. John’s. I was reminded of home and chose to take the photo as I come from quite a rural part of Ireland where agriculture is the dominant industry. My grandfather when alive always kept a cow to produce his own milk. This black/white Friesian breed was the breed he kept so it was a nice reminder of him and his self-sufficient way of life – far earlier than this self-sufficiency became “cool”.

Mummers are people who dress up and disguise their identities. They visit their friends, families, and neighbours on the day after Christmas. Two of the places that still do this tradition are Newfoundland and Ireland on our equivalent, St. Stephen’s Day. In Ireland, pubs were the place everyone would come together to celebrate Christmas. In the afternoon, the travelling groups of Wren Boys would stop into many pubs. It’s incredible to see a similar yet slightly different type of celebration.

This was taken at Ches’ Fish & Chips in St. John’s. As my home county is on the south coast of Ireland, fish is common. Overfishing off Ireland has changed standard fish and chips to haddock, hake, whiting or plaice. Cod is rare and much more expensive. But in Newfoundland it’s still the most popular. An incredibly fresh, “relatively” healthy and historical dish in Newfoundland and is a link to home for me being from Waterford, a coastal county with a long fishing heritage.

Along the East Coast, a 330km+ trail network passes through St. John’s. It has dramatic scenes that follow along the coastline and reminds me of my own county, Waterford. It takes me back to finishing off the rocks in Ardmore and Dunmore, as they too have rugged, rocky and craggy shorelines. Newfoundland. Living by the ocean is very important to me. Having lived in-land in Toronto and Calgary for a time, it felt very strange not having the ocean and its fresh air nearby.

“Codjigging” is the traditional hand-drawn line way of catching cod off the Newfoundland coast. The history of the Irish in Newfoundland is connected to cod fishing. Rich British merchants made their final stops in ports along the south coast of Waterford. The crew they brought ended up being the descendants of the locals living here now. So, cod fishing and the jigging method is very special to me. I know I am doing something my countrymen and women did over five hundred years ago.

Camping was not something I traditionally did back home, but my new circle of friends are very active in it. I’ve been collecting the required equipment over the past years and now have everything needed to camp for days at a time. I’m from a rural part of Ireland so to be able to camp away from the bustle of St. John’s, takes me back to my youth. Being able to camp in the secluded, quiet woods of Newfoundland with my family and friends is an activity I crave every summer.

The weather has always taken time to get used to here versus in Ireland, but I have been embracing winter more and getting out into outdoor activities such as snow hiking and snowshoeing. Knowing that you can have wintry conditions for five months of the year means you have to adapt to it. It means I can stay fit and active all year round. It has really improved my lifestyle and health more than before, even when I was living in Ireland.

Bowring Park is one of the largest parks in the city and is a beautiful place to escape from the bustle of the city while still being close to downtown. It’s a very open and welcoming place that my family visits often. Being from a rural area of Ireland, we didn’t go to parks very often. We basically lived in the Irish countryside. These parks and Bowring in particular, is an important space for me and my family to play in open green spaces. Mix with our friends and make new ones.

This represents the seafood that we have access to living in St. John’s. I never ate mussels in Ireland, so they represent some of the new foods and experiences I’ve had since moving here. Ireland has not enjoyed the seafood of our coasts until relatively recently. Similarly in Newfoundland lobsters and mussels where thought of as bi-catch and not desirable. We cook seafood mostly in the summer when we can get fresh catch. We enjoy eating it as a family, our five-year-old loves his fresh fish!

Lester’s Farm has a Lil’ Lester’s program that my son Ronan has registered in. It connects city kids to agriculture, helping them understand where their food comes from. Working as a farmhand was my first job. I helped local farmers with the milking of dairy cattle, herding of sheep, and in summer the cutting and processing of grass into sileage for cows. It was important for me that my son understood agriculture and food production. Lester’s is the biggest farm in the City of St. John’s.

Signal Hill was the gateway to St. John’s where every Irish immigrant would have passed through from the1400s-1500s. It’s also one of the eastern points in North America and means I am closer to home here than anywhere else. Signal Hill is probably one of the first places I visited when first coming to St. John’s. You can see at least five municipalities in the region from up there. The history and connection of the area to Irish emigrants keeps me connected to my new home.

Annually, icebergs come down the Labrador current from Greenland. People travel from all over the world to see them drift south every year in the spring and early summer. Boaters are extremely wary of them as they split and roll over when they melt. Older folks call certain types of icebergs growlers as when the wind blows through them it make sounds. It’s a nice reminder that I live in a unique place that for so many people is a once in a lifetime place to visit or see.

Paddy’s Pond is close to my home and accessible in winter for ice-fishing. It never gets cold enough in Ireland for anything like this and is a brand-new experience for me. My wife hadn’t ice fished since she was young. So that connection I have to Newfoundland means she can experience things for the first time, or again, with me, making it really special.

Here my son Ronan is playing at our local community centre. It’s a new building at the heart of our subdivision here in St. John’s. It’s a fantastic place for him to play with other young people and for us to meet other new parents in our area. We built several new friendships and connections with our neighbours because of this facility. Being from a rural part of Ireland, having a communing centre within walking distance for a five-year-old is a major improvement in my access to infrastructure.

My son has my love of walking and when I’m off we go explore historic St. John’s with its buildings that reflect its Irish and British roots. It has an Irish familiarity that I have not found in my other travels around Canada and the United States. The downtown with its hills, ecclesiastical quarter and entertainment district are decidedly Irish in feel. The Roman Catholic Basilica is even built with stone shipped from Ireland. It is a nice touch for me to keep my connection to home alive.

This is my home in St. John’s. Despite the weather I love my home and am grateful to St. John’s and Canada for the life it has afforded me. My home and my family are very important to me. I’m lucky enough to have a home with the capacity to take care of my parents and siblings when they visit from Ireland. That was an important milestone in my life to achieve. It may be a regular St. John’s house but for me its an accomplishment as a son who can look after his parents on their trips to Canada.

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