Kissing the Cod: My First Weekend in St John’s

I moved to St John’s knowing absolutely no one in the entire province. In anticipation of this I had made some connections online with some people who lived in St John’s, hoping to meet someone who could show me around a bit and help me adjust to my new home.

My dad and brother came with me when I first moved here, and we arrived in the middle of the night on a Thursday. Did some running around Friday, and then settled in at the hotel for a quiet night before all my furniture and so on would arrive at the house. I was sitting in my hotel room, doing some emailing, and I got a message from C – one of the aforementioned online contacts. Some people were heading to his place for some drinks and then heading downtown, did my brother and I want to join? Sure!

So Matt and I found our way to C’s place, and in under 24 hours of arriving here I had my first experience of downtown St John’s. We went to the Duke of Duckworth that night (which is the bar featured in Republic of Doyle, if you happen to watch that. . .) and played some pool. Matt and I didn’t stay too late, as there was a lot to be done Saturday, but we promised to come down again the next night.

Saturday night we headed to Christian’s on George St. There is a ritual in Newfoundland, called a “Screech In”, which enables someone from away to become an official honourary Newfoundlander. They do screech ins at Christian’s every night, and C and some of his friends were heading there to get someone screeched in. Since I was there… did I want to do it as well? Bah, why not!

Short version of the ritual is basically this: you are taught a silly phrase, you kiss a cod fish (in this case a frozen one…), and you drink a shot of screech (Jamaican rum). We also sang a song, were taught some Newfoundland words, and ate some bologna.

My brother kind of failed at getting any good photos - in his defense the place was BLOCKED. 30+ people were getting screeched in! That's me with my screech, though!

So I became an honourary Newfoundlander, after being here barely 2 days. I don’t waste any time!

My first weekend in St John’s was very busy with getting things settled in my house. My dad and brother were only in town until Sunday, and so after Sunday my ready access to a vehicle would be gone.  However, all of that is pretty much a foggy vague memory involving a lot of boxes and shopping – mostly I remember my first experiences downtown.  Every friend I have here in Newfoundland can either be traced back to me being a veterinarian, or to me meeting up with C that weekend. That weekend was a blast, and I have never felt more welcome in a new place. . . Newfoundland and I, we were in love at first beer!

My Screechers certificate - hangs on my wall in my living room right next to my DVM degree. Both being pretty good representations of who I am.


About dottiemaggie

A veterinarian living and working in St John's, Newfoundland. I love my job, and I love my home. Professionally I am passionate about critical care and client education. Away from work I am passionate about enjoying life, spending time with friends, enjoying hobbies of all sorts, and exploring this wonderful province I call home.
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10 Responses to Kissing the Cod: My First Weekend in St John’s

  1. omawarisan says:

    Rum and bologna? That seems a lot more humane than some other initiations I’ve heard of.

    Any idea why the rum is screech?

    • dottiemaggie says:

      the story goes something like newfoundlanders traded cod for rum, but it was bottom of the barrell jamaican rum, and when a sailor would have some he’d let out a screech of a yell at the taste of it. and that’s why they call it screech.

      and it definitely wasn’t so bad as far as initiations go!

  2. Kate says:

    You certainly don’t waste any time!

  3. Audubon Ron says:

    Love it. The Duke of Duckworth. That would be me.

  4. frigginloon says:

    It seems you got away lightly. You aren’t considered initiated Down Under until you’ve hugged the porcelain all night or had your stomach pumped.

  5. Chelsea says:

    Hi there.
    My name is Chelsea.
    Found your blog on google. Would love to talk to you about the move and nfl and my BFF are thinking of moving from victoria to nfl in a few years. We know no one there. But several things are drawing us there.
    I’ve left my email signing in but incase…it’s molson.jellybean @

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