Beautiful province, but your capital city needs weeding

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For years, listeners to my talk show in Ottawa have been encouraging my wife and me to visit Newfoundland, the only part of Canada we had never seen. Having just returned from a wonderful week on “The Rock,” both Deborah and I endorse the rave reviews.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to see Gros Morne but we did manage to huff and puff our way to the top of Cape Spear, took in the military Tattoo on Signal Hill, went whale and puffin watching from Bay Bulls, marvelled at the Ferryland dig, lunched at the Madrock Café near Bay Roberts, sampled a brew or two in Quidi Vidi, dodged flying gannets at the truly remarkable St. Mary’s rookery, greatly enjoyed the world-class displays at the Rooms and Geo Centre, laughed a lot and stayed up far too late on George Street and, most of all, remained in awe at the truly spectacular vistas of the Avalon. We have travelled the world and can honestly say Newfoundland is one of the most beautiful and interesting places we have ever seen.

The only jarring note was the weeds that flourish along the streets and sidewalks of St. John’s. I’m unclear whether they are intended to provide some kind of local flavour or your city council has placed a ban on “weed whackers.”

Actually, the weeds just across from our Hill O’Chips hotel breakfast window would probably require a two-man bucksaw to hack down — truly magnificent — some at least eight or nine feet proudly tall.

Thankfully, not quite so sky-scraping in downtown St. John’s or they would have blocked not only store windows but also store fronts entirely. I have no doubt those who live in the city have become so accustomed to them that they have become part of the landscape, but weeds sprouting from almost every sidewalk crack — store front — encircling every lamppost and fire hydrant along Water and Duckworth streets seem, well, just a bit tacky, in what is otherwise a very historic, interesting and attractive central core.

Thank you Newfoundland — your drivers and merchants are the most courteous we have ever seen, your restaurants as fine as anything you’ll see in Ottawa or Toronto. We will be back, soon I hope, but unless you tell us otherwise we’re gong to bring along a few spray cans of Round-Up and a whipper-snipper!

Lowell and Deborah Green


Organizations: Geo Centre, Hill O’Chips hotel

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Ottawa, Canada Bay Bulls Bay Roberts Quidi Vidi George Street Toronto

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Recent comments

  • Derek
    August 29, 2013 - 16:34

    Wow! Some people just have no class (but apparently too much time on their hands)

    • david
      August 30, 2013 - 12:28

      Classy response from a busy guy.

  • Joe
    August 28, 2013 - 14:51

    Lowell and Deb perhaps you could suggest that Stevie send us some of the $650 million the Capital Commission gets each year to help us out. Thanks in advance.

  • Mr T.
    August 28, 2013 - 12:38

    Herbicide Ban. Weed rather do without the toxins.

  • Cashin Delaney
    August 28, 2013 - 12:16

    Is there not a roundup program in Ottawa for human weeds! Some of those red chamber species are sprouting large, blocking the sunlight from important environmental and globalization issues affecting our region. These tall poppies stick their necks out for Canadians yet we call for a cull just because a minority group of the most invasive strained their privilege. We cannot morally, ethically, or even environmentally endorse chemical warfare that is being proposed here by the Greens, or the NDP. If not for weeds or Senators, it would be something else.

  • Agnes
    August 28, 2013 - 10:06

    Thanks, Lowell and Deborah Green I thought you were very fair to our province. There was a time that I thought that weeds were unsightly, but now I think differently. I think we could be a whole lot healthier if we let grow what nature intended for our given areas and their many eco-systems. By doing so we do not have to deal with the poisonous effects of the herbisides and pestisides that are needed to keep the lawns and gardens in the cultured condition that most pleases the eyes.

  • david
    August 28, 2013 - 09:27

    Well folks... Newfoundland, for good AND bad, is now in the BUSINESS of tourism. In business, 'the customer is always right'. Full stop. Grow a pair, learn to accept which everyone here currently lashes out like children. Some criticisms will seem petty to you. Fine...shut up, smile, and act like the "friendly Newfoundlander" props you are portrayed as. Welcome to the business of tourism. And get ready...the criticisms will very likely get worse, and many will not be petty, or off base, or easy to fix. If you get twisted off on stuff like this, Newfoundland tourism is going to get rrrrrreeeal ugly.

  • Virginia Waters
    August 28, 2013 - 08:53

    One man's weed is another man's lunch, as exemplified by the detox properties of the lowly and pervasive but much maligned dandelion. While I agree that weeds can look unsightly - or at least we have been culturally indoctrinated to that way of thinking - it can be a pretty expensive and generally futile effort keeping ahead of them. That is especially true in the minimal, acidic topsoil conditions found on the Avalon - conditions in which weeds thrive while other preferred plants like grass struggle. Add to that the danger to human health from many of the standard weed killing formulas on the market, or the high labour cost of whacking them for the sake of a few short summer months, and you have to question whether it is really worth the effort. Mr. Green has no doubt been spoiled by the lushness of the Ottawa valley and relatively ease with which even exotic plants can be grown there. We're glad you enjoyed your stay in the province and we hope to see you back, but please check your round-up at the door.

  • Anna
    August 28, 2013 - 08:38

    The Green's have definitely too much time on their hands writing a letter like this one. They had two wonderful weeks vacation in the Province and all they can find to complain about is our sidewalks and the weeds. Come back in the winter Mr. Green, you won't have to worry about seeing any of our sidewalks then.

  • tom power
    August 28, 2013 - 08:03

    OMG, give me a break. Gotta be the same dude who wrote the letter signed " Gene Poole"

  • Chantal
    August 28, 2013 - 07:16

    In Ottawa and Toronto they just plunk thier public parks on great big plots of land throughout the city. In St. John's, our parks, although slightly narrower than say, High Park, majestically wind through the streets allowing anyone anywhere to enjoy nature without having to wander far beyond their front door. While children in Ottawa are always whining "take me to the park, Daddy," our youngsters get to experience an adventure in an enchanted forest mere steps from the watchful eyes of their parents. Can you just imagaine a Sparks Street Forest? Who needs a cottage?