Top News

Robin Short: Newfoundlanders perpetuate their own stereotypes

Liam Carrigan sings Grey Foggy Day, while Sheldon Thornhill and Sheldon Thornhill play along during a stopover at Toronto's Pearson's International Airport Tuesday evening.
Liam Carrigan sings Grey Foggy Day, while Sheldon Thornhill and Sheldon Thornhill play along during a stopover at Toronto's Pearson's International Airport Tuesday evening. - Facebook

I have a confession. I loathe traditional Newfoundland music. Dental surgery is the more tolerable option than succumbing to a couple of relentless hours of the “Irish Newfoundland Show.”

No offence intended, of course.

I know this admission is tantamount to treason for someone born in St. John’s, raised on Torbay Road.

Robin Short
Robin Short

Still, I cringed Tuesday with the CBC report that a group of Newfoundlanders had charmed all at a Pearson International Airport departure gate, making what was described as the best of a bad situation with their flight delay from Toronto to St. John’s.

For all of 30 minutes, apparently — which was obviously far too long for some to resist the lure of breaking out the guitar and accordion and serenading the inconvenienced masses.

Not that the music was bad. Pretty good, in fact — if you’re into that type of thing.

From this corner, however, the display only served to stoke the old stereotype of the “Goofy Newfie” — you know, the sou’wester-wearing, life-of-the-party Newfoundlander who yearns for a good time, but is virtually incompetent at everything else.

Come now, sing us a song. Dance for us …

Now toddle on along.

(Cue the hate mail here.)

Related: Layover at Toronto airport turns into N.L. party

Whether we, as a province, wish or even care to acknowledge it, there is a segment of the Canadian population that subscribes to and perpetuates those false and ignorant myths.

My problem is that, in some cases, we do nothing to discourage them.

I recall arriving in Halifax many years ago, only to find the door to the arrival gate locked. It took five minutes or so before an airline attendant arrived, to be greeted with a chuckle from one female passenger, who commented, “That’s all right, b’y, just a bunch of Newfoundlanders.”

Like the orchestra on the Titanic, we Newfoundlanders, in the eyes of some, sing, dance, drink and have a grand ol’ time as the province slides down into an economic abyss.

The big question amongst the economic elite of mainland Canada is whether “we” should let “them” proceed with the Muskrat Falls project, as the pathetic jesters of the far East Coast have clearly erred again, biting off more than they can afford.

The thought of such patronization is as maddening as it is insulting.

Of course, there is no straight correlation between a sing-along at a major international airport and a national haughtiness towards a poor cousin.

The point here is that we just don’t do enough to banish those beliefs.

“Yes, b’ys, we loves Newfoundland, we do.”

So call me a humourless curmudgeon if you want. But I’m a proud Newfoundlander, one who’s fed up with the stereotypes that come with hailing from this province, which, sadly, continue to be perpetrated by our very own.

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor who has taken a break for a minute from spinning sports yarns to wade into the deep waters of news commentary. He can be reached by email rshort@thetelegram.com Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort.

Recent Stories