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People of this province love to talk about the weather, but it was Robert Doyle’s love of all things about this province that makes him love putting together an annual almanac.
The fifth edition of Doyle’s "Almanac of Newfoundland and Labrador" not only includes information about the climate and weather predictions for the province this year, but features sections about the province's history, traditions and natural beauty.
“It’s a combination of everything,” said Doyle, who has been a practising St. John’s pharmacist for close to three decades.
The section on climate and weather, including sun and tides, which uses local times, is written by Doyle’s neighbour, Gus Fanning, who has a PhD from the University of Victoria’s school of earth and ocean science, and whose Earth System Climate Model is currently used by hundreds of institutes worldwide.
There are feature stories on renowned musician Ray Johnson of the popular comedic group Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers, and two Second World War heroes from this province, along with a story from an interview with Bill Brake of Parks Canada about the historical sites in the province, along with many scenic and historical photos. There’s even lyrics to traditional Newfoundland songs and recipes for traditional dishes.
“In a province where you’re surrounded by the sea, the influences in our history and heritage are everywhere,” Doyle said.
Doyle’s inspiration for starting the almanac was his grandfather, Gerald S. Doyle, who trained as a pharmacist in 1912 and was a strong advocate for the preservation of Newfoundland and Labrador culture.
“I guess I’m following in his footsteps,” said Doyle, who has a pharmaceutical museum collection at his Neighbourhood Pharmacy, located at the corner of Long’s Hill and Queen’s Road (formerly Theatre Pharmacy). “It’s a lot of work, but I really enjoy it.”
What is your full name?
Robert Gerald Doyle.
Where and when were you born?
Halifax, 1962. My mother was diabetic when I was born, so she went to Halifax for medical reasons.
Where do you live today?
St. John’s. I’ve lived here my whole life.
What is your favourite place in the world?
Within Newfoundland and Labrador, it would be our summer home in Carbonear. We restored it about 10 years ago and we enjoy spending summers and weekends there. Outside the province, I love Italy.
Who do you follow on social media?
I follow a couple of groups on Facebook — Newfoundland History Buffs and Newfoundland iceberg report. I usually try to include some pictures in the almanac.
What was your favourite year, and why?
A memorable time was 2015 when I started the almanac, but I don’t have one real favourite year. I look forward to every year and the opportunities each one brings.
Can you describe one experience that changed your life?
I graduated pharmacy school at MUN in 1990, part of the first graduating class, and that put me on my career path. I’ll soon be celebrating 30 years (in practice).
What is your greatest indulgence?
It would have to be travelling. There are so many beautiful places in the world to visit. I love to look at the history and explore around.
What is your favourite movie and book?
My favourite movie would be “Shawshank Redemption.” It has a fantastic script and cast. I’ve probably watched it 20 times. As for books, one of my favourites is, “In the Heart of the Sea,” by Nathaniel Philbrick. A whale turns on a whaling ship, the Essex, and sinks it, and the journey of the crew to survive is incredible.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I enjoy ballroom and Latin dancing. My wife and I have been taking dance lessons at Judy Knee Dance Studio for the past 12 years. We love the jive and rumba.
How do you like to relax?
I like gardening and swimming. I was a competitive swimmer for many years when I was younger. My wife and I enjoy swimming now three or four times a week.
What are you reading and watching right now?
“The Music of Our Burnished Axes: Songs and Stories of the Woods Workers of Newfoundland and Labrador.” It’s written by two MUN professors, Ursula Kelly and Meghan Forsyth. They talk about the songs, the stories and the lives of loggers in the early 1900s. A great read.
I’m watching British crime dramas on Netflix these days — "Broadchurch" and "River."
How would you describe your personal fashion statement?
I’m not too much into fashion, but I do have a few pairs of nice shoes.
What is your most treasured possession?
I have a pharmaceutical museum collection at Neighbourhood Pharmacy that I treasure. I especially treasure the 1927 Gerald S. Doyle songbook from my grandfather. He collected and published about 100 songs and poems from the 1920s up to the 1950s, so I have a little display set up of a lot of pharmaceutical (items) at the pharmacy. I’ve been collecting for about 30 years. A lot of times people who have been in the pharmacy would come back and say, ‘My grandmother just passed away and we were cleaning out her medicine cabinet and came across these things and thought about you and maybe you could put them in your display case.’ And I say sure. That’s where a lot of the stuff comes from.
What is your greatest fear?
Bees or wasps in the house. I actually call on my wife to come to the rescue.
What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
I’d have to say work ethic. My parents — Bob Doyle of St. John’s and Peggy (O’Rourke) of Corner Brook — were both hard workers and I think that was passed on to me. It’s something I certainly appreciate.
Which three people would join you for your dream dinner party?
My grandfather, my grandmother and my father. My grandfather (Gerald Doyle) and grandmother passed away before I was born and I learned a lot about them from my father. So, talking with three of them, I could learn a lot about the changes in our province in the 1930s and ’40s leading up to Confederation.
What is your best quality?
Patience. I interact with between 50 and 70 people a day here at the pharmacy, so it’s important, for sure.
What is your worst quality?
The people who know me are probably best to answer that. Maybe it’s a long list.
What’s your biggest regret?
I would’ve liked to have learned another language — Spanish or Italian. Maybe I can start now.