Joy E. Hecht photography


I first came to Newfoundland in the summer of 2006, at the end of two and a half years living in my van and exploring North America. (Click the button for "travels with Matilda" for more than you ever wanted to know about that.) At every stop, I'd ask myself whether this was a place I could live, and what my life might be like if I made it my home.

I arrived in Newfoundland on a cold and foggy Saturday morning in the beginning of August. In pouring rain, I drove from the ferry to downtown St. John's and parked my van on Water Street. After months of wearing nothing but shorts and tank tops, I realized with a shock that this place was different. I climbed into the van and changed into long pants, socks, fleece, and my rain jacket, and set out in search of serious breakfast and lots of coffee. I spent the day indoors, in galleries and coffee shops, dodging the cold and the rain.

The next morning, to my surprise, the sun was out and the sky a brilliant blue, so I headed up Signal Hill to look out over the harbor, the Narrows, and the ocean. On my way back down, along a trail that wound along the edge of the cliffs in a mix of rocky path and steep steps, I got to talking to a man with a video camera. Not a fellow tourist, as it turned out; he had come to Newfoundland some twenty five years earlier as a defector from Cuba. He told me a tale of stopping in Gander on a flight to Europe, and knocking on a door marked "police." Not knowing quite what to say, he mutely handed them his passport. They took a quick look, and ushered him saying "welcome to Canada." Ten days later he was approved as a refugee, free to relocate anywhere in the country. Astonished by his warm reception, he stayed, and has been in St. John's ever since.

To my equal astonishment, I found myself talking to him about moving to Newfoundland myself, telling him about my years of travel and my haphazard searches for the next place to call home.

Four years and many trips later, I have a house in downtown St. John's and I'm in the process of establishing myself as a Canadian resident. When people ask me what drew me here, my first answer is always "the landscape." These photos give you some idea of how I see it.

Looking across
the Narrows
from Signal Hill
to Ft. Amherst,
Looking across
the Narrows
from Signal Hill
to Ft. Amherst,
Signal Hill and
the Battery, early
Humber Arm,
western Newfoundland
Wires coated
with ice, St.
St. John's Harbor
from the Signal Hill
trail, dawn
Stairs, St. Anthony's
Northern Peninsula
Boardwalk, Burin
St. John's harbor
at dawn, through
construction site.
Green house &
fog, Burin
Ice on a fence,
St. John's
Cape Spear from
Signal Hill, dawn
Humber arm
The Battery in
snow, dawn
Sunset, Twillingate September sunrise