One of the many charms of St. John’s is the neighbourhood called Quidi Vidi (commonly pronounced Kiddy Videe). No one seems to know where the name came from, Basque or French languages are possibilities. There is no agreement on its pronunciation either so don’t be surprised if you hear variants. This is all perfectly natural in a province where the culture is as variable as the landscape and the weather.
However you pronounce it, Quidi Vidi is a delightful little community. It becomes crowded only when the Royal St. John’s Regatta is held in August on its picturesque lake. At the regatta, North America’s oldest continuing sporting event, teams of highly trained and competitive rowers propel unique fixed-seat skulls up and down the lake. While this is going on crowds ashore entertain themselves with music, food and drink.
The town of Quidi Vidi extends from the end of the lake around a quaint harbour that is connected to the ocean by a narrow gut. On the harbour’s edge are fishermen’s stages where, when the fishery was thriving, the cod were laid out in the sun to be dried. On these stages there still are Fishermens’ Rooms where the catch was cleaned, salted and packed.
Drive up the wonderfully named Cuckhold’s Cove Road to Quidi Vidi Battery. Originally built in the 1780s, this little fort was one of several, such as the one on Signal Hill, built around Newfoundland to protect the British colony and the wealth its fishing industry provided to the mother country. Today in its restored state the battery offers an intimate view of what life was like for military men who lived and worked here day-in day-out in the 19th century. Costumed guides will explain the workings of the armaments, the arrangement of the barracks and the function of the powder magazine. Protected by a wooden palisade the fort was manned until the British forces pulled out of Newfoundland in 1870.
Trails from the Quidi Vidi Battery lead in one direction to Signal Hill (Cuckhold’s Cove Trail) and in the other direction down through the village and then up and down along the coast to Logy Bay where you can get up close to the seals kept at the Ocean Sciences Centre.
The largest building on the Quidi Vidi harbour is the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company. In the summer you can tour the factory, learn the history of Quidi Vidi and taste the various popular beers and ales brewed here. If you haven’t already discovered them all of the QV beverages including QV Light, QV Honey Brown Ale, Eric’s Cream and 1892 Traditional Ale are a delight. Be sure to try the unique Iceberg Beer which is brewed using water harvested from icebergs that have floated to Newfoundland from Greenland.
Have a walk around Quidi Vidi and inspect the old houses some of which are exceedingly small. The miniature size of the traditional Quidi Vidi house was such that in many cases custom built furniture was necessary. The miniature tables, wardrobes and chests that were handcrafted for the people here are much prized examples of Newfoundland folk art.