Visiting our Home?  Here are our suggested Newfoundland itinerary and travel tips. Enjoy!

Visiting our Home? Here are our suggested Newfoundland itinerary and travel tips. Enjoy!

Note: This was updated as of June 4, 2022. However the events of the last couple of years have been hard on many businesses, so although I have tried my best to remove the ones that I am aware have sadly closed – and added new ones – there may be others who are also not operating – as always you should verify before venturing out.

Newfoundland is such a spectacular place to visit, and we are often asked by friends and colleagues about what they should plan to do there for a vacation. There are so many places and you could really spend months in Newfoundland and Labrador and still not see everything.   That said, we have developed a suggested itinerary for someone taking their first tour of Newfoundland… enough for you to see its magic, and decide to keep going back for more :-).

This itinerary covers only a few of the amazing areas of this beautiful island.  I hope in the future to do other itineraries covering many more areas.  It also doesn’t cover all the places to stay, eat or visit – just enough to hopefully help you plan an awesome trip.  For more info a great resource is the Newfoundland Tourism Website at this link.

Please note these tips were put together in response to many people asking us “where to go and what to do” in Newfoundland. It is always our pleasure to share our love for our home.  We have neither taken nor give any endorsement for any of the places or companies named in here – and we give no guarantee, express or implied, as to the performance of any of the recommended places.  –  The only thing we guarantee is that you will love your visit to our home!

2022 has been declared a special Come Home Year by the province of Newfoundland and Labrador – with many special festivals and events happening around the province. You can find more details on Come Home Year here. 

(If you find anything outdated or missing, please just comment below so I can update.)

fort amherst

  1. Overall Tips:
  • If you want to see the most we recommend you fly into St. John’s and out of Deer Lake, or vice versa, that way you won’t have to drive across the island twice.
  • The itinerary below is for flying into St. John’s and ending in Deer Lake. Depending on how much you want to spend in each place vs time in the car, we recommend 10-14 days for the full itinerary below.
  • If you only have time to do one part of the island we think the West Coast is the best coast (even though we grew up on the East Coast). This would mean flying in and out of Deer Lake and doing Gros Morne, Twillingate and areas around there and other areas on the west coast.   Although you will not get to see St. John’s or Trinity then, and that would be a shame!
  • THE ABSOLUTE FIRST THING TO DO in planning your trip to NL is book your rental car, especially if you are following our recommendation of picking up on one side of the island and dropping off in the other.  Rental cars are tougher to get than flights, accommodations or anything else – so book the car before your flight! And, unless you plan to stay only in the centre of St. John’s a rental car is definitely necessary when visiting Newfoundland.
  • In all the places listed there is amazing hiking, with varying levels of difficulty. The All Trails website or APP on your phone will be really helpful to you in that regard.
  • If you are staying in Cottages or efficiency units and plan to do some of your own cooking you may want to stock up on groceries in major centres (St. John’s, Gander, Grand Falls, Deer Lake) as selection may be limited in smaller communities.
  • Booking accommodations in advance is definitely necessary – particularly in July, August and September or around the Christmas holidays.
  • When to go?  This is probably our most asked question and the answer of course depends on when you want to go!  We enjoy July, August and September best.  Icebergs (and fog!) season is best in June; whales July-August; and beautiful fall colours in late September – mid October (particularly on the West Coast of the island which has more deciduous vs evergreen forest when compared to the East Coast).  Note that if you are going in the shoulder or off season you will need to check availability of some of our recommendations – some attractions, and even restaurants are only open seasonally.
  • Weather in Newfoundland is always unpredictable  – at best. I think it might be the place where the saying “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes” was invented.  That said, when the weather does change it can be shocking.  Particularly along Newfoundland’s beautiful coast, it can be a glorious summer day and then the ‘wind changes’ the fog rolls in, and the temperature can easily drop 15 degrees (celsius) or more in thirty minutes!  Bring lots of layers and be prepared for anything!

 Our Recommended Route: 

Below is our recommended route. As you will see we have L’anse Aux Meadows included, but this is one many people omit because of the length of the drive to get there. Also if you wish to remove one other stop we would recommend removing the Greenspond area (but try not to)!

Driving distance for this route is 22 hours, if you include L’anse Aux Meadows and 14 hours if you exclude it.

route map

Stop 1: St. John’s

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Places to Stay in St. John’s: 

 Things to do in St. John’s:

  1. The Rooms (provincial govt. museum and art gallery) – Perfect place to learn of the history of NL and see world-class art exhibits. Make sure to learn about the stunning history of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment – it is really moving to learn about them. The Rooms also has one of the best views of the downtown and harbour from an amazing café – great place for lunch.
  2. Signal Hill National Historic Site – great views of the city and the ocean coast. And there’s a great hike that takes you down around the front of the hill and down through the Battery (The walk has lots of stairs and is definitely weather dependent, but a fabulous view).
  3. Walk along the battery – at end of Duckworth Street turn right on Battery Road and look for a place to park, or just make a 10- to 15-minute walk from downtown.  Follow the signs to the trail. Only do this on a nice day, the trail can be slippery and very windy on a bad day – but the view, the waves crashing below, the boats and the historical military site are all worth the walk. This is definitely a weather dependent walk, but if you get a good day you’ll never regret it.
  4. Cape Spear National Historic Site– most easterly point in North America, fabulous ocean views, old lighthouse, Ocean views like you’ll never see anywhere else! When you are out toward Cape Spear you can also come back through Petty Harbour and stop for lunch at Chafe’s Landing in Petty Harbour Petty Harbour is a REALLY picturesque fishing community, and Chafe’s landing has great food in a cute atmosphere. Worth a visit, but mind the tour buses.
  5. Quidi Vidi Village – Fishing village right in the middle of St. John’s (see Mallard Cottage in restaurants below). If the weather cooperates, walk out to the cliff (down the trail by the last house) for a beautiful view. Also, visit Quidi Vidi Brewing Co., a local craft brewing company and have a tasting tour and new tap room, they also have a ‘kitchen party’ event every Friday night in high season. Visit Quidi Vidi Plantation Craft Shops. The Quidi Vidi Brewery is also a great place to stop for a tour of to buy some of our favourite Quidi Vidi Beer. 
  6. Drive the Irish Loop, while on the loop visit the Colony of Avalon archeological dig , have lunch at the Ferryland Lighthouse Picnic (you need a reservation), note for 2022 the Lighthouse building is closed for renovations so the picnics are more boxed lunches picked up before you walk in to the lighthouse site, but it’s still a worthwhile visit. If you don’t do the Ferryland Lighthouse Picnic, stop for lunch in Bay Bulls (see next item).  Try  to make it all the way down to Calvert (about an 1 ½ from St. John’s) and make a reservation for Sullivan’s Songhouse – a great experience of live local music at Sean Sullivan’s home.
  7. Bay Bulls is just a 45 minute, scenic drive from St. John’s so a great stop on your way  further down the Irish Loop, or just a great location for a short jaunt from St. John’s.  Eat at Tongue & Cheek – a fabulous restaurant at the O’Brien’s Whale Watching tour site – make sure you try the chowder or fish and chips, and of course the house specialty “Tongues & Cheeks” (and yes this really is cod tongues and cheeks!) – and leave room for the delicious desserts!   O’Brien’s Tours is also a great choice for a boat tour for whale and puffin watching
  8. Middle Cove – Take a lovely drive 20 minutes outside of St. John’s to Middle Cove Beach. Beautiful rocky beach with crashing waves.  Dip your foot in the Atlantic here!  
  9. If you prefer a Guided Tour around St. Johns and area there is a new hop on hop off option, we haven’t tried it yet but it looks good and the reviews so far are great.  A unique thing in Newfoundland is that many of the local cab drivers also do tours, and your hotel can arrange one – they can truly be an experience! McCarthy’s Party is also a well known tour company
  10. Take a short drive to Brigus area. About an hour outside the city and really pretty town.  Brigus has a really fun blueberry festival if you’re there in mid August. Excuse my bias, but I think Newfoundland blueberries are the best in the world!
  11. Hiking: lots of great options of various degrees of length/difficulty, visit East Coast Trails for all the info.
  12. Johnson’s Geo Centre really cool centre built into the rocks at the base of signal hill. Great rainy day stop.
  13. Beaches – the bad news is there are no sandy beaches around St. John’s; the good news is it is always beach weather. The St. John’s areas beaches are actually even more beautiful in stormy weather (but cold). There are none in walking distance from St. John’s, but if you have a rental car you can go. Or you can actually ask a cab driver for a tour and they’ll take you to one of these beaches and back – but don’t let them put you on the meter, ask them for a set fee (the hotel can likely arrange this for you too). My favourite is middle cove beach, as it is a beautiful drive to get there and back. But there are many others as well, with Topsail Beach being a favourite for many – famous for it’s many bonfires people set up on a nice summer’s night.   The beaches have large ‘beach rock’ shores. They have beautiful colour mixes in the rocks. If you find one with a continuous stripe all the way around it is considered to be lucky (like a Newfoundland shamrock), and if you find one with two stripes all the way around it means you are not only lucky, but lucky in love!  
  14. Bowring Park – Beautiful park in the west end of the city. Fabulous place for a leisurely walk. Site of one of the famous Caribou Statues commemorating the Royal Newfoundland regiment (Newfoundland’s Army pre joining Canada), and a nice Peter Pan statue too.
  15. Quidi Vidi Charters – Right in Quidi Vidi – they take you out on a boat for about 1.5 to 2 hours, catch a box of fish and then bring you back to their deck to fillet the catch and serve you Fish & Chips – about $150 pp.
  16. Pubs: I am sure everyone has heard of George Street, which is a street of bars. Tons of bars, many with live music. From Dance Bars to hole-in-the-walls. You might also want to take in Shamrock city  –it’s on Water Street rather than George St, but it’s a good Irish pub with live music. Erin’s Pub is on the other end of water Street but is the ‘renowned original’ St. John’s Irish Pub .
  17. Nonia: Local NL crafts (mostly knitting) absolutely beautiful authentic knit sweaters.
  18. Craft Council of Newfoundland Store – local artisanal crafts of all types (pottery, artwork, jewelry, woodcraft), adjudicated crafters. 275 Duckworth Street. 
  19. Downhomer Shoppe or the Newfoundland Heritage Shop (practically next door to each other at 303 and 309 water street) – touristy NL items. Crafts, books, art, t-shirts, etc.
  20. Newfoundland Chocolate CompanyGreat place to pick up quick souvenir to bring back – chocolate bars with Newfoundland sayings and assorted chocolate boxes are great. This is at 166 Duckworth St.
  21. Cod Sounds Culinary and Outdoor Adventures: Culinary hikes and food adventures – really unique things! 
  22. Spirit of Newfoundland Dinner Theatre: a variety of dinner theatres held regularly in a beautiful old heritage building in St. John’s. Musical, Comedy and lots of fun. 
  23. Become an Honorary Newfoundlander: don’t forget to get “Screeched In” and become an Honorary Newfoundlander. You can do this at a number of bars around the island – Good places for this are Christian’s Bar or  O’Reilly’s Pub on George Street . Only people who are true Come From Away’s (Not born in Newfoundland & Labrador) are eligible for this time honoured tradition! 
  24. Get some Molasses Raisin Bread – my favourite thing! A slice of this toasted with butter is, in my opinion, the best NL souvenir option of all! The best option (unless you’re going to Jackson’s Arm and can get some from my Aunt Bonnie) is at Tilt House Bakery at 1124 Portugal Cove Road (about 5 minutes past the St. John’s airport turn-off).   Call before you go to see if they have any available.  Other places to buy it are Breens Deli  or Coleman’s or Bidgood’s stores.

Where to eat in St. John’s 

  1. St. John’s Fish Exchange – Great seafood! 351 Water St. St John’s
  2. Mallard Cottage – beautiful restored cottage in Quidi Vidi Gut, a fishing village right in centre of town.   You need reservations for Mallard Cottage. , 8 Barrow’s Road, St. John’s. They have a great brunch too.   Amazing little place, which you can follow by a quick walk around the fishing village for great water views, and potentially a tour of craft brewery Quidi Vidi Brewery.
  3. Merchant Tavern.  Located 291 Water Street. Merchant Tavern is also owned by world renowned Chef Jeremy Charles (only chef to win Best New Restaurant in Canada from En Route Magazine twice, as well as many other awards) this is the casual little sister to the famous Raymond’s restaurant.
  4. Portage – new restaurant at 128 Water Street (opening later in June 2022). Owned by Ross Larkin, former Executive chef at Raymonds and winner of Top Chef Canada and Celeste May, former Pastry chef at Raymonds and 2019 winner of best Pastry Chef in Canada. Cozy setting, food served family style.  Can’t wait to try this it is sure to be a winner!
  5. Chinched Bistro: Smaller place with a small but great menu of local inspired cuisine. Mid-range pricing.
  6. Terre at the Alt Hotel.
  7. Rocket Bakery and Fresh Food: . 272 Water Street.  Little bakery and café with fresh food. Only open for take out right now I think, but hopefully the cafe is opening again soon.
  8. Saltwater Restaurant: . 320 Water Street. Great seafood. Dinner Only (opens 5 pm)
  9. Hungry Heart Café: . 145 Military Road (The famous Rawlin’s Cross). Ii you are going on a walking tour of ‘old St. John’s’ this would be a great destination. Fabulous café with fresh, yummy food. And all staff are previously vulnerable or marginalized people who are being trained for re-entry into the workforce. Great food and a great cause.
  10. Gypsy Tea Room Casual restaurant in the historic Murray Premises in Downtown NL, 315 Water Street.
  11. Blue on Water. Located at 319 Water Street. Great for brunch
  12. Piatto Pizzeria: . This is a really great wood-fired pizza restaurant. It is a sit-down restaurant and very good, doesn’t take reservations though, so in peak periods could be a wait.
  13. Adelaide Oyster House, Lively (noisy), Tapas style with great beers. Ranked on Enroute’s best new restaurants list. Only takes reservations for groups of 6 or more – so some times quite lined up. 334 Water Street.
  14. The Rooms Café. Rooms Art Gallery and Museum.  Open for Lunch only. BEST view in St. John’s walking distance to the brier depending on the weather. 
  15. Basho Restaurant and Lounge: Japanese and Sushi. 283 Water Street 
  16. India Gate. Great Indian Food 286 Duckworth Street. 
  17. Bannerman Brewing – great Brew pub and coffee house, with a great patio and pub snacks. Café in the morning, brew-pub in afternoon. Bit ‘mainland hipster’ but fun none the less,

19 -27  Fish & Chips (& Pub Food)

The great Fish and Chips Debate – the biggest argument in St. John’s – is where do you get the best Fish and Chips? First thing to know is when indulging you need to order it with ‘dressing and gravy’ the dressing is actually bread stuffing like you would put in a roast turkey. Sounds gross but it’s delicious. If you want to be like a local you say “gimme a two piece fish, chips, dressing and gravy please.” – The diet version is to order a ‘one piece’ but believe me there’s nothing diet about it! If you see “F&C” on a menu or hear someone talking about “Fee & Chee” that is fish and chips in shorthand. All F&C in NL is cod – unless it’s from some uppity chef trying to impress you!

19. Duke of Duckworth our vote for best Fish and Chips in St. John’s is Duke of Duckworth (well except for Chafe’s Landing in Petty Harbour as described in Cape Spear Section above), which is a little pub in a laneway between Water St. and Duckworth Street. If you’ve ever seen Republic of Doyle this is the pub in the series. 325 Duckworth Street, McMurdo’s Lane.

20. Chafe’s Landing FABULOUS! In Petty Harbour (see Cape Spear listing above)

21. QVFCFood truck in Quidi Vidi (next to Quidi Vidi Brewery). I haven’t tried it yet myself, but I am told it’s awesome!   

22. O’Reilly’s Pub . 13 George Street. On famous George Street. Live Irish Music just about every night, including often Fergus O’Byrne who is one of the original members of the famous band Ryan’s Fancy.

23. Yellow Belly Brewery: . Modern style brewpub with great house beers, great atmosphere. 288 Water Street (right on the corner of George St.), fun atmosphere (somewhat loud), great fish and chips and other traditional pub fare.

24. Shamrock City. . 40 Water Street, Live music.

25. Tongue & Cheek at O’Brien’s Boat Tours in Bay Bulls. Fabulous Fish and Chips with fresh caught fish – careful the servings are huge! And you still need to leave room for the fabulous desserts.

26. Quidi Vidi Charters – Amazing experience – see listing above in things to do in St. John’s. 

27. Johnny & Mae’s Food Truck – Incredible, very hearty, very creative food truck.  Open Seasonally only.  But if you aren’t there when they’re open you can just visit their instagram and drool!

Stop 2: Trinity

two skerwink copy

Trinity (about 2 ½ hour drive from St. John’s) gorgeous fishing community with beautiful protected harbour and lots of restored homes.  Note that there are two towns of Trinity in NL. You are looking for Trinity, Trinity Bay which is on the Discovery Trail.  Make sure you’re going to the right one.  Trinity is a renowned place with a lovely harbour and many amazing restored heritage homes, with terrific things to see and do –  truly a spectacular place to spend a few days. 

Places to Stay in Trinity:

  • Artisan Inn , beautiful Inn, also has vacation homes and a wonderful restaurant the Twine Loft.
  • Eriksen Premises
  • Fishers Loft (actually in Port Rexton, next town) – beautiful Inn with great restaurant
  • Ada’s place, hosted by the wonderful artist Elizabeth Burry.
  • Rosewood Suites 
  • Compass B&B
  • Goose Cove Retreat – an amazing place to stay if you’re travelling with a group.
  • You can also stay a little further afield in Bonavista  (about 45 minutes further along the same highway as Trinity and another beautiful town).  Bonavista has a beautiful waterfront and is full of history – it is believed to be where John Cabot landed when he first landed in North America in 1497! Here are some choices in Bonavista:

Things to Do in Trinity:

Trinity Pageant by Rising Tide TheatreTrinity Pageant wonderful outdoor play reenacting life in NL fishing village (requires walking through the town following the actors. Trinity Festival will also have various plays, they also have an awesome dinner theatre twice a week.

Trinity Historical walking tour with Kevin Toope, (2 hours), meet at Kevin’s House, Clinch’s lane, Phone: 709-464-3723. Meet and everyone can go, no advance booking required.

HikingThe Skerwink Trail! must do!

Other hiking:

Boat tour on a zodiac!

Various Museums in Trinity – there are a number of museums throughout the town

Day Trip to Bonavista:

Combine the following for a lovely day trip from Trinity to Elliston to Upper Amherst cove to Bonavista. The total drive is only about an hour each way, but it’s a beautiful coastal drive with lots to do.

Elliston Sealers Memorial – beautiful museum and statue commemorating one of NL’s great disasters. Very well done (approx. 30 min drive from Trinity).

Elliston is also a great place to see Newfoundland’s famous Puffins. Puffins are usually in the area May through September, but the viewing early in the season is usually more dependable. It is known as the closest land viewing of Puffins on the island.  Elliston has also declared itself the “Root Cellar Capital of the World” and the root cellars located throughout the town are actually really cool to see as you walk around.

Bonavista Social ClubNOTE: Bonavista Social Club is apparently closed for 2022 season.  in Upper Amherst Cove. Lovely place for lunch, best pizza on the planet!

Bonavista town – the town of Bonavista has a beautiful harbour, and lovely museums (Check out the Ryan Premises and MockBeggar Plantation), and many restored houses to see.

When in Bonavista visit The Dungeons Provincial Park. Really pretty hiking that takes you to some wonderful sea caves. The entrance to the park is near the Cape Bonavista Lighthouse which is also really pretty.

Where to eat in Trinity Area

Twine Loft:

Eriksen Premises:

Two Whales Coffee Shop (Port Rexton, next town over Great food!)

Bonavista Social Club (Upper Amherst Cove)

Fishers Loft

Mifflin’s Tea Room, Bonavista

Port Rexton Brewing

Stop 3: Greenspond/Newtown/Wesleyville (New-Wes-Valley) 

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Places to Stay in Greenspond/Newtown              

The Old salt BoxCogreat old Salt Box Homes restored into amazing vacation homes in a few towns, including Greenspond and Musgrave Harbour

Sprindrift by the Sea in Musgrave Harbour

 Audrey’s Tickle Bliss (heritage home at Barbour Historic Site in Newtown)

Things to Do in Greenspond/Newtown/Wesleyville (New-Wes-Valley):

Basically if you drive in any direction you will have a beautiful drive, with lots of places to stop, get out and enjoy the amazing coast. Greenspond to Carmanville is particularly a great drive to see icebergs in season.

Barbour Living Heritage Museum – FABULOUS place to visit. A number of restored traditional buildings, fabulous way to get a feeling for traditional fishing life in NL.   One of my favourite places to go. And make sure to book in to the dinner theatre if you are going to be there on a Wednesday night in August. Also check into other programming such as cooking experiences etc.

Bonavista North Museum + Gallery in Wesleyville.  Currently under reconstruction so showing closed for now – but is currently being totally redone and I imagine will be reopened for summer 2022. Here’s a story on the renovation – looks beautiful doesn’t it?

Great Beaches along this shore  – We love the beach at Windmill Bight Provincial Park in Lumsden, and the beaches in Musgrave Harbour. Sandy Beaches are rare in NL so make sure to enjoy these while you are in the area.

Places to eat in Greenspond/Newtown (New-Wes-Valley):

Ida’s place Tea Room in Greenspond

Old Shoppe Restaurant Barbour Living Heritage Museum

Stop 4: Twillingate

twillingate canstockphoto73732901

Places to Stay in Twillingate              

 The following website has all the best accommodations Any of the accommodations are fine.

 Above the Tickle” and “Amber Retreat” are both restored homes, you would have them to yourself. Very nice. My next choice would be the Anchor Inn Hotel and Suites. We stayed there and it was clean and lovely. They have lovely two bedroom kitchenette suites. Ask for ocean view suite. The Inn is also fine, but I think it can be noisy as they have a great restaurant/bar there.

The Old salt BoxCogreat old Salt Box Homes restored into amazing vacation homes in a few towns, including Twillingate

Sunshine Inn  – Four star hotel with ocean views.

Harbour Lights InnBeautiful Restored heritage Inn and cute cottages on the water.

Things to Do in Twillingate

 Basically if you drive in any direction for Twillingate you will have a beautiful drive, with lots of places to stop, get out and enjoy the amazing coast. Here’s a site with some suggested trips

In Twillingate itself you should drive out to the lighthouse, it’s beautiful.

The Split Peas, This is a singing troupe, which does a show at night at the old Orange Lodge, 118 Main Street, Twillingate. The show is entertaining –  but the  Toutons with homemade jam served on the break are awesome!

A must do experience in Twillingate is Dinner on the Beach with Experience Twillingate.

Boat Building Museum – The Isles Wooden Boat Builders

Prime Berth Fishing Heritage Museum

From Twillingate you can take a day trip over to Fogo Island. But remember there is a ferry to get to Fogo Island, so you’ll want to check the schedule closely and there can be a line-up to get on the ferry so you need to get there early. You can also overnight on Fogo Island if you want, and there are lots of AirBnbs, BnB’s and also homes from The Old Salt BoxCo. Or, of course if you really, really splurge for a once in a lifetime experience,  you can stay at the world renowned Fogo Island Inn.

For ferry schedule to Fogo Island visit

Places to eat in Twillingate:

You will want to be careful to avoid the ‘deep-fried’ only diners! Here are some great options:

Stop 5 Gros Morne – the one you’ve been dreaming about from those tourism commercials!!

gros morne canstockphoto33410404

Places to stay in Gros Morne area

Camping at the National Park of course.

Also tons of other accommodations in Rocky Harbour, Bonne Bay, Norris Point, Cow Head, Neddies Harbour etc. available through AirBnb or Expedia.

 Things to do in Gros Morne area         

Places to eat in Gros Morne

 Main thing to note for Gros Morne is to get your groceries in Deer Lake BEFORE you drive up to Gros Morne. There are grocery stores in Gros Morne where you can get staples, but fresh meats and vegetables are in very short supply and only get delivered up the coast once a week.

With respect to restaurants, again, it takes some work to avoid the deep fryer. And some of the restaurants have strange closing days. But there are definitely gems to be had. Here are some of our favourites:

Chanterelles (at Sugar Hill Inn): Main St, Norris Point

Java Jacks restaurant Rocky Harbour,

Parson’s Rocky Harbour Restaurant

The Old Loft, Woody Point

The Black Spruce Norris Point at Neddies Harbour Inn (more expensive, really good)

Stop 6? L’anse Aux Meadows (Viking Landing Excursion)

sunset l'anse aux meadows

**Note about L’anse aux Meadows*** Many people love to go to L’Anse aux Meadows to see the Viking Landing. One of the most debated points in Newfoundland is whether this is ‘worth the drive’. Personally our family loves to visit there so I recommend it, but it is a 5-hour drive each way North of Gros Morne, so an additional overnight trip, and the only thing to see there is the Viking Landing and a surprisingly exceptional restaurant The Norseman. If you do go make sure to take the coastal highway drive rather than the Main highway, as the views along the drive are amazing too.

Places to stay in L’anse aux Meadows

Places to eat in L’anse aux Meadows

There is a really exceptional high quality restaurant in L’anse aux meadows with some of the best seafood you’ll have. Pricey though. The Norseman:

Good, Fresh food at The daily Catch, 112 Ship’s Cove Road, St. Lunaire-Griquet., 709-623-2295

 Other Information:

The Weather / What to Wear:   Many places use the saying “If you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes” but in my opinion NL must have invented it.   You can truly have 4 (or more) seasons in a day and because of that even the weather network and environment Canada forecasts can’t fully prepare you. When the wind turns around in the North Atlantic, the weather in St. John’s can change in minutes. So it really is a place to layer and be prepared.

No matter what time of year you are visiting you will want to have a good rain and wind barrier layer, and comfortable boots with a non-slip sole just in case the weather turns nasty.

All restaurants are pretty much come as you are – you can dress as you like, but don’t worry if you only have casual clothes – nobody will turn you away or snub you for being too casual.

Additional Tourist Information

 St. John’s Tourism Web Site:

Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism Web site:

The locals & Their Language:  Newfoundlanders are a hospitable crowd and they will all love to have you visit. Feel free to ask anyone for help or directions – they’ll all want to help.

I thought you’d enjoy some local language tips – as the people don’t come with sub-titles ;-). Just one word of advice… two words you should never use are ‘Newfie’ and “b’y”. Newfie because many Newfoundlanders find it offensive. Many don’t of course, and you will hear lots of Newfoundlanders refer to themselves as such. But just as many find it highly offensive and there is no way to predict who feels which way. It really is one of those words that you can only get away with saying about yourself – so if you’re not one, better to not use the word at all.

B’y is not the same in terms of potentially offending anyone, I just recommend you don’t use it because almost no one who is not from Newfoundland can use it in the right context and with the right accent – and the locals will truly cringe if you try to use it!

Newfoundland – is pronounced nothing like it spells. The emphasis is on the LAND. So it rhymes with “UnderSTAND”, and “place so GRAND”. Both the first and last d’s are soft, and the found is kind of half way between fun and fin. In any case – you will have lots of tutors, as everyone there will make it their life’s mission to help you say it correctly.

Newfoundland and Labrador is one province, but rarely referred to together.

Newfoundland is part of Atlantic Canada, but not the Maritimes, I don’t recommend referring to anyone as a Maritimer or saying you are in the Maritimes – they might just send you back on the next boat.

Don’t worry about jaywalking, it is a way of life in Newfoundland and the cars will usually stop to let you cross. But if you’re not paying attention they may ‘Barmp’ their horn at you.

Some other words and phrases to know:

Baymen – someone from anywhere in Newfoundland except St. John’s

Best Kind! – Great!

Birch Broom in the fits – disheveled

Buddy – Anybody you can’t remember the name of

Cinch – this is something that is easy or quick. Don’t worry I’ll be up to Mile One in a cinch.

Crooked – if someone says you’re crooked, don’t worry it just means your grumpy.

Come from Away – Someone not born in Newfoundland

Contrary means the same thing as Crooked, but only if pronounced con-TRAIR-ee.

Dark & Dirty – the famous drink of Newfoundlanders, Rum & Cola always with Dark Rum and usually with Pepsi!

Double Dark and Dirty – Double rum and Pepsi

Douse – soak with water.   Sopping – really wet. “It’s pouring out. I got doused with water and now I’m Sopping Wet.”

Go on b’y! – You sure?

Go on wich ya! – You’re lying or joking

Fine Day on the Clothes or Fine Day on the Paint– nice weather

Get a rise out of – (No it’s not dirty) it means someone is responding to teasing. “Sorry ‘bout that, I was only saying it to get a rise out of ya”

God Bless your cotton socks! – Thank you

Gut Founded – Hungry

Havin a time! – Partying

Havin a scoff! – Eating

Havin a scuff! – Dancing

I dies at you! – You’re funny

Jumpin’ Dyin! – Good Grief

Lard jumpin dyin!  – F*ck

Lassy – Molasses. This is THE Newfoundland Syrup. You’ll see it served on the most amazing things.

Lord Tunderin! – Good Grief

Luh! – Look There! and also I told you so.

Me ducky, Me Love, or Me Darling – term of endearment, but used with complete strangers!

N’ar one – none

Now the Once or The Once – soon

Ow’s ya gettin on b’y? – How are you doing (to a male)

Ow’s ya getting on maid? – how are you doing (to a femaleProper Ting B’y – you’re doing the right thing, that’s the right idea

Stay where you’re to til I comes where you’re at – you stay there until I get there.

The once – very soon. “You go on ahead, I’ll be there da once”

Thingamabob or chummy – anything you can’t remember the name of!

Townie – Someone from St. John’s

Whadda ya at? – How are you doing?

Where you longs too? – Where are you from?

Who’s your father? Or “Who owns you”? – Where are you from and how did you get to be here

Wicked – Really Great

Yes b’y! – Yes

You don’t say? – You sure?

Building Teams for True Engagement

Recently I’ve been speaking with a number of people about philosophies of building teams.  In these discussions I’ve been sharing ideas of the elements that I believe are critical for leaders if they wish to build engaged teams and be truly giving leaders.  I should note that I definitely do not consider myself perfect at this. I, like most, am on a leadership journey and these are the elements which I continually hone in my leadership approach.

In building and leading a team I have found there to be four key elements. I believe that if you pay attention to each of these elements with each of your team members you will build a team that complements each other, delivers great results, and is truly engaged in the business success.

leading for engagement


1. Can they do the job? 

The first element is the one that it is really table-stakes. If your team-members are to be successful and engaged they need to be in roles where they have the aptitude, skills and talents to deliver on the objectives. As a leader you need to ensure that your team-members are already fully capable to deliver or have a development plan to fill in any gaps.  I think most leaders pay attention to this one, but unfortunately many stop here… yet it is really only a beginning.

2. What do they bring to the team?

The evidence of the benefits of team diversity is clear. And in my experience this is the piece that begins to lift the whole team to higher performance.  When adding someone to your team or coaching a current member, it is critical to be thoughtful and open in discussing what they bring to the team.  Are they able to compliment other team members?  Are they open and giving in peer-mentoring and sharing their views and thoughts so that all aspects of an opportunity are explored? Have you as a leader ensured that your team is diverse in all aspects? These are all important considerations that you need to explore in order to ensure maximum results from your team.

3. What are they trying to accomplish for themselves?

This might be the most overlooked element by many leaders. And yet I believe it is critical to ensuring your team is fully engaged and performing at the highest level.  It is only by understanding what each of  your team members is seeking, and working hard to ensure they can get it, that you can unlock the ‘discretionary contribution’ of your team and where innovation and creativity truly flourishes.  Do you know what motivates each of your team?  What are their career and personal aspirations and ambitions? What do they have a passion for?  What makes them feel truly inspired?  Ask these questions and dig really deep on this. If you set your people up to achieve their personal goals on a deeply meaningful level you will find they will go beyond all your expectations.

4.  What do they need from you?

As a leader you need to get past your own ambitions and truly seek to understand how you can serve your team.  You need to talk openly with each of your team members to understand what they need more of from you, and what they need less of from you.  You need to be open about your strengths and your weaknesses and truly seek to eradicate your blind spots.  This is the most difficult piece, because you must have a true place of trust with your team before you can get honest feedback and dialogue on this one.

Your team needs to trust that you are there to help them be successful, and they must believe that you are acting from a giving place before they will have honest dialogue with you.  That said, if you invest the time in the other three areas and continually ask this fourth question, you can get to a place where you will get honest feedback and have wonderful dialogues on how you can better serve your team.

And remember.. feedback is a gift.


I would love to hear your comments and ideas…


Remarks to Atlantic Director Education Event November 2, 2017

Remarks to Atlantic Director Education Event November 2, 2017

Last week I had the great pleasure of speaking to a conference at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.  The event was for Atlantic Canadian Alumni of the Directors Education Program from the Institute of Corporate Directors, and was on the topic of Governance and Disruption.

There were a lot of ‘big questions’ being debated in the room, particularly around the paradoxes that are arising in being a Director in times of such uncertainty and change.   The role of management and of Directors is changing, and every firm needs to think about how they are managing the interrelated areas of Innovation, Disruption, Customer Behaviour Change, and Technology Evolution – and the impacts of all of these on both the strategy and risk profile of a firm.

It was extremely refreshing to see such energy around the evolution of good governance! Bravo to the Institute of Corporate Directors, The Sobey School of Business, and the Atlantic Canada Directors Education Alumni for putting together such a great event!

My session in particular was around the steps that Directors need to take to ensure good  strategy and good governance in these times of disruption.   I thought I’d share my slides from the event here…obviously there was a lot of dialogue that went with the slides – so feel free to ask me any questions that you may have…



Three things every business person should be thinking about for 2015

Three things every business person should be thinking about for 2015

three ideas dartboard

I always feel like September is the start of the new year. Even if you are in one of the many organizations with a fiscal year end at December 31, it is in the fall of the year that you are planning, finalizing budgets, and making decisions as to what initiatives you will pursue next year.

So here is my list of three things every business person should be thinking about for 2015.

1. What’s your content Play?

As we move into 2015 we really are seeing a real change in the appeal of your communications. Advertising in its traditional sense is obsolete, and what moves the needle is relevant content that builds connectedness with your customers and potential customers.

People no longer want to be given a pitch, and they are now adept at ignoring your traditional approaches –  and I include in this their ability to ignore your traditional digital approaches! People want immersive, interactive experiences that bring them into the story and build a deep connection. You need video and interactivity, and you need it now, and you need it working on every type of screen.

The good news is that with the rising wave of content distribution engines, social media interfaces, and the interactive evolution of traditional advertising mediums – there is opportunity for businesses large and small to engage in these deep meaningful experiences with customers.

You need to think of yourself as a publisher, friend and trusted confidante for your customers. Make sure you know what your opportunities are here, and that you are thinking hard about how your messages truly engage, inform, inspire and entertain your audiences.

2. The rise of deep data

Despite all the brain-numbing hype over big data in the last couple of years, it really is time to think about how you are going to use deep data to help your business. The reason I prefer the term “Deep Data” vs. “Big Data” is that it is focused on the true insight that can be gleaned from all the information around you – going deep on the pieces that are important. Big data is an overwhelming concept and for most businesses it is impossible to know where to start. In Deep Data what is important is to truly understand those specific data sets that are critical to how your target customers live, think and feel.

Companies who use analytics to identify and go deep on the few true business drivers will be the ones able to use data to make real change and seize new opportunities. And I believe they will find these opportunities much quicker than the companies that spin up gargantuan algorithms with an incomprehensible sea of variables.

3. How will you win the war for hearts and minds?

Much has been written on the emerging war for talent, and also on the unique aspects of engaging the millenials in your workplace. I think there is a bigger issue at play here. People of all ages, tutored by the millenials in their lives, are becoming innately more social and more cynical than ever before.

With respect to the rise of social media and mobile connectedness, people are now driven by instant feedback, instant “coaching” from their wider community of influence, and open dialogue on every topic. How will you build a culture and action mindset in your organization that a) feeds this new expectation of employees; b) captures the advantage of this new connectedness with your customers; and c) opens your organization to true, instant feedback from all your stakeholders?

With respect to the increasing cynicism of both your employees and customers, how are you incorporating this reality into planning? People are not willing to take your claims at face value, and are more intelligent, educated and media savvy than ever before. How are you amping up the proof and trusted support network for your claims? The smartest companies in 2015 will use the power of peer networks, compelling evidentiary content, and open dialogues with employees and customers to close the deal faster, even in the face of a cynical audience.

There is definitely a war for talent, but there is a bigger war for the hearts and minds of everyone who counts in the success of your business.

Thinking about your content play, the rise of deep data and winning the war for hearts and minds are three things I think you should be thinking about. What are your thoughts of trends to consider in 2015? I’d love to hear from you.

Take Care,


If you really don’t want to know, don’t ask: when customer feedback research fails.

120758221I was recently making a purchase and the salesperson told me that I would be getting a follow-up email asking for feedback on my experience. He told me that he would really appreciate if I could rate him ‘10’ on all items (out of 10). He told me that anything less than a 10 is seen as failure at his company and it really badly affects his performance review and pay.

At first I thought this was the reaction of one overzealous salesperson. So I asked other people who I knew had done business with this company, with other reps and other locations. Every person I spoke with told me they had gotten the same heartfelt request from their sales person.

In my mind there are three main objectives of customer feedback gathering:

  1. To find out if there is something that has been missed with the customer so that you can act on it immediately,
  2. To learn what elements of your product or service experience are important to your customer, and
  3. To learn where you are excellent (protect that), good (improve that), and falling down (improve that quickly)

A company that has created a system where the entire organization is incented to get a certain score on every question, whether it is true or not, is failing at these objectives. In this situation I would suggest that the customer feedback gathering investment is not only useless, it is likely harmful and creating a company centric vs. customer centric stance in the team.

Communicating and sharing customer feedback with the front-line is critical. All employees need to be congratulated and rewarded for doing great and they equally need to know how they can do better. The key is to be able to use feedback throughout your organization in a way that builds a relentless curiosity for the truth of the customers’ feedback, and a passion for improving.   Doing this is tricky, but it absolutely can be done.

Building an honest and constructive feedback process is worth your energy, time and leadership investment. Don’t be seduced by the score – instead be relentless in truly learning how you are making your customers feel, and where you can improve your true results.

Driving Brand Influence in a Networked World

Driving Brand Influence in a Networked World

The Internet of Things is taking over the buzzosphere! The Internet of Things (IoT) has taken its place alongside Cloud and Big Data as the seasoning that gets tossed into just about every tech talk these days… so I couldn’t help but toss them into my blog!

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that cloud, big data and IoT are actually tech concepts that every business leader should be getting to know and thinking about.  Why? First, it is inevitable that these concepts will become important in your business. Second, few businesses will incorporate them in a way that creates true customer value and sustainable advantage. Third, the businesses that find breakthrough ways to apply these concepts will be the market leaders of the future.

So please make sure you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of what they mean, and that you’re thinking of how to incorporate them in your business strategy going forward. And also think hard about how these trends will come together in your customers’ lives. For want of a better term, you can call the point where these trends come together the Internet of Everyone. Consider a world where all data is available (the cloud), curated in real time (big data) and shared between devices constantly (IoT).

internet of everyone graphic

Most growth strategists are already considering how to incorporate various elements of these technology trends into sales and marketing strategy. Whether it is considering how to collect and curate all the data becoming available about customers; or understanding how to use machine-to-machine and location-based service opportunities in messaging strategy; or determining how to use the power of IoT in the distribution supply chain- the options for incorporating technology into marketing tactics are endless.

I believe it is very  important to have a clear and articulated strategy around how the use of these technology opportunities will impact brand strength. How will your ability to exert influence on your customers change?

In order to examine the potential impact on your brand’s influence, consider how your planned use of technology will impact each of the key dimensions of your brand in your customers’ minds. Think carefully about how to make the internet of everyone positively affect your brand dimensions, rather than putting them at risk.

The opportunity is ripe to be the company that uses the internet of everyone to build advantage – and that is surely the path to win. But remember, in this new era of interconnectedness, your every move is amplified. It has never been more important to look at every opportunity through the lens of brand impact.

Your thoughts?

Note:    If you have not yet completed a brand map to determine the unique influence levers of your brand, you can start with the five key influence variables as defined by Ipsos Reid: 1. Trust, 2. Engagement, 3. Leading Edge, 4. Corporate Citizenship; and 5. Presence.  (If you’d like to read more about Ipsos Reid’s definition of these influence factors visit this link to the Ipsos Reid Most Influential Brands in Canada 2013 report )


Are you a label maker?

ImageRecently I was called for a reference and was asked for the “one word that best described the candidate”. One word?, I thought. How can I possibly encapsulate all the power and potential of this person in just one word? And worse, once I say whatever word I pick, will it be affixed in the other person’s mind forever? What if I get it wrong?

I don’t know if we’re all born with an overzealous need to organize everything, but I have noticed we seem to have a keen need to label ourselves, and the people around us.

Through our lives we collect a series of labels. These labels are hewn from inputs from all over: descriptions put on report cards by first grade teachers; off-handed comments by teenage friends; feedback from your first work supervisor; a comment thrown out in a heated discussion with a loved one… the sources are endless!

We seem to latch on to these labels and they frame a basis for how we see ourselves. Sometimes they even drive our behaviour in terms of prescribing how we act in the future. In many ways we are what we believe about ourselves, and equally dangerous we see others in the context of the labels that we have heard affixed to them.

These labels put opaque lenses on our observations, colouring our impressions of what we see in others. And they can actually be self-fulfilling prophecies that influence the opportunities people are given, and the interpretation of their work.

In building teams it is important that we not encapsulate our team members in labels that limit their ability to stretch and to bring the full extent of their contribution to the table. Putting labels on people, or on ourselves, allows us to organize the team into a nice little arrangement in our mind – yet it also restricts the full range of contribution that the team members can bring.

By labelling someone with a functional expertise you run the risk of ignoring his or her great ideas outside of that specific area. By labelling someone with a certain personality trait you ignore other parts of his or her personality or needs. By labelling someone with a certain competency you can ignore the many other competencies that they have, or that they can develop if given the opportunity. Similarly, when you label yourself you restrict your innovation and your willingness to step out of your ‘label zone’ and stretch yourself to your maximum.

This call was a gentle reminder to myself to avoid the trap of assigning neat little labels on myself or on others…because nothing is more limiting than that.


Searching for balance? Keep your head where your feet are

126409852 I was asked recently to share on my blog some comments I have made over the years to people seeking the extremely elusive “work-life balance”.   When my kids were really young I would often get asked “How do you do it? How do you balance young kids, community work, and your job?” The first thing I should say is that I often found this question startling. My immediate thought would be “how can they possibly think I’m balancing everything?”. Many days back then I felt like I had long given up trying to keep my head above water, and was fighting to keep just one nostril exposed to let me breathe!  Happily I did learn how to achieve that elusive feeling of balance, at least the balance that is right for me and, for what it may be worth, here is my advice.

1. Let go the Myth of Perfect Balance I have always felt that trying to find that perfect ‘balance’ is setting yourself up for failure. Chasing this myth immediately sets one side of your life facing off against the other. There you are desperately seeking that magical fulcrum that will make the pieces hang in perfect harmony. Not so! Think instead of your life as a rich tapestry, and you have to weave all the pieces together into the beautiful picture that is uniquely right for you. And the picture in your tapestry cannot be the same as anyone else’s, because it is built on choices that are uniquely your own. Will you marry? Will you have children? If so, how many? What community and volunteer organizations will you be part of? What friends will you spend time with? How will you invest in your own health and wellness? What career will you love and choose to pursue? The secret to ‘balancing’ all these choices is to think of them as selections that you are making to weave together in the one story that is uniquely your own, the one picture that is uniquely satisfying to you.

2. Keep your head where your feet are Be very mindful of which piece of the tapestry you are working on at a given time, and be very focused in that moment. When my children were really little I started to feel really unbalanced… I was spending all my time at work worrying about home and all my time at home worrying at work. I quickly realized that I needed to learn to be focused in the moment. The mantra I developed for myself was ‘keep your head where your feet are”. When you are at work – stay focused on work, and when you are at home  – the same rule applies! There is always something else that you COULD be doing – the key is to focus on what you ARE doing. I don’t know any greater feeling of imbalance than having your head and feet in two different places. Training yourself to be fully present goes a long way to driving balance in your life.

3. Balance is a marathon  Remember that balance is a marathon. You don’t need to have everything perfectly balanced every day! What is important is that overall – when you look back on the weeks, months and years – you feel balanced, even if there were many days that you didn’t!  Moments of imbalance are normal.  However,  if you are feeling that you’ve been going too long with only that one nostril poking over the water and you’re about to go under – don’t panic. Instead climb to the nearest shore (may I suggest a spa day or personal retreat?), take a breath, reflect on the choices you are making, and see how you can adjust your personal story to make it more what you are seeking.

All this to say, this is what I found worked for me. The biggest message in the story of balance is that it is a truly personal journey. Give yourself permission to make the choices and take the actions that work for you. Don’t apologise…this is your life you’re living.



Mind the Gap! Don’t forget the TMO

Transition (Oxford Dictionary)

tran·si·tion, tranˈziSHən,-ˈsiSHən/

noun: The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

verb:  Undergo or cause to undergo a process or period of transition.

It seems every organization, whether corporate, non-profit, or public sector,  is fixated on change these days. “Transformation” programs abound, and adaptability to change is table stakes for success in any role. That said, I often observe that not enough attention is paid to the transition phase. We obsess on the CMO (current mode of operation,) and the FMO (future mode of operation) – but spend too little time on the TMO (transition mode of operation).

I would argue that the TMO is a key phase that needs to be planned, managed, and harvested if you wish to have the best results in any change initiative.   In fact it is the TMO that dictates the success of your transformation initiative. If the TMO is too uncomfortable or poorly designed your organization will not have the ability to let go of their old ways and adopt your new process or design.

I met an author, Gail Blanke, a number of years ago who had written a great book on life changes “Between Trapezes – Flying into a new life with the greatest of ease”.   I loved the analogy she painted of change through the example of circus performers. She told me that the thing that people often fail to think about when thinking of trapeze artists is that they have to let go of the bar they are hanging on BEFORE they grab the new bar. For that tiny instant they are holding on to nothing at all. What courage it takes to let go of something and be completely helpless for that split second before you grab the next bar!

If you are managing a change initiative, have you spent enough time preparing your organization for that period of transition? Are you prepared for the anxiety and fear in that moment when the organization has to let go of the old way of doing things, but has not yet fully grabbed the new mode? Are you ready to help people understand what is required during transition, communicate their fears and support each other? I would suggest that all of these things are critical for a successful change program.

     In short, when driving transformation – Mind the Gap!

When Clicks are the Mortar


Much has been written about “Clicks and Mortar” or “Bricks and Clicks” Strategy, yet I continue to be amazed by how many companies are not integrating their physical and on-line presence.   These companies are seemingly unaware of how their divergent presence is costing them.  Costing them in terms of near-term sales loss, but more importantly costing them in terms of missed opportunity to build loyalty with their customers.

Rather than think of your online presence as a complementary or differential experience to your physical interactions with your customer – think of both of these pieces as essential components of your complete end-to-end experience.  Fixate on how customers learn, buy and receive your products or services across all elements of your business.  Make the “clicks” the mortar that holds your entire customer experience together.

Tips for making your clicks your customer experience mortar:

  1. Consider how your online and physical experiences can complement each other.  Does your online experience make people want to visit your store? Does your store use online support to expand selection and inventory options?
  2. Make your brand consistent across your online and physical experiences.  This goes beyond the logo and colours that you use. Does your employee training and scripting use the same ‘voice’ as your online presence?  Have you clearly articulated the promise of your brand, and critically assessed how both your physical and online environments showcase and support this promise?
  3. Make navigation between the online and physical experience seamless. Don’t make your customers choose whether they deal with you in one channel or the other. Rather, measure yourself on how many of your customers use both, and on how easy you make it to move between them.

The key is to make sure you are thinking about your customer experience comprehensively.  Customers are demanding, digitally savvy and thinking about all their experiences with you when deciding whether to build their relationship with you further – make sure you’re ready!