Life after the Overpass: The Existential Crisis of a Born-and-bred CBSer

"People from CBS will always be quasi-baywops and almost-townies."

Ah, CBS. The Ceebs. Storied stomping grounds of the Kelligrews rat lady, the Soiree (sans accent) and Bergs Famous Ice Cream.

It is a land forever doomed to straddle Newfoundland’s bay-town divide. Near enough for an RNC detachment and a trip down George and back before sunrise, but too far to catch the Metrobus into town for work in the morning. We are a people lost in this province’s primordial identity crisis. To bay, or not to bay?

People from CBS will always be quasi-baywops and almost-townies. Wannabes in everyone’s mind.
Then again, if I were an A1B with a summer home in Topsail, CBS might as well be on the far side of the moon.

According to townie logic, CBS sits just beyond the Kenmount Road-Topsail Road overpass – as culturally significant a piece of roadwork as I ever knew – and therefore belongs to that great expanse of unseen boonies collectively known as “the bay.”

That said, if I were making the trip in from Pointe Verde or Petite Forte for the seasonal Costco re-stock and passed bedroom-town CBS moments before coming upon the Donovans, I might see the Ceebs as just another appendage of the COSJ, too. What’s the difference when you’re that close?

Tackling the identity crisis as a born-and-bred CBSer (CBS-ian? CBS-ite? Conception Bay Southerner?) is a little trickier, however. There’s somewhat more of a nuance to fitting yourself into a box than to categorizing others. But with the Great Overpass – that vestige of townie superiority – recently rebuilt, the time for some serious CBS soul-searching is nigh.

The only black and white things in CBS are tossed cigarette butts and washed-out Go Bags (slight exaggeration). I’d rather see the CBS identity on a spectrum. Imagine utter townie on one end and total bayperson on the other. We’re someplace in the middle.

There’s a few factors to weigh – time spent in the city, accent, and affinity for Fox jackets among them. Really though, it boils down to how you see the place you live.

Is CBS your conscious escape from St. John’s or your rest stop in between city jaunts? Do you shrink from telling townies you’re from CBS or do you distance yourself from the city whenever a bayman says you basically live in town?

It’s up to you. Because “town” and “bay” are relative terms in an existential no man’s land like CBS. Everyone is a bit of both. Rat ladies included.

More from Patrick Butler

A Home Away from Home: Patrick Butler on NL Pubs Abroad

Patrick Butler talks with NL Pub owners in Ontario
Read More


  • When I travel on he island and someone calls me a townie… I say no man, I’m from CBS…. Then they ease up.

    When I am describing where I live to someone not from NL I say just outside St. John’s.

    We are the chamaeleons of the NE Avalon

    • Sorry about that, Mark. We never thought of it as derogatory, more of a term of endearment or a geographical term, the way “West Coaster” or “Haligonian” are. But if you find it derogatory, I’m sure others agree, so we’ll delete it here, and watch out for it in the future. Apologies.

      • The word “wop” is a pejorative slur against a certain group of people. As a person who is definitely from the bay, I tend to agree with Mark – it’s nasty.

        • In hindsight, I’ve heard it used in an insulting manner. THanks for the comments, and apologies. We’ll never run the word again.

        • The term “Wop” was mainly used in a derogatory sense against undocumented Italian immigrants in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in the northeastern US, “wop” is short for “without papers”.

  • “I’m from the shore bah!”
    “Which shore? The Southern shore?”

    ……The constant struggle of a cbs’er

  • When driving east on the TCH, the townie/bayman line has been moved from the Kenmount Road overpass to the overpass at Paddy’s Pond. Conception Bay Southerners are just sub-urban townies.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.