We launched TheOvercast.ca in January of 2014, with a first print issue on Stands on January 28th, 2014. That doesn’t sound that long ago, until you start pouring over old issues.
More than a dozen places we delivered the paper to that month no longer exist. January 2014 was like, 4 premieres ago. We profiled Mallard Cottage as a new restaurant in our first issue — now it’s a local landmark.
Just for fun, for nostalgia’s sake, skim through some of what we covered in year 1. It’s interesting to see what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, what’s come and gone.
February 2014: 3 Whoas and Woes
1.) Contributor David Benson was well-known as the dapper, pipe-smoking proprietor of Afterwords bookstore, a fixture of downtown retail. Afterwords has been closed for years. Broken Books is there now. Broken Books is several years old.
2.) Sheilagh O’Leary had to vacate her seat in city council to run for mayor against Doc O’Keefe, to whom she very, very narrowly lost. That mayoral campaign feels like eons ago, right? Sheilagh was a contributor in our first issue. She came onboard to run a municipal politics column called City Matters.
3.) Mallard Cottage, now a nationally renowned restaurant and St. John’s staple, was the first new restaurant we profiled. Stephen Lee was the first person interviewed for the paper, and Mallard was our first photoshoot. Mallard Cottage, new, how old are we? They’ve since built an Inn and are set to launch 2 new operations in 2019.
March 2014: 3 Whoas and Woes
1.) In Issue 2, Come from Away architect Jacob Allderdice launched his column, Waking Up in the City, to offer an outsider’s view on our local, townie issues. In his inaugural piece, “Guinea Pigs on the Streets of St. John’s,” he quipped, genuinely shocked, “In St. John’s, sidewalks are where you store the snow from the road.” Some things haven’t changed …
2.) … But luckily some have. In her City Matters column, Sheilagh O’Leary asked, “Where are all the female politicians at?” Cue to 2019, and she’s surrounded by some stellar ones on St. John’s city council.
3.) Also in this issue: Keep Station Radio launched its brief run, and Kevin Major’s novel, Hold Fast, hit the big screen.
April 2014: 3 Whoas and Woes
1.) Issue 3 had Elisabeth de Mariaffi & Steve Maloney on the cover as two local artists to watch, and well, we called it: they’ve both risen to Household Name Status as a Newfoundland author & Newfoundland musician respectively.
2.) Bistro Sophia’s Chef Ruth Wigan appeared on Top Chef Canada. Imagine how intimidating it’d be to cook an Asian dish for celebrity chef and TV personality David Chang.
3.) Ed Riche really kicked off his contentious, years-long column, Bay of Exploits, in this issue. He argued that better funding for our full-time artists, or the “creative class,” would solve many issues in our province, from diversifying and boosting our economy, to creating a culture that would attract immigrants and tourist alike. No columnist for the paper landed me more strongly worded emails, interestingly, from the left and from the right, depending on his rant of the month. You can read a lot of his Overcast articles in his new book, Bag of Hammers.
May 2014: 3 Whoas and Woes
1.) Mohamad Ali’s opened up beside Fixed Coffee, and Broken Books opened up underneath it, revitalizing The War Memorial as a place to just laze about with lunch or something new to read. It’s probably where many people were hunkered down when they watched the viral videos of Deanna King throwing down about Rat problems in CBS.
2.) Meghan McCabe might hold a local record for the person who has worked at the most local media outlets. If you’re keeping track, she’s at CBC now. She spent a decently long stint writing for The Overcast, and in May of 2014, she launched her “Straight Up” column by tackling a story about our province jailing people who were mentally ill, because we had no better strategy in place to address the intersection of crime and mental illness.
3.) Fun Fact: Chris Conway, a co-founder of the recently opened Landwash Brewery in Mt. Pearl, launched a column this month called the Pondered Pint. His long-running column covered everything townies needed to know about beer. It was perfectly timed, as NL was right on the cusp of this craft beer revolution that has spread across our province. Since this column launched, the number of local microbreweires in the province has more than quadrupled — and Chris himself opened the newest local brewery!
June 2014: 3 Whoas and Woes
1.) Mary MacDonald, a former contributor not just to this paper, but to the vitality of our province’s vibrant arts culture, was still a youngen 20-something: she’d just been named a top 30 under 30 by Blouin Art Info Canada.
2.) It’s hard to remember the good old days of having an unobstructed view of the harbour, or a stroll along it. The St. John’s Harbour wasn’t always barred away behind a needless, impenetrable gate. It was in June of 2014 that Heritage Canada National Trust put the St. John’s Harbour front on its list of the Top 10 Endangered Public Heritage Spaces, because of the “inappropriate development” approved by or conducted by city council at the time.
3.) Raymonds Restaurant was named the best restaurant in Canada, for a second time in a row, by a jury of 50 peers for Vacy.ca’s annual, thorough competition.
July 2014: 3 Whoas and Woes
1.) Remember Aladdin’s Hookah Lounge on Water Street? The one some ill-conceived bill in 2017 shut down? It opened this month.
2.) Remember Republic of Doyle? It announced in July of 2014 that it would be over when the current season ended. In other film news: 25 year old local filmmaker Stephen Dunne had just gotten a thumbs ups from Roger Ebert.
3.) Remember when Frank Coleman was poised to be our next premier (but Paul Davis got the job?). In her column, Meghan McCabe walked us through the scandal of Frank Coleman’s company landing contracts with the provincial government.
August 2014: 3 Whoas and Woes
This was our very first “Best of St. John’s” issue. We put up polls for people to vote for their favourite everything. Among the highlights: The Club (RIP) really cleaned up in the food categories, but Raymonds won best restaurant and Mallard Cottage best new restaurant. Green & Gold took Best Band and Best Album honours, for their still-deadly album, The Body Knows (find them on Spotify, their second album is even better). “Huge Rats Remix” won Best Viral Video of the year, followed by comedian Matt Wright’s car being totalled by a garbage truck slipping down an unploughed hill. The biggest local issue of the year? #DarkNL. Which was followed by the gate going up along the St. John’s harbour front.
September 2014: 3 Whoas and Woes
1.) You don’t see him around much anymore, but he used to be a Water Street fixture. Terri Coles got us the story behind the banjo-playing busker by BMO, James Parsons. Turns out he prefers street performance to bar shows because “Live shows needs more than venues, they need promotion and rehersal.” Also in music news, The Once signed with Nettwerk, went on a 7-month world tour with Passenger, and rose to international acclaim.
2.) Saigon Bistro — far too short lived! — opened on Freshwater Road.
3.) Can you even remember who ran against Paul Davis in 2014? Drew Brown provided his witty 2 cents on Paul Davis, Steve Kent, and John Ottenheimer: the 3 men going head to head to head in a race to becoming next premiere. In other political news, Seamus O’Reagan jumped ship from TV to politics.
October 2104: 3 Whoas and Woes
1.) Paul Davis got in as premier, and as Drew Brown’s article on it relayed, it was an intense night at the ballot boxes. “Convention organizers had to scour downtown St. John’s for wayward Tories, dragging delegates out of bars and restaurants and forcing them to come back and vote again. MHA Kevin Parsons had to leave his daughter’s wedding.”
2.) This was also the month we launched what became a very popular column, Fare-y Tales, which gave readers a fly-on-the-wall look at life as a cab driver. It was surprising to see the extent to which cab drivers have their tentacles in the underbelly of life in St. John’s, from drugs to sex work and rock & roll. “As a taxi driver, I have been punched, kicked, kissed, and told I’m loved. And that’s just by the guys,” our anonymous source said, to kick off his first of many articles.
3.) This was also the month The Traveling Table launched. It was a local precursor to Skip the Dishes. Others would try and launch the same service over the years, such as Dashall.
November 2014:3 Whoas and Woes
1.) One of the city’s most prized music venues opened: The Black Sheep.
2.) One of the city’s most prized culinary possessions opened: Adelaide Oyster Bar.
3.) Baden Canning won the Food Network’s $10,000 “Donut Showdown.” Also, remember when Karl Wells was the city’s best known food critic? We had Terri Coles find out how Karl went from weatherman to food critic.
December 2014: Whoas and Woes
1.) This was the month where, at least for a handful of diners, their big Christmas surprise was a Dodge Ram Ramming through the window of a wingin’ it in Clarenville.
2.) The Swinging Belles launched their (now) Juno-winning career, and Jon Hynes won The Overcast’s very own, and inaugural Borealis Music Prize.
3.) We put out a call for local musicians to submit original Christmas songs, or Christmas covers, to our “Townie Christmas Tunes” compilation. It will be available for free in perpetuity at TheOvercast.Bandcamp.com.