Quidi Vidi: from the Lake to the Gut

Some pronounce it “quoida voida” but most  say it like “kiddy viddy.” Nobody can state definitively where the name comes from but the most reasonable explanation harkens back to the days long, long ago when the Portuguese played a much greater role on our doings. “Porto qui dividi,” means the harbour which divides and, if you have seen the narrow channel of water that allows the harbour access to the Atlantic you’d be inclined to agree that the name is appropriate.

On the way to the little community you have to pass the lake by the same name.


From the boardwalk that skirts this part of the lake you can see the Penn. You might be inclined to say that Her Majesty’s guests might take some comfort from the beautiful view they have of the lake. In truth, though, it’s likely that the unfortunate souls who reside there have more pressing thoughts like getting through yet another day behind bars and ruminating on the unfortunate circumstances and series of decisions, voluntary or involuntary, that led to their current stay.

Turning on your heels you can see, through the early-morning snow, the boathouse. Quidi Vidi lake plays host to the longest-running sporting event in North America, the Royal St. John’s Regatta. It’s been running officially since 1816 and likely, unofficially, for much longer than that. In the weeks to come you’ll see the crews down here at the boathouse in the early morning, the sun not quite up–as it is now–and waiting for their turn to practice. Not today, though. It’s  a bit of wonder, as it is, that the ice is gone from the lake.


St. John’s owes its early origins to the fishing industry. In times past the small boats that set the fishing lines were powered by arms and oars.

“My Man is faster than yours.”

“And would you like to place a little wager on that?”

No doubt sentiments such as these led to the races we now see the first Wednesday in August.


People love to walk and run around the lake. With the slushy snow and ice we have this Easter morning, though, nobody’s making that choice. Down in the little village at the head of the lake the brook is running free; the only thing that’s running at the moment, in fact.


Turning right around you can see the small boats hauled up on the slip. Quite an effort but far safer than leaving them in the water for the winter. They’re costing money and, more importantly, time, every day they’re in the water so, for now, when there’s nothing for them to do, far better that they’re up here  out of the way.

Their turn in the water will start soon. Very soon. Some time this month, when DFO is good and ready, the lobster season will start and those boats will, once again, have a purpose.


That green building dead-centre and above: a brewry. Their iceberg ale: priceless.

The colour of this market by the harbour is the same as the dories that were once as common as the fish used to be. Now, like the cod they are…scarcer.


Walking out past the market brings you to this view across the harbour. The fishing stages are deserted now and none of the little boats are tied on. Soon, though, that will change. That said, at 7 AM, it will still look like this as the crews and boats will have left around 4 or so and will not likely return for a few hours just yet.


Ah–the gut!


Around here “gut” had another meaning. It refers also to a narrow channel of water. If you look way out there you can see the harbour start to narrow. It will grow increasingly narrow and will turn before it vents to the Atlantic.

Oh, and by the way, there’s a fine swell on out in the ocean today. You’d never say it from here though.


Look up and over. You can see the narrow little channel and, if you look closely, you can see the water boiling away there.

It’s not a great time for venturing out into the cold northwest Atlantic.


Turn around. Tie the boat back on and head back to the house.


There’ll be lots of time in the weeks and months ahead to prepare fish and crate up lobsters for the market.

For now, maybe a few Easter eggs are a better idea.  It’s almost 8 am and the rest of the family will be up soon…


About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
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10 Responses to Quidi Vidi: from the Lake to the Gut

  1. Thanks for the tour … I feel I’m getting to know a little bit about a part of the world I’ve never seen … but would like to. D

  2. Wonderful story and great pictures.

  3. What delightful tour, I rather like how quiet it is at the moment. I love the photos, almost as if I am standing there with you.

  4. Jane Fritz says:

    Thanks for these tours, Maurice. I love learning how to pronounce all the names I’ve read so often. Newfoundland is so unique; it’s great that you’re sharing it. I see that we’re ahead of you with natural snow removal. If it’s any consolation, I think you’re way ahead of Ottawa!

  5. jennypellett says:

    A great glimpse at someone else’s corner of the globe – thanks. Makes me want to get my camera out!

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