The Newfies get giant squid?


Some days, I just have to admit that Canada is cool. They’ve got no GW Bush, but they do have the Burgess shale…and now I learn that Newfoundland has giant squid. And they treat them respectfully!

I’ll never tell another Newfie joke now.


  1. Brian English says

    Proof positive that the squid god didn’t descend to the abyss after sacrificing herself to take away the sins of the calamari eating human race.

  2. JohnnieCanuck, FCD says

    Come on now, Newfies tell great jokes. There’s nothing wrong with passing them on. :-}

    I read a really good joke in a Newfie expat magazine not too long ago, while waiting in a doctors’ office. It was so good that I even remembered it long enough to retell it. Once. I’m sure you’re all sorry to hear that.

    It’s an interesting bit of culture they have there. Don’t know if there are recipes for cod cheeks or cod tongue, or even seal flipper pie, but if you are interested in the exotic, try:

    Me, I’m from the Wet Coast of Canada, the one without icebergs.

  3. says

    Dan Dennett told a Newfie joke in one of his books, it went something like:

    I ran into my Newfie friend the other day. Both of his ears were bandaged. I asked him, “What happened to your ears?”
    He said, “Well, you know, I was in the middle of ironing my clothes, when the phone rang, and…”
    I said, “Oh, no, you didn’t! But.. that explains one ear; what happened to the other one?”

    He said, “Well, I had to call the doctor…”

    Of course, Dennett was making a point about the bewildering array of unconscious beliefs that underlie our ability to understand language, but it’s still a good joke.

  4. says

    Newfies are the biggest teller of Newfie jokes. I’m half-newfie on my mother’s side, and remembered receiving several “Newfie Joke” books as a child from relatives back east.

    Did you hear about the Newfie who brought a ladder to the bar? He heard the drinks were on the house.

    … when I was nine I thought that was hilarious.

  5. Carpworld says

    NFL is an awesome place! Everyone should visit for the capelin run to see the humpbacks come in to feast, now that’s entertainment. Plus the cod tongues are indeed something special.

  6. Richard Harris says

    Annie Proulx’s novel “The Shipping News” gives the impression that the Newfies are mostly Irish in origin. This actually seems to be a common misperception.

    Where I live in England, in a village near Sturminster Newton, North Dorset, I’m in the heart of what is believed to be the Newfie ancestral region. Family names here are very much like those in Newfie, such as Snook, Hart, Butt.

  7. Carpworld says

    the misperception probably arises from the accent over there which sounded (to my English ears) like a strange mixture of Irish with a dose of West Country – i think most people don’t know what a Dorset accent sounds like so all they hear is the Irish. Plus there is a quite a culture of Irish folk music which adds to the impression.

  8. katie says

    If you’re into fossils, check out Mistaken Point. Ediacaran (sp?) fossils all over the place! I think they even made the cover of Science… Go Newfoundland!

  9. Brian Delaney says

    Stop with the jokes. Doesn’t sound the same coming for you CFAs. And that interesting place name, its next to the town of Spread Eagle. Go figure…

  10. Graculus says

    its next to the town of Spread Eagle. Go figure…

    Not to mention Conception and Placentia….

  11. says

    Richard and Carpworld,

    There are actually a lot of people in Newfoundland of Irish descent ( ) and the accent in parts of Newfoundland is more Irish sounding than in others.


    If we want to discuss crazy Newfoundland names, I think we have to start with the town formerly known as Gayside. The people of Gayside decided they didn’t want to have “gay” in their town name so they changed it to Baytona. (yes, as far as I know, that is a combination of bay and Daytona)

  12. aiabx says

    Don’t be dissing Newfie jokes, they’re an important part of our cultural heritage. Failing to repeat them is an act of cultural imperialism.

    Jimmy was a bit of an idiot who had no skills after the fisheries closed, so the mayor took pity on him and gave him a job polishing the brass cannon on the steps of the town hall. Every morning for 20 years, rain, shine, snow or sleet, Jimmy polished that cannon until it shone.
    After 20 years, Jimmy went to the mayor and announced that he was quitting.
    “What are you going to do with yourself?” asked the mayor.
    “I’ve saved up enough to buy a cannon and I’m going into business for myself”.

    (with a shout-out to Uncle Dick and Aunt Susan in Marystown!)

  13. Richard Harris, FCD says


    According to the 2001 Canadian census,[1] the largest ethnic group in Newfoundland and Labrador is English (39.4%), followed by Irish (19.7%), Scottish (6.0%), French (5.5%), and First Nations (3.2%). While half of all respondents also identified their ethnicity as “Canadian,” 38% report their ethnicity as “Newfoundlander” in a 2003 StatsCan Ethnic Diversity Survey.

    I used to think it was a 50% Irish population, but you only have to look at the CBC Newfoundland newsletter a few times to see that most of the people’s names are English derived – although some of these could be Irish anyway.


    The North Dorset accent is much harsher than the South Dorset, although the female version isn’t so variable. This accent seems to extend up to Bristol with a related quality to it, (rather like the way some American & Canadian accents are related). I think that I can hear North Dorset in the Newfie accent, more so than Irish. But I’m no expert, & I’ve not heard a Newfie in years.

  14. Richard Harris, FCD says

    Regarding vulgar place names, Dorset seems to have more than its fair share.

    We’ve got Shitterton, (which was changed to Sitterton when the Queen visited the area, but it’s being changed back). There’s the Piddle river, & villages called Piddlehinton, etc. Some of these names have been changed to Puddle. Somewhat less vulgar, Tincleton is close by. And so is the Cerne Abbas giant!

  15. Jonathan says

    Thanks for posting that link, PZ! I’m from St. John’s myself, and I used to dive with Randy Batten when I was an undergraduate at Memorial University. If you hadn’t posted this article, I’d have never known that he was a curator now!

    Oh, and thanks for those Newfie jokes! I hadn’t heard those before, and they’re great :)

    P.S. Dildo is also near “Backside Pond Provincial Park” and not TOO far a drive from “Come by chance” :)

  16. says

    For years Batten says he’s heard tourists asking for the giant squid, and even had a couple track it down through a number of scientists and plan their vacation to Newfoundland based on the squid.

    PZ, was this you?

  17. Mena says

    Maybe the tradition can be changed to drinking screech and then kissing a giant squid if PZ ever visits.
    Hmm, frat-fishermen drinking screech-maybe that’s how some of these places got names. ;^)
    Oh, and as far as making fun of Toronto, I do love it there but I have always found it a bit too American for my tastes. I’d rather be somewhere out west, sorry, although visiting the Newfies sounds like it would be just as much fun.

  18. Mike from Ottawa says

    When I was a kid my Mom was a nurse at a Canadian Forces hospital. Many of the orderlies were Newfies and she’d come home with Newfie jokes they’d told her. The one I remember was ‘What does it say on the bottom of Coke bottles in Newfoundland? “Open other end.” ‘

    Piratically inclined Pharyngulites might enjoy Newfoundland band Great Big Sea. Great music to get drunk to.