One of our very own shares her come from away (CFA) story
By: Heather Kennery, Content & Digital Marketing Specialist at Destination St. John’s
For my adult life, my version of Canada was Ontario – flat and hectic. Where Sunday drives usually included a traffic jam and escaping the city was a five-hour trip to the Muskokas. Don’t get me wrong, Ontario has moments of beauty, but they felt fleeting and far in-between. If I sound jaded that’s because I was. The “rat race” was not something I liked or wanted to keep up with.
For some time, my husband, Josh and I were looking for a way out of our comfort zone. We had discussed uprooting ourselves to Alberta, BC, the US, and even Europe but nothing ever felt like the right fit.
It wasn’t until my solo five-day vacation to St. John’s, in September 2018 to visit my best friend, that I finally felt like we could be home. From tasting the wild blueberries heated by the sun along the rugged trails of Signal Hill, to sipping a pint overlooking the edge of a cliff in Quidi Vidi, St. John’s felt like a more beautiful and colourful version of my childhood Canada.
The place and experiences weren’t the only thing that drew me here, it was the people that also stole my heart. At first, I thought I must have a CFA beacon on me, but I have come to realize that this is just how Newfoundlanders & Labradorians are. The love of a good chat and the opportunity to share a few yarns is seasoned into the people. And much like the salt water that shaped the rugged shores, the people here carved a way into my heart.
Upon my return home, I hastily told my husband that I had fallen in love with St. John’s. Maybe it was my excitement or the glimmer of the ocean in my eyes, but he agreed sight unseen, and we decided to take the plunge into the North Atlantic together. We quickly began working with a local real estate agent and started applying for work when things began to line up. With only a month and a half left before the big move, we hosted a family dinner and shared our news with our parents, grandparents and siblings.
Most people told us how “wild” this move was, especially the people we knew who grew up in Newfoundland & Labrador. It was as if I had said that I kissed a fish and liked it. But I think what we were missing in our lives was a true taste of the wilderness (and of course, fresh cod too).
A short three months after my vacation in St. John’s we:
- Bought a “jellybean” home in Downtown St. John’s
- Applied for work — I was hired for the Content and Digital Marketing Specialist role at Destination St. John’s and Josh was recently hired at Quidi Vidi Brewery in the hop shop and tap room.
- Quit both of our jobs
- Sold our house in Kitchener, Ontario
- And finally, packed our whole life, including a cat and dog, into our tiny Kia.
On December 27th, 2018 our cross-country move had begun. During our drive we faced the best and worst of a Canadian winter. From whiteouts in New Brunswick and a blizzard on the west coast of the island, to a romantic stay in a seaside log cabin on Cape Breton and finally, witnessing the glimmering sun over the snow-covered peaks in Corner Brook — Canada gave us a full show.
It was during the last leg of the trip, from Corner Brook to St. John’s, that the beauty of our country, and more specifically this province, hit us. Josh and I were oohing and aweing at the sheer untouched wilderness that was enveloping us along the TCH when he commented, “This looks like the French Alps” and I replied giddily “No, this looks like home.”
I never intended to have a five-day vacation turn into forever but here we are. St. John’s is only one and a half hours ahead of Ontario, but it has transported us back to the real beauty that our country has to offer. Thank you, Newfoundland & Labrador, for giving us the trip of a lifetime.