What's your story

How a walk up Signal Hill showed me that Newfoundlanders are the friendliest people on earth

Derrick March and his wife were on a walk up Signal Hill. When they stopped to for directions, they got a lovely bit more than they asked for.

'How's it goin' Skipper?' I quipped. 'Oh best kind me son.'

Signal Hill overlooks St. John's and the North Atlantic — spectacular views on the coast of Newfoundland. Here, Derrick March's brother-in-law gazes out from Ladies Lookout. (Derrick March)

On a walk up Signal Hill, Derrick March and his wife stopped to ask for directions. They got more than they asked for — a connection to their own family history. Throughout 2017, we're asking Canadians, "What's your story?" March, of Mount Pearl, N.L., shares his.


Probably one of the most interesting and popular trail walks in all of Newfoundland is the "Signal Hill Trail."

You may begin either at the top of the hill adjacent to to Cabot Tower or commence at the bottom, commonly known as "The Battery," and gradually make your way to the top. Usually my wife and I would start out at the higher level and make our way down, but this day we decided a change would be nice.

Now, it is a well known fact that one of the first questions an older Newfoundland gent would pose to a younger person (after gathering a surname) would be, "what's your father's name?" Keeping this little fact in mind, I will proceed to tell you of our excursion around the "hill."

Derrick and Maureen March, then (1978) and now. (Derrick March)

If you have ever ventured out on this adventure, you will immediately be struck by the unusual trek the trail leads you on. There are a couple of places where you actually walk over a patio of a private dwelling! Now being that Newfoundlanders are the friendliest people on earth, this poses no problem, in fact it pretty well encourages a wave or a passing smile, or if the residents are outside you will hear a "how's it goin' by?"

Well, getting back to the storyline, my wife and I started off our sunny day journey up Signal Hill. Immediately I realized my manly sense of direction was a little off that day and I just couldn't find where the trail began from this lower end. After swallowing my pride, I saw an older gent sitting on his porch step looking very approachable.

"How's it goin' Skipper?" I quipped. "Oh best kind me son."

I explained my dilemma and he instructed me on the quickest maneuver to get on track.

"You seem like you've been here a long time Skipper."

"All my life me son."

"My grandfather lived on the upper battery there many years ago," I offered.

March's father, Jim. (Derrick March)

"Oh what was his name?"

"Randolph March," I said, not really thinking much about it, seeing how my grandfather had died over 40 years back and my father had also passed on.

"Yes by Rennie," he said. "He and Millie (my grandmother) lived up there by the well so you must be Jim's son (my late father's first name)."

I was absolutely floored! Needless to say, we carried on a nostalgic conversation for a short time before my wife and I continued on our way.

There may be more interesting Canadian stories, but I think you would be hard pressed to top the incredible unique bonding of this province's people surrounded by rugged land and unforgiving sea, yet filled with a kindness and warmth that keep our world friends coming back.

"When sun rays crown thy pine clad hills...."    

What's your story? What defines Canada for you? Is there a time that you were proud to be Canadian, or perhaps a time you felt disappointed? Is there a place, person, or event in your life that sums up what being Canadian is to you? Tell us at cbc.ca/ whatsyourstory.

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