Home Cultural Exploration The surprising colors of St. John’s, Newfoundland

The surprising colors of St. John’s, Newfoundland

written by Penny Sadler

On a distant shore, on an island known as the Rock, colors stand out against the grey skies, green forests, and dark, millenia-old stone. There are many legends as to why St. John’s, Newfoundland sports so many colors.
The Surprising Colors of St. Johns, Quidi Vidi


For sailors and fishermen, brightly colored houses helped them find their way home through the fog and inclement weather.

Colors highlight the beauty of nature, such as just-picked edible flowers adorning delectable meals.

There’s a strong tradition of storytelling and community gathering, and the colorful costumes worn by mummers delight – so much so that there are mummer ornaments for Christmas trees!

You’ll find colorful laundry on the line, colorful boats, and, of course, brilliant colors painted in the sky.

On a recent visit to St. John’s, I was entranced by the colors surrounding me, whether they were shining in the sun or peeking out from the fog. It was all I could do to not gawk constantly. I guess if you live there long enough, you become used to them. But for travelers like me, well, it was magic.

Take a look…



The Surprising Colors of St.Johns,Newfoundland

Colorful harbor at Quidi Vidi


Red house and colorful laundry in St. John's, Newfoundland

Red house and colorful laundry


Colorful flowers adorn fresh scallops at Mallard Cottage in St. John's, Newfoundland

Colorful flowers adorn fresh scallops at Mallard Cottage


A colorful fishing fleet in Bay Bulls, where we went whale watching! St. John's, Newfoundland

A colorful fishing fleet in Bay Bulls


Colorful mummers at a shop on Water Street, downtown St. John's, Newfoundland

Colorful mummers!


Colorful reflections at Quidi Vidi, a restored historic fishing village in St. John's, Newfoundland

Colorful reflections at Quidi Vidi


Sunset from Signal Hill, where the first transatlantic wireless transmission was received

Sunset from Signal Hill, where the first transatlantic wireless transmission was received




Jessie Voigts, who absolutely loves Newfoundland, has a PhD in International Education, has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, and is passionate about family travel, study abroad, and international education. 


All photos courtesy and copyright Wandering Educators


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gail plouffe August 1, 2017 at 2:54 pm

My mother was from St. Johns, actually lived in Portugal Cove until she married my dad. I was able to go back to Newfoundland with her to visit her family a few years ago and would love to revisit St. Johns again. It’s such a unique place and the history is amazing. Go visit St. Johns it’s a great place to see.

Jessie Voigts August 1, 2017 at 4:37 pm

How wonderful, Gail! It is an incredible and beautiful place – one of my favorites!

Sand In My Suitcase November 22, 2015 at 2:49 am

Newfoundland looks very pretty in these photos. But you’d really only want to visit between spring and fall when the weather is decent. And being Canadian we’re allowed to say that :-). We live in Vancouver, and you’d only want to visit Vancouver between spring and fall! (Unless you like rain…)

Penny Sadler November 30, 2015 at 1:32 pm

I thought Vancouver had the more mild climate? Not crazy cold and not as much rain? Vancouver is one of my favorite cities!

Larry Gravitte January 8, 2020 at 2:19 pm

My wife and I have become interested in St. John’s since watching the “Republic of Doyle” on Netflix. We love to travel,and the colors, scenery of St.Johns is fascinating… Hope to see it someday.

Penny Sadler January 8, 2020 at 7:41 pm

I hope you do too!

Casey September 21, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Gorgeous! What a beautiful thought that the bright colors of the homes guided sailors through the foggy sea. That is absolutely poetic! Thanks for sharing! Sometimes you just need to be reminded of simple beauty such as this.

Terry at Overnight New York September 19, 2015 at 4:21 pm

I love that the bright colored buildings not only look enchanting but helped sailors and fishermen find their way home in the fog. Clever use of color. Lovely guest post, Jessie.

Penny Sadler September 19, 2015 at 4:27 pm

I agree Terry!

dcmpinto@hotmail.com September 18, 2015 at 8:19 am

Thank you for sharing these pics. Living here for over 50 years I take for granted the precious land we live in. However, I do hope you return again and discover the west coast of Newfoundland..if you think the St Joh’s area was picturesque, you’re going be awestruck by the west coast. Please come back and I will take you on a tour of the real beauty of Newfoundland!

Penny Sadler September 19, 2015 at 4:28 pm

I want to go too! 🙂

Carol Murphy September 17, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Glad you enjoyed your visit! And no, the views never get tired, nor do the colours ever become less fascinating, enjoyable and fun! Living in St. John’s brings is a colourful joy every day! How fortune are we!?

Dariece September 16, 2015 at 10:42 am

We so need to visit more of our home country!!

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas September 15, 2015 at 5:01 am

No need for words – how pretty!

JessieV September 14, 2015 at 12:18 pm

It’s so much fun – people dress up and do a parade, usually during the Christmas season: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mummering

Jennifer September 14, 2015 at 11:17 am

A terrific guest post from Jessie! How lovely.

Jeff Titelius September 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm

Another fabulous report of your recent visit to St. Johns. Your photography captures the vibrant spirit of this land and now more than ever, I must visit one day soon. You know, I never heard of mummers before I read this…too funny, but I love the word and the fact that you’ve captured a piece of the culture among your other insights into the lives of sailors and how they painted their jellybean houses. What an enchanting destination for “kids” of all ages!! Brilliant job my friend!

Penny Sadler September 13, 2015 at 11:16 pm

I agree with Jeff. When are we going Jeff?

JessieV September 14, 2015 at 12:20 pm

Thanks, Jeff! I can’t wait for you and Penny to visit. I think we should go together!

Penny Sadler September 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm

Love this Jessie. What are mummers?


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