Here’s part of a fun quiz I read in our Newfoundland travel guide (if you’re from Newfoundland or related to a Newfoundlander, no yelling out the answer):
Let’s say you’re visiting a friend, perhaps for the first time, at their house. At the front door, do you:
- Knock or ring the bell;
- Wave to Gran in the front room window;
- Open the door and walk in;
- None of the above.
We’ll get to the answer in a moment. This quiz helped me understand an experience I had as we were driving up and down the long northwestern peninsula of Newfoundland, the “French” part of the province, with town names like Beau Bois, Port au Bras, Grand Le Pierre. I logged a lot of hours staring at the passing scenery and noticed what I thought were a lot of unfinished houses. Why would Newfoundlanders live in so many unfinished homes? I wondered. What was particularly striking were front doors in the middle of the houses, no front porch, no roof overhang, no stairs leading to the door, which could be quite a distance above ground. One could say many of them were a dangerous distance above ground.
The occasional house had a two by four nailed across its front door. These otherwise normal looking homes just looked unfinished, lacking a way to access the door. Coming from Saskatchewan, I thought perhaps they got so much snow in winter, there was no point in constructing stairs that would be buried in snow? We don’t really know why, but we learned the answer to the quiz is “d, none of the above” because rural Newfoundlanders and their guests enter and exit through the back door.
And the front entrance/exit is called “the mother-in-law” door!
So if yours is in proximity and is bothering you, now you know what province to move to.
We still don’t know why Newfoundland contractors aren’t constructing homes with functioning front doors. However, we couldn’t help noticing how many front door stairways had been patched on with a few two-by-fours and some planks. Apparently mother-in-laws are more recently in favour in Newfoundland.