________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 8 . . . . December 10, 1999

cover Rain, Drizzle and Fog: An Offbeat Look at St. John's, Newfoundland.

Rosemary House (Director). Kent Martin (Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 1998.
50 min., VHS, $39.95.
Order Number: C9198 008.

Subject Headings:
St. John's (Nfld.)-History-Anecdotes.
Celebrities-Newfoundland-St. John's-Anecdotes.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up.
Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4

As the sub-title suggests, this is a quirky and whimsical perspective of Canada's oldest city. The video begins with a view of the city shrouded in mist while a forecast of rain, drizzle and fog (affectionately known as RDF) is heard. Director Rosemary House walks around downtown St. John's with six well-known artists who share their reminiscences of growing up in the city. We sit in a tower of the Basilica, with a splendid view of old St. John's that few residents have ever seen, and converse with Andy Jones (of Codco fame) about his Catholic upbringing. Mary Walsh (This Hour Has 22 Minutes) shows us her old neighborhood and recalls some of the odd street characters that inhabited it. Folksinger Anita Best describes moving to St. John's from the outports and the discrimination she faced, while writers Ed Riche and Des Walsh focus on St. John's residents as survivors of the harsh economic and marine environments. All the artists feel the living history of the city, especially actor Bryan Hennessey who perceives the cobblestones beneath the pavement, and all of them have been moved creatively by its enduring spirit. Thus, rather than taking a linear historical approach, Ms House meanders through the memories of those who have developed careers portraying Newfoundland culture.
     Interspersed throughout are weather forecasts, ethereal cityscapes, sunny street scenes, and tidbits of history. For instance, we learn that, in 1497, it was a criminal offense to settle in St. John's, and that, in 1700, there were more taverns than houses! In all, these anecdotal memoirs help to explain the mystery of why St. John's residents love the city, despite its weather.

Highly recommended.

Alison Mews is the Director of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, NF.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364