Dillon Collins: NL’s Wicked Big Year

There’s lots to be proud of as a Newfoundlander and Labradorian. Things like cultivating a worldwide reputation for hospitality and friendliness should be enough to get those good feelings of NL pride flowing. If that doesn’t do the trick, one only need look at what some of our very own artists and entertainers have accomplished this year. 

Look at Mark O’Brien, for example. The baby-faced actor with that heart-of-gold demeanor has come a long way from his days portraying Des on Republic of Doyle. O’Brien has appeared in no less than eight feature films, starring alongside the likes of Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, Dakota Johnson, Jeff Bridges, Chris Hemsworth, Clive Owen, Forrest Whitaker and Mandy Moore. Our boy Mark done good. 

Blockbuster Talents

That’s not to take away from the achievements of other acting talents. Percy Hynes White netted himself a starring role on network television series The Gifted. Locally shot and produced action series Frontier launched a thrilling third season (starring Aquaman himself no less), and established voice actress Jennifer Hale landed herself a role in a Disney blockbuster you’ve likely taken your younguns’ to in recent weeks. 

Our musicians are still operating at an extraordinarily high level. Alan Doyle still tours tirelessly, packing venues from east coast to west and across the pond. Rising musicians like Conway, Carolina East, LeRiche and Mallory Johnson, earn critical acclaim. Hell, to kick off December, our very own Matthew Byrne and Earle & Coffin took home a Canadian Folk Award.

Authors? We still have some of the best in the world and folks still flock here from all over to soak in our surroundings to combat writers block. The likes of Bridget Canning, Joel Thomas Hynes, Gary Collins and Wayne Johnston have been recognized both at home and internationally, while familiar faces like Mary Walsh, Rick Mercer and Mark Critch have put pen to paper and offered up some insights into their own lives through published works. 

NL’s Champions

In athletics we’re excelling at a level rarely seen for Newfoundland and Labrador. Our longtime flag-bearer Kaetlyn Osmond doubled down with gold and bronze medals at the Pyeongchang Olympics. Katarina Roxon continued her dominance in the pool, while Liam Hickey made a name for himself in sledge hockey. Carl English and the St. John’s Edge made their mark on the National Basketball League of Canada, while the Newfoundland Growlers entered the ECHL with a bang this past October, led by NHL vet head coach Ryan Clowe. We celebrated our historic 200th Regatta, and yes, Team Gushue dominated again, winning back-to-back Brier Championships. And we’re just gushing on entertainment here. What of our doctors, lawyers, philanthropists, politicians and the unsung heroes that bind everything together. 

Yes, there’s always cause for negative. The economy is still shot and at times there’s as much or more reason to leave than there is to stay, but when you get into the nitty-gritty, and when you think about the stuff that counts, it’s a hell of a time to be a Newfoundlander and Labradorian. Wicked big year! 

Dillon Collins, The Herald’s Staff Writer, can be reached by emailing [email protected]

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