Small House with a Big Welcome


It’s heartwarming to know exactly who walked the halls and called a place home before you arrived. The Garlands were the last family of fisherpeople to occupy 33 Outer Battery Road, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, and they fished until the moratorium in the 80’s. The house was then occupied by Marie and Charles Pretty, until 2021. Despite its subsequent renovation, it has retained a sense of that comforting heritage. Located in the iconic Battery neighbourhood, it sits uniquely close to the hub of the city. A step back in time to narrow streets and neighbours who live nearby makes it seem like a small town.

You have easy access to the Signal Hill hike, a tough but beautiful trail that allows visitors to relish in the incredible beauty of sea, sky and rock. The North Head trail was perfect preparation for the new owners’ trek to Kilimanjaro in 2017 and part of their training for Everest Basecamp in 2023. Guests can enjoy this scenic trail and can also walk to meet any need, (grocery, restaurant, bank, store, bar), and then come home to what feels very rural and peaceful.

Your host, Marlene, describes the nostalgic experiences that prompted a love affair with this house: “Setting foot onto the step where I watched Mrs. Pretty hang her clothes brought me back to a childhood that remains in all of my senses, from the smell of the house to the glossy brown panelling. The summers I spent nearby with my grandparents are embedded deeply within me. Filling myself up with homemade bread which magically appeared, fresh every morning, and tasted best at midnight dipped in a cup of very sweet tea. Bingo on Sunday night at Buster Furey’s: the local bar where I got to have a ‘bag of chips and a can of drink’. The meat man and the fish man selling their product up the laneway, the never-ending stream of kittens Nan would feed, and the games of 120 or Scat at the kitchen table. Older women in flowered frocks preparing for the arrival of men who had spent the morning at sea. (Sometimes we even got fresh fried fish first thing in the morning.) Water running under houses and houses built in rock. From this vantage point, I can sit and see the ocean. I am close enough to smell the ocean breeze while listening to water running right in my back yard; water running its way back to the sea.”

They bought the house in 2021 and applied for a permit to renovate in January 2022. It took 17 weeks for the City of St. John’s to approve the permit. That could have been an indicator of how long it would take to bring #33 to where it is today, but it was a labour of love. Dedicated builders and craftsmen, Len and Gerry, did the job. They took care in every detail along the way and the finished product shows their skill. A much longer project than anyone anticipated, Blue Opal was well worth the wait. They took #33 down to the first floor and rebuilt it, adding a third story. Given the location, they could not bring in any equipment to lighten the load.  From hauling buckets of concrete through a cutout in the second story to rebuild foundations, digging down to install proper drainage to remove the water from under the house – it was all done by hand. Experienced hands that made it happen even when it seemed that it would never be complete. It’s now a modern amenity tailored to bring you to a simpler time.

The fabulous view from the windows and the beautiful deck includes the St. John’s skyline, the harbour and the ocean, with colourful chairs gathered around an outdoor fireplace. A waterfall nearby trickles in the background. The brilliant blue exterior featuring the original door gives way to a luxe, bright interior with pops of colour and natural wood floors and accents. Highlights include furniture from Osmonds, a notable coffee bar and an opportunity to try self care products from the local luxury brand Tvål. You have access to the entire home and conveniently covered parking with an EV charger. Everything is immaculately prepared for your arrival by NL Detail. It’s a place where you are encouraged to explore the city, but step back in time. A place where you can be at home.

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