Seeing St. John’s with Shaun Majumder

Shaun and Shelby and iceberg
Shaun and Shelby: he only has ice for her

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland–The Majumder Manor may not be built yet, but that hasn’t stopped the Majumders from being wonderful hosts.

Shaun Majumder and Shelby Fenner welcomed reporters on a whirlwind, one day tour of St. John’s as they gear up for Season Two of Majumder Manor (returning in July on W). The eventual site of the Eco Luxe Lodge they plan to build is nearly seven hours away by car in Shaun’s home town of Burlington. A guest house is under construction there now, with a 16′ x 16′ foundation already laid. Plans are in place to finish that structure and erect several guest tents in time for the couple’s wedding in the middle of June.  Those 90 guests have to have some place to sleep.

Shaun’s been busy buying up half his hometown in an effort to realize his dream to make Burlington a world-class travel destination. That’s not as impossible a dream as you might think. The place is home to fewer than 300 individuals, and he was able to snap an abandoned school up for a few thousand dollars–provided he also paid the $500 in back taxes. There are fundraising concerts underway, with Sam Roberts hosting the next one later this year.

Majumder, of course, is well known from years of shtick on 22 Minutes, his own comedy specials plus various U.S. dramatic roles in shows such as The Firm and Detroit 187. Fans of his W series know Shelby as his lady love who he met in L.A. The two of them are teaming on all sorts of ventures, with Shelby backing Shaun on schemes as diverse as brewing their own local beer to making his line of “Laf Boy” hoodies and T-shirts.

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Shelby and Shaun take in the iceberg in the harbour
The couple joined reporters plus officials from W and Take The Shot productions onto a boat which sailed out of St. John’s Bay and circled an iceberg Thursday. Another was spotted later that evening as the gang proceeded to Mallard Cottage, where chef Todd Perrin–who came third on Top Chef Canada–served a meal that won’t soon be forgotten. Chunks of braised Halibut surrounded a large slab of Cod on a plate also smothered in pan-friend potatoes mixed with lobster chunks. That was after the seal skin and other mouth watering appetizers. Everything comes from the Island or the surrounding Sea, some of it caught hours earlier.

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A Mallard meal is a treasure indeed

Perrin has taken pains to restore the historic cottage just so inside, where diners are surrounded with wood plan paneling and stone. Two of the island’s finest musicians performed on fiddle, guitar and a wooden accordion during the meal.

There was also a trip up the hill to The Rooms, St. John’s large, modern historical museum and archives. From the bay looking back on shore it does look, as the locals call it, like “the box the church came in”–the church being the neighbouring historic basilica of St. John the Baptist.

A peek inside the basilica found a rehearsal for a wedding party going on, with the groomsmen all  wearing Montreal Canadiens sweaters.

Producer Peter Blackie was in on this press caper. An architect as well as the art director over at Take the Shot’s Republic of Doyle, he’s helping Shaun map out his vision for Burlington. You can see him in many of the c ouch talk segments of the series.

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Mmm–seal skin. Hold the club!

There was a screening of the season premiere episode Thursday night at the Geo Centre up near Signal Hill, a cool setting with these giant colourful planets from our solar system hovering overhead. The episode was slickly edited and fun and lively, a step up production-wise from the first season efforts. The producers  admit they were struggling to find their feet Season One. Now they get this manor place is going to take a while to be built and that the story is more about the getting there than the destination.

Which is kind of what life in St. John’s is all about. The press party moved to the crowded Christian bar Thursday night, where all were officially “Screetched in” by a gentleman in a rain slicker whose voice has hopefully returned by now.

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