Majumder Manor’s rocky road to success

Shaun Majumder is, literally, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Among the hardest rock in the world, actually. The actor, writer and standup comedian had a dream for his hometown, the village of Burlington on Newfoundland’s west coast: draw tourism to the area in an effort to improve the local economy.

The plight of Majumder, wife Shelby Fenner and best friend/architect/producer Peter Blackie was well-documented in the first season of Majumder Manor, as the hometown boy made good attempted to get the locals excited about their ambitious plan to construct a five-star eco-friendly lodge that would draw people from around the world.

Back for Season 2–airing Mondays on W Network–the trio have changed things up, but their challenge is no less daunting. Majumder purchased another chunk of land right on the waterfront (the first property was right next to a busy road), affording gorgeous views of the small bay and the good chance of seeing an iceberg or two float by. The official title to Season 2 is The Rocky Road to Majumder Manor, and it’s well-suited. Majumder and Fenner were married in Los Angeles in their kitchen, but decided to re-do their vows in Burlington surrounded by friends and family on their new tract of land. The big problem? Nowhere for anyone to stay. With the celebration looming, deadlines to break ground on the new plan–several square pod living areas–were bumped up, putting pressure on everyone to get rolling.

Fenner spent much of Season 1 wondering what the heck she had gotten herself into, but is more confident in this iteration of the project.

“It started off as Shaun saying, ‘I want to make an off-the-grid house and do a show about it,'” she explains. “And then it turned into this much bigger project. My anxiety level went as far as it could go, but I’ve come out the other side realizing that things do work out. I have more trust and know exactly what we’re involved in.”

As with any building project, challenges stack up. A Come Home reunion for former Burlington townsfolk meant Shaun had to quickly construct tents on wooden bases for visitors to stay in. Those proved to be tough to make on ground wobbly as a St. John’s bar patron hopped up on Screech. Majumder’s purchase of an old store led to the discovery of a boat partially crashed through the wooden floor and half a day was spent pulling it out. Fenner wanted to cut costs on booze by making her own beer. And weather was a constant concern; Newfoundland’s placement in the Atlantic means sun can turn to rain–or snow–within minutes, something the team ran into during construction.

“We wanted to be done the foundation on the first pod last summer,” the 22 Minutes star says. “We couldn’t because the winter hit early. Now the pressure is on to get the pod built for the wedding.”

But perhaps the biggest test on Majumder’s wallet, and patience, is the very ground he so passionately wants to share with the rest of the world. Burlington sits on a section of rock that is among the hardest in the world, meaning sinking reinforcing bar into it to hold the pods in place is a long, arduous task in a such a rugged setting.

“All of Newfoundland and Labrador are rock,” Blackie says. “Burlington is on rock known as Burlington granite and it just happens to be the hardest rock on the island. And the site we’re on isn’t just rocks, it IS rock.”  That meant drilling, sinking rebar, epoxying those in place and then pouring concrete around them. Oh, and did they mention there’s no road to truck the concrete in? Instead, the heavy material is slogged in on foot in buckets.

“We have a team of locals, plus me and Pete, sweating our balls off walking through a muddy, snowy hard trail to bring buckets of it to the site,” Majumder describes. “We were lugging pails of heavy concrete through these woods.”

Majumder Manor airs Mondays at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET on W Network.


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