ST. JOHN’S (Newfoundland and Labrador)
CITY OF LEGENDS
It is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador. Nicknamed the “City of Legends”, St. John’s is a city that is moving forward. Being one of the oldest cities in North America, St. John’s is deeply rooted to its history. This city is a unique blend of historical facts, heritage and culture, and modern sophistication and urban outlook. Not only will you discover interesting facts about war and century-old buildings, you will also see how St. John’s has grown from a simple fishing settlement to an economically capable capital.
HOW IT BEGAN
St. John’s is considered one of the oldest cities in North America. The first settlement recorded was in 1620, with earlier seasonal residents. The city was named after St. John the Baptist. In tradition, a European sailor traveled to this part of America on June 24, 1497 – the feast day of St. John the Baptist. Several expeditions followed, allowing different nationalities to set foot on St. John’s. Another suggested source of the city’s name is the fishing town in Basque Country. This fishing community is along the Bay of Pasaia in the Basque Country, and this Bay is similar to the bay of St. John’s.
By 1620, St. John’s became a major settlement for British fishermen. Population grew years after due to migratory fishermen. With this increase in population, economy also rose. However, commercial interests grew as well and the need to defend the city became necessary, especially when the Dutch arrived to conquer the land. The Dutch tried to take over St. John’s: the first successful attempt was in 1665, and the second failed attempt was in 1673. St. John’s was defended by the British and defenses were strengthened through Fort William. The Fort was able to withstand hardships during eighteenth and nineteenth centuries including several attempts of colonization and devastating calamities such as the Great Fire of 1892. Nevertheless, these years also saw the growth of the fishing town. The city rose not only as one of the highest economic sources of the country, it also became home to many fishermen, first non-stop transatlantic flight, harbors that supported the Royal Navy during the Second World War and many other historical sites and stories.
YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHECK OUT...
╣various birdwatching sites in the city. Being near the ocean does not mean you can only see sea gulls. St. John’s is considered as one of the hotspots for bird watching in the Avalon Region. Watch nature fly and see several species of birds. Sea birds like gannets and puffins flock around this area. Birds of Prey such as hawks, falcons, even American bald eagles, can also be seen. And if you are lucky enough, you might get to see rare birds like the European golden plover and the Northern wheatear. You can have an awesome bird watching during the months of May to September, the peak around mid-July to mid-August. Be sure to bring umbrellas!
╣several hiking trails. The region of Newfoundland and Labrador is not all-water. While obvious water sports are frequent in St. John’s, there are also a number of terrestrial activities. You can enjoy the outdoors while hiking and walking along terrains and trails, which has been provided so the locals and visitors can enjoy the scenic nature Canada has to offer. Experience the Viking Trail. You get to see the Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows and Gros Morne, icebergs, whales and other wildlife, the Appalachians and the New World's oldest burial mound.
╣tours organized by Iceberg Quest Ocean Tours. The guides will be setting out from St. John’s for Cape Spear. Get up close and personal with the cool animals including whales, puffins, and other birds and animals. Afterwards, treat yourself to a sumptuous meal at The Keg Steakhouse and Bar. Visit the guide’s store at St. John's Harbourfront, Pier 6 for exclusive deals or call them at (709) 722 1888.
╣the Rooms. If you want to see the creative side of St. John’s, this place is a must-see. It is a museum and is considered the largest public space for cultural, historical and creative archives. It is home to the Provincial Archives, Art Gallery and Museum. The Rooms itself is a spectacular sight. It has a contemporary design that manifests the ancestry of the city: an out-port where families would gather. The Rooms displays masterpieces from local, national and international artists ranging from arts, archeology, architecture and history. This diversity in collections and exhibitions is a great way to learn about St. John’s. The Rooms also has multimedia Theater, classrooms, studios and restaurant. You can easily locate this museum once you have reached downtown.
╣the Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It is an example of Gothic architecture in North America. This old church was built in 1847.
╣the Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese. It is also housed in St. John’s. It stores all marriage and baptismal records written before 1900. It also keeps the documents related to the bishops from 1784-1950.
╣the Basilica Cathedral Museum. It is located inside the Basilica Palace Library is one large book keeping building. It is home to some of the oldest books and other artifacts pertaining to the history and culture brought about by the church.
╣the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. It is considered as a Canadian Parks Service Historic Site. The Romanesque building was built in 1855. This church is magnificently built with Newfoundland and Irish bluestone and granite. It has a Latin Cross design and is home to the famous “Dead Christ” by John Hogan.
TOURISTS SHOULD KNOW
St. John’s is located at the eastern tip of North America. It can be reached through the Trans-Canada Highway Route 1 (the city is actually located at the start of this highway). Large neighboring metropolises include Toronto (three hours away), New York (four hours away) and London (four and a half hours away).
While the city has been devastated by calamities before, it still holds strong. It has history, culture and arts to display, which is definitely a sight to behold.