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Amazing St. John’s

The capital of Newfoundland

By Rasma RaistersPublished 4 months ago 5 min read

Newfoundland is a large island off the eastern coast of the North American mainland. It is the western part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The capital of Newfoundland St. John’s is the oldest city founded by Europeans in North America and has one of the finest natural harbors in the world.

The Signal Hill National Historic Site overlooks the entrance to the harbor. It has become a popular tourist attraction where you can get spectacular views of the city, the harbor, and the sea. In the visitor center, you can learn about the history and importance of Signal Hill and the harbor.

You can explore the ruins of Queen’s Battery which was built in the 1700s.

Atop the hill is Cabot Tower was built to mark the 400th anniversary of the voyage of Italian navigator and explorer John Cabot. Inside the tower are exhibits about Italian inventor and electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi and the first transmission from England.

The traditional Noonday Gun is fired daily beside the tower in the summertime.

Also during the summertime, the Signal Hill Tattoo recreates military drills from the 1800s. There are marching bands, cannons, and musket fire, commemorating the last battle of the Seven Years’ War that was fought here in 1762. This is performed four days a week.

The Johnson GEO Centre at Signal Hill was designed to incorporate the surrounding terrain into its exhibit space. It takes visitors beneath Signal Hill into the 550-million-year-old rock bed. Here you’ll find over a dozen interactive exhibits that describe the geologic and cultural history of the Earth and Newfoundland life.

Quidi Vidi is a quaint fishing community on the shore of an inlet located on the north side of Signal Hill. There are many local artisans and craftspeople living here.

The Quidi Vidi Battery overlooks the inlet and dates back to the French occupation of St. John’s. Once they regained control the British used it as a garrison until withdrawing from Newfoundland in 1870. Within the fort is possibly the oldest surviving house in British Canada.

A narrow channel links the inlet to Quidi Vidi Lake. Here the oldest sporting event in North America, the annual St. John’s Regatta takes place.

The Amazing Earth Theater makes use of a variety of special effects to let visitors travel through time and space to the era when the Earth was a molten mass. Other exhibits include the future of space, the Titanic, the Solar System, and a special area for younger children.

Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site sits atop cliffs just southeast of St. John’s. It is the oldest surviving lighthouse marking Cape Spear as the most easterly point in North America. The lighthouse dates from 1836 and represents the unique design of that period. It rises out of the lighthouse keeper’s house. The house has been restored to show the life of a 19th-century lighthouse keeper.

Fort Cape Spear is a WW II coastal defense battery that guarded St. John’s and kept German U-boats from its harbor.

Cape Spear is a popular spot to look out for whales and icebergs. You can hike along the dramatic coast.

The Rooms are located on a ridge that overlooks St. John’s. It includes the Provincial Museum, the Provincial Archives, and the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador making them one integrated experience. This innovative museum has interactive programs and exhibits. To get fantastic views over the harbor, head on up to the observation deck.

George Street is the center for traditional Maritime Music. There are Scottish and Irish influences among the ballads of fishermen and sailors. This two-block area is the entertainment district of the city. In early August it hosts the George Street Festival for five days and nights of music. The street is closed to traffic in the afternoons and through the night.

Water Street is the commercial center of St. John’s. It is the oldest main street in North America and was once a pathway for early explorers and settlers. Today it is still the meeting place for sailors from all around the world and close to where transatlantic cruise ships dock.

The historic district has 19th-century buildings among them the Murray Premises. This is a mercantile building that is a National Historic site and is home to a hotel and shops.

Harborside Park stretches along Water Street with benches from which you can view the ships.

Here you’ll find the statues of the province’s two signature dogs, the Newfoundland and Labrador Retriever.

The Basilica of St. John the Baptist is considered to be one of the most architecturally important buildings in Newfoundland. It was built between 1842 and 1892 in the form of a Latin cross. The basilica has twin towers and is a National Historic site.

St. John’s Anglican Cathedral on Church Hill is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. It is a National Historic site and the oldest Anglican church in Canada.

The East Coast Trail runs along the East Coast of Newfoundland. Its developed part begins north of St. John’s at Cape St. Francis and stretches south to Cappahayden. Several different points access individual sections of the trail for shorter hikes. Along the way are towering cliffs and you can see fjords, seabird colonies, lighthouses, and marine animals like puffins and whales.

You can read the natural sea geyser The Spout from a section of the trail leading from Bay Bulls to Shoal Bay.

On the east coast of Newfoundland, you’ll find the largest puffin and kittiwake colonies in North America. Over two million seabirds come to nest, breed, and feed their chicks on the capelin, small herring-like fish that run from mid-June to mid-July.

Whitless Bay is the place to see whales from the shore in June and July. You can take a whale watch boat tour as well as puffin and whale watch cruises.

Flat Rock is a village where you can look for whales from the shore.

Memorial University Botanical Garden is located in Pippy Park on the outskirts of St. John’s. There are themed gardens and trails through different ecosystems among them a bog, a marsh, and various types of forests. You can see native wildflowers and plants and cultivated annuals, perennials, and herbs on display, In June and early July there are colorful rhododendrons.

Also in Pippy Park is the Fluvarium at the edge of Long Pond. This is an underwater viewing station where you can get a close-up view of the fish, plants, and insects that live underneath the water.

Rennie’s River Trail connects Long Pond to Quidi Vidi Lake.

The village of Portugal Cove is located a few kilometers north of St. John’s.

Here you can take a ferry to Bell Island which is home to the largest undersea ore mine in the world. The island has 100-foot cliffs, sea stacks, and caves.

At Grebe's Nest, on the north end of the island, birds nest on the cliffs above sea caves.

Salmonier Nature Park has wild parklands with moose, caribou, and other wild animals. You can see snowy owls. You can walk along a two-mile loop of forest trails and boardwalks across the wetlands. The park is a center for wildlife rehabilitation, research, and environmental monitoring.


About the Creator

Rasma Raisters

My passions are writing and creating poetry. I write for several sites online and have four themed blogs on Wordpress. Please follow me on Twitter.

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