St John's is the largest city in the province of Newfoundland, and is one of the oldest English founded cities in North America. Originally a British colony (weren't we all!), it is the newest Canadian province, having joined federation in 1949. St. John's major industry was cod fishing, until it's collapse in 1960. After a decade of high unemployment and depopulation, its proximity to the Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose oil fields has led to an economic boom that has spurred population growth and economic development.
It is were Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901, and
in 1919 it was the starting point for the first non-stop transatlantic flight, by Alcock and Brown in a modified Vickers Vimy IV bomber. During WWII, the harbour supported Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy ships engaged in anti-submarine warfare. It was also the sight of Fort Pepperrell, and American Navy Air Force base, as part of the "land-lease" between the UK and the US.

We didn't have a tour booked, opting instead to wander around on our own. The day was pretty much overcast for the most part, with a temperature of 17 c / 63 F. The city was a little too hilly to wander around any length of time, so after a few hours we went back to the ship for lunch, with the idea that Izak and I would venture out later. However the afternoon brought torrential rains. Needless to say, our little 'self tour' was cut shorter than we would have liked.


Early morning skies. 

First glimpse of the coast of Newfoundland.

A better view


Cape Race Lighthouse
Cape Race Lighthouse graces the entrance to St. John's harbour. It is the location of Newfoundland's first wireless communication station which was established a couple of years after the first transatlantic message was sent to Marconi from Signal Hill. The lighthouse became a centre for reporting news around the world and received the Titanic's distress signal after the vessel hit an iceberg off Newfoundland waters.
The bunkers you see below the lighthouse  were built in WWII, and the site still houses the original anti-submarine cannon used to protect the harbour.

Another view of the lighthouse.

As you cruise along the channel to the downtown core, you can see the provinces fishing heritage is still part of the economy.

Colourful houses dot the hillsides along the way.

While St John's is not mountainous like Bergen, is still has some beautiful hillsides.

Docked fishing boats.

Approaching the downtown.
All those little dots you see on the water and in the air are seagulls and other sea birds.

In the background is Signal Hill, the
location of  Cabot Tower which was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's discovery of Newfoundland, and Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The first transatlantic wireless transmission was received here by Marconi on December 12, 1901. Today, Signal Hill is a National Historic Site of Canada  and remains incredibly popular with both tourists and locals.

Irving Oil facility
Oil is pumped from the ships to the storage containers above.

Looking back toward the entrance of the channel.

First view of downtown as the ship gets ready to dock.

Looking at the stone walls carved out of the hillside, you can see why the province is also known as "The Rock".


St John's harbour is the busiest in the province. 

The ship sidles into the dock.

View of downtown from our balcony. That's the Court House at
the end of the street.

The city is as hilly as the surroundings.


The architecture of St. John's has a distinct style from that of the rest of Canada, and its major buildings are remnants of its history as one of the first British colonial capitals. Buildings took a variety of styles according to the means available to build the structures.


The area to the right of the picture is known as "Jelly Bean Row", named for its  colourful houses.

In the background is The Basilica Cathedral of John the Baptist.
It is the metropolitan cathedral of the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of St. John's and the symbol of Roman Catholicism
in Newfoundland.

Harbour architecture.

While all cities have graffiti, St John's actually pays artists to
put it there. This is one such example.

Buildings - old and new.

I'm not sure if this was the basement of a building, or an old bunker. Whatever it is, it still looks like it's in use judging by the sign on the door.

Our welcoming committee, a band playing local music.

We were also greeted by two dogs - a Newfoundland (seen here)
and a Golden Labrador, appropriate considering the full name of
the province is "Newfoundland and Labrador".

The last member of our welcoming committee was an officer of the
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, seen here on his faithful steed.
The mounted unit has four horses and riders and dates back to 1873.
The horse is a Percheron, a breed of draft horse not only known for it's
intelligence and willingness to work, but also for it's versatility as a
saddle horse and show jumper.

Heading to downtown.

Like Bergen, there are stairs everywhere to help pedestrians
get around.

Out for a walk along
Duckworth Street.

More sanctioned graffiti.

The street is full of little specialty shops . . .

. . . and beautiful old buildings.

The Court House
Opened in 1901, it is an impressive Victorian era stone building,
made with local granite and sandstone.

The stairs going up the hill beside the Court House.

Little micro-breweries are everywhere.

Walking along Water Street, the main drag along the harbour. Water Street, along with
Duckworth Street are known for their brightly coloured low rise heritage buildings which house numerous tourist shops, clothing boutiques, and restaurants.

There are also a lot of sculptures throughout the downtown core.

More stairs in an alleyway between buildings.

We decided to walk some of the back streets, where we noticed this sculpture of two women carrying what looks like a load of filleted fish.

Colourful table umbrellas in a patio bar.

I really wanted a picture of the front of this building, as it was
so beautiful, until I noticed that it is now a "gentlemen's" club,
adorned with posters of scantily clad women.

Now if you want to hide or dress up your utility boxes, this is how you do it, with tasteful graffiti.

The Murray Premises
The Murray Premises is a National Historic Site located in downtown St. John's . The buildings once served as a fishery, with facilities for drying and packaging fish and warehouses for fish, barrels and other items. The oldest of the buildings is the one facing on Beck’s Cove. The Murray Premises was renovated in 1979 and now contains office suites, restaurants, retail stores and a boutique hotel

Heading back to Water Street.

One last look.

Two members of the 78th Highlanders from Halifax came on
 board to entertain us as the ship left port.

Halifax, Nova Scotia                           Greenland                               Transatlantic Main Page                             Home Page