Monday, August 18, 2014

St. John’s

Our 4 days in the “big city” seem to have gone by quickly. None of us really like cities, but with the rich history in this area, we’ve come to appreciate how the city has grown from a remote fishing port to a large metropolis. We especially love the colorful row houses, both old and new.



There are large murals and paintings, plus statues of all kinds, including mermaids. This first pic has both, if you look closely.





Below are 3 shots (of 10) from a mural on a retaining wall.




We visited Signal Hill, where the first transatlantic wireless signal was received in 1901, after serving as a strategic defensive point for protecting the St. John’s harbour beginning in the mid-1700’s. Five hundred American troops were stationed on Signal Hill during World War II.

Cabot Tower was built on Signal Hill over a 3-year period, beginning with the cornerstone being laid on June 23, 1897, to commemorate John Cabot’s North American Landfall 400 years earlier, as well as the 60th year of Queen Victoria’s reign.



From this vantage point we had not only a bird’s eye view of the city, but also the lighthouse on the opposite side of the harbour at Fort Amherst.


Owen Porter, a Newfoundland native whom we met in Gander, was a wonderful tour guide and kept us interested and entertained.


Cape Spear was the first place for Newfoundland’s colonial government to build a lighthouse. It first shined its beacon in 1836.


Owen was a classmate and is still a friend with the son of a recent Cape Spear Lighthouse keeper. Owen’s friend grew up here. Can you imagine living in a place like this? It’s very different from my childhood neighborhood!


Two massive disappearing guns provided protection for ships in the approaches to St. John’s harbour. One of these guns is invisible in this picture, as we walked down the hill toward it.


But we got a close-up view and learned how the gun was deployed.


Cape Spear is also the most easterly point in North America. The first sign says “Canada begins here! …or ends, depending on which way you are going.”


Like true tourists, Susie and I had to have our picture made beneath the “most easterly point” sign.


We have seen some big ships in the harbours.



And we saw some small ships in a lake.


Each ship is perfect in every detail.


There’s even a fishing dock, and the creator came out to chat with us. All of the boats are for sale. But you can look for free, or for a donation.


Besides the colorful row houses, we’ve seen lots of (mostly) large modern houses.


We visited historic George Street, with more bars/pubs per square foot than any other street in North America.




We didn’t see any icebergs, but we learned some interesting facts: 1) glaciers from Greenland produce up to 40,000 icebergs every year; 2) an average of 370 drift as far south as St. John’s; 3) a “typical” iceberg is 100 feet high and weighs 204,000 tons; 4) only 1/8 of an iceberg appears above water.

St. John’s is a special place that we will always remember, especially because of two momentous events that we celebrated. On Saturday (8/16) we had dinner at The Keg Steakhouse for Don’s 70th birthday (8/4) and Susie & Denny’s 50th anniversary (8/29). Owen and his partner Pauline joined us for the party. Congratulations to all!


It has been a wonderful time, and we hope our Newfoundland friends will visit us someday in the U.S. Thanks so much for your hospitality, Owen & Pauline!