Located on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula on the Island of Newfoundland, St. John’s is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is in fact, the most easterly city in North America and the second largest city in Atlantic Canada, with a population of 196,966 behind Halifax which has a population of 390,328.
St. Johns also boasts a rich and long history as the city of the provincial crown and the oldest English-founded city in North America. Many immigrants may find St. Johns appealing as it’s the fastest growing metropolitan area in Newfoundland and Labrador. St. Johns provides a wonderful balance between nature and city life, from the East Coast Trail, and its stunning scenery to the colorful entertainment district along the popular George Street.
St. John’s: the city of Legends
St. John’s has traces of Irish, Scottish and English roots, where many of the cities century-old entertainment centers still play a variety of Irish music. The city has a 100-year-old Irish style brewery that still brews their popular rum called Screech. As they say here, the world is made up of people who are Newfoundlanders and those who wish they were. Rum, uncovering century old legends, this friendly city has it all.
Once a prosperous city focused mainly on the fishing industry, St. John’s has blossomed into a modern day import and export center. In addition to that, newly discovered oil field have led to an economic boom for the city, which has helped raise commercial growth and population in the city of St. John’s. Today, the city is responsible for almost half of the Newfoundland and Labrador economic output.
Legend has it that the geographical area that is now known as St. John’s whose harbor acted as a common haven for European fishermen, and that the city’s name originated from the feast of Saint John the Baptist and Italian discoverer Giovanni Caboto, who landed there in 1497.
Geology and climate
St. John’s is one of the easily reachable places on earth where you can find some of our planet’s earliest rocks. The rocks on Signal Hill, the city’s biggest hill are 550 million years old, it is said that this is during the time that the continent drifted north.
St. John’s has a humid, cloudy climate and sees the rainiest amount of days, on average, than any other city in Canada. The city only has 1,497 hours of sunshine annually, its summers are cool and dry with average summer temperatures of 20 degrees and its winters are generally mild with average temperatures of -8 degrees. St. John’s is prone to the occasional tropical cyclones and hurricanes, thanks to it being bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
For new visitors to the city, it is hard to miss the three steep roofs that overlook the city and the harbor. The rooms are archives, a museum, and an 18th century styled art gallery. The King’s Bridge Road is where the elegant Victorian, Second Empire, and Gothic home of the wealthy and elite were built in the early 1890s.
Also noteworthy, is the Government House, built in 1827, is the former residence of Lieutenant Governor, Queen Elizabeth’s representative. During the City’s 400 anniversary celebrations, one of the rooms in the house was redecorated with furniture that was handcrafted by a local artisan for Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s stay.
Across from it is the city center, where you can stroll through the manicured botanical gardens, peek through the windows of the former Commissariat House (home to the Commissioner General), you can even stop for a cup of tea in the tea room that costs less than $2.
Shoppers to the city of St. John’s are usually drawn to the art galleries and handicrafts along Water Street, the oldest street in North America. Locals say at its pomp, the city was a thriving business district that would rival Wall Street today. Visitors can also browse through the street for Newfoundland Labradorean jewelry, soapstone and wooden carvings, pottery and landscape scenes.
Also on Water Street, is Velma’s place which is known for traditional Newfoundland food like fried cod tongues, and fish and chips.
St. John’s might not be glamorous and extravagant as the other Canadian cities but its rich history and laid-back nature of its working class people make it worth visiting.