St Johns Visitor information
St John’s is a city that was built around it’s harbour, a dramatic inlet approached through the 200m-wide channel known as The Narrows. There was a time when the port was crammed full of ships from a wealth of nations, but these days, there is less traffic to the port, and it attracts mostly container ships and oil construction barges.
This has not stopped the growth of a vibrant nightlife in the city, and rough houses that used to be found along the waterfront have now been replaced by chic restaurants, stylish shops and professional office buildings. The waterfront is the social hub, and features a smattering of bars which showcase the best of Newfoundland folk music. This is a great reason to visit the city in itself, another is that the city forms the backdrop of the hit Canadian TV show, Republic of Doyle.
The number of seafarers who inhabit the city is dwindling, and instead the city attracts white-collar workers, artists and students from all corners of Canada.
With the exception of Signal Hill, the attractions in the city are within walking distance of each other. Museums include the Railway Coastal Museum, Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador and the East Rider Motorcycle Museum.
The city is served by St John’s International Airport. St John’s is also the eastern terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway, which is one of the longest national highways in the world.
St Johns History
St John’s is thought to be North America’s oldest city, as year round settlement is thought to have begun sometime after 1630, with seasonal habitation beginning long before that. The city is named St John’s because Sebastian Cabot and his father became the first Europeans to sail into the harbour on the feast day of St John the Baptist (June 24th).
St John’s has been the location of many transatlantic firsts due to it’s location on the east coast of Canada. Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless signal in St. John's on December 1901 from his wireless station in Poldhu, Cornwall. The city was also the starting point for the first non-stop transatlantic aircraft flight by Alcock and Browen in a modified Vickers Vimy IV bomber in June 1919.
During the Second World War, the harbour supported Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy ships that were engaged in anti-submarine warfare. It was also the site of an American Army Air Force base, Fort Pepperrell, that was established as part of the "Lend-Lease" agreement between the United Kingdom and United States. The base was transferred to Canadian control in 1960 and is now known as CFS St. John's. The Knights of Columbus Hostel fire in December 1942, saw 99 military and civilian lives lost.