St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

The weather has defeated us again.  We were unable to call in at St. Anthony because it is a port where we use the ship’s tenders to get ashore and the swells were 4 metres high. Tendering is impossible in those conditions.  We came straight to St. John’s and were able to enjoy an extra evening off the ship.  We were greeted by a local musical group and a friendly Newfoundland dog (photo.) Many people, like a friend and I, went off to dinner or to a local pub. My friend and I went to a locally famous fish and chips restaurant, Ches’s, and had some terrific cod and a local beer made with water from a 25,000 year old iceberg.  Naturally, it is called Iceberg beer. For the non-Canadians who follow this blog, St. John’s is the capital of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Until 1949, it was under British rule.  At that time after two referenda, the population approved its joining Canada by a narrow majority. St. John’s is the oldest European settlement in North America.   It was sighted by a Norseman in 986 and was rediscovered and named Newfoundland by John Cabot in 1497. In 1901, the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill (photos) was the site where Marconi first received a transatlantic radio signal. In 1919, Alcock and Brown began the first successful transatlantic flight from here. Fishing for cod and the seal hunt were the mainstay of the province for a long time.  However recently, oil has been found offshore and it has led to a new prosperity for the people of this province.   The sail in to St. John’s through the Narrows is very pretty (photo) and the entire downtown with its many brightly coloured houses can be seen from the top deck of the ship (photos.)  Not too many cruise ships call here so we had a warm welcome. On Wednesday, our original arrival date, we were to have been greeted early by a Fife and Drum band and more dogs. I was away so did not see them.  The Cabot Tower flew signal flags of welcome, A Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Mounted unit visited the ship at lunchtime (photo) and Parks Canada costumed soldiers performed a special Farewell Musket Salute from the Queen’s Battery on Signal Hill as we left port (photo).  During the day I visited The Rooms, which is the archives, museum and art gallery of Newfoundland (photos).  The building looks like two giant houses joined together and can be seen towering over the top of the city.  It is as modern inside as it is outside.  The exhibits are mixed media –  dioramas, artworks, artefacts and video presentations cover the art, history flora and fauna of Newfoundland in the different “rooms” in the building. Currently there is an exhibit of David Blackwood’s Prints of Newfoundland.  David Blackwood is one of Canada’s leading printmakers and the exhibit showcases his most iconic etchings as well as related historical artefacts and archival material from his own collection.  The local people are very friendly and I really enjoyed my visit.  Our next port, once again weather permitting, is Bar Harbour, Maine, USA.


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One Response to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

  1. daviddapaget says:

    Great, Leslie! Makes me proud. MUST get to know St.John’s better! The Rooms look and sound super. I love David Blackwood’s art BTW.

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