Skål Canada - St. John's
City of St. John's
Welcome to Atlantic Splendor!
Newfoundland is an island of austere, washed-out beauty and vast unpopulated wilderness. Yet here, in its capital and largest city, one finds scads of homes colored like tropical fruit, plus bustling street life and a dim urban (yet small-town friendly) buzz. For all that, North America's oldest city doesn't just contrast the province it dominates. St John's exudes wry wit, stoicism and lust for life, and to this end embodies some of Newfoundland's best values.
The town paints the steep slopes of a harbor that shelters hectares of green space, winding paths, rainbow row houses, artists, technocrats, and engineers – St John's is by far the most economically dynamic corner of Newfoundland; not coincidentally, it's also where you'll find the province's only university and ethnic enclaves. Signal Hill dominates the topography, while new restaurants, an active outdoors scene, and nights on the town dominate the social life.
St. John's excellent natural harbor, leading out to what were once seething seas of cod, prompted the first European settlement here in 1528. During the late 1600s and much of the 1700s, St. John's was razed and taken over several times as the French, English and Dutch fought for it tooth and nail. Britain won the ultimate victory on Signal Hill in 1762.
The harbor steadfastly maintained its position as the center of world trade for salted cod well into the 20th century. By mid-century, warehouses lined Water St, and the merchants who owned them made a fortune. Come the early 1960s, St. John's had more millionaires per capita than any other city in North America.
Today the city's wharves still act as service stations to fishing vessels from around the world and the occasional cruise ship, though the cod industry suffered mightily after a 1992 fishing moratorium. The offshore oil industry now drives the economy.
Newfoundland & Labrador
They call Newfoundland 'the Rock', a fitting name, as this is an island of thoroughly elemental attractions and aesthetics. The muskeg and cliffs are barren and salt-drenched. The trees give off the smell of spruce like the air was spiced. The ocean roils, flecked with icebergs and spouting whales. The wind roars, and at any time, a storm may scream across the bights and coves. If you enjoy the rugged and the rough, there are few more beautiful places. Yet ever contrasting the harsh geography is a culture that is, simply, magic. Bright houses painted like rainbows spill over the cliffs; menus advertise cod tongue and crowberries; at night, fiddles compete with the howling wind; and the ever-present chill is countered by the warmest locals you'll ever meet. This, then, is Canada's easternmost, most idiosyncratic province, a marriage of land and salt and storm all its own.
Photo Credits: Waterfront community (@robertconwayphotography); Downtown at night (@lindsayjralph); Historic tower (@eastcoastxplorer); destinationstjohns.com/ ( https://www.dropbox.com/sh/28kf0s529zg0l30/AABHOniaDqYRJF-P23AQXOTWa?dl=0)