One Way to do St John’s, Newfoundland

St. John’s, a city on Newfoundland island off Canada’s Atlantic coast, has become a very popular port visit for cruise ships visiting Canada. It is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador province and its history dates back to the 1600s when its harbour was settled by the British…

My wife and I visited St John’s while on an Autumn cruise aboard the P&O cruise ship Arcadia, and it’s good to note that the ship berths almost in the centre of the city…

This was our first ever visit to St John’s and in order to make the most of it we researched carefully the places that would appeal and be of interest to us. Our plan for the day included producing two maps to assist us…

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The weather on arrival was very overcast,  though from the ship we were able to put into perspective one of our targeted visit places, the Cabot Tower on Signal Hill…

While from the central berth the Downtown colourful rows of St John’s famous ‘Jelly Bean Houses’ were also clearly visible…

Amongst the first to leave the ship we headed for the easily spotted St John’s Court House…

…and continued our  climb up the steps along its side…

…before crossing Duckworth Street and continuing up Cathedral Street to admire The Masonic Temple…

Built in 1894 the St. John’s Masonic Temple is the most architecturally impressive fraternal lodge in Newfoundland, and has the distinction of being the largest brick fraternal meeting hall in the province. The last Masonic meeting in the temple was held in June 2007 and the following year the building was bought  to house a local theatre company, Spirit of Newfoundland.

Continuing up  Garrison Hill  we eventually arrived at our first destination, the pretty  impressive  Roman Catholic Basilica Cathedral…

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This was the highest point that we had planned in central St John’s and we now headed along Queens Road in the direction of  Prescott and Gower Streets to take in a closer look at the famous ‘Jelly Bean’ houses…

(Looking carefully one can see Arcadia’s Funnel stack at the bottom of Prescott Street) 

These two streets certainly offered a delightful imagery of just what the ‘Jelly Bean’ focus is…

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Just one block below Gower Street we came across the The Newfoundland National War Memorial…

…again with a backdrop of ‘Jelly Bean’ Houses on Duckworth Street. The National War Memorial in Downtown St. John’s is the most elaborate of all the post World War I monuments in Newfoundland and Labrador.

And it was Duckworth Street that we once again headed along on our way to Signal Hill, soon coming  across this amazing mural…

…and discovered that, along with the accompanying ‘chocolate mermaid’…

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…we had stumbled upon the home of the Newfoundland Chocolate Company.

Continuing the short distance to the end of Duckworth Street,  we found we were on course for  Signal Hill…

At a convenient junction there were clear directions and an easy to follow visitor’s guide Notice…

…while applying a little zoom,  the map becomes more clear…

We commenced our ascent of Signal Hill following the tarmac road till we drew level with The Signal Hill Geo Center…

…but our particular interest was on the opposite side of the road, Dead Man’s Pond…

 

…from where a short walk takes one to ‘The Observation Deck’ …

…where, apart from offering some great views over St John’s Harbour…

…there are many interesting boards detailing the development and history of St John’s…

 

Returning to Signal Hill Road we soon reached the Signal Hill Visitor Center…

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…and another feature, Gibbet Hill…

…scene of many a gory display that would hopefully serve as a deterrent to others…

From the Visitor Centre there are a number of paths that give options for different ascents to the top of Signal Hill. We chose one that took us to the Queens Battery…

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It proved to be  site that gave an excellent view over the narrow harbour entrance…

 

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A short climb from Queens Battery gave even better views across the St John’s Harbour…

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…before we finally reached the peak of Signal Hill and Cabot Tower…

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…which commemorates John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland.

Apart from Cabot Tower there were a number of interesting sites in the area including, most famously, the spot from where the first trans Atlantic wireless signal was received by Guglielm Marconi…

…and the rather morbid view over the site of the old ‘Fever Hospital’…

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Timings recorded on my camera indicated that we had now been on the go for just over two and a half  hours and there was still plenty to cover but with the bonus of it mainly being all downhill. Our aim now was to cross over Signal Hill in the direction of Quidi Vidi Harbour…

…and we were delighted to discover some well worn and well signposted footpaths to guide us…

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Within striking distance of Quidi Vidi we came across an inspiring turn up for the book, as we stumbled onto    Cuckolds Cove…

…which, on reading the historical notice board…

…we discovered its significance…

…in particular the details of the trans Atlantic submarine cables laid in 1909…

Having lingered at Cuckold’s Cove long enough to discover its historical relevance it was now just a 10 minute short walk into the fishing village of Quidi Vidi…

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…a most picturesque spot but on this occasion our main interest was in the Craft Brewery occupying a former fish plant on one side of the narrow inlet…

…the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company…

…which is the third-largest brewer in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Tours of the Brewery are available however having done many such tours over the years, and with still a number of sights we wished to see, we settled for a sample of the excellent brews on offer in their spacious bar area…

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We had planned to return into St John’s by an alternative route, one which followed the Quidi Vidi Lake Trail……

 

…which proved an excellent route choice …

…as not only did we not have to scale Signal Hill once more but it took us through some interesting natural scenery, the Royal St John’s Regatta Boathouse,  home to the Regatta ‘Hall of Fame’…

and finally through some gorgeous residential areas where we even managed a chat with an interesting local character who renovated vintage American vehicles…

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On reentering St John’s proper we walked along the aptly named Water Street to Harbourside Park…

 

…which offers scenic views of the harbour, historical storyboards…

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…while it is also  home to the canine commemorative statues of the two most famous breeds found in Newfoundland and Labrador…

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Directly across Water Street is the magnificent St John’s War Memorial…

The National War Memorial is the most elaborate of all the post World War I monuments in Newfoundland and Labrador. It was erected in 1924.

Having arrived on the P&O ship Arcadia, and being well aware of one of its best  prominent forward lounge known as the ‘Crow’s Nest, our curiosity  was aroused when, close by, and also on Water Street, we spotted the Crow’s Nest Officer’s Club…

Between 1942 and 1945 the Seagoing Officer’s Club, as it was known then, became famous around the North Atlantic as a place for naval men to go and relax from the horrors of the war. It also became famous for the rickety 59 steps leading up to the club. Getting up the stairs was no problem, but trying to come back down at the end of the evening proved to be a far more daunting task.

Since the end of the war, the club changed its name to the Crow’s Nest and is now St John’s most exclusive club. The management has laboured to keep the historic fourth floor bar area intact. An unusual feature is the periscope from the captured German U-Boat 190, which now projects from the roof of the building. Many of the crewmen decorated the wall space with the crests of their vessels, crests that remain in the club to this day. In many cases, these crests and other items serve as memorials and tributes to those sailors who did not survive the war.

Our final planned visit entailed a walk along Duckworth street which once again proved a most interesting exercise throwing up such a variety of shops, bars and side streets…

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…including the rather unusually named brewery…

…and a wide selection of pubs…

 

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Until eventually we were within striking distance of our goal, Trapper John’s Pub and Museum…

Alas we were to be disappointed, Trapper’s wasn’t due to open for another pair of hours by which time we’d have been due to return onboard our ship. Fortunately, we had literally just passed the Morgan MacDonald A-Time Statue…

…opposite which  sits the Yellow Belly Brewery…

…for a final St John’s liquid refreshment tasting.

We dropped back down onto Harbour Drive, passing, on the way Royal Canadian ships…

…and a smaller namesake of our own, another Arcadia…

 

That concluded our day visit in St. John’s, Newfoundland  which, despite the inclement weather, surpassed expectations and gave us a splendid insight into the history, life and heritage of this North Atlantic port.

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Hopefully, when cruising resumes after the Corona Virus pandemic there will also be reviews  of my 2021 booked cruises featuring a rescheduled  Emerald Waterways river cruise through Eastern Europe, a second cruise with MSC, onboard their ship MSC Magnifica and a new experience onboard P&O’s latest offering, Iona: while we also have a re-scheduled Star Clipper booked for another Far East Adventure along the Thailand and Malaysian coasts.

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Duplication in part or whole without prior written consent is prohibited by international laws.

 

Disclosure to potential conflict of interest:

It is common throughout the travel industry for travel journalists and many cruise bloggers to be provided with complimentary cruises for the purpose of their reviews.

Solent Richard has no ‘conflict of interest’ as he is not an accredited journalist, he pays for his cruises, and is happy to confirm that all his reviews are his own given without fear or favour.

2 responses to “One Way to do St John’s, Newfoundland

  1. What a lot of ground you covered. We were in St Johns and walked around all day exploring on our own but did not get as far as Quidi Vici. However, we did spend time in the Geo Center on St Johns Hill. For anyone with an interest in geology, geography, earth science, as I have, or indeed in a fascinating, informative and unusual visitor attraction we can thoroughly recommend this. The main exhibition area is inside the hill with its rock and features exposed.

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