Set Sail for St. John's, Newfoundland

By Arlie MacGregor   Trail Canada

Canada's youngest province has been the site of some of North America's oldest European settlements. Isolated and remote seaside villages have preserved cultures and customs distinctly unique from her Maritime neighbours. A trip to the capital, St. John's, is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, in what this beautiful province has to offer.

Historical Points of Interest

On the eastern tip of Canada stands the oldest surviving lighthouse in Newfoundland, at the Cape Spear National Historic Site of Canada. Fully restored to reflect the life of a light keeper during the 1800's, it also has visitor centre, gift shop and art gallery. Military buffs will enjoy a visit to Cabot Tower on Signal Hill. Used as a defence point until the Second World War, it was also the site of the first transatlantic wireless telegraph signal. The Signal Hill Tattoo brings history to life with its period costumed military drills. Quidi Vidi Battery gives another view of historical military life at this restored outpost. Wine enthusiasts will appreciate a stop at the Newman Wine Vaults, where port was shipped from England to mature in cellars. Music lovers, on the other hand, will gain some insight from the "History of Music Display" at Memorial University School of Music.

Modern Attractions

A trip to St. John's wouldn't be complete without a trip to the Johnson Geo Centre. This highly informative, interpretational centre showcases the geological events that shape our planet and daily lives. The Spirit of Newfoundland promises an unforgettable night of entertainment and dining with its world renowned dinner theatre. Pippy Park, a land reserve in St. John's covering more than 3000 acres, is home to Memorial University, the Arts and Culture Centre, the Confederation Building and a range of recreational facilities from golf to quiet strolls.


Whether by land or sea, taking in a few tours is a must to fully capture the history and picturesque scenery surrounding St. John's. Around The Bay Tours offers guided bus tours that wind through historic, ocean view hamlets and museums as you learn about pirates and explorers. Ocean Quest Inc. specializes in aqueous discoveries, with excursions to Conception Bay. Bird sanctuaries, whale watching and sightseeing are just a few of the possibilities. For the adventure seeker, scuba charters to one of the many local shipwrecks are available for certified divers. Never tried scuba diving? Ocean Quest offers snorkelling as well. Scademia Adventure Tours has a combination tour; board a 90-foot schooner to Cape Spear and then return to St. John's for an informative drive through the city.

Where to Stay

Located in the heart of downtown St. John's is The Fairmont Newfoundland. It offers luxurious accommodations and dining, while providing outstanding views of the harbour and Signal Hill. For a cosy retreat, A Bonne Esperance Heritage House offers Victorian decadence in this 1890's B & B, imparting old world charm with modern amenities. A short distance from St. John's at Conception Bay is the Beach Side B& B, where you can watch spectacular sunsets from the deck and enjoy a full breakfast in the morning. To experience life in a small outport village, stay at the House on the Tickle. This restored two bedroom cottage is located in Portugal Cove-St. Phillips, a traditional fishing community only 15 minutes from St. John's.

There is so much to do and see in St. John's it would take a novel to cover it all. Do yourself a favour and plan to stay a while to take in as much as you can. With spectacular scenery and warm hospitality, St. John's awaits.

St. John's Features

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