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St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

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St. John's
City of St. John's
From top left: St. John's Skyline, The Rooms, Water Street, Cabot Tower
Flag of St. John's
Official logo of St. John's
Nickname(s): "City of Legends", "Newfiejohn", "Sin Jawns", "Town"[1][2][3][4]
Motto: Avancez (English: "Go forward")
St. John's is located in Newfoundland and Labrador
St. John's
St. John's
Location of St. John's in Newfoundland and Labrador
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Country Canada
Province Newfoundland and Labrador
Census division 1
Founded 24 June 1497
Established 5 August 1583 by Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I
Incorporated 1 May 1888
 • Type City Council
 • Mayor Dennis O'Keefe
 • Governing body St. John's City Council
 • MPs
 • MHAs
 • City 446.06 km2 (172.2 sq mi)
 • Urban 182.62 km2 (70.51 sq mi)
 • Metro 804.63 km2 (310.7 sq mi)
Elevation Sea Level 0–147 m (0–483 ft)
Population (2011 census[6])
 • City 106,172
 • Density 238.0/km2 (616.6/sq mi)
 • Urban 165,346
 • Urban density 891.1/km2 (2,308/sq mi)
 • Metro 196,966
 • Metro density 244.8/km2 (634.0/sq mi)
 • Demonym Townie
  20th Largest metropolitan area in Canada
Time zone NST (UTC– 3:30)
 • Summer (DST) NDT (UTC– 2:30)
Postal code A1A...A1H
Area code(s) 709
NTS Map 001N10
Dwellings 45,317[6]
Median Income $75,930 CDN[7]
Website St. John's website

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St. John's (/ˌsntˈɒnz/, local /ˌsntˈɑːnz/) is the capital and largest city in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. St. John's was incorporated as a city in 1888, yet is considered by some to be the oldest English-founded city in North America.[8] It is located on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland.[9] With a population of 211,724 as of 2014, the St. John's Metropolitan Area is the second largest Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in Atlantic Canada after Halifax and the 20th largest metropolitan area in Canada.[10] It is one of the top ten oceanside destinations, according to National Geographic Magazine.[11] Its name has been attributed to the feast day of John the Baptist, when John Cabot was believed to have sailed into the harbour in 1497, and also to a Basque fishing town with the same name.[12][13]


16th and 17th centuries

Considered to be "North America's Oldest City", St. John's is one of the oldest settlements in North America, with year-round settlement beginning sometime after 1630 and seasonal habitation long before that.[8] It is not, however, the oldest surviving English settlement in North America or Canada, having been preceded by the Cuper's Cove colony at Cupids, founded in 1610, and the Bristol's Hope colony at Harbour Grace, founded in 1618.[14] In fact, although English fishermen had begun setting up seasonal camps in Newfoundland in the 16th Century, they were expressly forbidden by the British government, at the urging of the West Country fishing industry, from establishing permanent settlements along the English controlled coast, hence the town of St. John's was not established as a permanent community until after the 1630s at the earliest.[15] Other permanent English settlements in the Americas that predate St. John's include: St. George's, Bermuda (1612)[16] and Jamestown, Virginia (1607).[17]

Sebastian Cabot declares in a handwritten Latin text in his original 1545 map,[18] that the St. John's earned its name when he and his father, the Venetian explorer John Cabot became the first Europeans to sail into the harbour, in the morning of 24 June 1494 (against British and French historians stating 1497),[19] the feast day of Saint John the Baptist.[12] However, the exact locations of Cabot's landfalls are disputed.[20][21] A series of expeditions to St. John's by Portuguese from the Azores took place in the early 16th century, and by 1540 French, Spanish and Portuguese ships crossed the Atlantic annually to fish the waters off the Avalon Peninsula. In the Basque Country, it is a common belief that the name of St. John's was given by Basque fishermen because the bay of St. John's is very similar to the Bay of Pasaia in the Basque Country, where one of the fishing towns is also called St. John (in Spanish, San Juan, and in Basque, Donibane).[13]

Plaque commemorating Gilbert's founding of the British Empire

The earliest record of the location appears as São João on a Portuguese map by Pedro Reinel in 1519. When John Rut visited St. John's in 1527 he found Norman, Breton and Portuguese ships in the harbour. On 3 August 1527, Rut wrote a letter to King Henry on the findings of his voyage to North America; this was the first known letter sent from North America. St. Jehan is shown on Nicholas Desliens' world map of 1541 and San Joham is found in João Freire's Atlas of 1546.[22] It was during this time that Water Street was first developed, making it the oldest street in North America.[dubious ]

On 5 August 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the area as England's first overseas colony under Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I.[23] There was no permanent population, however, and Gilbert was lost at sea during his return voyage, thereby ending any immediate plans for settlement.[13] The Newfoundland National War Memorial is located on the waterfront in St. John's, at the purported site of Gilbert's landing and proclamation.

By 1620, the fishermen of England's West Country controlled most of Newfoundland's east coast.[24] In 1627, William Payne, called St. John's "the principal prime and chief lot in all the whole country". The population grew slowly in the 17th century and St. John's was the largest settlement in Newfoundland when English naval officers began to take censuses around 1675.[22] The population would grow in the summers with the arrival of migratory fishermen.[13] In 1680, fishing ships (mostly from South Devon) set up fishing rooms at St. John's, bringing hundreds of Irish men into the port to operate inshore fishing boats.[22]

The town's first significant defences were likely erected due to commercial interests, following the temporary seizure of St. John's by the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter in June 1665. The inhabitants were able to fend off a second Dutch attack in 1673, when this time it was defended by Christopher Martin, an English merchant captain. Martin landed six cannons from his vessel, the Elias Andrews, and constructed an earthen breastwork and battery near chain Rock commanding the Narrows leading into the harbour. With only twenty-three men, the valiant Martin beat off an attack by three Dutch warships. The English government planned to expand these fortifications (Fort William) in around 1689, but actual construction didn't begin until after the French admiral Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville captured and destroyed the town in the Avalon Peninsula Campaign (1696). When 1500 English reinforcements arrived in late 1697 they found nothing but rubble where the town and fortifications had stood.

18th and 19th centuries

The French attacked St. John's again in 1705 (Siege of St. John's), and captured it in 1708 (Battle of St. John's), devastating civilian structures with fire on each instance.[22]

The harbour remained fortified through most of the 18th and 19th centuries.[13] The final battle of the Seven Years' War in North America (the French and Indian War) was fought in 1762, in St. John's.[13] Following a surprise capture of the town by the French early in the year, the British responded, and at the Battle of Signal Hill, the French surrendered St. John's to British forces under the command of Colonel William Amherst.[22][25]

The 18th century saw major changes in Newfoundland: population growth, beginnings of government, establishment of churches, reinforcement of commercial ties with North America and development of the seal, salmon and Grand Banks fisheries. St. John's population grew slowly, and although it was still primarily a fishing station, it was also a garrison, a centre of government and a commercial hub. St. John's served as a naval base during both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.[22]

The core of the city was destroyed by fire several times, the most famous of which was the Great Fire of 1892.[26]

20th and 21st centuries

Guglielmo Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal in St. John's on December 1901 from his wireless station in Poldhu, Cornwall.[27]

Seamen raise White Ensign over a captured German U-boat in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1945

St. John's was the starting point for the first non-stop transatlantic aircraft flight, by Alcock and Brown in a modified Vickers Vimy IV bomber, in June 1919, departing from Lester's Field in St. John's and ending in a bog near Clifden, Connemara, Ireland.[28] In July 2005, the flight was duplicated by American aviator and adventurer Steve Fossett in a replica Vickers Vimy aircraft, with St. John's International Airport substituting for Lester's Field (now an urban and residential part of the city).[29]

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.[13] 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.[30]

St. John's, and the province as a whole, was gravely affected in the 1990s by the collapse of the Northern cod fishery, which had been the driving force of the provincial economy for hundreds of years.[31] After a decade of high unemployment rates and depopulation, the city's proximity to the Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose oil fields has led to an economic boom that has spurred population growth and commercial development. As a result, the St. John's area now accounts for about half of the province's economic output.[32][33]

As of 2012, St. John's contains 21 National Historic Sites of Canada.[34][35]

St. John's is serviced by one major airport, and has daily direct service to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Gander, Deer Lake, Wabush, Goose Bay and Halifax; and seasonal service direct to Calgary, Dublin and London.


St. John's is located along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, on the northeast of the Avalon Peninsula in southeast Newfoundland.[9] The city covers an area of 446.04 square kilometres (172.22 sq mi) and is the most easterly city in North America, excluding Greenland;[36] it is 295 miles (475 km) closer to London, England than it is to Edmonton, Alberta.[37] The city is the largest in the province and the second largest in the Atlantic Provinces after Halifax, Nova Scotia.[38] Its downtown area lies to the west and north of St. John's Harbour, and the rest of the city expands from the downtown to the north, south, east and west.

Coniferous trees such as black spruce, white spruce, and balsam fir dominate the native vegetation. The largest deciduous tree is white birch; species of lesser stature include alder, cherry and mountain ash. Of introduced tree species, sycamore maple is most abundant and Norway maple is common. Blue spruce, common horsechestnut, European beech and littleleaf linden are among the other non-native species grown.[39]


St. John's has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb), with lower seasonal variation than normal for the latitude, which is due to Gulf Stream moderation. However, despite this maritime moderation, average January high temperatures are actually slightly warmer in Kelowna, British Columbia—a non-coastal, inland city which is usually protected from severe winter weather by a combination of moderation from nearby Okanagan Lake, as well as the protective barriers of the Rocky and Columbia mountains to the northeast which tend to block most arctic outflow. Mean temperatures range from −4.9 °C (23.2 °F) in February to 16.1 °C (61.0 °F) in August, showing somewhat of a seasonal lag in the climate. The city is also one of the areas of the country most prone to tropical cyclone activity, as it is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, where tropical storms (and sometimes hurricanes) travel from the United States. The city is one of the rainiest in Canada outside of coastal British Columbia. This is partly due to its propensity for tropical storm activity as well as moist, Atlantic air frequently blowing ashore and creating precipitation.

Of major Canadian cities, St. John's is the foggiest (124 days),[40] windiest (24.3 km/h (15.1 mph) average speed),[41] and cloudiest (1,497 hours of sunshine).[42] St. John's experiences milder temperatures during the winter season in comparison to other Canadian cities, and has the mildest winter for any Canadian city outside of British Columbia.[43] Precipitation is frequent and often heavy, falling year round. On average, summer is the driest season, with only occasional thunderstorm activity, and the wettest months are from October to January, with December the wettest single month, with nearly 165 millimetres of precipitation on average. This winter precipitation maximum is quite unusual for humid continental climates, which most commonly have a late spring or early summer precipitation maximum (for example, most of the Midwestern U.S.). Most heavy precipitation events in St. John's are the product of intense mid-latitude storms migrating from the Northeastern U.S. and New England states, and these are most common and intense from October to March, bringing heavy precipitation (commonly 4 to 8 centimetres of rainfall equivalent in a single storm), and strong winds. In winter, two or more types of precipitation (rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow) can fall from passage of a single storm. Snowfall is heavy, averaging nearly 335 centimetres per winter season. However, winter storms can bring changing precipitation types. Heavy snow can transition to heavy rain, melting the snow cover, and possibly back to snow or ice (perhaps briefly) all in the same storm, resulting in little or no net snow accumulation. Snow cover in St. John's is variable, and especially early in the winter season, may be slow to develop, but can extend deeply into the spring months (March, April). The St. John's area is subject to freezing rain (called "silver thaws"), the worst of which paralyzed the city over a three-day period in April 1984.

Climate data for St. John's (St. John's Airport, normals from 1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high humidex 19.2 17.3 17.2 26.1 29.5 34.8 38.5 37.7 35.8 29.8 23.7 20.7 38.5
Record high °C (°F) 15.7
Average high °C (°F) −0.8
Daily mean °C (°F) −4.5
Average low °C (°F) −8.2
Record low °C (°F) −23.3
Record low wind chill −35.7 −40.3 −40.3 −21.4 −14.2 −7.7 −3.4 0.0 −4.4 −11.8 −24.6 −34.3 −40.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 149.2
Average rainfall mm (inches) 66.0
Average snowfall cm (inches) 88.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 21.8 18.5 19.6 17.3 16.6 14.7 13.6 13.7 15.5 18.6 19.7 22.0 211.7
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 9.3 8.6 11.0 13.9 15.9 14.7 13.6 13.7 15.5 18.1 15.7 12.7 162.6
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 18.3 14.6 13.3 7.0 2.1 0.07 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.4 7.6 14.6 78.9
Mean monthly sunshine hours 65.5 90.2 107.4 140.4 176.3 198.9 216.7 206.6 170.5 122.1 76.3 62.4 1,633.2
Percent possible sunshine 23.7 31.1 29.2 34.3 37.6 41.7 44.9 46.7 45.1 36.2 27.2 23.7 35.1
Source: Environment Canada[44][45]


St.John's NFLD.jpg
Downtown St. John's


Looking at St. John's Jelly Bean Row and waterfront from Signal Hill; the colourful row houses, August 2012

The architecture of St. John's has a distinct style from that of the rest of Canada, and its major buildings are remnants of its history as one of the first British colonial capitals. Buildings took a variety of styles according to the means available to build the structures.

Starting as a fishing outpost for European fishermen, St. John's consisted mostly of the homes of fishermen, sheds, storage shacks, and wharves constructed out of wood. Like many other cities of the time, as the Industrial Revolution took hold and new methods and materials for construction were introduced, the landscape changed as the city grew in width and height. The Great Fire of 1892 destroyed most of the downtown core, and most residential and other wood-frame buildings date from this period.[26]

Often compared to San Francisco due to the hilly terrain and steep maze of residential streets, housing in St. John's is typically painted in bright colours.[46] The city council has implemented strict heritage regulations in the downtown area, including restrictions on the height of buildings.[47] These regulations have caused much controversy over the years. With the city experiencing an economic boom a lack of hotel rooms and office space has seen proposals put forward that do not meet the current height regulations. Heritage advocates argue that the current regulations should be enforced while others believe the regulations should be relaxed to encourage economic development.[48][49][50][51]

To meet the need for more office space downtown without compromising the city's heritage, the city council amended heritage regulations, which originally restricted height to 15 metres in the area of land on Water Street between Bishop's Cove and Steer's Cove, to create the "Commercial Central Retail – West Zone". The new zone will allow for buildings of greater height. A 47-metre, 12-storey office building, which includes retail space and a parking garage, was the first building to be approved in this area.[52]

Confederation Building is the tallest in St. John's
10 Tallest Buildings in St. John's[53]
Rank Name Floors Completed
1 Confederation Building 11 1959
2 John Cabot Place 13 1993
3 St. Patrick's Church N/A 1914
4 Cabot Place 12 1987
5 Delta Hotel 13 1988
6 Scotia Centre 11 1987
7 Southcott Hall 13 1964
8 Fortis Building 12 1969
9 TD Place 10 1981
10 Atlantic Place 9 1975
10 Tiffany Village 9 2009


As of the 2006 Census, there were 100,646 inhabitants in St. John's itself, 151,322 in the urban area and 181,113 in the St. John's Census Metropolitan Area (CMA).[54] Thus, St. John's is Newfoundland and Labrador's largest city and Canada's 20th largest CMA.[55] Apart from St. John's, the CMA includes 12 other communities: the city of Mount Pearl and the towns of Conception Bay South, Paradise, Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, Torbay, Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, Pouch Cove, Flatrock, Bay Bulls, Witless Bay, Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove and Bauline.[54] The population of the CMA was 192,326 as of 1 July 2010.[56]

As of 2011, there were 4,205 visible minorities in the city. The largest visible minority group were South Asians (1.2%), followed by Chinese Canadian (1.0%), and Blacks (0.9%). There were 4,305 Aboriginals in St. John's, comprising 4.1% of the city's population. First Nations people made up 2.9% of the city's population, Inuit comprised 0.8% of St. John's population, and 0.6% were Métis.[57]

Historical populations[58]
Year Pop. ±%
1986 103,079 —    
1991 104,659 +1.5%
1996 101,936 −2.6%
2001 99,182 −2.7%
2006 100,646 +1.5%
2011 106,172 +5.5%
Ethnic Origin, 2006[59]
Ethnic Origin Percentage
English 45.5
Canadian 41.1
Irish 31.3
Scottish 8.3
French 4.6
German 2.1
Mother tongue language, 2006[60]
Language Population Percentage
English only 95,555 96.10%
Other languages 3,420 3.43%
French only 355 0.35%
Both English and French 95 0.09%


The information below is from the 2001 Canadian Census.[61] and the National Household Survey 2011[62]

Predominantly Christian, the population of St. John's was once divided along sectarian (Catholic/Protestant) lines. In recent years, this sectarianism has declined significantly, and is no longer a commonly acknowledged facet of life in St. John's. St. John's is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of St. John's, and the Anglican Bishop of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. All major Christian sects showed a decline from 2001–2011 with a large increase in those with no religion from 3.9% to 11.1%.

Religion 2001 (%) 2011 (%) 2011 (Total)
Roman Catholic 48.9% 48.4% 50,370
Anglican 22.8% 16.1% 16,745
United Church 15.0% 12.8% 13,345
Pentecostal 2.3% 2.3% 2,390
No religion 3.9% 11.1% 11,505


Memorial University is the city's largest employer, after local government

St. John's economy is connected to both its role as the provincial capital of Newfoundland and Labrador and to the ocean. The civil service which is supported by the federal, provincial and municipal governments has been the key to the expansion of the city's labour force and to the stability of its economy, which supports a sizable retail, service and business sector.[63] The provincial government is the largest employer in the city, followed by Memorial University.[64][65] With the collapse of the fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1990s, the role of the ocean is now tied to what lies beneath it – oil and gas – as opposed to what swims in or travels across it.[66] The city is the centre of the oil and gas industry in Eastern Canada and is one of 19 World Energy Cities.[67] ExxonMobil Canada is headquartered in St. John's and companies such as Chevron, Husky Energy, Suncor Energy and Statoil have major regional operations in the city.[68][69] Three major offshore oil developments, Hibernia, Terra Nova and White Rose, are in production off the coast of the city and a fourth development, Hebron, is expected to be producing oil by 2017.[70][71]

The economy has been growing quickly in recent years. In both 2010 and 2011, the metro area's gross domestic product (GDP) led 27 other metropolitan areas in the country, according to the Conference Board of Canada, recording growth of 6.6 per cent and 5.8 per cent respectively.[72] At $52,000 the city's per capita GDP is the second highest out of all major Canadian cities.[73] Economic forecasts suggest that the city will continue its strong economic growth in the coming years not only in the "oceanic" industries mentioned above, but also in tourism and new home construction as the population continues to grow. In May 2011, the city's unemployment rate fell to 5.6 per cent, the second lowest unemployment rate for a major city in Canada.[74]

St. John's is also becoming known as an entrepreneurial city. In a 2009 report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business; Communities in Boom: Canada’s Top Entrepreneurial Cities, St. John's was ranked the best major city in Atlantic Canada, and 19th overall in Canada for providing a good environment for small business development.[75]

Arts and culture

Duckworth Street

The downtown area is the cultural hub of St. John's and is a major tourist destination in Newfoundland and Labrador and Atlantic Canada. Water Street and Duckworth Street are known for their brightly coloured low rise heritage buildings, housing numerous tourist shops, clothing boutiques, and restaurants.

George Street, a downtown side-street above the western end of Water Street, is the predominant home of the city's nightlife. The street holds numerous annual festivals including the George Street Festival in August and the Mardi Gras Festival held in October. The street can be credited with kick starting the careers of many musical acts and is busy nearly every night of the week.[76][77] St. Johns also plays host to the Tuckamore Festival of chamber music, which has been held every August since 2001.

The LSPU Hall is home to the Resource Centre for the Arts. The "Hall" hosts a vibrant and diverse arts community and is regarded as the backbone of artistic infrastructure and development in the downtown.[78] The careers of many well-known Newfoundland artists were launched there including Rick Mercer, Mary Walsh, Cathy Jones, Andy Jones and Greg Thomey. The St. John's Arts and Culture Centre houses an art gallery, libraries and a 1000-seat theatre, which is the city's major venue for entertainment productions.[79]

The Nickel Film Festival and the St. John's International Women's Film Festival are two independent film festivals held annually in St. John's.[80]



The Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador (c. 1892–93) was located on Duckworth Street in a building designated as a heritage site by the City of St. John's.[81] In 2005 the museum, along with the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Provincial Archives of Newfoundland and Labrador, moved into The Rooms. The Rooms is Newfoundland and Labrador's cultural facility, and is located in the downtown area.[82]

The Railway Coastal Museum is a transportation museum located in the 104-year-old Newfoundland and Labrador train station building on Water Street.[83]

The Johnson Geo Centre is a geological interpretation centre located on Signal Hill.[84] The centre is designed to teach the public about the history of the earth through the unique and complex geological history of Newfoundland and Labrador.

The East Rider Motorcycle Museum showcases over 110 years of Newfoundland's Motorcycle History, with two floors of bikes, memorabilia, and biker culture. Located downtown St. John's (above East Rider Motorcycle Gear Shop).

Urban parks

Pippy Park is an urban park located in the east end of the city; with over 3,400 acres (14 km2) of land, it is one of Canada's largest urban parks. The park contains a range of recreational facilities including two golf courses, Newfoundland and Labrador's largest serviced campground, walking and skiing trails as well as protected habitat for many plants and animals. Pippy Park is also home to the Fluvarium, an environmental education centre which offers a cross section view of Nagle's Hill Brook.[85]

Bowring Park, located in the Waterford Valley, is one of the most scenic parks in St. John's. Entrance to the park is via Waterford Bridge Road, passing a sculptured duck pond and a statue of Peter Pan. The park land was donated to the city in 1911 by Sir Edgar Rennie Bowring on behalf of Bowring Brothers Ltd. on their 100th anniversary of commerce in Newfoundland. The park was officially opened by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught on 15 July 1914.[86]

Bannerman Park is a Victorian-style park located near the downtown. The park was officially opened in 1891 by Sir Alexander Bannerman, Governor of the Colony of Newfoundland who donated the land to create the park.[87] Today the park contains a public swimming pool, playground, a baseball diamond and many large open grassy areas. Bannerman Park plays host to many festivals and sporting events, most notably the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival and St. John's Peace-a-chord. The park is also the finishing location for the annual Tely 10 Mile Road Race.[88]

Murray Premises

Murray Premises

The Murray Premises is a National Historic Site located in downtown St. John's.[89] The buildings once served as a fishery premises, with facilities for drying and packaging fish and warehouses for fish, barrels and other items. The oldest of the buildings is the one facing on Beck's Cove. It was built after the 1846 fire and for a time served as both shop and house. The Murray Premises was renovated in 1979 and now contains office suites, restaurants, retail stores and a boutique hotel.[90][91]

Signal Hill

Signal Hill is a hill which overlooks the city of St. John's. It is the location of Cabot Tower which was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's discovery of Newfoundland, and Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. The first transatlantic wireless transmission was received here by Guglielmo Marconi on 12 December 1901.[92] Today, Signal Hill is a National Historic Site of Canada and remains incredibly popular amongst tourists and locals alike; 97% of all tourists to St. John's visit Signal Hill. Amongst its popular attractions are the Signal Hill Tattoo, showcasing the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of foot, c. 1795, and the North Head Trail which grants an impressive view of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding coast.[93]


The Royal St. John's Regatta is North America's oldest sporting event

St. John's has been home to several professional hockey franchises. Currently it is home to the St. John's IceCaps the minor league affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens.

The St. John's Maple Leafs were the city's former American Hockey League (AHL) team. Placed in St. John's in 1991, the team was lost during the 2004–2005 season to Toronto, Ontario due to the desire of its parent team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, to reduce travel costs and to have a tenant for its Ricoh Coliseum.[94]

Shortly after the Maple Leafs were replaced by the St. John's Fog Devils of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). The team left St. John's in 2008 after just three seasons due to a poor lease arrangement with the city over the use of Mile One Centre and poor attendance.[95][96]

The rugby union team The Rock is the Eastern Canadian entry in the Americas Rugby Championship. The Rock play their home games at Swilers Rugby Park, as did the Rugby Canada Super League champions for 2005 and 2006, the Newfoundland Rock. The city hosted a Rugby World Cup qualifying match between Canada and the USA on 12 August 2006, where the Canadians heavily defeated the USA 56–7 to qualify for the 2007 Rugby World Cup finals in France. The 2007 age-grade Rugby Canada National Championship Festival was held in the city.[97]

St. John's is home to North America's oldest annual sporting event, the Royal St. John's Regatta, which dates back to at least 1816. The event is important enough in the life of the city that the day of the Regatta (the first Wednesday in August, weather permitting) is a civic holiday – one of the few weather-dependent holidays in the world.[98]

The Tely 10 is an annual 10-mile (16 km) road race that starts in Paradise and finishes at Bannerman Park. The race draws in excess of 2,500 runners. It began in 1922, which makes it one of the oldest road races in Canada.[99]

St. John's was where the Canada men's national soccer team qualified for their only FIFA World Cup on 14 September 1985, when they defeated Honduras 2–1, at King George V Park.[100]

Curling has gained prominence in St. John's over the years. The 2005 Scott Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women's curling championship, was held at Mile One Centre from 19 to 27 February 2005.[101] The 2006 Olympic gold medalist men's curling team, skipped by Brad Gushue, is based in St. John's.[102] The city has two curling clubs, the St. John's Curling Club and the Bally Haly Golf & Curling Club.

The St. John's Avalon Harps are the local Hurling and Gaelic Football team, that compete in Canadian GAA events.

Law and government

The Colonial Building was the seat of the Newfoundland Government between 1850 and 1959

St. John's is governed by a mayor-council system, and the structure of the municipal government is stipulated by the City of St. John's Act.[103][104] The St. John's City Council is a unicameral legislative body composed of a mayor, deputy mayor and nine councillors. The mayor, deputy mayor and four of the councillors are elected at large while the five other councillors represent geographical wards throughout the city. The mayor and members of the city council serve four-year terms without term limits.[105]

Elections in St. John's are held every four years on the last Tuesday in September. The current city council was elected in the municipal election held on 24 September 2013. The Mayor of St. John's is Dennis O'Keefe, who has served in the position since 2008.[106] The St. John's City Hall, located on New Gower Street, has housed municipal offices and Council Chambers since being officially opened in 1970.[90][107]

St. John's served as the capital city of the Colony of Newfoundland and the Dominion of Newfoundland before Newfoundland became Canada's tenth province in 1949.[108] The city now serves as the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, therefore the provincial legislature is located in the city.[109] The Confederation Building, located on Confederation Hill, is home to the House of Assembly along with the offices for the Members of the House of Assembly (MHAs) and Ministers.[109] The city is represented by ten MHAs, four who are members of the governing Progressive Conservative Party, three that belong to the New Democratic Party (NDP),[110] and three that belong to the Liberal Party.[111] Lorraine Michael, leader of the NDP since 2006, represents the district of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.[112]

St. John's is represented in the House of Commons by two members of Parliament both from the New Democratic Party (NDP). Jack Harris, elected 2008, represents St. John's East and Ryan Cleary, elected 2011, represents St. John's South—Mount Pearl.

The Newfoundland and Labrador office for the regional federal minister is located in downtown St. John's. Regional offices for federal government departments and agencies are also located throughout the city.[113][114]


Policing services for the city are provided by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which serves as the primary policing body of the metropolitan area.[115] The B Division headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is located in the Pleasantville neighbourhood but the RCMP primarily operate in the rest of Newfoundland and Labrador and not St. John's.[116]

St. John's has traditionally been one of the safest cities in Canada to live; however, in recent years crime in the city has steadily increased. While nationally crime decreased by 4% in 2009, the total crime rate in St. John's saw an increase of 4%. During this same time violent crime in the city decreased 6%, compared to a 1% decrease nationally.[117][118] In 2010 the total crime severity index for the city was 101.9, an increase of 10% from 2009 and 19.2% above the national average. The violent crime severity index was 90.1, an increase of 29% from 2009 and 1.2% above the national average. St. John's had the seventh-highest metropolitan crime index and twelfth-highest metropolitan violent crime index in the country in 2010.[119]

According to Statistics Canada's Juristat reports (1993–2007), the metropolitan area reports an average homicide rate of approximately 1.15 per 100,000 population; an average of two homicides per year. An all-time high rate of 2.27 was reported in 1993 (four homicides). This figure is far below the national average and ranks amongst the lowest rates for any metropolitan area in Canada.[120]



St. John's has a substantial harbour. Among other things, the harbour is the base for the following Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) ships:

St. John's is served by St. John's International Airport (YYT), located 10 minutes northwest of the downtown core.[121] In 2011, roughly 1,400,000 passengers travelled through the airport making it the second busiest airport in Atlantic Canada in passenger volume.[122][123] Regular destinations include Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, as well as destinations throughout the province. International locations include Dublin, London, New York City, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Glasgow and Varadero. Scheduled service providers include Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz, Air Saint-Pierre, Air Transat, United Airlines, Porter Airlines, Provincial Airlines, Sunwing Airlines and Westjet.[124]

St. John's is the eastern terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway, one of the longest national highways in the world.[125] The divided highway, also known as "Outer Ring Road" in the city, runs just outside the main part of the city, with exits to Pitts Memorial Drive, Topsail Road, Team Gushue Highway, Thorburn Road, Allandale Road, Portugal Cove Road and Torbay Road, providing relatively easy access to neighbourhoods served by those streets. Pitts Memorial Drive runs from Conception Bay South, through the city of Mount Pearl and into downtown St. John's, with interchanges for Goulds, Water Street and Hamilton Avenue-New Gower Street.

The St. John's Cycling Master Plan was officially launched in July 2009. Its first phase will consist of 43 kilometres of on-road painted bike lanes, signs on an additional 73 kilometres of roadway, the installation of 20 bicycle parking facilities and the addition of bike racks on the fleet of 53 Metrobuses.[126]

Metrobus Transit is responsible for public transit in the region.[127] Metrobus has a total of 19 routes, 53 buses and an annual ridership of 3,014,073.[128] Destinations include the Avalon Mall, The Village Shopping Centre, Memorial University, Academy Canada, the College of the North Atlantic, the Marine Institute, the Confederation Building, downtown, Stavanger Drive Business Park, Kelsey Drive, Goulds, Kilbride, Shea Heights, the four hospitals in the city as well as other important areas in St. John's and Mount Pearl.[129]

St. John's was the eastern terminus of the Newfoundland Railway from 1898 until the abandonment and closure of the railway in September 1988.[130]

Medical centres and hospitals

St. John's is served by Eastern Health, Newfoundland and Labrador's largest health authority.[131]

The city's major hospitals include the Health Sciences Centre, St. Clare's Mercy Hospital, Waterford Hospital and the Janeway Children's Health and Rehabilitation Centre.[132]

St. John's Harbour


St. John's is served by the Eastern School District, the largest school district in Newfoundland and Labrador by student population.[133] There are currently 36 primary, elementary and secondary schools in the city of St. John's, including three private schools.[134] St. John's also includes one school that is part of the province-wide Conseil Scolaire Francophone (CSF), the Francophone public school district. It also contains two private schools, St. Bonaventure's College and Lakecrest Independent.[135][136] Atlantic Canada's largest university, Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), is located in St. John's.[137] MUN provides comprehensive education and grants degrees in several fields and its historical strengths in engineering, business, geology, and medicine, make MUN one of the top comprehensive universities in Canada.[138][139] The Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland (MI) or simply Marine Institute, is a post-secondary ocean and marine polytechnic located in St. John's and is affiliated with Memorial University of Newfoundland. MUN also offers the lowest tuition in Canada ($2,644, per Academic Year)[140]

The College of the North Atlantic (CNA) is the public college of the province and operates two main campuses within the city.[141] CNA provides career, trade, and university-transfer programs for St. John's residents.[142] The city also hosts a number of private colleges and post-secondary schools; Academy Canada, Eastern College, and Keyin College are the largest of these schools.[143]

Local media

Cabot Tower, the site of the first trans-Atlantic wireless message

St. John's has one daily newspaper, The Telegram.[144] Other local papers include The Muse, The Gazette, Le Gaboteur, The Scope, The Business Post and The Current. St. John's also receives the nationally distributed newspaper The Globe and Mail.[145][146][147][148]

CJON-DT, known on air as "NTV", is an independent station. The station sublicenses entertainment programming from Global and news programming from CTV and Global, rather than purchasing primary broadcast rights. Rogers Cable has its provincial headquarters in St. John's, and their community channel Rogers TV airs local shows such as Out of the Fog and One Chef One Critic. CBC has its Newfoundland and Labrador headquarters in the city and their television station CBNT-DT broadcasts from University Avenue.

The city is home to 15 am and FM radio stations, two of which are French-language stations. St. John's is the only Canadian city served by radio stations whose call letters do not all begin with the letter C. The ITU prefix VO was assigned to the Dominion of Newfoundland before the province joined Canadian Confederation in 1949, and three AM stations kept their existing call letters. However, other commercial radio stations in St. John's which went to air after 1949 use the same range of prefixes (CFCK) currently in use elsewhere in Canada, with the exception of VOCM-FM, which was permitted to adopt the VOCM callsign because of its corporate association with the AM station that already bore that callsign. VO also remains in use in amateur radio.

Notable people

Sister cities

See also


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  • Harding, Les. Historic St. John's: The City of Legends. Jesperson, 1993. ISBN 0-921692-52-8
  • Galgay, Frank. Olde St. John's: Stories from a Seaport City. St. John's: Flanker, 2001.

External links