Welcome to St. John's
Plant your feet on Signal Hill, in the spot where Marconi set up his receiver and heard the “pip, pip, pip” of the world's first transatlantic wireless signal. Now you're 13,078 kilometres from Manila. 7,115 km from Damascus. 3,582 from Bristol. And a million miles from anywhere else you've been. Now close your eyes. No rush. You’ve got all day.
What brought you here? Random luck? Or did you see one of those commercials the tourism crowd put out? “No song unsung.” Well, it’s true we’re a musical lot. A walk around any of our centuries old downtown streets and you’ll probably run into anywhere between 3 and 13 musicians with a guitar slung over the shoulder, or an accordion, a fiddle, or a saxophone. That’s probably Frank hoisting a bloody big bass down Bate’s Hill. On the way to one of the hundreds of our live music venues. George Street? Yup.
That’s what you heard, isn’t it? Well, fair warning. When the locals are layin’ down the Old Polina or I’se Da B’y or the Feller from Fortune and the crowd is just right, no step is left undanced. We’re the land of Great Big Sea and Harry Hibbs. Joan Morrissey. Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers. The Irish Descendants. Georgina Stirling. John Murray Anderson. Donald Brian. Google ‘em. True as God.
So let the stories begin!
You probably already know we're world famous for our hospitality. For friendly, kindly, helpful people. We come by that honestly, you know. Nan told us to be nice to company. So we are. Dad told us to pour you a hot toddy. So we do. Mom said, "Get out of the way and let the people in." So we step back and let you take the floor to dance up your first jig or reel. We don't mind standing on the sidelines as you discover your inner Newfoundlander. You can make that official, by the way. Just say out loud you’d like to be “Screech’d in.’ Someone will take it from there. View St. John's photo gallery.
They say we're out of the ordinary!
There's a heart and soul in everything we do.
You’ll notice we’re a little on the eclectic side with our local fashion designers and their funky handbags. Canvases, leathers, and fabrics depicting gardenia or sugarplum. Maybe row houses or beach peas and bones. Then there’s “made for Newfoundland weather” raincoats. We see our fair share so it’s nice to look good dripping wet, too! Of course, our art galleries offer up an experience you’ll not see anywhere else on the planet. The light, color, and visual texture of this island is a feast for any art lover. If you’re not one yet, you will be!
After a day of shopping, you’ll love our restaurants. In fact, we think you’ll be surprised! One London food critic surmised that St. John’s is “North America’s best kept culinary secret.” Award-winning chefs head up kitchens all over town and have this thing they call “traditional Newfoundland cooking” down to an art form. Not to mention the foods of India, Asia, Africa, Italy and so many more countries. Just ask. We’re not keeping any secrets!
And all roads lead somewhere magical.
From downtown, head to Quidi Vidi Village. We suggest you walk east to west on Water Street, turn left at Harbour Drive, continue east on Harbour Drive, take a left up Prescott Street until you hit Duckworth. Turn right and keep on going. When you get to Cavendish Square... never mind. Ask someone. We got a fifty sayin' you'll find a willing escort who'll fill you in on the history of this fairytale fishing village plopped down in the middle of the city. Wave! That’s Skipper getting ready for his next boat tour group. By the time they get back they’ll be comparing shots of the mascot-faced puffin and phone videos of the humpback whale smoothly arcing through the north Atlantic waves. That big yellow building on the wharf? That’s the city’s arts incubator. Step inside and you’ll see some of the world’s best artisans hard at work. You’re bound to see something – a labradorite pendant or a piece of pottery or a knit sweater - that you just can't live without. And, certainly, why should you?
Of course, we could go on and on.
But, not to take much more of your time. You're in St. John's, the oldest city in North America. Raise a glass at an iconic pub, a distillery, a craft beer room, or a whisky bar with a grand piano. Put your back into the East Coast Trail and head up to the Spout or Cape Francis or Cappahayden. You might have legs enough about you to scale the Hill O’ Chips just to get a snap of those world-famous colored houses that’ll remind you of that good old-fashioned box of crayons. You might stand in the National Assembly, doing your best Joey Smallwood, debating the proponents of responsible government. He won. With 52% of the vote. You might say we’re Canadians just by the hair of Joey’s chin. Or you might stand right at the edge of the continent on Cape Spear, the most north easterly point in North America. You’ll need your hat, likely. It can get gusty. Don’t worry about that ghost, though. The one in the old-World War 11 gun battery? That could be nothing more than a yarn. We’ve been known to spin a few.
So now you know a bit about us. Know the cut of our jib a bit better, so to speak. Now we don’t know much about you. That’s true. But we know this. If there’s even a smidgeon of the adventurer in you, you’re in love with St. John's, Newfoundland by now. And when you go back to that place in your heart you call home, remember one thing. You didn't dream it. You were really here. A million miles away.