Posts by: AlanMc

Brigus and Cupids – History and Archaeology

The villages of Brigus and nearby Cupids are ideal destinations for a day trip from St. John’s. Brigus Brigus is 86 km (53 mi.) from St. John’s (about an hour’s drive). Nestled in a protected harbour, Brigus is as close to the image of a perfect Newfoundland outport that you are likely to find. The streets of the sleepy village are lined with brightly coloured and well maintained old houses. Stop in at The Country Corner for gifts and fresh cod chowder with blueberry crisp, and visit other welcoming shops in town. If you want to stay the night in […]

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A Day Trip from St. John’s

Fascinating archaeology, breathtaking scenery and some unique experiences of nature are in store for those taking a day trip from St. John’s to Ferryland, which is about 75 km (46.6 mi.) south. Ferryland Site of the Colony of Avalon In the little town of Ferryland is the most ambitious archaeological dig in Newfoundland. Over the years the remains of the Colony of Avalon, founded by Sir George Calvert in 1621, have gradually been unearthed and over a million artefacts revealing what was life was like in the colony have been unearthed. Some of them are on display in the Interpretive […]

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Newfoundland and Labrador’s Unique Language

Tourists in Newfoundland and Labrador are always amazed at the friendliness of the locals. It is unusual to have a short conversation when asking for directions or explanations of local traditions. Chatty Newfoundlanders or Labradorians are known to “talk the handle off an iron pot”. Often, however, tourists are flummoxed by the conversations. They frequently find that they aren’t quite sure exactly what is being said to them. This is, in part, often due to the accent. Some Newfoundlanders and Labradorians speak like residents of the West Country of England and others sound like they have just arrived from Cork […]

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Summer Festivals in St. John’s

There is a festival or celebration in the summer in St. John’s that will appeal to every taste and interest. Some of the annual festivals have been running for years and some are relatively new additions to the entertainment scene. We can begin with the oldest and by far the most popular with Newfoundlanders and tourists alike. The history of The Royal St. John’s Regatta confirms that it is rightly claimed as the oldest continuing sporting event in North America. In the 1700s rowing and sailing competitions were held in St. John’s harbour often over a span of three days. […]

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Bell Island – A Rewarding Day Trip from St. John’s

A twenty minute drive from St. John’s will take you to Portugal Cove where you catch the ferry to Bell Island. It is a short ride across “the tickle”. As you approach the great rock in Conception Bay you will marvel at the extreme height of the steep cliffs that encircle the island. So formidable is the island that one wonders exactly how it’s possible to get to the top. However, on arrival you will easily drive up the slope from the wharf to the tableland of the island above. Exploring the 9 by 3 kilometre rock provides all kinds […]

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Three Great Museums in St. John’s

The Rooms You can’t miss The Rooms in St. John’s. The magnificent structure dominates the city. Situated like a beacon atop a hill covered with multi-coloured houses, The Rooms are in form based on the “fishing rooms” that surround typical Newfoundland harbours. In these “fishing rooms” the catch from the sea was processed before being taken to the vessels of merchants for transportation to markets abroad. The Rooms is built over the remains of Fort Townshend. Like The Rooms, the large star shaped fortification commanded attention to all who entered the harbour of St. John’s below. It was meant to […]

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Signal Hill… Ascend the Heights and See St. John’s

Dominating the harbour of St. John’s is Signal Hill. On this peak in the early days of the colonial settlement signalmen watched the Atlantic for approaching ships then raised a signal flag so that the townsmen below could be informed of approaching vessels and prepare for their arrival in port. In periods of war the hill was used as a defensive installation and the remains of military buildings dating from the 18th century can still be seen there. For visitors to St. John’s, Signal Hill has a magnetic quality. It begs to be explored either on a hike up from […]

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Cape Spear The Lighthouse, Battery and Berries

No trip to St. John’s is complete without a jaunt out to Cape Spear. It’s a short drive (15 km or 9 mi.) from downtown to the easternmost tip of North America. On a clear day the views of the Atlantic Ocean and the formidable rocky coast of Newfoundland are stunning. And on a foggy day you will understand why the lighthouse at Cape Spear was and still is an essential guide to seafarers entering the narrows into St. John’s harbour. The lighthouse at Cape Spear is the oldest surviving one in Newfoundland. Built in 1835, it has been restored […]

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L’Anse aux Meadows – The First European Habitation in North America

At the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula, in Newfoundland, is one of Canada’s most astounding archaeological sites. If you believe that Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot in North America you are in for a surprise. He missed being the first by over 500 years. The evidence for this is laid out for you to see at L’Anse aux Meadows. At this site around 1000 AD, Norsemen, otherwise known as Vikings, established a base for their exploration of North America. Ancient Norse stories or sagas that referred to a place called Vinland were passed down by […]

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Quidi Vidi – A Special St. John’s Neighbourhood

One of the many charms of St. John’s is the neighbourhood called Quidi Vidi (commonly pronounced Kiddy Videe). No one seems to know where the name came from, Basque or French languages are possibilities. There is no agreement on its pronunciation either so don’t be surprised if you hear variants. This is all perfectly natural in a province where the culture is as variable as the landscape and the weather. However you pronounce it, Quidi Vidi is a delightful little community. It becomes crowded only when the Royal St. John’s Regatta is held in August on its picturesque lake. At […]

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