Newfoundland was the only province I hadn’t been to, so for Canada’s 150th, I figured it was time to visit the last province to join Canada.
With only a couple of days, I spent my time in St. John’s trying to see as much of the city as I could! After getting screeched-in, exploring Quidi Vidi, visiting the two local craft breweries and wandering around enjoying the colourful “Jelly Bean” houses, I had checked a lot of ‘must-do’s’ off my list.
Two remaining were visiting Signal Hill and taking a boat ride out into the Atlantic Ocean in search of whales.
Signal Hill is one of the most famous landmarks in St. John’s. It’s part of the capital’s historic past, offering a beautiful view of St. John’s and the Atlantic Ocean, as well as great hiking trails along the coastline.
Signal Hill is significant as it was the site of St. John’s harbour defences from the 17th century to the Second World War as well as being the birthplace of modern communications. It was here that Guglielmo Marconi received the world’s first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901. It’s a good hike up the hill, so be sure to have proper footwear. Part way up is a visitor’s centre, which this year hosted a huge Canada 150 sign to pose with.
There was also a statue of the mascots- a Newfoundland and a Labrador dog!
The view from the top was great. On one side, you could look back over St. John’s harbour and from the other, straight out for miles into the Atlantic Ocean.
You could also see where it narrows into the harbour, with Fort Amherst Lighthouse standing guard at the entrance.
At the top, you could climb up Cabot Tower, which was built as a monument to John Cabot’s 1497 voyage to North America and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Throughout the tower, as you made your way to each level up steep, winding stairs, you could read all about the history of the tower, the history of communications, and the historic first transatlantic signal that happened right here. The view from the top of the tower was even more incredible.
I made my way back down and continued to wander around Signal Hill. As I was at the top, looking out over the Atlantic Ocean, a thick fog started to roll in until you could barely see 10 feet in front of you.
I decided not to head out on all the hiking trails since the beautiful view had vanished. Instead, I made my way down to the harbour to catch a boat ride out into the Atlantic.
It was the wrong time of year for icebergs, but I took an ocean cruise with Iceberg Quest, hoping to find some whales. We set out of St. John’s harbour in the thick fog, which didn’t seem to want to let up. Our guide told us all about what we would have been seeing if the fog wasn’t blocking our view, and we made our way out of the harbour into the Atlantic Ocean.
We couldn’t see much, but had an enjoyable cruise listening to Great Big Sea. Just as we were heading past the sea caves on our way to Cape Spear, the fog began to lift!
We passed by the famous lighthouse on Cape Spear, the most easterly point of North America.
(Another spot I missed visiting on this trip, but seeing it was still cool!)
We saw tons of puffins flying and swimming around, but sadly no whales on this trip.
By the time we were on our way back, the fog had lifted and you could see the mouth of the harbour, Fort Amherst from the water and all the colourful houses greeted you as you entered St. John’s harbour.
While I may have checked out most of my ‘must-do’s’ in St. John’s on this short trip, I quickly added many more and realized I’d just have to come back to this beautiful province for more exploring soon!