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St. Johns

St. John's is the provincial capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada and located on the eastern tip of the Avalon Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland. St. John's is the most populous Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) in the province, and following Halifax, it is the second largest CMA in the Atlantic Provinces with a population of 181,113. The city enjoys a long and vibrant history as the seat of the provincial Crown; and the oldest English-founded city in North America.

The St. John's CMA is the fastest growing metropolitan area in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the 19th fastest growing CMA in Canada. The CMA includes the neighbouring city of Mount Pearl and eleven other towns, the largest of which are Conception Bay South and Paradise.

The harbour was a frequent haven for European fisherman throughout the early 1500s, and was officially established as a community when Sir Humphrey Gilbert declared Newfoundland an English Colony in 1583. While the origin of the name St. John's is not definitively known, its first usage appears in a Portuguese map as "Rio de San Johem" by 16th century Portuguese cartographer Pedro Reinel (? - c.1542). The popular origin of the name, however, is said to have originated from the Italian discoverer Giovanni Caboto, who landed in Bonavista on 24 June, 1497.

With a long and prosperous history in the fishery industry, the last half of the 20th century has seen St. John's transformed into a modern export and service centre. More recently, its proximity to recently discovered oil fields has led to an economic boom that has spurred population growth, commercial development and has resulted in the St. John's area now accounting for about half of the province's economic output.

St. John's is the oldest English-founded settlement in North America. Tradition declares that the city earned its name when explorer John Cabot became the first European to sail into the harbour, on June 24, 1497 ? the feast day of Saint John the Baptist. However, the exact locations of Cabot's landfalls are disputed. A series of expeditions to St. John's by the Portuguese in the Azores followed 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).
Plaque commemorating Gilbert's founding of the British Empire

The earliest record of the location appears as Sao Joao 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 August 3, 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 Joao Freire's Atlas of 1546. It was during this time that Water Street was first developed, making it the oldest street in North America.

On August 5, 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed the area as England's first overseas colony under Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I. At the time, he found 16 English ships with 20 French and Portuguese vessels using the harbour. There was no permanent settler population, however, and Gilbert was lost at sea during his return voyage, thereby ending any immediate plans for settlement. The Newfoundland National War Memorial is located on the waterfront in St. John's, at the purported site of Gilbert's landing and proclamation.

The first permanent European settlers arrived at St. John's in 1605. By 1620 the fishermen of England's West Country had excluded other nations from most of the east coast. In 1627, St. John's was "the principal prime and chief lot in all the whole country". The resident population grew slowly in the 17th century, but St. John's was by far the largest settlement in Newfoundland when English naval officers began to take censuses around 1675. Every summer the population swelled with the arrival of migratory fishermen. 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.

The town's first significant defenses were probably erected due to commercial interests, following the temporary seizure of St. John's by the Dutch admiral Michiel de Ruyter in June, 1665. Regardless of the identity of those who built the defenses, the inhabitants were able to fend off a second Dutch attack in 1673. The British government began to plan fortifications around 1689, and these were constructed following the retaking of St. John's after the French admiral Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville captured and destroyed the town late in 1696. The French attacked St. John's again in 1705 and 1708, and devastated civilian structures with fire.
St. John's as seen from Signal Hill.
Water Street, St. John's (2005)

The harbour remained fortified through most of the 18th and 19th century. The final battle of the Seven Years' War in North America (the French and Indian War) was fought in 1762 in St. John's at the Battle of Signal Hill, in which the French surrendered St. John's to the British under the command of Colonel William Amherst.

The eighteenth 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 grew slowly, and although it was still primarily a fishing station, it was also a garrison, a centre of government and, increasingly, a commercial hub. St. John's served as a naval base during both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Shanawdithit, the last known individual of Newfoundland's indigenous Beothuk people, died in a St. John's hospital of tuberculosis in 1829.

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

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

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. 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).

During the Second World War, the harbour was used by Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy ships used for protecting convoys. It was also the site of a large US Army base called Fort Pepperrell. This base was established as part of the "Lend-Lease" agreement between the UK and USA.

Geography

The city is located on the northeast coast of the Avalon Peninsula in southeastern Newfoundland, and on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the most easterly city in North America, as well as the second largest city in Atlantic Canada (after Halifax, Nova Scotia). The downtown area lies to the north of St. John's Harbour, and the rest of the city expands uphill to the west, north, and east.

The native vegetation is dominated by coniferous trees such as black spruce, white spruce, and balsam fir. The largest deciduous tree is white birch ; species of lesser stature include alder, cherry and mountain ash. Introduced trees often seen in lawns and parks include Norway maple, sycamore maple, common horsechestnut, European beech and littleleaf linden.

Soils in the area tend to be stony and shallow. They also are strongly acidic in most cases, and have pale leached topsoils typical of podzols. Often the topsoils are much finer-textured than the parent material (atypical for podzols).

St. John's is the largest city in census Division No. 1.

Economy

St. John's economy has been continuously connected both to its role as a regional/national/provincial capital and to the ocean. Today, its continued growth is as much tied to what lies beneath the ocean ? oil and gas ? as what swims in or travels across the ocean. The city's economy is growing quickly, and the city has been identified as having one of the highest proportion of scientists and engineers per capita of any city under one million population in North America. 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.

This growth in St. John's and its surrounding suburban municipalities, particularly Paradise (+31%), Flatrock (+7%), Torbay (+15%), Conception Bay South (+11%) and Portugal Cove-St. Philip's (+12%) (all percentages indicate 2001?2006 growth) (St. John's metro area: +5% population; The rest of the province: -1.5% population).

Educational Institutions

Grade Schools

St. John's is served by the Eastern School District, the largest school district in Newfoundland and Labrador by student population. There are currently 36 primary, elementary and secondary schools in the city of St. John's, including three private schools and the Newfoundland School for the Deaf. 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

Universities and colleges

One major public university operates in St. John's, Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), which provides comprehensive education and grants degrees in several fields. 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.

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

King George V Park

Mile One Centre

* St. John's was the home of the St. John's Fog Devils, a junior hockey team in the QMJHL from 2005?2008. The team left town after just three seasons due to many reasons, notably a poor lease arrangement with the city over the use of Mile One Centre and attendance problems.
* The St. John's Maple Leafs of the AHL played in St. John's from 1990-91 until the 2004?2005 season, after which they relocated to Toronto, Ontario and became the Toronto Marlies.
* Both the above teams used the Mile One Centre in downtown St. John's as their home stadium.
* 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 considered important enough in the life of the city that the day of the Regatta (the first Wednesday with fine weather in August) is a civic holiday - one of the only weather-dependent holidays in the world.
* St. John's played host to the Canada Men's Soccer team's first (and only) qualification for the FIFA World Cup on September 14, 1985 where they defeated Honduras 2-1, at King George V Park. The park also played host to a FIFA World Cup Qualification game on August 20, 1972, where Canada beat USA 3-2. Canada, however, failed to qualify for the World Cup in 1974.
* Rugby union is a popular sport in St. John's. The current Rugby Canada Super League champions for 2005 & 2006 were the Newfoundland Rock who play at Swilers Rugby Park in St. John's. The city was also host to 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.
* The 2005 Scott Tournament of Hearts, the Canadian women's curling championship, was held at Mile One Centre in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador from February 19 to 27, 2005.
* The 2006 Olympic gold medalist men's curling team, skipped by Brad Gushue, is based in St. John's.
* Professional and WWF wrestler, Ed "Sailor" White, was born in St. John's.
* Ultimate Frisbee is a quickly-growing sport in the city, having an established League providing two seasons: the larger and more competitive Summer League and the Fall League, intended as a way to become acquainted with the basics of the sport. The provincial team, called Granite, plays from the city and will compete in the 2007 national championships.

Museum

The Provincial Museum of Newfoundland and Labrador (c. 1892-3) is on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Restaurants

St. John's has over 400 restaurants which includes both locally owned and franchised. Situated in the downtown area on Water St. and Duckworth, there are numerous shops, restaurants and historic buildings.

Farmers' Market

St. John's Farmers' Market runs weekly on Saturdays from June until the end of November featuring locally made arts/crafts, baked goods, international food and local produce.

Transportation

St. John's is the eastern terminus of the Trans-Canada Highway. Victoria, British Columbia is the western terminus. 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 access to the neighbourhoods of those streets relatively easy. Pitts Memorial Drive runs from Conception Bay South, through the city of Mount Pearl and into downtown St. John's, with interchanges for the Goulds, Water Street and Hamilton Avenue-New Gower Street. Pitts Memorial Drive has been criticized for less-than-ideal road conditions. The Parkway is another major thoroughfare in the city.

The city's aviation needs are served by St. John's International Airport. The airport is located 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) northwest of the city and airlines include Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz, Air Labrador, Air Saint-Pierre, Air Transat, CanJet, Continental Airlines, Provincial Airlines, Skyservice, Sunwing Airlines and Westjet.

The city's public transportation system is Metrobus. Metrobus has a total of 18 routes, 778 bus stops, 68 bus shelters, 54 buses and an average weekday ridership of 14,815. Destinations include the Avalon Mall, Village Mall, Churchill Square, downtown, Kelsey Drive, Pearlgate Plaza, Torbay Road Mall, Stavanger Drive Business Park, Mount Pearl Square, the four hospitals in the city, Airport Heights, Goulds, Kilbride, Shea Heights, Mile One Centre, Memorial University, Academy Canada, College of the North Atlantic, Marine Institute, Confederation Building, City Hall and other important areas in the city.

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

Demographics

(Unless otherwise identified, all statistics below are for the St. John's metro area, not the core city of St. John's.)

Demonym

People from St.John's are commonly referred to by Newfoundlanders living outside the St.John's metro area as Townies (being that they live in the only big city in the province).

Religion

Basilica of St. John the Baptist

Overwhelmingly 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.

The information regarding ethnicities above is from the 2001 Canadian Census. The percentages add to more than 100% because of dual responses (e.g. "French-Canadian" generates an entry in both the category "French" and the category "Canadian".) Groups with greater than 1,500 responses are included.

Crime

St. John's has continuously had one of the lowest crime rates in Canada. Policing services are provided by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, which serves as the primary policing body of the metropolitan area. The B Division headquarters of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are located in the Pleasantville neighbourhood in the east end.

Notable Persons from St. John's

Media

One of St. John's most famous landmarks, Cabot Tower.


St. John's is currently 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 (CF?CK) 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.

Sister cities

* Waterford, Ireland

Mayors of St. John's

See List of mayors of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador. The current mayor of St. John's is Dennis O'Keefe.
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