3 National Gems in Our Backyard
It’s no secret that St. John’s holds a wealth of historic intrigue and natural beauty which has been preserved both through the government and civic organizations. Take a moment to explore a few of the gems in our backyard!
Signal Hill National Historic Site
Signal Hill, a long-time strategic point for maritime and military observation and communication, affords a spectacular view of St. John’s and its harbour at any time of the year. From the 18th Century until World War II, the area has been a coveted location for harbour defences and has played an important– yet often forgotten– role in both Canadian and world history. Once the site of battles, strategy, and intrigue, the site is now preserved for future generations of families and history and nature enthusiasts. Take a hike along Lookout Trail which mimics military movements throughout the ages and enjoy views of the sparkling bay and rugged coastlines. Visit Cabot Tower, which crowns Signal Hill, for the gift shop and museum.
Quidi Vidi Battery
One of 12 other similar coastal batteries originally built by the French in the 18th Century and then commandeered and rebuilt by the British, Quidi Vidi is now a reconstructed military installation featuring gun decks, cannons, cannonades, a powder magazine, barracks, and a palisade in the style of the 19th Century. The historical interpretive site is based on extensive archaeological excavation, which the reconstruction sits on today.
At one time, the administrative hub of the British Navy in St. John’s, The Commissariat is now a historical site of its own. The building was once part of a large grouping of military buildings, outposts, and encampments, but now is the last remaining and completely intact structure. A grand building in any era, The Commissariat was a showpiece of naval might in the province and now stands as a sentinel of bygone colonial rule. In June, The Commissariat hosts Discovery Days– a family friendly event which features 19th Century treats and crafts.
These sites are only three of many. From the Wine Vaults to the Old London, New York, and Paris Building, our history is richly represented in St. John’s. Take a walk down our streets, a run through our parks, or an expedition by boat around the harbour– and you will find inspiration in our city’s history!