Cabot Tower on Signal Hill, overlooking the harbour into St. John’s. Built in 1898 to commemorate the four-hundredth anniversary of the voyage of John Cabot’s ship Matthew and the diamond jubilee of Queen Victoria. The site also received, in 1901, the first transatlantic wireless transmission originating from Guglielmo Marconi’s Poldhu Station in Cornwall.
Not far away from Signal Hill is Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America. The historic lighthouse there really is a lighthouse.
Always in the background in Newfoundland: the Dominion’s participation in the First World War, which was disastrous. Ninety percent of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment were casualties of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916, which thereafter became Newfoundland’s Memorial Day (clashing somewhat with Dominion Day after 1949). Newfoundland’s university, founded in 1925, took the name “Memorial” on account of this sad event. At the Confederation Building, a book of remembrance is enshrined in the entrance lobby. The flag on the right is that of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Throughout the entrance lobby of the Confederation Building hang the flags of all the Newfoundland branches of the Legion, illustrating certain priorities.
How we got here: recruitment propaganda on display at The Rooms, laying it on thick.
The legislative chamber in the Confederation Building.
In the mezzanine of the Confederation Building, a series of busts of chief executives of Newfoundland, starting with Philip Francis Little at the granting of responsible government in 1855. The photograph is of Joey Smallwood, the “Last Father of Confederation” and Premier of Newfoundland 1949-72.
In The Rooms: Joey Smallwood’s trademark glasses and bow tie.
At our hotel: the Newfoundland coat of arms, which dates from the 1630s. The shield is great; the Beothuk supporters are “problematic,” in today’s parlance.
This piece of artwork, Jordan Bennett, Tamiow tle’owin (2016), is a play on Newfoundland’s coat of arms and is currently on display in The Rooms. The figure on the right holds a letter that begins:
Your application to be enrolled as a Founding Member of the Qalipu Mk’kmaq First Nation Band has been considered by the Enrolment Committee.
The Committee finds that you Do Not Meet the criteria for enrollment as set out in Section 4.1 of the Agreement in that you have failed to satisfy Section 4.1(a). More specifically, it is necessary for you to prove that you are of Canadian Indian ancestry.
I guess the artwork is asking who a real Indian is. Apparently the whole thing was an issue a few years ago.
The Micmac language is nowadays written in the Roman alphabet, although formerly Micmac hieroglyphs were used. This rendition of the Lord’s Prayer is on display at The Rooms.
The Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in the city of St. John’s dates from 1855 and was named a basilica one hundred years later.
This is what people come to St. John’s to see: terraced wooden housing, each unit of which is painted a different and often bright colour.
The average fishing village will also feature brightly painted houses. This is a view of Trinity, on the Bonavista Peninsula. Generally houses aren’t built on straight streets or in much relation to each other, but that’s all part of the charm. The church is St. Paul’s Anglican.
Newfoundland features some impressive seabird colonies on its coasts. This one is at the Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Preserve on the southwestern arm of the Avalon Peninsula. Many different birds are found here, including gannets, kittiwakes, murres, and razorbills
In Elliston, on the Bonavista Peninsula, a puffin colony that attracts quite a bit of human attention.
The puffin is Newfoundland’s provincial bird, and you can buy souvenir plush puffins all over the place. People love their colourful beaks, their short orange legs, and their clownish movements.
At the tip of Bonavista Peninsula, the town of Bonavista itself. Its flag leaves something to be desired aesthetically, but it illustrates how the town got its name, from John Cabot’s words “O happy sight!” (“buona vista”).
Bonavista has a lighthouse even more impressive than Cape Spear’s.
Gros Morne National Park, on the western side of the island, features some stunning (and geologically significant) natural beauty. This is Green Point, which has been designated a “Global Stratotype” for the division between the Cambrian and the Ordovician periods.
We bought a linocut of Green Point by artist Christine Koch, who keeps a summer studio at Woody Point.
Also in Gros Morne are The Tablelands. In the midst of all of the Park’s forested mountains is a short range completely denuded of vegetation and dark orange in color. It is apparently a remnant of the earth’s mantle thrust up some four hundred million years ago, and the reason why Gros Morne is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. Its peridotite composition does not sustain much plant life, and I would say that it looks like the surface of Mars save for the bits of snow still present at the top of the hill, which form runoff creeks that were fun to wade in.