Saint John, or “Saint Awesome,’ as the city’s council has dubbed it, is a hidden gem in the province of New Brunswick.
There is plenty to do here to keep tourists occupied for days, ranging from events and activities venturing into nature to gallivanting around new-and-improved uptown Saint John.
The city has always been a hub for the arts on the east coast, and the arts and culture play a great role in the economy of Saint John.
Not many places can sustainably provide such a wide range of activities, but Saint John safely does just that.
It ensures that none of its visitors are bored, and the citizens of this city are welcoming and warm.
In this blog, we intend to explore Saint John, New Brunswick, as a tourist spot. We will go over its history as Canada’s oldest incorporated city, the overall climate, and environment tourists can get, and what activities one can do and places one can see.
Interested? Let’s dive in, shall we…
1. The History of Saint John, New Brunswick
When French colonist Samuel de Champlain lowered his anchor at Saint John Harbour on June 24, 1604, the feast of Saint John the Baptist was celebrated.
The name ‘Saint John River’ came after learning the importance of that day in June.
However, it is important to remember that before Samuel de Champlain, the Mi’kmaq and Wolastoqiyik people inhabited the region for centuries, called the river Wolastoq.
One of the city’s highlights is the river. In the Bay of Fundy, Saint John, New Brunswick, is the province’s most significant industrial hub and a modern port.
The third-largest port in Canada is supported by various industries, including shipbuilding and oil refining. During the dangerous winters that shut down other regions, this port in New Brunswick frequently proved to be a lifesaver for exporting Canadian goods.
New Brunswick’s Saint John is one of the country’s oldest cities. In New Brunswick, it ranks second in terms of population, behind Moncton. During the reign of King George III, this happened. On May 18, 1785, the royal charter declared it the earliest constituted city.
Just under seventy thousand people live harmoniously within the city’s area of 315 km2.
The topic of ownership of Saint John was a matter of centuries of dispute between the English and the French.
Eventually, the British conquered the land by the end of the Seven Years’ War and deported the French colonists by 1755. Fort Howe, a major landmark in this area, was constructed in 1779.
Following the division of the Nova Scotia colony, the name “New Ireland’ was put forth for the New Brunswick colony, but King George III vetoed this.
In 1785, immigrants from Ireland and Italy and Black and White British loyalists from the Thirteen Colonies came to Saint John’s shores in flood.
Moreover, thousands of refugees from the American Revolution who had been evacuated from their US homes after expressing a desire to stay British also came to this area.
The following century saw Saint John receive an influx of refugees from Partridge Island during the Great Famine. Partridge Island went on to become the first quarantine station located in Canada.
These factors would play a pivotal role in the radical change in the demographics, population, and vibrant cultural life of Saint John, New Brunswick.
Also, in 1785, the towns on either side of the harbour, Parktown and Carleton, were united to officially establish the incorporated city we know today as Saint John, New Brunswick.
The city slowly but surely became an important name in the game of shipping and shipbuilding. In 1851, this fame was immortalized by creating and launching the magnificent Marco Polo, built in the Saint John shipyard.
She bore passengers on their vast journey from England to Australia and made the trip in a fantastic time of fewer than six months-the, the first ship to do so.
During the War of 1812, Martello Tower was built on Lancaster Heights to facilitate the harbour’s defence. This tower has become an important historical landmark.
The city was gaining strategic importance concerning British power, but some tragedies struck in the history of Saint John. There was tension growing amidst the working class back in the 1800s.
There was rampant discrimination against Black Saint John citizens then, to the point where they were prohibited from participating in trade and fishing and were not even allowed to vote.
This caused most black citizens to migrate to Portland, the city’s north end, which became an official part of Saint John in 1889.
In 1854, the city went through a cholera outbreak that claimed the lives of over 1500 people. That is not it—a major fire in Saint John in 1877 caused large-scale destruction to almost half the city.
This, and the staggering lumber trade, caused the economy to falter. However, Saint John persevered and absorbed the parish of Lancaster and part of Simonds in 1966.
Saint John became New Brunswick’s leading commercial and transportation center, a Moncton title now challenged.
It has shipping facilities and one of the longest dry docks globally, clocking in at about 320 meters.
2. The Geography and Climate of Saint John, New Brunswick
Saint John is situated in Atlantic Canada, in south-central New Brunswick. The city is a neighbour to the north shore of the Bay of Fundy, into which the south-flowing Saint John River meets.
The east side is also home to the Kennebecasis River, which flows into the Saint John Harbour and joins the other river. The harbour is home to Partridge Island too.
One of the biggest plus points that Saint John is blessed with is a year-round ice-free harbour. This allows for the development of the shipping and fishing industries, along with shipbuilding, and boosts the economy of New Brunswick.
A unique phenomenon occurs at the mouth of the South John River, where it flows into the Bay of Fundy through a narrow gorge a couple of hundred meters wide.
The daily tides of the bay reverse the river’s flow. They are known as either reversing rapids or reversing falls. These powerful tidal fluctuations of up to 9 meters reverse the river’s flow for a few kilometers upstream twice daily.
Moreover, underwater ledges in the gorge also contribute to these reversing falls. There is a height difference of about 8 meters between the high and low tide, which is caused by the funneling effect of the Bay of Fundy as it tapers.
The St. Croix Highlands and Caledonia Highlands ensure that the topography surrounding Saint John, New Brunswick is hilly and mountainous.
These coastal mountain ranges run alongside the Bay of Fundy. There are also several freshwater lakes present in various parts of the city.
The climate of Saint John is continental and humid. The summers are hot, and the winters are cold, with considerable seasonal temperature differences.
While summer temperatures can exceed 25°C, the winter temperatures drop to a chilly 8°C.
Due to the Bay of Fundy not fully freezing, the winter temperatures are moderate compared to inland locations.
During the summer, an amalgamation of the cold Bay of Fundy breeze and warm inland temperatures leads to fog and a respite in the heat with cooler temperatures.
Late winter and early autumn are the months with the most rainfall; precipitation is about 1295mm annually. Heavy snow is also a common visitor to Saint John, transforming the province of New Brunswick.
3. Places You Need To Visit in Saint John, New Brunswick
The Imperial Theatre is a must-visit site for anyone interested in events like grandiose plays and beautiful shows of the symphony, such as those by the Symphony New Brunswick.
The Saint John Arts Center is the humble host of many art exhibits, workshops, and other shows. It is home to the wondrous Saint John Theatre Company. More than any other city in Atlantic Canada, uptown Saint John has a smattering of art galleries.
For the nature lovers here, Saint John has a lot to offer. The beautiful Irving Nature Park on the west side of Saint John and Fundy National Park is the perfect place to be at one with the wildlife.
Next, The Fundy Trail Parkway offers a magnificent view of the high and low tides, immaculate beaches, and waterfalls to make the most of the coastal location. There are the reversing rapids on display from various Wolastoq parks.
Stonehammer UNESCO Geopark, North America’s first Geopark, has its focal point as Saint John. It has incredible geological significance, and the park has rock formations that may be a billion years old! These are said to be from the Precambrian era.
The New Brunswick Museum (Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick) has an astonishing display of relics from the colonial era. Several forts, such as Fort Howe, are national historic sites in Saint John.
The Carleton Martello Tower offers a splendid view of the city at its feet.
The museum also has ship models for visitors to admire, along with fossils, massive skeletons, and Chinese artifacts. The New Brunswick Museum makes you feel like you are stepping back in time.
For a more relaxed activity or to act as the starting point for a hectic day, there is the Saint John City Market to check out. It is the oldest continuously running farmer’s market in Canada and has been operating since the 1700s.
For a high-end experience, Uptown Saint John has many award-winning restaurants you can visit on a nice date, and their chic urban feel is sure to win over your heart. Even the city’s historic downtown Saint John has plenty to offer.
Apart from these, there are tons of other places to discover in saint john; some of the most recommended by the community are rockwood park, king’s square, children’s forest, the historic bandstand of the city of saint john, saint john river and the halls of great whales, and other natural wonders and the world-famous bay.
Whether you would prefer to learn more about the rich history of Saint John from its forts or the New Brunswick Museum, take a stroll through the wonderful Uptown, or get lost in the idyllic natural parks and hidden beaches, Saint John truly has it all.
Saint John’s popularity and tourism will increase tenfold in Canada and the coming years.
Many believe it will become a tourist attraction for visitors and join Toronto on many people’s Canadian bucket lists. The city can act as a starting point on the journey for the people coming to grace Canada’s East Coast.
It is a lovely, charming place with a lot to offer that will make your visit worthwhile. If you’re planning on visiting New Brunswick, check out Camping in New Brunswick: Top 8 Reasons
Also check out “Top Restaurants in Moncton“