Sunday, October 25, 2015
Sept 22, St. Johns, Newfoundland... Land ahoy!
St. Johns is likely the place that my maternal grandparents first set foot on Canadian soil. I wonder about them and their journey here; what made them want to leave their homes and families in Sweden to live in the wilds of Canada. Was their journey treacherous and scary on that old ship in late 1800's or early 1900? Did they plan to settle in Newfoundland or were they planning all along to trek clear across the country to live in British Columbia? What was their plan and how did they know B.C. was a beautiful bountiful Province? I believe it must have taken them at least a couple years to cross the country and two sons were born along the way in the Province of Manitoba. They eventually arrived in B.C. and settled in the tiny one horse town of Yahk, in the East Kootenay, about 20 miles from Cranbrook where my mother was born in 1912. Four more daughters were born and they all grew up in Yahk. Why did they even stop in a nowhere place like Yahk instead of pushing their way through the 600 more miles to the more well known city of Vancouver and the Pacific coast? .........So many questions and no answers....but i've been to Yahk and back....
Coincidentally around the same time my husbands grandparents also arrived in Yahk after travelling all the way from Boston, Mass. via New Brunswick where hubbys dad was born the same year as my mom. They also trekked across this great land, through the never ending prairies and over what must have seemed like never ending mountains to live in the little village of Yahk. My mom and my husbands dad knew each other and they went to school together way back then. All the kids from the two families grew up and scattered; my uncles went back to Manitoba and my aunts lived in Alberta, Vancouver, Cranbrook and L.A. My mom met my dad who was from what is now known as the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. His family settled in the Edmonton area but dad carried on to live about 40 miles from Yahk in beautiful B.C. They married in 1933 and lived in Kimberley, B.C. where they had 5 kids of which I was the fourth.
St. Johns, Newfoundland is Canada's most easterly Province, situated on the North Atlantic and probably the closest i'll ever get to my dads birthplace and home when he was a young man (1500 miles north in Goose Bay, Labrador) I will assume that he saw this city and definitely the Atlantic Ocean and now i am seeing it for the first time. St. Johns is the Provincial capital and is the oldest city in North America. It has always been a busy fishing port with a beautiful natural harbor bounded by hills making it a calm safe place. It's history and cultural spirit show strong Irish and Scottish influences evident in it's people, pubs and music. The surrounding land is rugged with a dramatic coastline heavily indented with bays and inlets which give way to an interior terrain of wild mountains, hills, lakes and rivers.
Did you know Newfoundland contains no snakes, no skunks, no raccoons, and no poisonous insects or arachnids?
In 1912 the luxury liner Titanic struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland and sank.
Newfoundland is a little smaller than California, slightly bigger than Japan and twice the size of the entire United Kingdom
I visited Signal Hill which is the site of the first transatlantic wireless transmission that was received in 1901. It is a breathtakingly beautiful place overlooking the city and the ocean. Cape Spear Lighthouse was built in 1836 and is the oldest in existence in Newfoundland and is the most easterly point in North America. Bird Islands are rocky islands that are a refuge for hundreds of marine birds including Kittiwakes and more than 260,000 pairs of Atlantic Puffins during the late spring and summer.
We went to the Basilica of St. Johns the Baptist which was built in the form of a Latin cross.
This Roman Catholic church was built in 1855 and it sits on the highest ridge overlooking the city facing the entrance to the harbour. However, after we got off the bus and walked to the door we found it was closed. Many other bus trips had been to see this church but when it was our turn they locked the door! We then went to a different church that was open and it was beautiful too so that worked out ok.
St. Johns was lovely and I liked it a lot. Wish i would have stayed in the shopping area instead of returning to the ship on the bus as there were lots of shops with cool sounding names and I know it would have been fun to browse in them and of course i had the right kind of money this time! Instead i came back to the ship and did my nails and relaxed in the sunshine by the pool eating a bratwurst and sauerkraut hoagie like it was just an ordinary day! I am kicking myself now for not exploring this city more especially since we were docked right in beautiful downtown St. Johns. I then went to trivia but didn't get a score pad and i knew lots of answers this time! Isn't that just the way though.
This is the Regals first time to visit St. Johns and the city and port marked the occasion with a performance of the Royal Newfoundland Companies (Signal Hill Tattoo) and Church Lads Brigade Regimental Band today. It's called The Freedom of the Seaport Ceremony. It's also the summer Equinox known as the first day of autumn in the northern hemisphere. Today the sun will spend the same number of hours above the horizon as it does below.
At 5p.m. The Regal Princess set sail on a southerly course but not before playing the theme from Love Boat a few times as the people of St. Johns gathered on the rocks along the shore cheering and waving us off. It was very impressive as lots of people had come down to see the largest ship that had ever visited their port and to take pictures and to wave goodbye. All of the vessels in the port blew their horns for five solid minutes. They waved and their band played and we waved and our horn tooted the Love Boat song until we were out of sight. I had tears in my eyes from this reception and I think the Regal Princess will visit this port again and again after receiving such an awe inspiring welcome and send off. I felt so proud of my fellow Canadians in beautiful Newfoundland and of our beautiful Regal ship. It was the best of both worlds.
Click here to see/hear this report that was on the St. Johns tv news that day
I meant it just for the ships horns