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.
The earliest record of the location appears as São João 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 João 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.
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.
The core of the city was destroyed by fire several times, the most famous of which was the Great Fire of 1892.
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.
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.
|St. John's Climatological Data|
|Record high °C (°F)||15 (59)||16 (61)||18 (64)||24 (75)||26 (79)||29 (84)||32 (90)||31 (88)||30 (86)||25 (77)||20 (68)||16 (61)|
|Average high °C (°F)||-1 (30)||-2 (28)||1 (34)||5 (41)||11 (52)||16 (61)||20 (68)||20 (68)||16 (61)||11 (52)||6 (43)||2 (36)||9 (48)|
|Mean °C (°F)||-5 (23)||-5 (23)||-3 (27)||2 (36)||6 (43)||11 (52)||15 (59)||16 (61)||12 (54)||7 (45)||3 (37)||-2 (28)||5 (41)|
|Average low °C (°F)||-9 (16)||-9 (16)||-6 (21)||-2 (28)||2 (36)||6 (43)||11 (52)||11 (52)||8 (46)||3 (37)||-1 (30)||-6 (21)||1 (34)|
|Record low °C (°F)||-23 (-9)||-24 (-11)||-24 (-11)||-15 (5)||-7 (19)||-3 (27)||-1 (30)||1 (34)||-1 (30)||-6 (21)||-13 (9)||-20 (-4)|
|Precipitation and Sunshine Hours|
|Total mm (in)||150 (5.9)||125 (4.9)||131 (5.2)||122 (4.8)||101 (4.0)||102 (4.0)||89 (3.5)||108 (4.3)||131 (5.2)||162 (6.4)||144 (5.7)||149 (5.9)||1514 (59.6)|
|Rainfall mm (in)||74 (2.9)||61 (2.4)||77 (3.0)||94 (3.7)||94 (3.7)||101 (4.0)||89 (3.5)||108 (4.3)||131 (5.2)||160 (6.3)||116 (4.6)||89 (3.5)||1191 (46.9)|
|Snowfall cm (in)||80 (31.5)||67 (26.4)||52 (20.5)||26 (10.2)||6 (2.4)||1 (0.4)||0 (0)||0 (0)||0 (0)||3 (1.2)||26 (10.2)||61 (24.0)||322 (126.8)|
| Temperature and Precipitation data recorded at St. John's International Airport by Environment Canada Data spans 1971 to 2000.|
Sunshine hours recorded at St. John's West CDA by Environment Canada Data spans 1971 to 2000.
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).
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.
The city's aviation needs are served by St. John's International Airport. The airport is located 3 nautical miles 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, Stavenger 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.
|Area (sq mi)||172.2||310.7|
|Density (persons per km²)||225.6||214.9|
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.
|*Christian, not included elsewhere||1,310||0.8%|
Many of the earliest settlers of St. John's came from the southwest of England, especially the West Country and Devon in particular, and southeast Ireland, primarily Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny. These origins can still be detected in similarities between the original dialects of each of these regions and the traditional St. John's accent. The similarity with the Waterford, Ireland accent is sometimes striking.
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.
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.
|North: Torbay, Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove, and Flatrock, and Pouch Cove|
|West: Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, Paradise, Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South||St. John's||East: Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove,|
|South: Division No. 1, Subd. D, Bay Bulls|