On our 5th full day of cruising we landed in St. John, New Brunswick early in the morning. Due to extreme weather we had not been able to land in Halifax the day before so we were able to land in St. John a couple of hours earlier than had been originally planned. I was so sad to not be able to spend some time in Halifax, but after a couple of rough weather days at sea I was extremely excited to be able to get off of the ship and explore St. John. Michelle and I had booked an excursion for later in the afternoon to St. Martins & the Bay of Fundy and were delighted to now have time to explore St. John's at leisure in the morning. With no specific plans we were some of the first to venture off the cruise ship and walk throughout the quaint city of St. John.
I knew practically nothing about St. John before booking the cruise, except that like my favorite place in the world (Lake Champlain), the French cartographer, Samuel de Champlain had also explored this area. I was so excited to learn more about this quaint city that had so much English influence. St. John is the largest city within the New Brunswick province and is the only city on the Bay of Fundy.
St. John was discovered by the Europeans in the very early 1600s and the strategic location of the St. John River and the Bay of Fundy made this a very popular location for settlement. Due to this, St. John became a place of fighting and and sieges during the early years of its existence and throughout the 1600s. Eventually after the Naval Battle of St. John (between the French and English), England gained control of St. John.
In 1777, American forces gained brief control of St. John. Due to this a British major who was famous in the American Revolution (John Small) personally led soldiers in driving out the Americans. St. John remained a loyalist dominated city and eventually in 1785 was declared under royal charter to become the City of St. John. St. John is known as the first incorporated city in British North America (present-day Canada).
Historically, many of the people who fled to St. John during the American Revolution were Loyalist and were so strict with their beliefs that they would not let anyone who was not a Loyalist or a descendant of Loyalists practice any type of trade, sell goods, vote, or even fish in the harbor. This remained in effect until 1870. What is particularly fascinating is that St. John became known as the "Loyalist City" and that historical influence remained in St. John even to this day as the streets, many buildings, many restaurants, and many historical sites play homage to the monarchy and to the British crown through their names.
The Loyalist House (seen in the picture above) is one of the oldest residential houses in the city and was a survivor of the Great Fire years ago. This house remained in the same family until the 1950s. The house is now is a museum that you can tour. (You can see the names on the street signs as I mentioned above in regards to their nod to the English crown!)
I have to say that St. John was absolutely charming. It was a joy to visit and I would love to go back on a future trip. I loved the historical English influence that is still seen today. I truly felt that I stepped into a quaint European city across the pond.
After walking through the streets of St. John, Michelle and I ate breakfast at Cora's Breakfast and Lunch (Uptown) right across from the St. John City Market. It was a sweet breakfast and allowed us to eat quickly so we could continue exploring St. John with the limited time that we had. (As a side note Cora's offers several gluten free options and vegetarian options for those, like myself, who need this!)
Michelle and I had been told about the unique St. John City Market by our friends Esther and Doug and that had been our original destination, but as we were walking to there we kept seeing beautiful old historic churches scattered throughout the city.
As we stopped to marvel at the beautiful architecture we asked a nice man to take our picture. As he did he told us about one of the oldest churches in the city (that we could walk to) in St. John which we could see down the street.
Y'all know how much I love history and particularly old European churches so I was so excited to go see this and spend a few minutes at St. Johns Anglican Church (also known as the "stone church").
This beautiful church was constructed in 1824 and was completed in 1826.
For those who are interested in architecture this Anglican church is one of the earliest examples of the Gothic Revival style in Canada which is known as the Romantic Gothic Revival style.
After visiting this church we wandered back to the St. John City Market where we wandered through and did some shopping. I had wanted to pick up some small gifts for friends that we were traveling with and this city market provided the perfect place to do so.
The St. John City Market is a wonderful tourist place to see and visit. There are lots of different shops throughout the market that offer food, gift items, artwork, and many other treats and delights.
Like I mentioned above, I had been looking to purchase some small gifts for some friends on the cruise and was able to find some sweet Canadian treats in this market.
There are so many different markets and stalls within the St.John city market that it makes a fabulous place for shopping and visiting if you are in the area. If you are coming from a cruise ship like we are it is a simple walk (albeit up a big hill!) that you can easily walk to. (As a side note if you are a photographer many of the "inside" stalls in the St. John City Market will not let you photograph their work unless you receive prior permission. The outside stall pics as you see above, that contain mostly food vendors, are happy to have you take pictures!)
After exploring the St. John City Market we headed down to be closer to our cruise ship as we only had a short amount of time before we had to meet our cruise excursion group. We ended up heading down to the Market Square. The Market Square is an eclectic mix of a museum, library, shopping, sitting area, and dining places. Michelle and I spent a few moments just sitting around, people watching, and admiring the quaint library. Michelle and I looked at several different places to eat before we choose Ryan Duffy's which I definitely recommend. The food was delicious and the price was one of the cheaper restaurants in this area. The view was wonderful as we could see our ship, the harbor, and lots of St. John from our table. One of the things that resonated with me about St. John was how friendly everyone was that we encountered. Whether we were asking a question to someone on the street, or for directions, or even our waitress who was a saint in going above and beyond by helping Michelle exchange some money.
The visit to St. John was wonderful and the little time we spent in it was a treasure. Have y'all visited St. John's before? If not, I definitely recommend adding it to your list of "must see" travel places! You won't regret it!