Saint John's

Saint John's, city (2001 pop. 99,182), provincial capital, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, on the northeast coast of the Avalon Peninsula, SE Newfoundland island. Built on hills overlooking a fine harbor, it is the commercial and industrial center of the province and the base of its offshore oil industry and fishing fleet. The city's industries are chiefly related to offshore oil production and drilling and fishing, but tourism is also important. The city is mainly a service center, however, that relies heavily on civil service jobs for its stability.

Although the exact date of its first settlement is not known, St. John's is one of the oldest settlements in North America. In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert took possession of the region for England. Since that time fishing boats from many countries have based there. The settlement was captured and recaptured by France and England, becoming permanently British in 1762 and serving as a naval base during the American Revolution and in the War of 1812. It was at St. John's that Marconi heard (1901) the first transatlantic wireless message and from there that the first nonstop transatlantic flight was made in 1919. The city has been partially destroyed by fire several times. It is the site of the provincial government offices, of Roman Catholic and Anglican cathedrals, of the Newfoundland Museum, of several science museums, and of Memorial Univ.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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