2014 Sep 8 – Day 81 – St. John’s, NL

Today was a sightseeing day in St. John’s.  I have a full page list of things to see here so we probably won’t get to them all.  Since our ship stops in St. John’s on the cruise next August we figure we have a second chance to catch at least some of the missed things.

First on the list is the second-to-last Legislative Assembly Building for Canada’s Provinces – except Toronto, which we skipped on purpose (the city entirely, not the building).  We have been to both the BC and AB Legislative Buildings before this trip.  We intend to go to Fredrickton, NB as we begin our trip westward.  It will be the last except I will have to look into the official governing buildings of the Territories to complete the set some day.

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Getting new windows and other upgrades under the tarp.IMG_9205 IMG_9195The book on this table lists the names of those from Newfoundland who died in WWI and WWII.  There are identical books in Ottawa and France and there is a schedule that keeps all the pages turned in all three books at the same time.  11 am every third day, except for days of major battles when the pages are turned every 5th day.      IMG_9211We were given a tour by a fellow who works on the fifth floor and whose real job is recording the proceedings but who fills in on tour duty when needed.  We were taken all over the place and since there was only John and me and our guide Jeff we were able to ask all kinds of questions and chat away. It was quite different to be in a building that wasn’t built in the late 1800’s but opened for business in 1960.

When the Confederation Building was completed all the other provinces in Canada gifted Newfoundland with articles they would use in their Assembly Rooms.  Manitoba gave them a clock, other provinces gave them the House Speaker’s chair, the center table, the gavel (PEI), other chairs, etc.  BC gave them the Mace.  Newfoundland had an official mace that the British authorities gave the then-Dominion in 1833.  After they received a new one from BC in 1960 the old one was placed in storage.  It was re-discovered in the late 1990’s and refurbished.

IMG_9206Next we drove down to Government House, home of the Lieutenant Governor in the hope we could go on a tour, but it only opens for large pre-arranged groups.  We had a nice visit with the security guard (ex-RCMP fellow who reminded me strongly of our friend Don Cann, also ex-RCMP).  He told us we could just leave Poppy in the parking lot if we wanted to walk up Military Road to see the various historic buildings.  Perfect!IMG_9220 IMG_9222

This is what it looks like behind the trees.

The number two thing I really wanted to see was Commisariat House; the home of the Assistant Commisary General of the British Military stationed in St. John’s in the 1800’s.  The house was closed. Rats.  (It is now on the list to see next August on the cruise).

The Corp of Royal Engineers built the house in 1818 and it was the residence of the officer in charge of the pay, supplies and services required by the British military in St. John’s from 1821-1870.  After that it was used as a Rectory for St. Thomas Anglican (The Old Garrison) Church until 1969 (except from 1918-1921 when it was used as a nursing home and hospital).  I really hope we can tour it next year because there would be some very interesting stories I think.

IMG_9227 IMG_9225We also wanted to tour The Old Garrison Church, but it too was closed.

IMG_9228As was Colonial House, the former House of Assembly in St. John’s from 1850-1960.   Colonial House is undergoing a major interior and exterior renovation and is slated to be open next year as a museum.  Another addition to next year’s cruise stop itinerary.IMG_9233Basilica Cathedral Church of St. John the Baptist was open.  The cornerstone was laid in 1841 and the first mass was celebrated in 1850 even though the building was not completed until 1855.  It is a very large church with an ornate ceiling, lovely stained glass windows and marble floor.IMG_9241 IMG_9248 IMG_9254Our last sightseeing of the day was The Rooms; the beautiful new combination museum, art gallery and provincial archives.  We spent about 2 hours wandering around before walking back to Government House to collect Poppy and head back to the hotel for dinner and the night.

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IMG_9258  Atlantic PuffinsIMG_9266 IMG_9268 IMG_9270

Of course, the province is Newfoundland and Labrador so some of these arctic critters are prevalant in the Labrador part more than the Newfoundland part.  Although polar bears wander across the ice and into St. Anthony and other towns some times.

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The extinct Newfoundland Wolf.IMG_9277

A Newfoundland Black Bear.

This a display of Dorset Eskimos cutting soapstone out of the quarry at Fleur de Lys to make a pot.  We went there and I posted a photo of this same wall. IMG_9265There was also a short animated film about the 1914 Sealer’s disaster of the S.S. Newfoundland.  We visited the memorial at Elliston when we were up at Bonavista.   I love it when we come across things we have seen or read about somewhere else.

Several friends of ours who have been to Newfoundland told me that if I liked the colorful houses in Lunenburg and Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia I would love Newfoundland.  Until today that did not happen.  Most if the houses we have seen have been covered in vinyl siding in very similar taupe, tan, sand, sage, beige, white we get at home.  There are some lovely colors, like the pretty coral one I posted a few days ago, but not building beside building beside building.  Until today in St. John’s.  This I like.

IMG_9237 IMG_9236 IMG_9239 IMG_9230 IMG_9229 IMG_9307 IMG_9309 IMG_9313 IMG_9310 IMG_9311We have more things on the list for tomorrow.  And the weather is supposed to be nice again.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.  It sure was nice today.

Oh.  One more thing.  In The Rooms we came across a Smith Bit in a display about Newfoundland’s oil industry.  Our son worked for Smith in Houston for 2 years and Dubai for 6 years and is now in Oman.  The company was purchased by Schlumberger a couple of years ago but the Smith Bits are still one of their products.

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Is there anything wrong with this one Joseph? Do you need to do a failure report?

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