The Colonial Building

Military Road, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

This site is currently closed for renovations. Re-opening in 2015 with new exhibits and restored interiors.

What will I see around St. John's?

  • Colourful houses, winding lanes and people who have lived here since the 1600s. St. John's is really, really old in North American terms. It first appeared on a Portuguese map in 1519, only 22 years after John Cabot's famous voyage to the "New Found Land". When Sir Humphrey Gilbert sailed into the protected harbour in 1583 to claim this area as England's first overseas colony, he found English, French and Portuguese vessels fishing here for the summer, but no permanent English settlement. This changed after the 1620s, as English settlers moved in and stayed. This long history of settlement informs the confidence of the people who live here, and fuels one of the most active and interesting cultural scenes in North America.
  • Hills and more hills. Walking around the downtown is great workout for your calf muscles. The protected harbour surrounded by hills and its location as the North American city closest to Europe gave St. John's military strategic importance from the 1700s right up to through the Cold War. Don't expect to get anywhere quickly though. Downtown streets laid out in the 1700s were designed to confuse enemies approaching from the harbour.
  • A busy harbour. St. John's was always a busy port, but now the city's booming economy is driven by offshore oil, not cod. St. John's is the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador and the largest city in the province. Though the population is only around 100,000 people, its nightlife, and wide selection of restaurants and shops are comparable with those of a much larger city.

 

More to do around St. John's