A morning tour of Saint John

Saint John is a city I get to visit a couple of times a year for work.  But each trip is usually a very quick one, leaving very little time to explore the city.  That being said, it’s a city I’ve spent a bit of time in over the years.  Saint John is my dad’s birthplace, and when I was a kid, a family road trip up there wasn’t an unfamiliar occurrence.

On a work-related trip to Saint John back in May, I found myself with a quiet Saturday morning to do a bit of exploring.  From my downtown (or is it uptown?… let’s just say it was in the centre of the city) hotel, I walked toward the waterfront and encountered this fellow.  It’s a sculpture donated by Moosehead Breweries, Canada’s oldest and largest independent brewer.  Better to meet a guy like this here than on a New Brunswick road in your car:

Moose in Saint John

Continuing past the moose, I walked out behind Market Square and the Hilton hotel to get right to the water’s edge.   Here’s the view looking directly south out to the Bay of Fundy on a perfectly clear morning:

Saint John harbour

At the foot of King Street and just up the hill about a block from the moose is this art installation by John Hooper called “People Waiting”.  This is among my personal favourites of public art installations I’ve encountered in my travels.

Saint John

I spent a bit of time just wandering around the quiet downtown streets on this morning and came across this on the side of a building overlooking a parking lot.  It’s a series of portraits of famous Saint John natives.  From left to right: Alden Nowlan (poet), Daphne Paterson (Canada’s first female commercial pilot), Fred Ross (artist), Louis Mayer (film producer), Walter Pidgeon (actor), Donald Sutherland (actor), Stompin’ Tom Connors (musician and even the inscription beneath his portrait correctly identified him as Canadian icon) and Miller Brittain (artist):

Famour citizens of Saint John

Uptown (or is it downtown?) Saint John is home to some beautiful architecture, and is reason enough for a walking tour of the area:

I continued my walk up the hill and soon arrived at King’s Square.  The focal point of this park is the two-storey bandstand which has been recently refurbished:

King's Square, Saint John

The park was laid out with walking paths crossing from corner to corner of this square, perhaps as a nod to the Union Jack in this loyalist town.  Early on this Saturday morning, I was joined only by the odd dog out for a walk and the singing of a few birds in the still leafless trees (it was mid May after a harsh winter):

King's Square, Saint John

Walking down that path above I found myself at the historic Saint John City Market.  This market has been continually in operation since 1876.  I’ve got great memories of stopping by here as a kid with my Dad.  He was always in search of a bag of Fundy dulse, something I didn’t appreciate at the time.  The market is something to behold.  I love the architectural detail of the roof supports, which are reminiscent of a ship’s hull:

Saint John City Market

This is where I picked up my breakfast – a lovely coffee from Java Moose (a must stop for me in Saint John – love their cups with the moose antlers) and a sticky bun from another of the market vendors.

I made my way back to the hotel to do a bit of work before the event I was attending that day.   One of the things I love about the hotel where I normally stay is that there’s a great view of Saint John from large windows where you wait for your elevator.  On the way in or out of the hotel,  you can’t help but take a moment to appreciate the city’s architecture and connection to the water.   It’s a great city, and I was glad to have a bit of spare time on this recent visit for some exploration.


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