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St Johns, Newfoudland

ST JOHNS, NEWFOUDLAND, the capital of Newfoundland, situated on the east coast of the island, in the peninsula of Avalon, in 47 33' 54" N., and 52 40' 1 8" W. It is the most easterly city of America, only 170x3 m. from Queenstown in Ireland, and 2030 from Liverpool. It stands on rising ground on the north side of a land-locked harbour, which opens suddenly in the lofty iron-bound coast. The entrance, known as The Narrows, guarded by Signal Hill (520 ft.) and South Side Hill (620 ft.), is about 1400 ft. wide, narrowing to 600 ft. between Pancake and Chain Rocks. At the termination of the Narrows the harbour trends suddenly to the west, thus completely shutting out the ocean swell. Vessels of the largest tonnage can enter at all periods of the tide. There is good wharf accommodation and a well-equipped dry dock. St Johns practically monopolizes the commerce of the island (see NEWFOUNDLAND), being the centre of the cod, seal and whale fisheries. The chief industries are connected with the fitting out of the fishing vessels, or with the disposal and manufacture of their catch. Steamship lines run to Liverpool, New York, Halifax (N.S.) and Saint Pierre. Nearly all the commerce of the island is sea-borne, and well-equipped steamers connect St Johns with the numerous bays and outports. It is the eastern terminus of the government railway across the island to Port-aux-Basques, whence there is steamer connexion with the mainland at Sydney.

The finest buildings in the city are the Anglican and Roman Catholic cathedrals. Education is controlled by the various religious bodies; many of the young men complete their studies in Canada or Great Britain. St Johns is not an incorporated town. A municipal council was abolished after having largely increased the debt of the city, and it is now governed by commissioners appointed by the governor in council.

St Johns was first settled by Devonshire fishermen early in the 16th century. It was twice sacked by the French, and captured by them in the Seven Years' War (1762), but recaptured in the same year, since when it has remained in British possession. Both in the War of American Independence and in that of 1812 it was the headquarters of the British fleet, and at one time the western end of the harbour was filled up with American prizes. The old city, built entirely of wood, was twice destroyed by fire (1816-1817 an d 1846). Half of it was again swept away in 1892, but new and more substantial buildings have been erected.

The population, chiefly of the Roman Catholic faith and of Irish descent, increases slowly. In 1901 the electoral district of St Johns contained 39,094 inhabitants, of whom 30,486 were within the limits of the city.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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