Saint John: New Brunswick’s Brick City for First-Timers

Nature and history in the Loyalist City

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Saint John is New Brunswick‘s largest city and with its combination of historical and natural attractions is definitely a key destination on any trip to Atlantic Canada. Plan to spend at least one day exploring the city and preferably two to fully appreciate it and its surroundings.

Some History

The history of Saint John is intrinsically linked to the mighty river of the same name which ends its 673km (413 mile) journey from the wilds of northern Maine to the Bay of Fundy at Saint John harbour. While aboriginal groups have been harvesting the natural bounty of the region for thousands of years, Saint John is one of the oldest areas of European settlement in all of North America. Basque, Spanish, French, and the English all coveted the strategic site until finally in 1783 Saint John was established as a city by United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution. Known ever since as “The Loyalist City”, Saint John still maintains a decidedly British nature to its character.


Every visit to Saint John should start at The Farmer’s Market, the oldest in Canada and a National Historic Site. Named Canada’s Great Public Space for 2013, the market is a veritable cornucopia of sights, sounds and aromas that is the perfect spot to plan the day ahead over coffee or tea. From just outside the market entrance begins the Loyalist Trail,  one of Three Historic Walking Tours that will guide the visitor to twenty interesting places in old Saint John including the Old Burial Ground, King’s Square and the beautiful Imperial Theatre. For more history and architecture follow the Victorian Stroll and Prince William Walk to over fifty more interesting places in the city. Make sure to bring a camera to capture details of the many styles of architecture that make Saint John such an interesting city to explore.

Before leaving the downtown area The New Brunswick Museum is a must visit. The Hall of Whales and Our Changing Earth are only two of many galleries that will thrill young and old alike.

Outside the Centre

One place that everyone should visit are Reversing Rapids, Saint John’s most famous natural attraction. Meanwhile no family should miss Irving Nature Park, which has a boardwalk and eight trails that showcase six different ecosystems on the outskirts of the city. It’s also a great place to watch the ships come and go from Saint John’s busy port.

At A Glance

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