Port of St. John's
Review and History

The Port of St. John’s is the biggest city and capital of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Lying at the east end of the Avalon Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland, the harbor is protected by Signal Hill and South Side Hills. It was the seat of the colonial province and it is the oldest city founded by England in North America. The metropolitan area is Newfoundland’s fastest growing. It includes the city of Mount Pearl and eleven other towns. It’s Newfoundland’s most populous city, with a population of over 181 thousand.

Port History

John Cabot sailed into the harbor in 1497 and, in the 1500s, the Port of St. John’s was important to explorers, fishing fleets, and colonists. Known for its rich fishing grounds, the harbor was a meeting place for ships from many European countries. In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed Newfoundland in the name of Queen Elizabeth from this port, making it Great Britain’s oldest colony.

Through the 17th and 18th Centuries, the Port of St. John’s remained a thriving fishing village. The Port of St. John’s thrived as a fishing port despite numerous attacks by the French and several major fires.

In the late 1700s, new commercial activities developed to support the thousands of fishers that came to Newfoundland waters. Because roads were scarce, the Port of St. John’s grew as a center for the export of fish and fish products and the import of goods to inland Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Port of St. John’s did not keep up with Newfoundland’s expansion during the 1950s. Its port facilities were soon overwhelmed and inadequate, leading to modernization and expansion efforts in the early 1960s. Both the Port Authority and private interests invested in port facilities that included a modern container-handling facility and exploration and development of offshore oil resources.

Today, the Port of St. John’s is equipped with modern cargo terminals and mooring berths. It has outstanding repair facilities and personnel. Ships from all over the world bring containers and bulk cargo to and from the Port of St. John’s. The port also serves the fishing industry, offshore oil industry, and a prosperous cruising industry.

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