(Wordless Wednesday) A Few Lines

October 1, 2008

Buoy Oh Buoy

September 24, 2008

Timeline: Saint John

September 23, 2008

The red cranes for loading container ships stand opposite a pierful of buoys and floats.

The Saint John Harbour has long been appreciated for the fact that it does not freeze solid in winter. People have been working here quite a few years…

Plaque commemorating Fort La Tour, in English, French, and Mi’kmaq.

…possibly 4,000.

In 1604, four years before he founded Quebec City, Samuel de Champlain named the Saint John River after the patron saint of France. In 1631, Charles de La Tour set up shop a stone’s throw from the plaque commemorating him today. His fort quickly became a busy trading post, doing business with the Algongkian tribes of the area.

Loyalist burial grounds.

Later came the English, or perhaps “gently used” English, in the form of United Empire Loyalists who left New England after it broke ties with Old England. Some 10,000 of them came to this harbour, and Saint John was the first incorporated city of Canada, in 1785.

“Sacred to the memory of Catharine Hull, the beloved wife of Abel A Hardenbrook, who departed this life the 5th of December 1799, aged 57 years.”


Staircase, looking up.

It took a couple of years to build the imposing County Court House, finished in 1829. The plaque outside reads, in part, “Among its notable features is a freestanding circular staircase whose steps, made from single blocks of stones, are cantilevered from the wall.”

A light was placed near the waterfront in 1842, in hopes of guiding sailors in the fog. In 1848, the gas company commissioned a triple lamp affair on a trident post, which eventually acquired the nickname of “the Three Sisters”. In 1967, the lamps underwent restoration. The sides facing the water are red, and those facing the town are white.

The Three Sisters.

The latest work to be done concerning this lamp post is scheduled to be finished before the snow falls. You can see the construction equipment at the foot of the post, and a corner of the dirt pile: a small parkette is being placed here, as part of the waterfront beautification project.

At the time the Three Sisters lamp was being commissioned, Ireland was in the throes of the Great Famine. Many Irish, coming to Canada, were halted at Partridge Island for quarantine before they could come onto the mainland. Yesterday, flanked by tourist buses of today and Partridge Island of recent history, and standing before a heap that will become the latest public garden, E.g. pondered the past and present of her hometown, and wondered about its future.

Market Square

September 22, 2008

September is a big month for cruise ships coming to Saint John. The main components in the above photo are, left to right: cruise ship; Hilton hotel; Market Square. All within the bounds of this photo, here are a few things you can do while your ship is in port.

First, don’t miss the wooden clock sculpted by artist John Hooper (1926-2006) , who was born in England, traveled extensively, and then spent the second half of his life here in New Brunswick. This clock uses a tail, not hands, to tell time. The blue snake under the feet of the standing figures takes six hours to complete one revolution. If you use the 12-hour clock, this means that at any given moment, there are only two possible times: 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock, 4 o’clock or 10 o’clock, et cetera.

The dot on each column marks fifteen minutes. The snake’s tail has passed the second dot after the one o’clock/seven o’clock dot. Therefore, the time is not quite 1:45 pm.

For something even more mysterious, you could ponder the little patch of beach where the first fleet of Loyalist ships and their 2,000 passengers disembarked, and, one presumes, immediately set up for a game of beach volleyball.

Other sights are much more comprehensible. Here is the Moosehead-Brewery-sponsored moose. It was quite touching to see a number of Texan tourists, such as this one, give the statue little affectionate pats.

Inside Market Square, besides shops, you will find the New Brunswick Museum…

…and the main branch of the Saint John library. Once you’ve savoured your cultural quietude, you might want a souvenir…

so head on over to the City Market, the oldest such in Canada.

Finally, how about a bite to eat at The Infusion restaurant? We hope you’ve enjoyed your stay. All aboard…

…and thanks for visiting!

The Same, Only Different

September 21, 2008

Saint John, New Brunswick, where E.g. grew up, has a number of serious industries. There’s an oil refinery, a pulp-and-paper mill, a port. As you can see from this shot of the harbour,

the business and industrial buildings are the usual sober colours. Nature repeats this aspect

with great swatches of green, much of it constant all year in the form of cedars and other evergreens.

Except for uptown — where brick has been the rule in all new buildings since the Great Fire of 1877 — the houses, too, have a certain regularity, in that for the most part their exteriors are of horizontal siding. But there the resemblance ends. The citizens of Saint John assert their individuality by a method at once subtle and striking:


From a light salmon mousse cottage…

…to a cobalt-blue post-war house…

…to a larger home that likes to pretend it’s a brick building, each home identifies itself at a glance.

Even a number of the churches have siding exteriors,

perhaps in a green of a meditative shade…

…or possibly a more eye-catching tint.

In this way, the people of this city can stand tall in their group identity as Saint Johners, and smile with twinkling eyes as being each one their own person.

Water, Rock, and Trees

September 20, 2008

Well, here we are in “foggy Saint John”, except that it’s a beautiful clear, crisp Fall day. This morning, E.g. and I went down to the seaside in Saint John West at low tide — E.g. had a notion for an ocean. We parked at the Martello Tower, a national historical site. It was built for the War of 1812. The tower overlooks the harbour of Saint John, the Digby Ferry dock, and Partridge Island, so the first four pictures in this entry were taken from pretty much the same spot.

The martello tower. The less glamorous upper addition was built for World War II.

The Church of the Assumption looks over the wharf for the Digby Ferry (ferry bound for Digby, Nova Scotia) and the long strip of the breakwater.

The causeway to Partridge Island is nearly under water at high tide. The island held quarantine facilities for immigrants (mainly the Irish) between 1785 and 1942. It was the first quarantine station in North America.

Leaving the car in the Martello Tower parking lot, we walked down Sea Street to the beach, and poked about for a bit there.

Bladder wrack is pretty homely when it’s high and dry…

…but in its proper element, it has its own charm.

With sharp eyes, one can turn up a few pretty bits of shell and stone. I could see a lot of granite of various colours, and some pieces of quartz as well.

After mucking about on the beach, we strolled through the neighbourhood a bit, and then had lunch at Deluxe Fish and Chips on Main St W. They use a big cutter machine to make the french fries — no frozen spuds here.

We returned to E.g.’s home at 2 pm, whereupon the four of us piled into her dad’s car and we headed for Rockwood Park. You can’t miss this one on a map of Saint John. It includes an area for camping, a zoo, a golf course, and several small lakes. The Trans-Canada Trail (so far still an ambition — there are bits of it in each province) is one of Rockwood Park’s many walking trails. We walked around Lily Lake, which is currently between stints of hosting either paddleboats and canoes, or skaters. We also passed the beach on one of the Fisher Lakes, a lovely children’s playground sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, and a horse stable.

E.g.’s parents admire the view onto Lily Lake.

The beach. The Fisher Lakes are artificial, but don’t really look it anymore. The “graffiti” on the rock on the far side reads, “No diving”.

The far end of the same lake. The puddleducks like this spot just fine.

We returned to the house an hour or so before supper. E.g. showed me how to use her Lightroom program to fiddle with my photos, we had supper, I snuck away to get today’s blog entry done, and now everyone is queuing up for the computer. Until tomorrow!