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St. John’s, Newfoundland, part 3


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Now we’re at Signal Hill, where the Cabot Tower is located. It overlooks the entrance to St. John’s harbor.

  • The tower was built in 1898 in Gothic Revival style, to celebrate the 400th anniversary of explorer John Cabot’s voyage to the New World, and to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
  • There’s a little fort at the mouth of the harbor, with a WW2-era 5-inch gun ready to shoot any invading ship in the back as it passed through the narrow mouth of the harbor.
  • There is an array of 1800s cannons on a lower, flat part of the hill, southwest of the tower.
  • The parking lot of the tower used to be a large flat space where cannon, and later big coastal defense guns, were situated.
  • The little trash-can shaped gun with the short, wide mouth is an 18th-century mortar. It was used to lob cannonballs in a high arc, down the hill or onto incoming (unwelcome) ships.
  • The stairs to the top of the tower are very steep and winding.
  • Far to the south, you can see the lighthouse buildings on Cape Spear.
  • There’s a soft drink machine outside the tower with a full-size photograph of the tower on it. I thought that was amusing.
  • The low, squat, windowless house near the tower is an 18th-century powder magazine for the cannons which used to sit on the hill, defending the harbor and the town.

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