Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Saint John, with its population of 70,000, is the largest city in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. It is located on the Bay of Fundy which has the distinction of having one of the largest tides in the world, averaging 45 feet compared to a global average of about 6 feet. On the day we visited the tide was near a cyclic minimum of just 29 feet. Even so, in the couple of hours we were away from the ship, the water rose a deck and a half - about 14 feet - necessitating several interim adjustments to the entry ramp.
Restored indoor market
Away from the bay, the land rises quite steeply and this has given rise to the development of a soulless multi-story mall with the numerous levels connected by escalators and enclosed aerial walkways crossing several streets. These features along with mixed commercial and retail use and a paucity of signage make it a place one wants to leave immediately. It was confided to me by a local however, that escalating through the mall was a convenient way to "climb" to the top of the city (known as uptown) and meandering downhill thereafter. Excellent plan.
Exiting from the high point of the mall and crossing yet one more street brings one to an entrance of the old city market which had been brought back from the dead by popular demand in the late '80s. A warm and dynamic atmosphere was a welcome contrast to the space-age sterility of the just vacated mall. An unusual feature of the market is the sloping floor which continues the climb to the top of the city over its quarter mile or so length.

Saint John is in a sorry state economically. It was the winter port for Quebec prior to year round ice-breaking being introduced on the Saint Lawrence seaway in the '60s at which point this revenue source vanished. A further blow fell in 2003 when all significant shipbuilding ceased due to over-zealous industrial action. A million and a half tourists now visit the area each year augmented by 200,000 cruise ship punters but this has yet to restore the previous prosperity. 
When the Tourist Office eagerly points out the moose statue, you know you're in trouble! See here for more scintillating pictures.

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