For other places with the same name, see Saint John (disambiguation).

Saint John is the second-largest city in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, with 68,000 residents (2016). It is in the south of the province on the Bay of Fundy

Understand edit

Saint John is a city whose population is composed almost entirely of the descendants of Irish immigrants and British loyalists. Canada's oldest incorporated city, Saint John's metro population is approximately 125,000 and it routinely plays host to cruise ships and individual tourists from all over North America. (To avoid confusion with St. John's (Newfoundland), Saint John is never spelled St. John - locals will be very quick to point this out.)

Until 2003, Saint John had a long history of shipbuilding at the city's dry dock, which is one of the largest in the world. Saint John now has fast growing research and information technology sectors, and it has a growing sector of tourism, with over 1.5 million visitors a year and 200,000 cruise ship visitors a year, creating a renaissance in the city's historic downtown (locally known as uptown).

History edit

Mi'kmaq and Maliseet Aboriginal peoples lived in the region for thousands of years, calling the river Wolastoq, and what is now the Saint John region, Menahkwesh, before European settlement.

French explorer Samuel de Champlain landed at Saint John Harbour on June 24, 1604 (the feast of St. John the Baptist). This is where the Saint John River gets its name. After over a century of ownership disputes over the land surrounding Saint John between the French and English, the English deported the French colonists in 1755 and constructed Fort Howe above the harbour in 1779.

Saint John, as a major settlement, was established by Loyalist refugees of the American Revolution when two fleets of vessels from Massachusetts, one in the spring and a second in the fall, arrived in the harbour. These refugees wished to remain living under Great Britain and were forced to leave their U.S. homes during the American Revolution.

In 1785, the City of Saint John was formed from the union of Parrtown and Carleton. Over the next century, waves of Irish immigration, namely during the Great Famine via Partridge Island, would fundamentally change the city's demographics and culture.

Climate edit

Saint John
Climate chart (explanation)
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139
 
 
−3
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0
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Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
See the Saint John 7 day forecast at Environment Canada
Imperial conversion
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
 
5.5
 
 
27
7
 
 
 
3.7
 
 
28
9
 
 
 
4.6
 
 
36
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4.1
 
 
46
30
 
 
 
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4
 
 
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3.5
 
 
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64
46
 
 
 
4.9
 
 
54
37
 
 
 
5.3
 
 
43
28
 
 
 
5.9
 
 
32
14
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

Temperatures in Saint John vary by season. In the summertime temperatures can reach a high of 22°C, and in the wintertime they can dip to -15°C. Rain is common in the spring and autumn, but it usually doesn't rain much in the summer. Fog is not uncommon during the summer months. There is the occasional heavy snowfall in the winter; however, snow is usually more abundant the more north you travel away from the Bay of Fundy.

Get in edit

By car edit

Driving to Saint John is usually not a hassle, unlike in many other cities. However, traffic has been steadily increasing. And for travellers driving from Fredericton to Saint John on Highway 7, care is required because of the risk of moose collisions at certain times of year and certain times of the day.

Saint John is 107 km (66 miles) from the Calais/St. Stephen border between Canada and the United States of America. Driving distances from major cities are 496 km (310 miles) from Portland, Maine, 940 km (588 miles) from Montreal, Québec and 424 km (265 miles) from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

If you're travelling from southern Nova Scotia, your best bet is to take Bay Ferries from Digby. There are three crossings daily from mid-June to mid-October, these take 2½ hours on average. During the rest of the year there is at least one crossing daily and they usually take 2 hr 45 min. $37 per adult passenger and $119 for a car (April 2017). Book online, and check on at the terminal to get your boarding pass when you arrive. Restaurant, cafeteria and wifi on board.

By bus edit

By plane edit

Airport edit

Airlines edit

  • Canadian airlines serving Saint John Airport:

By train edit

There is no passenger train to Saint John. Via Rail serves Moncton, from which a two-hour bus ride reaches Saint John.

By boat edit

Saint John also boasts a booming cruise ship industry and has cruise ships enter the city's dock on a regular basis.

Saint John's Market Wharf also provides a convenient if unserviced space within the harbour for pleasure boaters, making it easy for power or sail vessels coming in from the Fundy to berth and enjoy the Uptown shopping or dining. Longer term moorage is not available in the harbour, although it is available several miles up the Saint John River. There are no fuel or marine services at the wharf, and the wharf is used by local fishing boats and by pleasure craft.

Saint John can also be reached by ferry coming from Digby, NS. As of 2024, it is operated by Bay Ferries Ltd. Check the schedule because crossings are dependant on weather and technical conditions and subjected to change. Crossing time in peak season is approximately 2 hours 15 minutes and 2 hours and 30 minutes during off season. Parking is available at the Saint John and Digby ferry terminals.

Get around edit

By public transit edit

  • Saint John Transit, +1 506-658-4455. Operates from approximately 6AM to midnight for public transport within the city. Schedules are available on the buses, in information booths throughout the city and in the Saint John Transit site. Bus tickets may be purchased through the SJTRides app. Fare is $3.00 for adult passengers; first 3 children under 5 free ($2 each after).    

By taxi edit

There are several companies available in Saint John for this service.

Most companies accept debit and credit cards in their cabs, but be sure to ask for this service as it may not be available in all cars. Approximate prices for taxi services in Saint John, based on one person in the taxi and no stops are as follows:

  • East Side to Uptown or North End: $7-10 (and vice versa)
  • East Side to West Side: $12-15
  • North to South End: $8-10

If you are staying outside of the city in Rothesay or the surrounding area, expect to pay above $15. Cab rides to the airport can run in the $20 range. For people who need to make a short stop to pick up cash or something quick, most drivers will charge you an extra buck. But make sure you ask, because they are supposed to charge you for another stop. Some will do this right off the bat if you don't ask. Also, most cab drivers are more than happy to have your repeat business, so if there is someone you like ask for their car number and next time you call you can ask for the same person.

Within the Uptown it is possible to travel on foot between the City Market, Brunswick Square Mall, Market Square, the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, Mercantile Centre and Harbour Station via underground and pedway connections without venturing outside (the "Inside Connection"). This is very useful during the winter. During the rest of the year, Uptown Saint John also offers a very pleasant and fairly accessible walking experience, with clear, well-maintained sidewalks and crosswalks, and fairly straightforward navigation. (Unlike many older cities, Saint John's Uptown is laid out in a simple grid design.)

There are eleven car rental dealerships in the city including an Avis Rent-A-Car at the Saint John Airport.

See edit

  • Fort Howe (Located in the city's North End). A panoramic view of the city and harbour, and a historic attraction.
 
Saint John City Market
  • 1 City Market, 47 Charlotte St, (in the Uptown, with entrances on Charlotte and Germain Street). M-F 7:30AM–6PM, Sa 7:30AM–5PM. The oldest continuing farmer's market in Canada, with a charter dating from 1785. Local businesses, craft workers, artists, farmers, bakers and grocers sell a wide array of unique foods and crafts, native to New Brunswick or around the world. The building is a historic site with amazing period architecture.    
  • 2 Rockwood Park (in the North End). A wide variety of walking, biking and horseback riding trails. Rockwood Park is landlocked but its paths weave around natural and man-made lakes (public swimming is free, but no lifeguard service is available.). Free.    
  • Irving Nature Park (on the West Side). A variety of walking trails lead travellers through woods, guide them into marshes, and bring them to beaches and lookout points on the sea. Free.
  • King Square (in the heart of the Uptown). Gardens, monuments, and the trademark bandstand and fountain at its centre. Adjacent to King Square is the Loyalist City Burial Ground, whose cobblestone paths lead past graves over two centuries old.
 
Reversing Falls
  • 3 Reversing Falls. As the Saint John River flows into the Bay of Fundy, whose tides are the highest in the world, strong rapids form as the tide rises and clashes with the flow of the river below the Reversing Falls bridge. A pulp and paper mill is located in the area near the bridge. The Reversing Falls Lookout Point is a great (and free) spot to watch the falls, before crossing the bridge into the Skywalk (The Plank). Check the website for low-income and high-tides, the best times to see them change.    
 
Carleton Martello Tower
  • 4 Carleton Martello Tower, 454 Whipple Street (if driving, follow the Beaver signs). For 2017, Jun 26-Sep 4: daily 10AM-5:30PM; Sep 5-Nov 1: M-F 9AM-4:30PM. The Carleton Martello Tower was built for the War of 1812. However by the time of its completion in 1815, the war was completed. It became used for military in 1866 and was used on and off by Canadian troops for nearly 80 years. It is now a Canadian National Historic Site. There will be no access to the 1812 tower or command post in 2017. Visitors are encouraged to enjoy and explore the Visitor Center, Exhibit Gallery, gift counter, and grounds.    

Do edit

  • The Imperial Theatre, 12 King Square South, +1 506 674-4100. M-F noon-5PM. A historic theatre features everything from plays to rock concerts. Does tours in the summer and on cruise ship days.
  • Harbour Passage. Harbour Passage is a red paved walking path that runs from the Boardwalk Uptown to the Old Museum on Douglas Avenue. It's a great walking, biking or skating path in the summertime. While it is well-lit at night, the occasional mugging has been known to happen. Stay in groups at night and you will be fine. Also a great way to make it from Uptown to the North End of the city. Very close to the Holiday Inn Express.

Buy edit

The City Market uptown is the oldest operating farmers market in Canada, with fruits, vegetables, fresh seafood, Java Moose (a local brewed coffee house with good take-home coffee beans), and on Saturdays, various vendors with foods from around the world. Uptown is also home to hundreds of independent shops with a wide variety of food and merchandise. A stroll down King Street finds stores selling local arts and crafts, while across the street the Brunswick Square Mall offers commercial stores (clothes, shoes, cards, books, music, Laura Secord chocolates). On Germain and Canterbury Streets (both off King Street) independent merchants offer used books, records and international cuisine.

There are eight local shopping centres of varying quality; a few are mere strip malls or have fallen into the "dead mall" pattern of discount stores, vacancies or non-retail uses such as telephone call centres. The largest local malls are McAllister Place and East Point Shopping Centre in the east end, or Brunswick Square and Market Square uptown. The city's east side is also home to numerous big-box stores, mostly chains ranging from clothing to hardware to electronics.

Eat edit

A variety of locations for dining in are available in Market Square. For the more thrifty traveller an eatery is located in Brunswick Square, or try the side aisles of the City Market for fresh salads, sandwiches, and other local fare.

  • Billy's Seafood (near the Front gates to the City market). Seafood of all kinds is what you can find at Billy's. Locally owned and operated by Billy. Offers up great seafood dishes with a reasonable price. Look to spend $15-20 per person for supper.
  • Thandi's, 33 Canterbury Street, +1 506-648-2377. Thandi's is great for Thai and Indian cuisine. It's a little on the pricier side so expect to spend $25-30 per person for a well-rounded meal (including drinks).
  • Big Tide Brewing Co., 53 Princess Street. Nice little brew pub with some great microbrewed beer. Everything from IPAs to Hemp Ale. Big Tide offers up some pub favourites. Not too expensive. Expect to spend around $30-40 per couple. Great mixed drinks too! $10-15.
  • Lemongrass/Pepper's Pub, Market Square. The Lemongrass Restaurant is a great Thai place offering upscale food at a reasonable price. Very good pad thai and "money bags" (appetizer). Pepper's Pub, which is located in the same venue offers up unique pub fare for just about anybody. Thursdays is wing night, offering 1lb of wings for $4. Great sauce selections. Service can be a little slow on this night, but only because the place is jam packed with regulars who flock to Pepper's. They often host "IPN- Indie Pop Night". Great selection of live bands and a heated patio make Lemongrass/Pepper's Pub a great place to eat and drink.
  • Cora's Breakfast & Lunch (Located in Brunswick Square). Chain of breakfast restaurants which are now popular all over Atlantic Canada. Impressive fruit plates, delicious crepes and huge portions. Inexpensive. Expect to spend around $30-40 for two, including drinks.
  • Vito's, 2 Peel Plaza, +1 506 634-3900. M-W 11AM-8PM; Th F 11AM-9PM; Sa 4-9PM; Su 4PM-8PM. This locally owned family restaurant was founded in 1972 by four Greek immigrant brothers and is very popular for pizza and spaghetti.
  • Uptown Eatery, 68 King St, +1 506 631-0186. M-Th 10AM-7PM; F Sa 10AM-8PM; closed Su.
  • Vegas Bar and Grill, 10 Portland Street, +1 506 674-5287, . In the Canada's Best Value Inn Fort Howe Plaza. Try the B-Eat the House burger, which is 35 oz of ground beef and trimmings. Eat the whole thing in 45 minutes and it's free. Your photo also goes on their wall.

Drink edit

  • Saint John Ale House, 1 Market Square, +1 506 657-2337, . On the Boardwalk, inside Market Square. Great selection of beer both local and international. Good eats! You can get the ale-sized fish and chips which is practically a whole side of haddock! Good value for the money. Expect to spend around $10-20 at lunch and a little bit more in the evenings. Has a bar downstairs and a fine dining establishment upstairs.
  • O'Leary's, 46 Princess Street, +1 506 634-7135. A popular Irish pub in Uptown, it has live music on Friday and Saturday nights, usually rock and country cover bands. O'Leary's has broken away from the live bands on the weekends and often plays the hottest dance hits.
  • Callahan's, 2 Princess Street, +1 506 634-0366, . Tu-Sa 2PM. Friendly pub at the foot of Princess Street, near cruise terminal. Establishment has unusual vaulted ceiling having once served as the mail room in Canada's oldest post office. Free Wi-Fi, ATM.

Sleep edit

Finding a place to stay in Saint John shouldn't be a hassle. For those of you who prefer a comfortable stay near everything you could wish to see, try one of the hotels or B&Bs in the uptown. Hotels in Saint John cost on average $120 per night for a single. However, if you are travelling on a budget there are still some comfortable motels around the city.

  • Hilton Saint John, 1 Market Square, +1 506 693-8484. On boardwalk, connected to Market Square via underground tunnels. over $100.
  • Delta Brunswick, 39 King Street, +1 506 648-1981. Uptown, accessible through Brunswick Square. $125-150.
  • Canadas Best Value Inn Saint John (Fort Howe Hotel & Convention Centre), 10 Portland Street, +1 506 657-3610, toll-free: +1-800-943-0033. Between the North End of Saint John and Uptown, near the highway. Basic hotel, good amenities, dining room on-site. Free Wifi. Pool and hot tub. From $90.
  • Chipman Hill Suites, 76 Union Street, +1 506 693-1711. Various local B&Bs, all in beautiful heritage buildings in the uptown area. From $100.
  • Hampton Inn, 51 Fashion Drive (East Side of the City), +1 506 657-4600. Relatively new property with modern amenities, pool, water slide, near east side shopping malls and the highway. $60-80.

For camping underneath the stars, Rockwood Park or the village of St. Martins are suitable choices.

A few cottages or country inns may be found in the city, with many more in the suburbs and nearby country.

Connect edit

Internet access is available in several areas within the "Inside Connection", including a convenience store in Market Square and an Internet Cafe located en route between Market Square and Brunswick Square. In addition, many coffee places also offer free wi-fi. Any Java Moose or Starbucks locations will offer this. Also, on King Street in the uptown area, there is UZone which is an internet cafe. They also offer by-the-hour video gaming and LAN gaming.

Nearby edit

  • 1 St. Martins. A village on the Bay of Fundy northeast of Saint John with a population of 276 as of 2016. Attractions in St. Martins include the St. Martins Sea Caves, the beach and tidal harbour, the start of the Fundy Trail, two covered bridges and the Quaco Head Lighthouse, the Quaco Museum and Library, and the Fundy Trail Parkway.    

Stay safe edit

Saint John is safe compared to most cities; however, it is a good idea to walk on well-lit busy streets after dark and not on darker side streets. Street crime is rare but not unheard of. You are relatively safe in the commercial/retail area of uptown, where the hotels are located. The South End, also known as "uptown", can be dangerous in certain areas, as well as the North End.

Go next edit

  • Bay of Fundy - Fundy National Park offers great hiking and camping.
  • Moncton - The largest city and the largest metropolitan city in New Brunswick.
  • Sussex (New Brunswick) - The "Dairy Centre of the Maritimes". Main attractions: Poley Mountain Ski Hill (winter) and the Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta (2nd weekend in September).
  • Fredericton - Historic capital of New Brunswick.
  • Digby, NS - It's scallops are renowned as the best in the world


Routes through Saint John
CalaisSt. Stephen  W   E  SussexEnds at W   E
Fredericton ← Jct   N  N   S  END
END  N   S  → ferry → becomes  Digby


This city travel guide to Saint John is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.