In the early 1500's Spanish, Portuguese, French and English fishermen  crossed the Atlantic Ocean to catch the abundent cod in the cold waters around Avalon.
 
For their seasonal camps they needed natural harbours and soon Basque fishermen found the ideal place, a secluded bay behind protective hills and with a narrow entrance.
They called the place after St John and the location first shows up on a Portuguese map from 1519.
 
In the 17th century a permanent English community was set up at St Johns and the population slowly grew to become the largest in Newfoundland.
 
The entrance, called  the Narrows, proved ideal to protect against attacks from pirates, the Dutch and later the French.
Canons were placed on Signal Hill to the north, and at Fort Amherst to the south.
These defensive functions remained active through the Second Worldwar, when the harbour was used  by the Allies as an anti submarine base.
 
Signal Hill and Fort Amherst still show the remnants of this interesting but violent  military history.
 
A bit to the south is Cape Spear, Newfoundland's most easterly point. Apart from the 19th century lighthouse there are also the ruins of a WWII gun battery that protected the allied convoys to and from St Johns.
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Signal Hill
Fort Amherst
Cape Spear
St Johns