Have you ever thought of going to the Far East? I am not talking about the Far East from whence the wise men came with a caravan of gifts for Jesus. I'm talking about the far east of North America where you can acquire the badge that says "I Have Seen the East and Really Lived!" OK, perhaps there is no real badge, but there should be! If there were, it would be awarded to those who had gone to the most easterly point in North America.
I have heard some in the media refer to the east coast of Canada as, wait for it....Halifax, Nova Scotia. Perhaps they were unaware that in 1949 Newfoundland joined confederation and became part of the dominion of Canada. I guess history is not a strong subject for some. I have to admit, it was not my favorite either.
The notion that Canada ends at Nova Scotia though is inadequate at best and mistaken geography at the least. Regardless of the oversights of a few, and in spite of those who argue the honour belongs to Greenland, (not part of the continent of North America) there can be no mistaking that the most easterly point in Canada and North America is found in Newfoundland.
St. John's, the Capital of Newfoundland, is the oldest city in North America. Its history is filled with legends of trouble and toil on both land and sea. It was inhabited in the early 1500's by fishermen from Europe. The St. John's harbor became known as a safe haven for fishermen. The surrounding hills provide a natural shelter from the Atlantic's fury, which on not a few occasions has flared.
The origin of the name St. John's, (note the apostrophe- something that Active Rain is having trouble with) is uncertain. Nor is this name to be confused with Saint John, New Brunswick, no apostrophe or ‘s'. Unwitting travelers have on occasion found themselves arriving in the wrong city and province. It is in one of those moments that one must conclude that failure to pay close attention to a possessive apostrophe is more expensive than one imagined.
The earliest reference to the old city is known from an ancient Portuguese map from 1519 wherein it is called Rio de San Johem. It is believed however that the Italian explorer, Giovanni Caboto who landed in Bonavista, Newfoundland in 1497, was to have given the name to the harbour town.
It may interest you that St. John's is the place where the first trans Atlantic wireless signal was sent by Guglielmo Marconi on December 12, 1901 a mere 108 years ago. From a lofty perch atop of Cabot Tower, it can be said that the Blackberry received its early debut. Millions around the world may send St. John's a thank you for aiding in its development. An e-card from a remote devise would seem to be most fitting.
If you want to wear your "I Have Seen the East and Really Lived" badge, you should know that the point of land that will so designate you as a legitimate claimant is on the rocky cliffs monitored since 1836 by a lighthouse just a few km from St. John's. Cape Spear, now designated as a National Historic Site, and noted for its rugged cliffs and hardened gaze into the Atlantic, stands as the place closer to Europe than any other landmass in North America.
And if you wonder why it seems so bleak, so forlorn, so alone, perhaps it is due to its lot in life. It has endured the furry of every Atlantic storm for a millennium and it has watched in anguish every disaster the Atlantic has wrought upon many who by necessity traversed its waterways.
The place that will award you your imaginary badge is just beyond where the ships seeking refuge in the St. John's harbour. It is a place that I have stood many times, gazing toward the Atlantic, watching whales breach, icebergs float breathlessly by, and over-sized waves being tossed with ease against vertical shores as though by the breath of God they danced a reckless dance. It is a place that in those moments I have heard a voice within reassuring me that our Creator is alive and does His work well. In those moments too, He has heard me reply, "Today, I am alive and am immensely glad to be so!"
R. Greg Osmond is a Platinum Award winning Realtor serving St. John's and surrounding areas, Newfoundland and Labrador for over 20 years and can be reached at 709-895-2500. Visit http://www.rgregosmond.com/for further information. Find him on facebook at R. Greg Osmond.