Those of us who call Saint John, NB home have heard them all: The Dirty John, The Big Flush, The Armpit of the Maritimes, etc. While perhaps these names may have been warranted at one time, if you still think these terms apply, you’re not looking deep enough. We may be a city of contrasts but we are a city of change as well. To borrow a term from our illustrious mayor, we are a Renaissance City. Here’s some reasons why:
1. Incredible Hiking/Green Space – we’ve got not one amazing park within city limits but two: Rockwood Park on the city’s north side is a place where you can feel like you’ve completely escaped from civilization, when in fact you are practically a stone’s throw from Costco. You can hike or bike in here for hours, sometimes without seeing anyone. The Irving Nature Park on the city’s west side is a wonderland of beaches, wooded trails, marshland and stunning coastal views.
2. Amazing Scenery – yeah, we’ve got our own Hollywood sign, and it doesn’t really matter whether you’re parked at the top of Fort Howe behind it in the evening summer light, watching the cruise ships drift lazily out of port or whether your standing on a cliff’s edge at Irving Nature Park, overlooking the Bay of Fundy. Or maybe you’re watching the sky turn pink over the sailboats at one of my favorite spots in the city, the Royal Kennebecasis Yacht Club (RKYC). I dare you to stand in front of one of these views and not be moved. And if you’re not moved then I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends.
3. Great Eats – Saint John’s restaurant scene is like, so hot right now. What are you in the mood for: Local/organic? Maritime fare? Sushi? Thai? Indian? Middle Eastern? Italian? I can name at least one fantastic restaurant in every one of these categories and more. And now I’m hungry.
4. Our Mayor is Cooler Than Your Mayor – he’s young, he’s hip, he’s social media savvy and he’s a total Star Wars geek. Mayor Norton for the win.
5. Beach Access/Water Fun – no matter where you are in Saint John and surrounding areas, you are never far from beach access. Whether bordering the mighty Bay of Fundy (enter at your own risk, it’s flippin’ cold!) or the stunning Kennebecasis River (marginally warmer), there’s always a place to cool off in the summer. Not to mention all the great boating/canoeing/kayaking opportunities there are.
6. Culture/History – Saint John is filled with history and beautiful architecture. It is Canada’s oldest incorporated city, after all. Just take a stroll around Uptown and you’ll see what I mean. Wanna take in some theatre? While we’re no Broadway, the Imperial Theatre at King’s Square is one of my absolute favourite places on Earth. An evening spent here is always a good bet.
7. Friendly People – I’ve lived in each of the Maritime provinces at one point or another in my life so I know that Maritimers are the friendliest people you’ll find anywhere. However, my husband is a native Saint Johner, so I might be a wee bit biased here. Saint Johners are so polite and friendly, in fact, that when the Harbour Bridge construction was under way for weeks on end and commuters were backed up for kilometers, there was not one chainsaw-wielding road rage incident, that I’m aware of. People calmly took turns and inched slowly homeward.
Despite all these wonderful reasons to love SJ, there are always drawbacks, no matter where you live. If you are going to call Saint John home, there are a few things you’re going to have to accept:
1. The Deer – make nice with them because they’re everywhere, even in the city centre. Accept that they are going to eat your flowers and shit on your lawn. It’s a little bit of country inside the city. And for the love of God, please don’t feed them.
2. The Fog – if you want to live Uptown (our Downtown, and yes, we do have Uptown Funk – thanks, Mark Ronson), you’re going to have to accept that it’s going to be about 8-10 degrees cooler in the summer than pretty much everywhere else. The upside? While everyone else in the Maritimes is sweating their butts off in August, you’ll be quite comfortable.
3. Industry – yes, we are an industry town. That means that the west side often smells like the Pulp and Paper Mill and the east side is dominated by the mini steel-city that is the Irving Oil Refinery. While these industries may not be some of our most beautiful features, they provide employment for many New Brunswickers and they do a lot for our city and the province. They really are an integral part of the fabric of this city. They have helped shape it’s form and will help shape it’s future. And that future is exciting, even if it is not without it’s challenges.
What are your reasons for loving Saint John?