The main landmark of St. John’s is Cabot Tower on top of Signal Hill. Cabot Tower was built in 1897 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of John Cabot’s discovery of Newfoundland and Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. So the tower is a latecomer to Signal Hill which has had fortifications since the mid 1600s. The place is called Signal Hill because of the use of flags in land-sea communication.
It’s a long walk to the tower. From this view one can look south and see Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America.
That’s Cape Spear in the distance.
The last battle of the Seven Years’ War (also called the French and Indian War, or the war in which Quebec was defeated on the Plains of Abraham) took place in St. John’s in 1762. St. John’s had been attacked by the French (and by the Dutch on one occasion) several times during the early part of its history. The military history of Signal Hill continued during the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, and World War II.
While military attack was a concern in the early centuries in the history of St. John’s, fire was a problem in the 1800s. In 1892 most of St. John’s burned down. The area marked in red in the lower left of the historical plaque shows the extent of the damage. A local brewery markets a popular traditional ale called “1892.”
Walking north on Signal Hill, the Atlantic Ocean as far as the eye can see.
A reconstructed military station, the “Queen’s Battery Barracks,” lies below from Cabot Tower.
In a spot just outside Cabot Tower, Marconi received the first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901 by flying a kite with an aerial attached linked to a radio receiver. In the twentieth century, this spot in the tower was used for radio communications. Signal Hill has been known for communication of all kinds over the years: flags, cannons, and radio.