Saint John ~ not St. John’s

There’s often confusion about that … St. John’s is in Newfoundland, and is always spelled that way, with the period and apostrophy. THIS, my adopted home city is Saint John — no genitive and saint always written out in full to avoid this confusion.

In July we had a murder here in Saint John. The victim was well-known so it got a great deal of media attention, to put it mildly. Still no charges have been laid, the police is extremely tight lipped about it, but that was not what I was going to write about here in this blog.

If you’ve followed this blog of mine for some time, you’ve probably noticed that I really love this city.

Here in Canada we have a magazine called MacLean’s, and it’s something corresponding to either TIME or Newsweek. Apparently, this murder here in Saint John, was ‘important’ enough to write an article about it. It was indeed interesting reading, but what I loved about it was the reporter’s poetic description of Saint John: «His unsettling death, in a tight-knit Saint John that still grinds to a standstill on Sundays and is dominated the rest of the week by ancient steeples, church bells and the cry of seabirds in from the Bay of Fundy, is a Gothic reality unfolding with all the apparent inevitability of a dark novel»

I thought that was beautiful, and he didn’t even mention the romantic fog we often have, billowing over the city. If I step out on our balcony, I can see four churches, without even squinting. In this photo — I was out the other night, trying to capture the full moon — you only see two steeples. Had I made a point of taking it from a different angle, you would have seen the tallest, most prominent steeple of the Cathedral too.

Sundays are quiet, not too many cars are out and about. Other holidays, it’s even more noticeable, because all stores are closed and then it really grinds to a standstill! Regular sundays, the stores are open between noon and five.

Another, peculiar thing, that I haven’t seen elsewhere is that if you’re out driving, and you meet a funeral procession, you stop. All traffic STOPS, whether you have the green light or not, when you see the purple lights and flags on a funeral procession. Would be interesting to hear if any of you, my fellow bloggers, have experienced anything like that?!

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16 thoughts on “Saint John ~ not St. John’s”

  1. In England, in the good old days, traffic such as there was, always pulled over and stopped when a funeral was passing by. People always stopped walking and bowed their heads and men would doff their caps.

    But that was in the olden days.Although in Wootten Bassett they do still line the roads when dead soldiers return to the UK. Even that is going to stop, so who will mourn the dead?

    Now it is completely different, people go about the business, cars overtake a funeral car, nobody actually notices it anymore.

    Then we wonder why people do not show respect!

  2. Cars stop for funeral processions here too. Always have. It is just respect for the family of the deceased. Although the younger people here are not as respectful and you will see them racing by a funeral. But our police flank a procession.

    I like what he wrote too. Maybe the Gothic comment was addressing the fog. When I think of a Gothic setting I think of fog.

    1. Suz,
      It’s so interesting reading the comments here … to see how common this custom actually IS. I’d never seen nor heard about it before.

      I associate Goth with fog too, so yes … as Saint John is the city of fogs, it was really fitting. There is one church that is built in Gothic style.

  3. Hi Rebekah,
    A nice photo, and a lovely full moon. That certainly was a nice bit that was written in the paper, it was very well thought out.

    Many years ago people used to pull over for a funeral, but not today. All the people that follow a funeral here where I live in OZ have their headlights on so that you know they are part of the funeral, usually traveling a lot slower than the rest of the traffic, and they always stay in the left lane, where they can. Most people show respect and try not to get inbetween the cars.

    1. Interesting, Mags … that it used to be in Australia too. One tends to forget, sometimes, that you have left hand traffic. I grew up with that … until I was twelve, we had left hand traffic too.

      The moon looked much bigger when it was just rising, but then there were too much cloud cover..

  4. It has always been the custom here to stop and pull over when a funeral goes by. As long as i can remember. In fact I did if yesterday. Most men will take their hats off. I would love to see your Saint John

    1. Cindy,
      Thank you for stopping by … now I have many parts of the continent covered, and this seems to be [or have been] a custom almost all over! Fascinating.

      You should take a trip up here some time … Saint John is a lovely, little city.. 🙂

  5. When I was a kid (a long time ago) traffic used to stop for funeral processions in Boston. The last funeral I attended, if I had not known where the cemetery was…I would not have been able to attend. A truck cut into the middle of the group and then stopped to turn left. Then the light went red and by the time it changed the procession had vanished. Luckily I was able to lead my fellow mourners behind me to the burial…

  6. Showing respect for a funeral procession is sadly, getting to be a rare sight. I remember back in Scotland when I was growing up, that every single car would pull over and stop, and anyone walking down the street would stop, bow their heads, and men would take their caps off. It still happens, but to a lesser extent, and usually by the elderly.
    I remember seeing this when we moved to the north of England too, but it rarely happens now.
    Here in Australia, as Mags said, stopping for a funeral procession very rarely happens – except in small communities such as where I live, because you most likely would have known the deceased, so it is still a mark of respect.
    The description of Saint John is beautiful – it makes me want to visit there one day. I feel like I’m getting to know it anyway, from your wonderful posts!

  7. What a wonderful description of your city. And nice to know the official name.

    We always stop here for a funeral procession, all traffic from both ways. The police officers salute and the cars go by. Occasionally you see someone who does not care and won’t stop. In Wichita one time there was a funeral. A guy mowing the lawn right by the street never missed a step. I wanted to go throttle him!!!

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