old building

For three years we’ve lived here, and for three years I’ve been meaning to shoot a picture of this house. Finally got around to it, the other day. Struck me, at the same time, how long it has been since I took a walk downtown with the camera. This building … Caverhill Hall … is on the south side, in the northeast corner of Sydney and Mecklenburg St.

It was built during 1879-81 to replace the former home of Simeon Jones which had been destroyed by the Great Fire of 1877. Jones was then mayor of Saint John and a prominent businessman.

It’s built of limestone from the area — not red brick like most other buildings in the area — and looks really different. There are columns of red granite [not visible in this photo]. The Jones couple had seen a house in Montreal that they liked, got a hold of the architect and had him draw a very similar house for them.

Over the years it has had various usages … during WWI it was used as  military headquarters, for a period it was a recreation centre for Royal Canadian Air Force but today it’s a residence again.

Source: Heritage Resources and New Brunswick Community College – Saint John 


poppyIf you think Saint John is calm and quiet on a Sunday, you should see it on November 11th … Remembrance Day. Then everything comes to a grinding halt and everything is closed … just the way it should be. For about two weeks now, everyone here has worn a poppy on the left side of their coats.

So, tomorrow on 11:11AM 11-11-11, we’ll gather in Harbour Station for the annual Remembrance Day tribute — two minutes of silence, to reflect. This will be my fourth time … the first time, we had just moved in here. It’s a very moving celebration, and it warms my heart to see Harbour Station filled to the last seat with Saint Johners who want to pay their respect.

Coming from Sweden, that hasn’t participated in a war for two hundred years or so, this perhaps feels even more important. We have so much to be thankful for!  The build-up to this day on TV — History Channel in particular — is immense, and it saddens me to no end, to think about us … the human race. Why can’t we just get along….

This particular poppy, I shot in Skåne, Sweden, during my trip. There were a few, still blooming, even though it was late September.


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?!


this is also Saint John! I took this photo during a photo walk we had a couple of years ago. A photographer’s nightmare, one would think?! Here it’s almost impossible to get a clear shot of a building without power lines. Of course, you can always manipulate them with the help of Photoshop or whatever editor at hand, but in this case, I wanted to show it as it is.

This summer, they’re fixing up Union Street (not in this photo), and I hear that all power lines will be buried. That’s a good start. The traffic situation uptown … especially around lunch hour … is insane, due to this road work, but I’m sure it will be really nice once they’re finished in October/November. Saint John is not only the Captial of Fog but also of POTHOLES. The roads are atrocious and to drive on aforementioned Union Street you should have at least a 4X4 or some terrain vehicle.

Doesn’t matter … I love Saint John anyway … it’s a gem!


She’s back

Yesterday was the beginning of the cruise ship season here in Saint John. Carnival Glory arrived at 9AM with 3,500 passengers. That’s a lot of people for this little city. Before the season is over, 200,000 people will have visited Saint John. Usually the season ends with QMII — I haven’t checked out the schedule but I don’t think that has changed.

Carnival Glory goes back and forth from NYC to here … sometimes she comes here twice a week.

In the beginning of  the season, those ships look HUGE, but after a while you get so used to seeing them so they don’t look so big. Before we moved here … when we were only visiting, we used to stay in a hotel that had a view of the harbour. It was really cool to see these immense ships appearing in the fog! I took a few pictures then, but they were all shot through a window.

This guy was out again, and so are the pink double-decked buses … all eight of them!

Two years ago, I was walking around downtown, when a cruise ship was in, with my camera. A young couple asked if I could take a picture of them together with their little camera. Of course I could, and we started talking a little. I said to them that I can shoot a picture of you with my camera and email it to you. They were delighted. They were from Florida and I told them I’d been there in 1979 … the girl wasn’t even born then … and that I’d stayed in New Smyrna Beach. Turned out that was the little town where they lived!!! They even knew the street where my uncle and aunt used to live. Small world, huh?!

I took this because I liked the clouds

Yesterday, the Salvation Army came and picked up our old TV-set. As Gerry was talking with the guys, it turned out that one of them was the son of a guy who used to work with Gerry’s father … a longshore man. He was even a pall bearer on Gerry’s father’s funeral! Another ‘small world experience’!

I’ve applied the new WP-theme Twenty Eleven here on my blog. I’m not sure about it because I don’t like the pitch black navbar, but it has a lot of features. I’ll keep it for a while to see how I feel about it. I think many of the features they have applied to it, are too complicated for the average user … at least they are for me. This is really the theme Duster, that has graduated to become the default theme of WordPress. They’ve made the header image smaller, which is good … it was way too large before.Check it out! You might like it! With a click of the mouse you can turn it black or really dark gray too.

Living here has its perks

Yesterday, there was a break in the raining, and I decided to take a walk down to, both the grocery store, and the drug store. It was rather pleasant, though muggy. The air was so heavy with moisture so it was hard to tell if it was in fact raining …or not.

The grocery store was crowded, and I had a hard time remembering that blog post I read some time ago, about being compassionate. The very entrance [and exit] to this particular store, is very narrow. There’s always a big table full of whatever’s on sale, to boot … all the people who know one another stop to chat there. It’s difficult … both getting in there and out.  The guard also has his pulpit there.

Now … I kept my cool, did my stuff and then walked over to the drug store to pick up my meds. Started my way back home, and had not gotten farther than to the liquor store when the skies opened up. The kind of downpour I haven’t seen in a long time … I’m not exaggerating. It happened so fast that there was no point in getting back into the drug store and get an umbrella! ‘Well’, I thought … ‘I’m not so sweet that I’ll melt’, and I walked. Soaked into the bones. Took off my glasses as they don’t have any wind shield wipers. The last stretch of road is uphill, and I met a little old man … likewise without umbrella and likewise drenched. We looked at each other, he threw his hands up and laughed — and so did I.

How a little thing like that can change your whole outlook … ‘So what if it’s raining … I get wet, so what?! It’s warm … 20C’!

This is so typical Saint John! I love it … people say hi, a little nod and a smile. The other day, I was out walking, and it struck me how I’m still stuck in my Swedish ways after seven years. I was walking along the street … saw a guy walking towards me, and my first instinct was to look away … not to make eye contact. It was a young guy and he said ‘Hi, howya’. Another time, three young ‘punks’ …hoodies … came out on a path way in the park. They were engaged in a lively discussion amongst the three of them, but they took time out to say ‘hi how are you’, in passing.

This is such a sweet custom and I’ll never cease to appreciate it. It puts me in a good mood…

Wartime Housing

This picture was shot from, what came to be, our, balcony. It’s from October 2008, we were here in Saint John, visiting, looking at apartments.

All these little homes you see — this is just a little portion of the area — were built in the 40’s for returning veterans after WWII. I found some info on a webpage, and it’s said they built hundred houses, but I’m uncertain about that figure … it looks like many more.

They were built on a former golf course, each costing $5,500 at the time.

What’s funny and interesting to me about them, is when I look at each and every one, thinking that they were more or less identical in the beginning — how different and individual they are today.

There are not two looking the same … they’ve been expanded in various ways and almost everyone has either a garage added, or at least a little shed in the back. Here, a night shot of the place.

It’s a really cute area … when I’m walking through it, I get the impression that the people living there are either senior citizens or really young couples.

There are well groomed gardens and the birds are chirping … I like to imagine that it’s very friendly area and that they all know one another.

Sometimes they also get their share of urban wildlife…

But most of all, when I’m out there looking down, it’s the personalization … customization … of them all that I find fascinating. Not one is in its original shape or form …. of course, after all these years!

Imagine how many children have grown up here, considering the families moved in around 1945.

Most of the street names have some kind of historical connection … the street you see in these, above, pictures, is Montgomery Crescent.

Our building is sort of looming large above the whole area. I don’t know which year it was built but it sure has been sitting there for many years.

As I’ve been typing up this post, I hear on the radio that today is Saint John’s 226th birthday, so … Happy Birthday! I love Saint John … my adopted city.

Nifty fifty

Was just sitting around, feeling very ambivalent about what to do. The weather is half decent today — it’s not raining right now, still windy, but not so cold. Couldn’t really make up my mind whether I’d go downtown or what. Then I read a blog post — Quotidian Hudson. He wrote about how he’d decided to go out on a photo walk and only bring one lens. That post sort of did it for me, I put on the 50mm prime lens [meaning you can’t zoom or anything] — lovingly referred to as «nifty fifty» 🙂

Across the street from our building is Fort Howe. It’s a hill … or mountain, I’m not sure which, and also a historical memorial of sorts. Lots of people go up there all the time, to just sit and gaze out over the city and ocean. During the cruise ship season all the buses go up there with the tourists, but that won’t start until early June some time.

Some time ago, I read somewhere, that ‘if you want to take some photos, the best objects are usually within ten meters’ reach’, so … off I went … up on Fort Howe, thinking «there’s always something».

Here in Saint John … you never really get disappointed … there is always something. This little guy, for example, is very well protected, one would think. He seemed appreciative of the peanuts I handed him.

The groundhogs look too funny, when they’re standing straight up outside their holes … it’s like they’re looking out over their domain!

I didn’t take the really steep road up … I walked around it a bit, there’s a loop. Was thinking, as I approached Somerset, that within one year, two buildings have burned … in very close proximity of each other. The last one was just a week ago, and now it’s gone without a trace. A young woman, only nineteen, lost her life in that fire.

As you can see, Spring hasn’t really reached its peak here.

Some trees have put on a light, delicate green coating, but not this wild apple tree.

Behind it is a block house. History smacks you in the face up there … I really should read up on it as I live here.

I think they used to keep gun powder in the block houses, but here I’m really out on thin ice, so I just leave it at that.

It was a pleasant day for taking photos … a little hazy, and not the blazing sun. Haven’t seen any blazing sun here for weeks! Only rain and high winds!

The big, rounded building in the centre here, is Harbour Station … the hockey arena, and there will be a lot of excitement tonight!!! Our Saint John Sea Dogs are playing Gatineu and if they win tonight, they’ll go on to Memorial Cup [I think it is] … I’m not sure, but I think they win President’s Cup if they win tonight. This is junior hockey … I’m interested up to a point.

I follow the games on Twitter. Some guy tweets from the rink on his phone … I find that amazing, how he can type away on the phone throughout the game.

In any event … I got a real pleasant walk with the camera and the 50mm lens. Took a long loop around a residential area on my way back and went to the convenience store too.

Was thinking how typical it would be if a bald eagle had landed in front of me or nearby, when I only had that little lens on.  One of them flew by the window this morning … a juvenile eagle — he had not yet gotten his white feathers and yellow beak, but it takes four years before they get that.

These guys live dangerously … especially when they have little ones … with eagles around! Not only eagles, I’ve seen other raptors here … Peregrine Falcon and Northern Harrier are the ones I’ve seen so far.

Might go for another walk tomorrow, because then it’s going to rain until Wednesday!

My Apologies

To those of you who have subscribed to this blog: I’m sorry! 😮 Last night, I imported the other blog to this, so that I’d have all posts in the WP-challenge in one place. This meant that I filled up your mail boxes with 100+ emails. Didn’t think of that, but there was no other way to do it. The night before, when I attempted to do the same thing, all the hundred posts went to Twitter in one fell swoop …. people must have thought I was an imbecile *hanging head in shame*.

I walked uptown yesterday again … two days in a row now. It feels funny to say ‘uptown’ because in my case it’s downhill all the way, but here in Saint John the downtown area is referred to as ‘uptown’. There’s even a big sign across the street, where it says «Welcome to Uptown Saint John».

Turned a book back in, and picked up a new. Both of them being Nicholas Sparks novels. I was thinking to myself, that perhaps I should take something else in order to make the Nicholas Sparks novels last longer so to speak. Told my friend and librarian, Gerda in Holland, about that later online, and she gave me two excellent links with «if you like Nicholas Sparks you might also like ……..» Extremely cool! I saw several right away that looked tempting.

I’ve written about reading books before in my blog, but I’ll say it again: I read basically for some sort of entertainment … to fall asleep easier, escape from reality or whatever. I don’t want it to be too depressing or heavy. Guess I’ve found my favorite author all time.  He makes me want to go and see the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s funny, nowadays, when you can find your favourite author, for example, on both Twitter and Facebook.

After the library visit, I went and had a Frapuccino at Starbucks. It’s always fun to do some people watching, and it was during lunch hour, so there were lots of people … some really important-looking and full of themselves … others more laid-back.

It’s a foggy morning and it’s supposed to rain, both today and tomorrow. I’d been planning to go out and take some pictures today, but I think the rain is imminent   Just realized it’s May 4th and that means that it has been seven years already since I left my native Sweden. I remember the day very well … how scared I was to miss my connecting flight at LHR, because my flight from Stockholm was delayed. Had to run like a maniac through LHR, thankfully it was the same terminal. And how the lady in the Immigrations at Dorval Airport, Montreal [now Trudeau], asked me where I was going and I said Lac-Beauport. The thing was I pronounced it Lake Beauport, she corrected me and pronounced it the French way and said «well … this was your first French lesson» 😳