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Signal Hill is a hill which overlooks the city of St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.

Signal Hill, a National Historic Site
View of St. John's from Signal Hill
Signal Hill

Due to its strategic placement overlooking the harbour, fortifications have been placed on the hill since the mid 1600s.



The final battle of the Seven Years' War in North America was fought in 1762 at the Battle of Signal Hill, in which the French surrendered St. John's to the British under the command of Lt. Colonel William Amherst. Lt. Colonel Amherst renamed what was then known as "The Lookout" as "Signal Hill," because of the signalling that took place upon its summit from its flagmast. Flag communication between land and sea would take place there from the 1600s until 1960.

During Signal Hill's first construction period in the late 1700s, Signal Hill was designated as the citadel for St. John's. Other Canadian citadels include Citadel Hill in Halifax and Citadelle in Quebec City.

During the 1800s, Signal Hill was manned specifically during the Napoleonic Wars and the American Civil War. A second construction period in Signal Hill's history saw the construction of the Queen's Battery Barracks which, today, has been completely restored to the period of 1862.

Construction on Cabot Tower began in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897 and the 400th anniversary of John Cabot's landfall in 1497. The building was declared officially open in 1900. The practical uses of the building were flag mast signalling, and a Marconi wireless station which has since been moved to St. John's International Airport.

Marconi watching associates raise kite antenna at Signal Hill, December, 1901

On December 12, 1901, the first transatlantic wireless transmission was received here by Guglielmo Marconi in an abandoned fever and Diphtheria hospital, which has since been destroyed by fire.[1] The transmission originated from his Poldhu Wireless Station, Cornwall.

The United States maintained anti-aircraft guns on the hill during World War II.

Signal Hill National Historic Site

Today, Signal Hill is a Canadian National Historic Site[2] and remains incredibly popular amongst tourists and locals alike; 97% of all tourists to St. John's visit Signal Hill.

Due to high winds in winter (which can reach up to 110 km/h (68 miles per hour), it is generally preferred to visit Signal Hill in the warmer months of the year.



Cabot Tower, located at the top of the hill, features exhibits about Guglielmo Marconi and the wireless station that operated in the tower. There is a gift shop, and an amateur radio station VO1AA, which may be operated by visiting amateur radio operators in the summer months. It is sponsored by the Society Of Newfoundland Radio Amateurs. There is also an active amateur radio repeater, VO1AAA 146.790+, which is located inside the building and can be used year round.

The visitor centre features interactive exhibits and a film about the site's military and communications history, and the history of St. John's.

The North Head Trail grants an impressive view of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding coast. The Lookout Trail features interpretive panels about the site's history.

Signal Hill Tattoo

The Signal Hill Tattoo showcases the Royal Newfoundland Regiment of Foot. Wearing full military uniforms circa 1795, the soldiers give a military concert by the Regimental fifes and drums, and demonstrate the musket, drills and battle formations of the time. The Artillery provide an exhibition of cannon fire. The ceremony occurs on specific days in the summer.

View from Signal Hill

Other features

Some distance down the hill is located the Johnson Geo Centre, a geology museum.

A tourist information radio station, CJSH-FM, broadcasts from the Signal Hill site.


External links

Coordinates: 47°34′11″N 52°40′55″W / 47.56972°N 52.68194°W / 47.56972; -52.68194 (Signal Hill)


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