Saint John


78 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55109-485-1
DDC 971.5'32






Reviewed by Richard Wilbur

Richard Wilbur is author of The Rise of French New Brunswick and H.H.
Stevens, 1878–1973, and co-author of Silver Harvest: The Fundy
Weirmen’s Story. His latest book is Horse-Drawn Carriages and Sleighs:
Elegant Vehicles from New England and New Bruns


This handsome coffee-table book by the very accomplished photographer
Rob Roy is dedicated “to the citizens of Saint John, yesterday and
today, who have created the warmth and uniqueness of character this city
now preserves.” Most would appreciate his art, as would any visitor to
Saint John (Canada’s first incorporated city), which has in its
downtown core probably the most impressive examples of late 19th-century
buildings to be found anywhere in North America.

This is not just a historical record. Though Roy’s superb camera work
provides crisp, often remarkable close-ups of magnificent structures,
most of which were erected after Saint John’s disastrous 1877 fire,
his interest is clearly in the city as it exists today—a city that,
over the past few years, has not only restored many buildings sorely in
need of attention, but also found a new lease on life. A spectacular
two-page spread of the Irving oil refinery (Canada’s largest) outlined
against a cloudless summer sky is a prime example of today’s Saint
John. So are shots of a cruise ship at dock, while on the facing page we
see the Gondola Point cable ferry crossing the Kennebacasis river.

Each picture has a caption researched and written by Gary Hughes,
history and technology curator at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint
John. For example, beside an interior shot of the City Market, completed
in 1976, Hughes tells us that cast-iron columns “support the monitor
roof while the wooden trusses, as supplied by ship carpenters, were a
cheaper but just as effective alternative to iron.”

Roy has produced a visual feast that long-time residents will enjoy and
cherish. Visitors walking along Saint John’s heritage-designated core
can use this book as a guide to search out and marvel at the city’s
unique architectural treasures.


Roy, Rob., “Saint John,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 18, 2024,