St. John’s Space Cowboy


Co-written by Andrew Matheson & Giovanni Paquin

ST. JOHN’S – November 18-20, 2009 was the 2009 API Conference in St. John’s, Newfoundland. The conference, whose theme this year was Catching the Wave: Exploring Best Practice, is an annual opportunity for planners (and non-planners working in planning-related fields) in Atlantic Canada to get together and share ideas and, who are we kidding, socialize. The conference dealt with a variety of topics with, as is the case in most planning conferences these days, sustainable planning dominating discussion.

An added bonus for this year’s conference is that St. John’s was the host city and we had plenty of opportunities to explore the city on our own time. Andrew and I will be posting a few contributions on Spacing Atlantic related to our trip and some of the more interesting public space issues and topics we came across while there. This is the first.

One of the more interesting sessions occurred on the final morning of the conference. The session, titled Redevelopment and Change, focused on some higher profile redevelopment initiatives in Atlantic Canada, including one located to the northeast of the host city’s downtown in an area called Pleasantville, next to the popular Quidi Vidi Lake (featured above).

Pleasantville is an historic military site that is currently being redeveloped by the Canada Lands Company into a mixed-density residential development. The original base was constructed under the supervision of an American Company, the Newfoundland Base Contractors, and the US Corps of Engineers, with the majority of construction completed by November 1941.

One of the most interesting features of the site can be attributed to the Texan who helped design the military base. In an apparent shout out to his cowboy brethren, he laid the streets out in such a way that when viewed from the air the roads resemble a Stetson cowboy hat. Whether a practical design or not, CLC has committed to maintaining the Stetson street network as part of the redevelopment scheme.


Surprisingly, not many local residents seemed to know this atypical design exists within their city. However, at least one bar owner picked up on it. Places like the Stetson Lounge on Water Street proves that there’s a little more Texas in St. John’s than we expected.

photo by Giovanni Paquin

One comment

  1. Hi there,

    Could you contact me offline to discuss the aerial image of Pleasantville? I would like to obtain a copy (and permission) to use in an upcoming issue of “The Journal of Ocean Technology.”

    Thank you,

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