Québec City’s St. John Street starts within the city walls and stretches westward, becoming the central artery of the St. Jean-Baptiste neighborhood. It is one of the most vibrant and colorful thoroughfares in all the city. Lined with restaurants, bookstores, and specialty shops of all sorts, it is always, in any weather, bustling with activity. Tourists happen down St. John’s Street from time to time, but it is mainly for the locals.
On the south side of the street, just past la rue St. Augustin is St. Matthew’s Anglican Church. Built in the 1870s and 1880s, it looks much older than it is. Its soaring spire and gothic features suggest a parish church of a much earlier era. Today St. Matthew’s church is a public library. The pews have been removed, replaced by book-laden shelves.
But it is the church grounds that draw the eye. In the heart of this bustling neighborhood, where nightclubs and bakeries share common walls and underwear models strut in shop windows, an old-world cemetery offers stark contrast to its urban confines. Complete with crooked tombstones, the churchyard is a park for those who don’t mind reading and relaxing among their departed ancestors.