Battery graffiti piques man’s curiosity

Not sure what to make of acronym draped across hillside rock

Published on August 25, 2014
A man from Harcourt is wondering what the story is behind the acronym that can be found covering a rocky hillside along the Battery in St. John’s.  — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

With a quick glance, you probably would not notice a lightly-coloured section of hillside rock along the north side of the Battery in St. John’s.

Bud Vincent did not notice it for several years. A resident of Harcourt near Clarenville, Vincent has enjoyed taking photos of that area over the years, snapping them from the opposite side of the harbour.

Vincent was editing some photos earlier this year taken in 2012 when he noticed some graffiti.

“I sent copies out to a bunch of friends, and they all thought I was nuts,” said Vincent. “They thought I was seeing things and that type of thing.”

Last week, he drove back to St. John’s to take more photos focusing on the area where the graffiti can be spotted.

“When I took that photo, I had no idea that it was there,” said Vincent, who notes a photo he took in 2006 appears to indicate the graffiti was also present back then.

Photos taken of the area clearly show lightly-coloured letters that appear to form an acronym, though it is hard to tell visually whether the letters are painted or possibly carved into the rock. Vincent is not sure if it’s “NTSA” or “NTC.” The presence of an “A” at the end is up for debate depending on how one views the graffiti.

“I guess I’m just curious as to how it got there,” he said.

Upon revisiting the area last week, Vincent came across a woman visiting the province from New Jersey. He asked her if she could spot the graffiti. She initially could not, but was subsequently able to spot it after zooming in with her own camera. The man driving a vehicle she was in suggested “NTSA” could stand for National Transportation and Safety Association. Vincent’s own online search uncovered many possibilities.

Vincent suggests someone with the City of St. John’s may want to consider taking a look at the defaced rock. He believes the rock was painted rather than carved.

It does not appear that Parks Canada is responsible for the area in question, based on the contents of a map contained in a 2007 management plan for Signal Hill National Historic Site. Last July, it removed graffiti from Second World War bunkers located at the foot of the North Head trail leading to Signal Hill.