As part of our visit to Nova Scotia, we had decided to spend a couple of days in Halifax. Halifax is the provincial capital of Nova Scotia.
We have mixed feelings about Halifax. The waterfront area has been modernised and is nice to walk around. Most of the city is rather run down.
On our first morning we enjoyed a run along the waterfront and through ‘Point Pleasant Park’ which is a park with many paths (39km worth). One of the things we discovered was that Samuel Cunard was born in Halifax from where he started the Cunard shipping lines. We also saw hammocks and the Last Steps Memorial. The memorial arch was erected, to enhance the public space along the Halifax waterfront and provide a focus for residents and visitors to reflect on the heavy price that Canada and Nova Scotia paid during the Great War. It symbolizes their ‘Last Steps’ taken on Canadian soil, many for the very last time.
The jazz festival was on whilst we were in Halifax. We enjoyed attending some of the free concerts. They had a reasonable amount of seating setup and because if was cloudy we had no problem with the sun. Canada is generally cold and they never seem to bother with providing shade – very different from what we have in Australia. One of the jazz venues was quite a long walk away (5km). It was interesting viewing the different suburbs on the way, some of them a little less than ‘Salubrious’. One of the suburbs we walked through was Richmond. December 1917 saw one of the greatest disasters in Canadian history, when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions, collided with the Belgian Relief vessel SS Imo in “The Narrows” between upper Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin. The resulting explosion, the Halifax Explosion, devastated the Richmond District of Halifax, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 others. The blast was the largest artificial explosion before the development of nuclear weapons.
Our quest for coffee continued and we managed to find a great bakery (The Old Apothecary Bakery & Café) that also did nice coffee. Oh well, we had to visit a few times – and Glenda – just went and had a big slice of what they called ‘decadent cheesecake’ for lunch one day.
The World Cup Soccer final was on while we were in Halifax. They had setup a big screen in one of the pedestrian malls and we were able to enjoy watching the final among a boisterous crowd of both French and Croatian supporters.
Halifax has a citadel that we visited. The Citadel is the fortified summit of Citadel Hill. The hill was first fortified in 1749, the year the town of Halifax was founded. Those fortifications were successively rebuilt to defend the town from various enemies. One of the highlights was noon firing of one of the canons – WOW – it was LOUD and we could feel the earth move. We were able to visit the citadel ‘free’ as it is included in a Parks Canada pass. Early on we had determined that buying an annual Parks Canada pass was a good idea as we needed passes for many of the parks and a number of historic sites. We now have 2 passes going cheap with 9 months validity left.
Like most cities, Halifax has a nice garden. We enjoyed a walk through the ‘Halifax Public Garden’ – a Victorian garden of 16 acres.
Although not very big it was well thought out and we appreciated all the different parts. In one part they had a ‘Boer War’ garden commemorating Canada’s role in the Boer War. On one of the lakes we saw what looked like the Titanic starting to sink. Halifax played a specific role in the Titanic story. White Star officials in New York at first believed that the damaged Titanic would sail to Halifax, the closest major port and trains with relatives and immigration officials departed from New York to Halifax. Hours after Titanic sank, White Star Line commissioned cable ships based in Halifax to recover the bodies of victims. Of the 209 bodies brought to Halifax, 150 were laid to rest in three cemeteries in Halifax.
Halifax can lay claim to our most expensive diner. Whilst out running we saw an interesting looking restaurant – ‘The Bicycle Thief’. Now we know the ‘thief’ part is because they steal your money. Our food was ok – a little pricey but not too bad. The mistake we made was ordering wine. It was both very expensive for a glass and the glass was half the size we have had everywhere else in Canada. Oh well – it was a nice night out. The view overlooking the harbour was appreciated.