Written by tvordj on 10 Oct, 2011
The first Monday in August is a holiday, many provinces in the country have it as a civic holiday or ank holiday if ou will. Here in Halifax it's something a little more special. It's to celebrate the founding of Halifax and Dartmouth and is…Read More
The first Monday in August is a holiday, many provinces in the country have it as a civic holiday or ank holiday if ou will. Here in Halifax it's something a little more special. It's to celebrate the founding of Halifax and Dartmouth and is called Natal Day. Halifax was founded in 1749 and Dartmouth in 1750. Each city used to have it's own celebrations around the middle of the summer, each on a separate weekend but when the cities and surrounding county amalgamated in 1996 to create one political district, Halifax Regional Municipality, the birthday celebrations were also combined. IT's a great weekend, usually starting on Thursday or Friday. The Halifax waterfront has a big beer tent and activities go on both Halifax and Dartmouth waterfronts for families. There is usually live music every night in the beer tent. You can see anything from jazz to blues to even rock music. Some years there are bands that dress up like other famous bands and perform covers. Excellent stuff! There's a parade, that goes through Halifax, across the McDonald Bridge and down through Dartmouth. There are fireworks, usually several nights in diferent locations though the ones over the harbour are usually the best. There will be a canoe and kayak regatta on a Dartmouth lake and a road race as well that also goes across the bridge. They also close the McDonald bridge for a couple of hours on the Sunday and you can go and walk across the bridge which is pretty cool if it's a sunny day. Lots of fun for anyone of any age. Definitely a great weekend to visit Halifax. Close
Written by tvordj on 20 Sep, 2010
December 6 is Halifax's "day that lives in infamy". On Dec 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax harbour, the Imo and the Mont Blanc. The Imo was carrying relief supplies for WWI and the Mont Blanc was carrying explosives for the war effort.…Read More
December 6 is Halifax's "day that lives in infamy". On Dec 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax harbour, the Imo and the Mont Blanc. The Imo was carrying relief supplies for WWI and the Mont Blanc was carrying explosives for the war effort. The Imo was leaving port as the Mont Blanc was arriving, both sailing in the same channel, one being the wrong one but neither ship seemed intent on changing it's course. At the last minute, the Mont Blanc pulled over into another shipping lane and the Imo went into a reverse to stop it's progress and by doing that, its course shifted the ship into the same lane the other ship had pulled into. They were still on a collision course and the Imo struck the Mont Blanc side on. The sparks set the barrels of flammable explosive on the deck of Mont Blanc on fire. The crew abandoned ship but because they were French, most people on shore did not understand their warnings. Fire crews attempted to put out the fire on the ship as it drifted towards the Halifax shore but at 9:05 a.m. it exploded sky high. It was and is still the biggest man made accidental explosion ever and the largest before the nuclear age, and leveled the north end of Halifax and Dartmouth on either side of the harbour.Hundreds of people had been on the shore watching the fire. As the warnings finally spread, one heroic railway worker warned a train that was approaching Halifax and would have progressed along the rails along the waterfront at the spot where the ship was on fire. Vince Coleman managed to warn the train in time so it was able to stop, but he died in the explosion minutes later. Two thousand were killed and thousands more were injured, many blinded from flying glass. A tsunami rose in the harbour from the force of the blast and washed many of the onlookers into the harbour. The Imo was lifted by the water onto the Dartmouth shore and most of the crew on board were drowned by the wave. The anchor of the Mont Blanc landed 3 miles away by the Northwest arm and a gun barrel was found 2 miles away from the harbour in Dartmouth (just around the corner from where I live. It's now mounted with a memorial plaque) Thousands were homeless and windows broke all over the city. China rattled on shelves as far away as Truro and New Glasgow, some 75 miles away. The next day, a winter blizzard blew in.The army set up rows of tents for temporary shelter. Schools and churches were turned into hospitals and mortuaries all over the city.The city of Boston immediately sent a train full of supplies and medical help, the first among many other places to offer help. Every year for the last 35 or so years, Nova Scotia donates a Christmas Tree for Boston's city square in thanks. The city slowly crawled to its feet, rebuilding began in the spring. There is a memorial on Fort Needham in the north end and a service there every year on the anniversary. There are still a few people who survived the explosion alive, in their 80's and 90's but slowly the last survivors are passing away. There are a lot of artifacts and photos from the Explosion at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the waterfront. Close
Written by artslover on 12 May, 2006
We decided on a Friday night to rent a car and drive to Lunenburg the next day, stopping along the way as time permitted. I was to get the car and be ready to leave when my husband was finished with his business. Saturday morning,…Read More
We decided on a Friday night to rent a car and drive to Lunenburg the next day, stopping along the way as time permitted. I was to get the car and be ready to leave when my husband was finished with his business. Saturday morning, I visited two rental spots but they didn’t have any cars available that day. Luckily, Halifax has a lot of car rental places. I ended up on the telephone calling six places before I found a car which I could pick up just after noon. Next time, we’ll have to make these decisions to rent a car a little earlier.We drove away from the hotel by 1pm. We drove past the Halifax Public Gardens, which are closed in the winter months, and along Quinpool Road which has a number of stores and restaurants. We did not have a lot of time so we could not drive as far as Peggy’s Cove which claims to have the world's most photographed lighthouse. Following the map and directions I got from the car rental place, we headed to Mahone Bay along route 3 leaving Halifax. We passed by some very small villages and quickly found ourselves in the country with few houses to be seen. Somehow we failed to make the turn to highway 103 and ended up at a water treatment facility. The road to the water treatment facility was as big as the highway and newer. How were we to know it wasn't the highway?We eventually got ourselves onto 103 and were in Mahone Bay about 2:00 in the afternoon. The highway signs are frequent making the journey easy to navigate. The small village and bay at Mahone are very picturesque. We stopped for fish and chips at a pub called the Mug and Anchor and looked out the windows to admire the picturesque bay with the three churches sitting in a row. After a quick walk around, we drove to Lunenburg. When we got to Lunenburg, I was surprised to see a tour bus there since everything I read said the tours ended after October 31. Lunenburg is a very charming village and must be lively during tourist season. There are a lot of art galleries, craft shops and antiques stores. The light poles all have colourful handicraft sea creatures hanging from them. The harbour has a small boardwalk and quite a number of restaurants. The Bluenose is sometimes docked at Lunenburg, but not when we were there. We looked at some of the old houses, which have plaques explaining their historical significance, but we were getting cold and time was running out if we wanted to get back to Halifax for dinner. We were back to Halifax shortly after 5:00pm when it is getting dark.Our afternoon jaunt was a pleasant way to see the ocean and the villages outside of Halifax and despite the limited time we had, we were certainly glad we made the effort. Close
Written by Jim Rosenberg on 29 Sep, 2000
With a population of around a million combined, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island offer striking natural beauty and Maritime flavor filled with picturesque seascapes, wild salmon rivers and fresh lobsters boiling in the pots of quaint seaside restaurants in fishing villages…Read More
With a population of around a million combined, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island offer striking natural beauty and Maritime flavor filled with picturesque seascapes, wild salmon rivers and fresh lobsters boiling in the pots of quaint seaside restaurants in fishing villages up and down their coastlines.
Around a quarter of the population of the Maritimes resides in the greater Halifax area, the economic, political and cultural center of Atlantic Canada. Paired with Dartmouth along either side of a magnificent natural harbor, Halifax cuts an impressive skyline and features an inviting waterfront. Its strategic location on the North Atlantic makes it an attractive destination for visitors from all over the world by land and by sea. Halifax is the northern-most ice-free port on the western Atlantic and the city is pleased to roll out the red carpet with a wide variety of entertainment, dining, lodging and sight-seeing options. With a rich tradition stretching back more than 250 years, historic Halifax makes a fitting front door to Canada.
Seafood lovers won't be disappointed with the fabulous array, with cold-water lobster heading the long list. For a low-cost, stick-to-your-ribs kind of food, try poutine -- a dish that is so popular that you will even find it in some the McDonald's of eastern Canada. Poutine consists of french fries topped with melted cheese and beef gravy; a cardiologist's nightmare perhaps, but it's very good, very filling and VERY Canadian.
History buffs will enjoy the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Included in the collection is an authentic deck chair from the Titanic. Around 150 victims of the disaster are buried in three Halifax cemeteries.
For those looking to range a bit beyond the region of the provincial capital, consider devoting a day and a night or two toward seeing the Cape Breton Highlands, an impressive national park with breaktaking views. Whale-watching tours are available and there are plenty of places to stay, particularly for those who enjoy the 'bed & breakfast' type of experience.
One of my regular stops is the Town of Truro, past the airport exit and about an hour from Halifax. It's probably nothing special to most; one never knows exactly what causes that special familiarity to develop with a place. In May, there is an annual tulip festival (and weather permitting, it will even feature tulips). But the real treat is the 1,000 acre Victoria Park which is right in town and features beautiful walking trails, long staircases up steep embankments and picturesque waterfalls.
For a travel value with plenty to do, plenty of charm and a lot to see that is north of the tourist crushes and high prices of popular U.S. destinations, Halifax and the Maritimes are well worth investigating. Close
Written by smmmarti guide on 29 Nov, 2004
Earlier this year I met a fellow hailing from Nova Scotia."I‘ve always wanted to go there!" I exclaimed."Heavens, why?" he retorted. "I don’t know?" I muttered, suddenly embarrassed. Undaunted by the local’s lack of enthusiasm for his homeland, I decided this would be the…Read More
Earlier this year I met a fellow hailing from Nova Scotia."I‘ve always wanted to go there!" I exclaimed."Heavens, why?" he retorted. "I don’t know?" I muttered, suddenly embarrassed.
Undaunted by the local’s lack of enthusiasm for his homeland, I decided this would be the year I tramped the Acadian and Mi’Mi’kmaq native soil at long last. I was determined to uncover the irresistible pull to the lovely little maritime province.
"Into the mist my guardian prows put forth, Behind the mist, my virgin ramparts lie, The Warden of the Honour of the North, Sleepless and veiled am I." - Rudyard Kipling, Imperial Halifax
I could relate, having awakened prematurely the morning Halifax dawned. After all, this stop would be the pinnacle of the cruise, both in latitude and anticipation.
I’d thrown on a tracksuit and bounded up the stairs to the top deck into a soupy mist that disguised the ship’s coordinates. I trained an eye on something in the distance, but could see no further than a sloshy hot tub, the sole reminder I wasn‘t on an ancient fishing boat or privateers rig. Someone strode toward me, emerging from the fog barely in time for me to step aside. A crew member, in a terrible hurry. Then a loud clank rang out portside.
There. A docking crane presented mere meters from the hull. The anchor chains began their aching descent We were here already, and I hadn’t ever seen it coming.Halifax, so far, proved exactly as I’d imagined her.
Socked InThe weather put an end to the notion that we’d rent a car and tour around the island guided only by the sea birds and our instinct. Instead, we hailed the cruise line shuttle into downtown Halifax, where we were dropped at the entrance to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic . We decided to explore the museum later, as we were still in need of our morning exercise and eager to look around.
Tramping up the steep hill in the pouring rain to the Citadel satisfied the need for speed! There is a glorious harbor view from the 1749 historic hilltop site where the British empire built their first naval defenses in the new world. Today fog blanketed the star-shaped fortress, which took 28 years to build in 1856 and served primarily as naval barracks after the invention of long-range rifles, which rendered the armaments obsolete. We were a bit too early for the living-history presentation, reenactments, and audio-visual tours offered through the park service.
Slipping back down the hill, I decided to peruse the tourist area near the wharf so we could board the cruise ship shuttle at any given moment-in case the skies reopened and gales force winds roared across the world’s second largest natural harbor (only Sydney is larger).
I was captivated watching a ghost ship sail into port, disappearing in and out of the dense fog. On second glance, it was the ferry taking people to Dartmouth just across the harbor, a mere 12-minute ride and Prince of Fundy cruises carrying passengers from Portland, Maine to Halifax. Far less ominous was the sight of Thomas the Tugboat’s happy face brightening the harbor side on the rainy day, a welcome sight for visiting families.
I stumbled easily unto the Historic Properties encompassing a three-block area with a collection of restored buildings, former warehouses where privateers stockpiled their booty. The distinction between privateers and mere pirates was a marginal gentlemanly code of conduct.
Whereas pirates attacked and plundered anyone in their path, privateers were sanctioned marauders with legal documents verifying their objectives and activities. This system provided private-sponsored protection against foreign invasions in the remote outposts of the empire, where the naval resources were minimal. Call them mercenaries, if you will. The privateers split their bounty with the crown and investors.
This national protected landmark is only one of many in Canada’s colonial port, where the earliest settlers put down roots and left their legacy. Nearby, and somehow befitting the heritage of the privateers, the Nova Scotia Casino offers considerable bling to the otherwise quaint, romantic seaport.
The entire harbor front is as you’d expect it to be: cute little shops, slow food outlets, gimmicks, gimcracks, and a surprisingly well-stocked and helpful tourist information shack. After soaking in plenty of charm for the day, Sweetie decided he’d do something historical and politically correct by taking the brewery tour of the oldest working brewery in North America while I wandered out of the rain and into the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Inside is an impressive collection of both permanent and temporary exhibits. From Tall Ships, Masters of the High Seas to startling, provocative, contemporary shows, the museum’s sophistication belies the small population (under one million) of the province. Stretching outside the box while honoring the woodsy, folksy crafts of the native populations and multi-ethnic cultures, it’s obvious the founding of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design by Anna Leonowns (who wrote Anna and the King of Siam based on her own experiences) has influenced the artistic sensibilities of this remote area. The relocated house of Maud Lewis is alone worth the price of admission.
Sweetie and I literally bumped into each other again at the Maritime Museum. Highlights of our tour included learning about the infamous Halifax Explosion, an event that registered the world’s largest pre-atomic age explosion, and viewing relics of the Titanic.
Right across the street McKelvie’s beckoned us from behind the restaurant’s perfectly manicured window boxes. Inside, the scent of chowder, steamed lobsters, and homemade bannock (scone-type bread) excited our chilly bones. Our spirits needed revitalization following the harrowing reminders of disaster at the Maritime museum. We sunk easily into the cozy booth and indulged in local specialties, expertly prepared.
During lunch we learned from our waitress, observing our water-logged clothing, that we might have tried instead the Downtown Link, a clever arrangement of subterranean mazes that delivers pedestrians safe and dry to their destinations. Why does no one tell you these things?
After lunch the fog lifted and the sun threatened to peak through a remote blue corner of the sky. We strolled through lovely public gardens and bumped into Sir Winston just round the corner from the cigar shop that borders the hip shopping district known as Spring Garden.
Sipping a coffee from Timothy’s, I eyed boots from an ultra-hip boutique, stared at protesters opposing the inhumane treatment of animals outside St. Mary’s Church and square, and wandered through the remnants of the morning’s farmer’s market. Don’t miss this vibrant section of a charming city.
St. Mary’s - the tallest polished spire in North America
We browsed through Pier 21 and only wished we’d allowed even more time for this fascinating glimpse into Canada’s gateway. Here, millions of immigrants first stepped on Canadians soil, British children sent for safety during WWII, and the sad tale of the Acadians is illuminated.
Reading the stories of the displaced French settlers, driven from their home when the British conquered the area and left to wander down the coast, across the great rivers of America following LaSalle, and finally coming to light in New Orleans where the word "Cajun" was a bastardized version of "Acadian," I realized my personal connection to this history.
Perhaps I'd been influenced by the French nuns; my grammar school teachers; by my old playmates, Benoit and Boudreau; or the Kankakee River town of Bourbonnais leading to the Illinois and on to the Mississippi. Maybe I'd known the ancestors of the stalwart and dedicated Acadians. They obviously left quite an impression.
We'd had only one damp day in Halifax but it was clear that Nova Scotia's beautiful coastline, immense tidal flow, quirky and artistic environment, and rugged landscapes would call us back again.
Over the pallid sea and the silvery mist of the meadows. Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Evangeline
Written by tvordj on 20 May, 2008
Halifax only has bus and a passenger ferry for public transportation at the moment. The bus network is fairly good and will take you most anywhere you need to go. Some routes are less busy and only run hourly but most run on a 20…Read More
Halifax only has bus and a passenger ferry for public transportation at the moment. The bus network is fairly good and will take you most anywhere you need to go. Some routes are less busy and only run hourly but most run on a 20 - 30 minute schedule, some more frequently during morning and afternoon rush hours. Schedules and route maps are here on the Metro Transit website.There is an Access-a-Bus service for disabled passengers (you must register) and many of the regularly scheduled busses are low-floor accessible busses that have space for up to 2 wheelchairs. The busses are in the process of having global satelite systems installed and there will be a real-time schedule that you can see on screens at central points or hear over the phone from each stop. It's called GoTime and that's available now but it just gives you the next scheduled bus. If the bus is late, it won't tell you that yet, but it will do. Each bus stop sign has a number on it to call. Busses currently (2010) cost $2.25 per trip. The driver does not make change so you must have the exact amount. Seniors, children and students cost less. Students need to have ID. You can then ask for a transfer and will be given a slip of paper, colour coded by day. Show that to the driver of the next bus. Transfers are good for about an hour and a half. You can use the transfer to return on the same bus you started out on. Transfers are also good for the ferry. There are three express routes as well, though more are planned. One goes from Cole Harbour in Dartmouth to downtown Halifax, one goes from the Woodside ferry to the Cole Harbour terminal and the other from Sackville to downtown Halifax. They cost an extra 50 cents on top of the regular fares but there is no reduction for students, only seniors and children. The Woodside route only runs at morning and afternoon rush hour to coincide with the Woodside Ferry which also only runs during morning and afternoon peak on weekdays. The other two only run weekdays but run all day. You can get a transfer to another bus or the ferry and you can use a regular transfer plus 50 cents to get on one. These busses are air conditioned and have comfy seats and because they are called "MetroLink" you will often hear people calling it The Link for short. There are no day passes available at this time but you can buy a monthly pass which is good for a calendar month, i.e. June. These are available from about the 20th of the previous month until the middle of the month they're for. There is no reduction for buying it after the first of the month. It costs $70 for an adult, less for seniors and students. Students must display the pass with an id. A Metrolink pass costs $85 with no reductions for seniors or students. Tickets can be purchased for $18 for an adult and student (cheaper for children or seniors), this is a sheet of 10 tickets. They can be used on the MetroLink plus 50 cents. Use a ticket, ask for a transfer as above. Another service that Metro Transit offers in conjunction with the Downtown Business Association is FRED which stands for Free Rides Everywhere Downtown. This is a free, low floor accessible shuttle that runs a circular route around the downtown core between the casino on the north end of the downtown area to Pier 21 in the south end. It goes up to the fortress on Citadel Hill and up Spring Garden road to the Public Gardens as part of it's route. find out more information and a route description here. Close
Written by naomi123 on 26 Sep, 2005
En route from White Point, where we had stayed for the weekend, back to St John NB, we stooped off in Peggy's Cove. This helped to break up the 6-hour drive a little. Peggy's cove is a small seaside resort just outside of Halifax. Although…Read More
En route from White Point, where we had stayed for the weekend, back to St John NB, we stooped off in Peggy's Cove. This helped to break up the 6-hour drive a little. Peggy's cove is a small seaside resort just outside of Halifax. Although it has a population is just 60 people, the town attracts up to 2 million visitors a year, and they come from all over. While most of the cars we spotted had Nova Scotia plates, I spotted car plates from Alberta, New Brunswick, like us, Pennsylvania, and even Utah!
There really isn't much to see it, but it is very pretty. We clambered across the rocks to a small lighthouse, which is now used as a post office, and were rewarded with great ocean views. There is also a restaurant, several art studios, and a couple of gift shops, where I'm afraid to say I bought some incredibly tacky tourist souvenirs (think wind-up lobster with opposable claws). Peggy's cove was also host to a huge fatal Swissair Crash last decade, and one of the largest bomb explosions ever. The latter was not an enemy attack, though - during the last world war, two ships collided, one carrying a huge amount of munitions. The resulting explosion was massive, killing thousands and leveling one-fifth of the area.
During my stay at White Point, I decided to avail myself of their magnificent on-site spa facilities. A fairly extensive and reasonably priced list of treatments is available at reception, and we were lucky enough to get appointments for the same day - sometimes they…Read More
During my stay at White Point, I decided to avail myself of their magnificent on-site spa facilities. A fairly extensive and reasonably priced list of treatments is available at reception, and we were lucky enough to get appointments for the same day - sometimes they are booked weeks ahead. The spa centre is situated near to the main complex in its own building. As you sit in the waiting room, you have a great ocean view and are treated to some ambient music to get you in the mood. My therapist, Karen, was a softly spoken woman in her late 30s with a wonderfully calming aura around her. She explained a little about my chosen treatment (reiki and acupressure combined massage) and how she would be working my meridian lines and chakras. She also said that the reiki healing would help with my sore throat and whiplash injury- I had high hopes!
I wasn't disappointed either. The next hour was bliss. I think I may have fallen asleep at some point, but this is quite normal apparently. While this wasn't as hands-on as the more traditional massages I am used to, I enjoyed this immensely and it really relaxed me. It was lovely to lie down and be pampered for an hour while hearing the soothing sounds of the ocean just outside the window. In total, with tax, this cost me C$77, around the same as a treatment back home, but in a much nicer location!
Written by samepenny on 11 Oct, 2000
I have always been fascinated by the Bay of Fundy and although I have seen it in prior years, I really got to see it on this trip. We stayed in a cottage called Driftwood in West Advocate Nova Scotia. It was a…Read More
I have always been fascinated by the Bay of Fundy and although I have seen it in prior years, I really got to see it on this trip. We stayed in a cottage called Driftwood in West Advocate Nova Scotia. It was a brand new, stylish cottage a few yards (meters) from the Bay. The owners are Gloria and Jacque LaMay. We found this cottage by using the Nova Scotia 'Doers and Dreamers' book. It's free at 1-800-565-0000. We used that book to make most of our reservations for lodging, meals etc. It's a wonderful book! We also made use of local information offices. Great places to get maps & ideas. The Driftwood cottages have an interesting layout. One of the cottages is all on one floor, the other 5 are two storey. Bedrooms and bath on the lower floor, kitchen, living room, deck on the upper floor where the view is. Renting cottages is a very popular thing in Nova Scotia. I strongly advise that you use the 'Doers and Dreamers' book and make your reservations as far in advance as possible. What a pleasure to be in Nova Scotia in August! Close
Written by Jim Rosenberg on 07 Mar, 2004
In 2000, we visited the Tall Ships celebration in Halifax, which culminated in the last day's Parade of Sail. A quarter million people watched dozens of tall ships cast off with wind-filled sails from historic Halifax Harbour on their way to their final tour…Read More
In 2000, we visited the Tall Ships celebration in Halifax, which culminated in the last day's Parade of Sail. A quarter million people watched dozens of tall ships cast off with wind-filled sails from historic Halifax Harbour on their way to their final tour destination in Amsterdam. During the visit, thousands of visitors had the opportunity to board these fabulous vessels and meet their young crew members, who are actually part of cadet leadership programs that comprise many different nations.
The fine detail of these beautiful ships is difficult to describe. Their visit to this famous Maritime city will be a huge celebration (so anyone planning to visit will need to book flights, rooms and rental cars early). But despite the magnitude of the event and the fact that the city will be booked to bursting, Halifax and its cross-harbour neighbor, Dartmouth, will be ready for its guests and there will be plenty of activities to keep people enjoying themselves.
In addition to the Tall Ships, the Acadian celebration will feature authentic musical performances on the Halifax waterfront and the city's popular brewery, Alexander Keith's, is sponsoring other activities as part of Natal Day. In short, the red carpet will be rolled out and it would be difficult to imagine a better time to visit Halifax than this summer, during the visit of the Tall Ships!
For information on the Tall Ships, visit this website. (Back out to simply www.novascotia.com and order a "Doers and Dreamers Guide" to begin planning the details of your trip. It is one of the finest and most complete visitor guides I've seen.)
See you in Halifax this summer for the Tall Ships! (No, I don't work for the tourism department. It's just a GREAT event!)