Day 69 – 16th September (Halifax)

Leisurely breakfast after a rather disjointed night’s sleep in a fairly standard box of a hotel room. Bit of a comedown after the Fox Harb’r resort, but perfectly acceptable. Decent shower is always a plus.

One of the most visited sites in Halifax – in fact, the whole of Canada – is the citadel, which was just up – and I mean up – from the hotel, so we decided to become one of their number. Clear and dry, but a chilly, blustery wind, just like yesterday.

Quite a climb, but we made it, with some views at the top.

The old town clock
Panoramic view
Please read this. I’d never heard of this appalling tragedy until now
A colossal container ship

It has to be said, Halifax is not a pretty city. Lots of interesting old buildings interspersed randomly with relatively new skyscrapers and more modern edifices. No sense really of planning.

The citadel itself, the fourth iteration of a military installation of some sort on this hill, was actually rather drab. We joined onto a tour which was quite interesting, led by a young lady dressed in the uniform of a Highland regiment of the 1860s who might have been garrisoning this place then.

The highlight was the noon gun, which has been sounded, er, at noon every day since 1856. It was used to inform of the time of day and to allow ships to set their chronometers. It is a very decent bang, although the video doesn’t convey it well.

The citadel itself never actually saw any action worth a damn, but its position, combined with other military installations around the harbour, was a massive deterrent to any possible attack. Halifax was strategically very important to the English, defending yet again against the French, and it provided a hugely important source of armaments and materials via convoy to the Allies during World War II.

More modern cannon
Macdonald suspension bridge
Two flagpoles above the citadel. The one on the left indicated the cargo of ships entering the harbour by flying a flag specific to the merchant, the one on the right being a messaging system to communicate with other outposts across Eastern Canada in case of attack or alarm
Sums it up nicely

We descended from the citadel and walked the short distance to the public gardens, which have been here since Victorian times. Very pretty.

The restaurant that the hotel concierge had booked for tonight’s meal was a short distance away, so we decided to check it out. It was fortunate that we did, as although the booking had been recorded in a handwritten ledger in one place, it hadn’t been transferred to the handwritten seating plan for the evening. Speedily resolved and we stopped for a coffee and snack whilst there.

Our intention had always been to board a hop-on-hop-off bus around Halifax, as we’ve always found this a good way of getting an overview of a place. Having made our way to the booking office for this, we discovered to our consternation that these tours were geared to the arrival of cruise ships, and we were out of luck.

So now, we were at a bit of a loose end, and wandered around a bit on the waterfront. We’d noticed this strange phenomenon on our walk yesterday and had a closer look.

It’s constructed of loads of plastic flaps which catch the sunlight as they move in the wind, but we couldn’t find any explanation of what this was all about. Weird.

A couple of views from the top of this climb follow:

More wandering uncovered Historic Buildings, a series of warehouses that had been repurposed as offices and shops. One of them housed an exhibition of the story of the Titanic on storyboards, which might have been worth our time, but not at $12.50 each.

We discovered another ticket agency for Halifax tours on a walk back along the waterfront, and had another attempt at trying to arrange something. The gent on the desk was very helpful, and booked us onto the Harbour Hopper, which normally is an hour’s tour on an amphibious vehicle including a stint on the harbour waters, but because it was so windy, the water-based part of the tour was cancelled and the land-based part extended.

We turned up at the embarkation point for this trip, and I then got a phone call saying I was due a 50% refund on the price I’d paid as the water-based trip wasn’t happening. So that was a result.

The trip was actually very enjoyable, if rather chilly at times because of the damn wind. Dave was the driver and a young lady called Riley, fresh out of university, was the tour guide.

One perspective this trip gave us was just how big a port Halifax is. It’s the second biggest container port in North America. It’s deep water, so it can handle huge ships of all types.

Couldn’t resist this
Pier 21 was where much of the immigration to Canada was handled from the early 1900s
This was our transport

Last item on tonight’s agenda was our meal at Le Bistro by Liz. Very nice, if not absoluty outstanding. For the record, Jean had halibut and I had boeuf bourguignon.

A four-hour drive to St. John, back into New Brunswick, faces us tomorrow, before we enter the USA on Monday, so time for some shut-eye. Hope you’ll stay with us for that.

7 responses to “Day 69 – 16th September (Halifax)”

  1. looks like the weather nice and sunny but chilly the weather here has suddenly got cooler
    today we are giving James a surprise 40th party at our old house in dunstable where you came to my second wedding
    we have 70 people coming alot from cranfield james old school friends
    we are having lebanese and mediteran caters doing the food should be interesting
    i cant believe i have a son of 40years it makes one feel old
    when you get into the states the food will be amazing
    i went to the states in 1979 with Geoff and travelled around for 3 weeks even the breakfasts are incredible
    anyway a busy day ahead plus lots of prosecco!

    1. Hope it goes well.

  2. Extraordinary story about the Explosion!

    1. Yes – I really didn’t know any of this. Helluva blast.

      1. Apparently a fifth the size of Hiroshima. Hard to comprehend.

      2. Yes, absolutely huge blast. And it happened offshore, too.

  3. […] never come across before we visited Canada (first mention of it was in my brother Chris’s blog post on his earlier visit here) – the Halifax Explosion of 1917, the largest man-made explosion […]

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