Cool Cruise – Part 5: Facts about Halifax

Little did I know what an interesting and charming place Halifax, Nova Scotia would be.  Besides knowing the name, I was ignorant about the place, which made it all the more entertaining when the Carnival Triumph slid into Halifax Harbor.

Georges Island, Halifax Harbor, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

As we passed an island that had a lighthouse and lighthouse keepers house, it appeared to have no people.  I had to look it up on Wikipedia after I got back to Columbus, Georgia, my home town, to learn about it. Indeed, there is no one on Georges island.  The lighthouse has been automated since the 1970’s. The Canadian government is working on turning it into a tourist attraction. After all, it has a historical fort, from which a shot was never fired in anger.

Noon cannon firing for tourists at Fort George, Halifax, NS

Only having a few hours to explore Halifax, we took a tour of the city on a London double-decker bus.  We saw a beautiful, clean town.  We stopped at a fort that is open to the puiblic, Fort George, which dates back to the 1700’s. A cannon is fired at noon every day for the tourists.  Halifax has never been attacked. But it had the two forts in case France, or, later, the United States decided to do it.  The Fort is now a park.  

We got off the bus at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.   If  you ever get to Halifax, don’t miss it.  you’ll learn a lot about the area’s history. Not only does it have a Titanic exhibit – survivors of the sinking were taken to Halifax, and a lot of those whose drowned bodies were recovered are buried in a Halifax cemetary – but it has have exhibits that explain that Halifax was a very important port in both World War I and II. Because it is a protected harbor that was safe from German submarines, it was the staging area for the convoys that took supplies to the United Kingdom in both wars.

Entrance to Halifax explosion of 1917 in Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, NS

The French also used the harbor in World War I, which led to a colossal disaster. It was and still is the largest accidental man-made explosion in the world. I learned about it while visiting the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. On December 6, 1917, SS Mont-Blac, a French cargo ship loaded with explosives destined to France, collided with the empty Norwegian SS Imo. The Mont-Blanc caught on fire, drifted close to shore, and exploded, destroying structures , killing 2,000 people and injuring 8,000. The explosion caused a tsunami in the harbor and a pressure air wave that demolished more buildings, grounded ships and carried fragments from the Mont Blanc for miles. I had never heard of it before.

1930 Snipe, a racing sailboat similiar to one I owned and raced, though this one is a lot older

I found the racing sailboat exhibit especially interesting because it sported a 1930 Snipe. I owned and raced a couple of Snipes for a number of years.  One was destroyed by a tornado at Lake Harding, which is north of Columbus,  on a Christmas day in the 1970’s. But that’s another story. Back to Halifax.

Having a 3-year-old friend who loves Thomas the Train, I found the exhibit about Canada’s answer to Thomas interesting.  The television program about Theodore the Tugboat was produced in Halifax and aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Kids love it, and still enjoy the re-runs and DVDs.  The actual real Theodore the Tugboat used for the show was docked nearby.  The model used for the annimated show, which is shown in the inset, is displayed in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

Theodore the Tugboat docked near the Museum of the Atlantic, and (inset) the actual model that was used in making the annimated TV show, which is displayed in the museum, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax is the largest Canadian city east of Montreal and is the capital of Nova Scotia. Like Columbus, the economy gets a boost from the military; however it’s the Canadian Navy not Army, and Halifax is home of Canada’s Atlantic fleet. The Canadian Navy is not very large, only 33 ships. And though there are less than ten-thousand people employed by the naval base, Halifax’s economy is stronger than Columbus‘, with the median household income of more than $55 thousand.  Columbus has a median household income of almost $40 thousand. Halifax is a very busy port, the fourth busiest in Canada, and there are a lot of government service jobs there since it is the province’s capital. 

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada as seen from the Carnival Triumph cruise ship's dock All in all, we enjoyed Halifax. For one thing, we found a great Irish pub there where we had wonderful seafood chowder for lunch. Being the last stop, that should end this series of posts, but the trip back to New York had a little excitement. That will be the Cool Cruise finale. Don't miss it, and tell your friends to tune in!

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3 Responses to “Cool Cruise – Part 5: Facts about Halifax”

  1. Milton Jones Says:

    Dick – Just a note to tell you how much I am enjoying your website, and particularly these articles on your trip. Have about made me decide I want to take it next year.
    Hope to see you this Sunday. Ed’s topic sounds interesting.

  2. Lynn Norris (aka "Corpse Bride") Says:

    You have to be in Nova Scotia in mid-October to see great color. We timed our 2008 trip to hit on “Celtic Colours” in Cape Breton, the largest Celtic Festival outside Scotland. The weather was great over the 10 days we were there, except for the day we arrived, and the leaves were at peak. Saw most of the coastline of that province and a bit of Prince Edward. It was beautiful! We had a great trip and hope to return. Canda seems like a “kinder, gentler, slower paced” U.S., even in the cities.

  3. Massey Jones Says:

    My wife and i just completed a week in Halifax for the TOPS International Recognition Days (2400 representa tives from all Canadian provinces and US States). One of the highlights was the Noon Gun firing at the Citadel (admission). We also visited the Halifax Centre (shopping). There is a plethora of cruises and restaurants on the wharf, from (motor-powered) “Tall Ships” to a paddlewheeler with a supper cruise. Also “Harbour Hopper”, an amphibian tour using an ex-US vehicle.

    Downtown, there is the FRED (Free Rides Everywhere) which can save a lot of walking (mostly uphill from the water) and a cheap ($2.75 Canadian) ferry crossing from Halifax into Datrmouth (its twin city); run by the Halifax Transit. It’s very short but worth the trip, as the Halifax skyline can be photographed from the deck.

    Be prepared to climb a lot of hills in Halifax. Downtown has several first class (4-star) hotels at a very moderate price (average per night $150). The service is extremely friendly and (even at exchange), it’s the same type of money in dollars and cents. (A dollar coin is called a loonie in Canada – two dollar coin is a twonie). Although metric, everyone in Canada still follows the inch/mile/pound thing, as they have always done in North America.

    Be prepared for a sudden downpour in Halifax. It rained like the dickens forst day there, then was 90F most days (+30C). The nights are cool because Halifax is a peninsula (arm jutting in water).

    While in Halifax, if driving, there are several sites to be seen nearby (we didn’t go there because some are tourist traps). Peggy’s Cove might be one. If time permits, go to Prince Edward Island (PEI) to get that “down home” maritime feeling, found in upper Maine.

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