Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (October 1, 2022)

Halifax is very closely connected to the tragic story of the Titanic since the ships that recovered survivors and victims came to Halifax, the nearest port. The maritime museum has a permanent collection of Titanic artifacts and two local cemeteries have graves of some of the victims. Sadly, Halifax was also called on to provide assistance and recovery for the 1917 Halifax Explosion, the 1998 Swissair disaster, and the terror attack of September 11, 2001. The citizenry had our respect before we even pulled into port.

The first part of our day was spent on a hop-on-hop-off bus with a delightfully funny, duel-hatted driver/guide. We rode the whole circuit twice but never hopped off. Dan and I have been here before, so the ride was a reminder of what we had previously seen up close: the Halifax Citadel, a series of forts that sits on a hill overlooking the harbor; the extensive and impressive Public Gardens; old stately homes; Saint Mary’s Basilica; cemeteries; government buildings; neighborhood churches; shopping districts; and established neighborhoods. We saw the last of the cleanup efforts from Hurricane Fiona from the bus.

Our guide told us about a gyro-style wrap called a donair which none of us have ever tried. We learned that Halifax is the fastest growing city in the country and that it currently has a population of half a million. Folks from Halifax are called Haligonians and Nova Scotia stands for New Scotland. We were touched to learn that Halifax honors Boston’s assistance with the 1917 explosion by continuing to provide a Christmas tree for Boston Common. With all the vets in our group the guide thought our guys could be talked into enlisting in the Soldier of the Day program. For heaven’s sake, it just involves a three-hour-long immersion into the life of a 19th-century soldier. Our driver ended the tour by singing his national anthem! Did I mention he was a fun guy?

We docked at Pier 21 just as nearly one million immigrants did in days gone by. Think pirates before massive immigration and throw in early settlers, search and rescue, a modern naval base, fishing, troop deployments, and you have a very rich history in a very small area. Today it is a vibrant, fun playground for locals and day trippers alike with restaurants, microbreweries, pedestrian-only zones, studios, a museum, a college, coffee shops (think Tim Horton), and a boardwalk. After the hop-on-hop-off we moseyed around the pier area for a few hours, shared beaver tails, and shopped. The weather was perfect. A t-shirt we enjoyed said, “It’s a KILT! If I wore underwear then it would be a skirt!”

Dan lead cocktail conversation with his last Wall Street Journal quiz. This eight-question stumper had us guessing about things like poultry-related antitrust charges, high yoga, and airline mergers. As always, it was fun, funny, and enlightening to know just how ill informed we world travelers are.

…Fun Tidbits …

Halifax boasts the world’s second-largest ice-free natural harbor. Mic drop!

The Halifax explosion, a devastating accident, was the largest manmade explosion
before the atomic bomb.

$1.00 U.S. = $1.31 Canadian or, put the other way, $1.00 Canadian = $0.76 U.S

One in every five Canadians is related to someone who passed through Pier 21 here in Halifax.

A beaver tail is a deep fat fried pastry made with whole wheat flour. It is shaped by hand to resemble the long, flat tail of a beaver and topped with anything from cinnamon sugar to chocolate to you name it.

The natural history museum is home to much-loved Gus the tortoise who turns 100 this year
right along with Cyd’s and my mother! While Mother is not the oldest living human,
Gus is the oldest known living gopher tortoise in the world.

The British colonial tradition of firing a noontime gun is still alive and well here.
A canon is fired from the Citadel every day except Christmas.


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