I left my stuff at hotel and went to explore the city. First, I went to the waterfront that is just 2 blocks from my hotel. What a great feeling it is just to walk near the ocean, breath salty fresh air. I miss it a lot in Montreal (I grew up on shores of Black Sea).
Halifax is totally different from Montreal. It feels in many aspects. It is much smaller, has different architecture, different cultural heritage. It is really great to experience a different part of Canada.
Halifax was established by British in 1726 in attempt to colonize Nova Scotia. It was immediately under attacks from local Mi’kmaq people, then it was an important fort for British Empire during French and Indian War of 1754-1763, the American Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.
Halifax is a maritime city. It has one of the best natural harbors in the world. It is ice-free in winter, it is over 18 meters in depth allowing ships of almost any size to visit it, it has only one entrance that is good for military, and it is located only one hour from Great Circle route between America and Europe (which is the fastest maritime route). It was playing important role in Canada’s international trade since it was established as well as being a base for Canadian navy. It has played an important role during many wars and especially the First and the Second World Wars, as it was a port of departure for many convoys with supplies for Europe.
In 1917 Halifax have seen one of the greatest disasters in Canada’s history. The SS Mont Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions collided with Belgian ship SS Imo, which resulted in huge explosion that destroyed big part of Halifax killing over 2,000 people. It was the most powerful man-made explosion before nuclear weapons.
Halifax has been an entry point to Canada for over a million immigrants who arrived on ships from Europe. There was a special terminal for immigrant ships, Pier 21, that was operating between 1928 and 1971. It has the same importance to Canada as Ellis Islands in New York has to the United States. In 1997 the facility reopened its doors as immigration center, but as an immigration museum. And it is one of the best museums I have ever visited! It deserves a separate story.
Halifax has more interesting places to offer a visitor, like Maritime museum or Citadel Hill. And and there is so much to see around Halifax, both nature and historic places. I spend next several days exploring area around Halifax. I have seen the famous Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, a town of Lunnenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I have seen world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy and admired beautiful Nova Scotia countryside.
Do you remember Titanic? It sank less then 1000 km from Halifax. There are some artifacts from Titanic in the Maritime Museum, but also, there is a cemetery with remains of people who died in Titanic disaster.
In my last day in Halifax, I got a present from Mexican government. No, they did not send a beautiful girl to be my wife, but they sent a tall ship to Halifax and it was open for visits!
Halifax gave me a very good impression. It was one of rare cases when I did not want to leave, I wanted to stay there longer. I will definitely be back to Nova Scotia. There is still so much to see, a lighthouse trail, Yarmouth and south shore, Annapolis Royal, Cape Breton and other… Nova Scotia is amazing part of the world that is definitely a must-visit.
But I had a long drive home to do. I followed almost the same route, except for detour to Confederation Bridge. The total distance was 1220 km which I covered in one day, which is the longest distance I have ever driven, especially it is hard to do alone in one day.
I am looking forward to my next trip to Nova Scotia! It is kind of a place that you would want to visit again and again.