We were so very excited to be able to travel out of the US again. And as I mentioned in the last post we chose to go back to Nova Scotia even though we had been there several times before. This time our home was in the Hydrostone neighborhood of Halifax but just like in most areas of the city we weren’t far from the water and I loved the blasts from the ships’ horns communicating with each other as they came in and out of port. The first night we were there the fog rolled in giving it an eerie sort of feel.
There was a marker next to our Airbnb describing an orphanage that stood there until Dec 6, 1917, the day of the Halifax Explosion What was this explosion? We were stunned to learn that in 1917 two ships had collided in the waters just below where we were standing, and one of them was loaded with explosives. More than 1700 people were killed and nearly another 900 were injured. In addition, nearly all the buildings within a half mile radius were destroyed. At the time it was the largest explosion in the world. It seemed unbelievable that somewhere in our 70+ years we hadn’t encountered this part of history.
The Hydrostone neighborhood has a short street of cute English style shops: one that features Canadian artisans, a bakery, a knit shop and possibly the best hair salon I have come across in our eight years of traveling.
One Saturday night we thought we heard a band and went out to our deck to find there was a rock concert going on a few blocks away and after the concert we had a pretty good seat for the fireworks!
I often mention how mundane our lives are since we travel full time. But in Halifax we truly were impressed with their recycling process. Every place we travel recycling is different. In the very worst locations, there is no recycling. (That is so impossible to even comprehend in 2022!) But whether it’s city to city within the same state, state to state or country to country, it’s ALWAYS different. I often wonder, as my daughter in law, Andria, recently pointed out, if in some places it’s all a ruse. We feel better when we recycle, but when it’s single stream we do wonder if it is all pitched into the same bin headed to the local landfill?
Halifax seems to have it mastered. All plastic, metal and glass are placed in large blue bags. Cardboard goes into a separate container. A small plastic container holds a bag for compostable items. (This is emptied into the compost bin but the paper bag goes into recycle.) Residents can have 2 trash bags a week. One is black to ensure privacy and the other one is clear. If items that are recyclable are found in the trash bags, the residents are fined! While it took us a while to get the hang of it, it really was the most environmentally conscious location we’ve been in during our travels!
There are so many things to like about Nova Scotia: the people are extremely friendly; the food amazing and the landscape absolutely gorgeous. And no matter how many times we return I never tire of Peggy’s Cove.
They had built a new observation deck since we were last there and it’s lovely. But when I remember being there with the kids more than twenty years ago, I realize I miss the quiet, almost lonely feel, when I compare it against the crowds of today. On the walkway down to the lighthouse we were delighted by the music of the bagpiper, just like I remembered from the first time I was here almost 70 years ago. (That’s Mom and me with piper on the left in 1954. Piper on right is today!)
We were pleasantly surprised when a black bear darted across the road in front of us on our return drive to Halifax. And even though we were so close to a large metropolitan area, the small fishing coves were reminiscent of a previous time.
When my friend Rita visited, we took her to many of our favorite locations. Besides Peggy’s Cove, we also returned to Grand Pre National Historic Site in the beautiful valley of the Acadians.
The tides of the Bay of Fundy continue to fascinate us. On the way to Grand Pre we had hoped for Rita to witness the incredible tidal bore. We got up early and headed to the Salmon River in Truro. We were disappointed that because of the low water level, the tidal bore was barely discernable. And while we did see a video of the bore, it wasn’t the same thing. We drove on to Burntcoat Head which is the site of the highest tides in the world, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. There are signs everywhere warning tourists to leave the ocean floor before high tide!
Rita and I also spent a lot of time in Halifax proper. She is as much a bibliophile as I so I had to show her the amazing Halifax Library. We also explored the Citadel which is the reason for Halifax’s founding in 1749. The British built a wooden structure on top of a high hill that eventually became the Citadel and the city grew as residents built their homes between there and the water.
We spent an afternoon wandering through the Halifax Public Gardens and a Sunday morning in the Halifax Public Market.
The waterfront is always an interesting place to check out. Bob and I particularly enjoyed spending lazy afternoons in Mt. Pleasant Park watching ships come in and unload their cargo.
We returned to Lunenburg, a little town on the south shore. It is is thought to be the best surviving example of a planned British Community (and consequently designated a UNESCO site). It is also the home of the Bluenose II, the famous racing schooner that is pictured on the Canadian dime.
Bob and I came across a few new things in this visit as well. We were surprised as we walked down the aisle of a local grocery to encounter a woman with her dog riding in her cart. He seemed to almost smile for my camera. And he was definitely better behaved than many kids I’ve seen in stores!
The fish heads and tails in the meat case were a bit of a surprise as well! I checked online after I got home and found numerous recipes! Not sure I’ll try any of them, however.
As usual we found lots of great seafood in this port city, and we also were reminded of many of the Maritime specialties.
And a few of our favorites: mussels, Canadian style Ruffles and of course, the ubiquitous poutine!
Some of the best experiences we’ve had traveling happen serendipitously. Such was the case with the Canadian Museum of Immigration. When Rita and I purchased our tickets the woman behind the counter explained, almost as an after thought, that there was a temporary art exhibit downstairs that was included in our ticket price if we were interested. She said it was the work of a Canadian artist/photographer, Yousuf Karsh. I had never heard of him. Karsh, at the age of 15, immigrated to Canada in 1924 during the time that more than 600,000 Armenians died under the rule of the Ottoman Empire as a result of violence, disease and starvation. Karsh was one of the few allowed to enter Canada because he had relatives there. The exhibit consisted of more than 100 photographs of famous people from all walks of life: medicine, politics, entertainment, and the arts. Each portrait had an explanation next to it written by Karsh. His ability to capture the essence of the subject was truly astounding. I was thrilled when in the museum bookstore I found a book containing all the photographs along with their descriptions.
We were reminded as we drove through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec about the dangers of encountering moose. We’ve been fortunate in our years of travel to encounter a few, always at a safe distance, but we continued to keep our eyes peeled in the off chance of seeing another. The signs seemed to indicate they are abundant in the area!
We were thrilled to be able to return to the Midwest via Canada. Ottawa, in particular, is an interesting city. I walked through Parliament Square and was mesmerized by the architecture.
Previously, we have traversed most of the Trans Canada Highway traveling through all 10 provinces but we always cut down through Toronto when coming from the east or turned down at the Soo if we were coming from the west to get back home. But this time we took Georgian Bay Route through Sudbury and then onto the Soo allowing us to complete the entire thoroughfare.
Sudbury (Alex Trebek’s home) is the Nickel Capital of the World, and they make the most of that claim. We had hoped to see the Sudbury Basin, the site of the third largest meteor impact in the world. But although we asked many people, and hunted online we came up empty. We’re wondering if because of its size of the impact the whole area is engulfed in the basin. It remains a quandary.
Our month in Nova Scotia flew by like usual. I really would love to spend every summer home there if it weren’t so difficult to get to, located as it on the far northeast coast of North America. We felt extremely lucky when just a week after we left, Halifax was hit with a hurricane. We worry about such things in the southeast portions of the US but it never crossed our minds in the Maritimes!
Since September Bob and I been in Manistee. I love waking up in the morning to a view of Lake Michigan. We had planned on returning to Port Charlotte, Florida, for November and early December but some health issues for Bob combined with Hurricane Ian made us decide that we were better off staying where we were. When we had a family crisis at the end of October we decided we were lucky to be here close to family.
In early December we’ll head first to DC for a couple of weeks. Then fly to Europe for the first time since 2019. We plan to spend Christmas in Dublin, then on to Belfast and Derry before returning to warm weather in the Canary Islands for New Years! We are lucky indeed!