Gradually our cruise across the Atlantic Ocean was coming to an end. We were approaching Halifax, Nova Scotia which would be the last port of call until we reached Boston.
Map of Nova Scotia with Sydney in the North and Halifax on the East Coast
While in Sydney and now again in Halifax the Canadian flags were flying at half-mast and no one seemed to know why. Our Canadian dinner companions were actually quite concerned that someone in leadership had died. I asked a tour guide about the flags and even he did not know so could not enlighten his guests. It was only that evening that the Captain announced that the flags were at half-mast to honour firemen who had died in the course of their duties. To think that a Norwegian Captain of an American/Caribbean shipping line had to find out why the Canadians were flying their flags at half-mast for a few days.
We found Halifax a beautiful town with interesting buildings and many statues which were mainly linked to the wars. These were found all along the beautiful board walk which stretched the full length of the waterfront, approximately 3kms. There was so much to see along this board walk that there is no way that one can spend less than a few hours here besides seeing the rest of the town.
A fountain on the Boardwalk
As we disembarked at Pier 21, the pier through which over a million immigrants entered Canada, (Nova Scotia is a group of islands off the Eastern Coast of Canada and is a Province of that country) there was a large circular flower box with plaques all around it giving details of people who had donated time or money to the development of Halifax. It was very interesting to read these and to see how much individuals had done for the town’s development.
Plaques recognising those who have voluntarily helped to build Halifax
Beside the ship’s berth was the Canadian Immigration Museum which we visited. One display, called The Wheel of Conscience, really touched me. In June 1939 a ship, the SS St Louis, with 900 Jewish Refugees trying to escape Nazism on board, arrived in Halifax but was denied entry to the port. They had already been denied entry to both Cuba and the US and Canada was their last resort. They returned to Europe where over 250 died at the hand of the Nazis and most of the others suffered indescribable situations. Today we are shocked by this lack of compassion but watch as it is carried out in Italy, Spain and other European countries today.
Entrance to the Canadian Museum of Immigration
The Wheel of Conscience
The original story
We then began the walk along the well-constructed Boardwalk on a beautifully clear and sunny day. As in so many other towns there were a number of buskers doing what they can to make a bit of money. At one point there was a gazebo often used for weddings but on this day 2 sisters in their early teens or maybe one was pre-teen were doing Highland Dancing for donations. Without meaning to sound pious it once again struck me how some parents use their children to make money for them. We see this so much on South African streets and it is frequently brought by journalists and others about abusing little ones in this way.
The wedding gazebo where the girls were dancing
There were so many sculptures and memorials on the Boardwalk that it took some time to photograph and read about them but it was well worth the time. There was a larger than life statue of Samuel Cunard who established the Cunard Shipping Line, sculptures of women who volunteered their time and talents to assist in the war effort, of sailors and soldiers going off to fight in battle in far-off countries, celebrating immigrants and memorials to those who died in the 2 World Wars and the Korean War.
Off to war
and to join the navy
Volunteers – nurses, knitters and junk collectors for cash
We enjoyed a long visit to the Maritime Museum which is also on the Boardwalk. It was quite interesting that over 10 000 ships had been wrecked off the coast of Nova Scotia. Around the rugged coast of the islands heavy and high swells are frequently recorded. The Bay of Bundy on the West coast has extremely high tides due to its narrowness. These conditions were very conducive to ship wrecks in past centuries but there are not as many today with the modern sophisticated navigation equipment and knowledge available. We watched a short clip on what the people of Halifax did for the Titanic dead and survivors and saw large number of rescued artefacts from this ship and many other wrecks.
From the Boardwalk we walked up to The Citadel which is on top of a hill in the town. For those who are not fit, this is a long and steep climb and should be approached slowly. While Trevor went ahead I took it slowly up to the intersection just below The Citadel and waited there for his return. While sitting there on a low wall a brand new blue cotton shopping bag flew over the wall. I expected someone to come running from the carpark behind me to collect it but no one did. After about 5mins I picked it up and kept it from blowing away again. When Trevor got back another 10mins later no one had tried to claim it so we have a lovely new shopping bag.
The Citadel Communications equipment
As we made our way back down to the ship we passed some university buildings, the very attractive Court House, an interesting RC Cathedral and small Protestant Church a few hundred metres apart, a large cemetery called The Old Burying Ground and some architecturally interesting buildings. Our day in Halifax was busy but very special.
The Protestant Church
The RC Cathedral – side view
The Old Burying Ground
A 19th Century home
The Court House
We were now ready for the final 2 nights and a day of sailing to Boston where we would disembark.