beginning of my journey through the Maritime Provinces
13.10.2008 - 15.10.2008 9 °C
During the past week, after arriving in Halifax on Monday 13th October, I have been in Halifax for 2 days on either side of a self-driven trip around the Maritime Provinces - Nova Scotia (and Cape Breton), Prince Edward Island (PEI) and New Brunswick. During the planning phase of this trip I had heard that the autumn colours were at their best during the second to third weeks of October, and that prediction proved correct. The lasting memory from my stay will be the spectacular orange, yellow, brown, red and green covered hillsides - unceasing rolling colour.
Halifax is a relatively small city - although with a population of more than 350 000 it is the biggest Canadian city east of Montreal. As a university town the nightlife and live music scene is renowned, especially for the typically east Canadian folk music. As seems to be pretty normal with Canadian seaside towns, it is also a cruiseship stopover, so for a couple of days a week the town is inundated with cruiseship based tourists.
The area was first colonised by the French, and named 'Acadia', but after a war in the 1700's it was lost to Britain, and became a colony of Scotland - and a such named 'Nova Scotia' - latin for "New Scotland". There is a tremendous mix of cultures here; many towns are 'Acadian' (i.e. French) and the Gaelic population on Cape Breton is the largest outside Britain.
The main attraction in Halifax is the Citadel - a fortification reconstructed three times since the 1700's and now seemingly a bastion of Scottish culture (bagpipes and kilts abound!). It overlooks Halifax Harbour and Dartmouth over the water. There are even cannons pointed menacingly over the walls, although due to development during the 1900's they now point at the back of ugly concrete office buildings. Towards the waterfront, the 'Historic Properties' precinct is a collection of older industrial buildings converted into restaurants, shops and entertainment attractions, largely for tourists from what I can see. Halifax is home to a number of tall ships, which are moored in the harbour.
My favourite aspect of the town are the houses in the older areas. All timber clapboard or shingles, each is painted a different colour and is unique in its own way, but when experienced together they form a very coherent urban mix.
After two nights in Halifax (and much organisation) I left with two other travellers for five nights in which to explore the Maritimes (see seperate blog post). Upon my return, I used the oppurtunity to chilll for a while - having postponed my departure to Quebec City for two nights. I spent my time wandering around the town; just enjoying the seaside and brisk air.