Sundy Sunday 2 October 2022 – Our itinerary for today featured, as its main event, a tour round the Bay of Fundy, a bay some 90km north of Halifax, on the border with New Brunswick. “Tour” in this case, meant a hike of about 17km in total, and the reason for going there was to witness the tides, which are the highest in the world – as much as 50 feet between low and high water levels. We had instructions to present ourselves at the Maritime Museum entrance, about 15 minutes’ walk away, at 0830. So we got up nice and early (‘coz we’re on bloody holiday) and shot down to the hotel lobby at 0730 to discover that breakfast on Sunday didn’t start until 0800.
There wasn’t much we could do about that, so we just dressed ourselves up in the expectations of a cool (10°C) windy (northerly, 20mph) day (yes, I know that’s mixed unit systems. Deal with it) and set off breakfastless to our rendezvous.
Which didn’t happen. No-one turned up to collect us.*
To be honest, we weren’t altogether surprised. Jane had tried to contact the operators of this particular tour to confirm things, and there had been no answer on their phone number over a couple of days. We gave them until 0900 and then gave up, but used the time in going back to the hotel to see a few new things on the streets of Halifax that we’d missed before: artworks;
a shack which would offer the Canadian national dish were it open, which thankfully it wasn’t;
some buildings of curiosity – the Pacifico Dance Club and the Press Block, the remains of which are shored up in dramatic fashion in order to act as façade for new apartments yet to be built;
and a chance to get some photos on the Grand Parade unobstructed by the celebrations of other folk – the town hall, the monument and St. Paul’s Anglican Church, the oldest building in Halifax and the oldest Anglican Church in Canada.
So we got our breakfast after all. Having partaken, we rested a while and then went out for a walk. Obviously.
Before we had our chat with Tim the concierge, he had been giving another couple some tips about places to go and things to do. Jane had earwigged this and used it formulate a Plan B – take the ferry across the harbour to Dartmouth and take a late lunch at a restaurant called the Wooden Monkey. So we walked to the Ferry Terminal via the Historic Properties
which now house various small boutique-y businesses.
I noted this highly retro offering in the ferry terminal.
The ferry is astoundingly good value for money. Two dollars will get you across the water to the Alderney Landing in Dartmouth and that price also includes what they call the “transfer” – a return journey if undertaken within two hours of the start. The only hurdle put in our way was that not only did they only accept cash, but also you had to proffer the exact amount. We managed to get some notes from an ATM (which was erroneously marked as Out of Service) and thus some change from a change machine, but this was the first time that only cash was acceptable for such a long time that I had given up taking any with us.
Anyhoo… the ferry journey gives some decent views in the 10 minutes it’s in motion: views of Halifax city
(our hotel visible between the two buildings), including the large Casino complex;
a view of the Alderney Landing, unsurprisingly;
and a view of the two major bridges across the water, the Macdonald Bridge and, through it, the Mackay Bridge.
Seeing the two bridges gave an opportunity to reflect on something I’d never come across before we visited Canada (first mention of it was in my brother Chris’s blog post on his earlier visit here) – the Halifax Explosion of 1917, the largest man-made explosion before the first atomic bomb. On the morning of 6 December 1917, the French cargo ship SS Mont-Blanc collided with the Norwegian vessel SS Imo in the area between where those two bridges now stand. The Mont-Blanc, laden with high explosives, caught fire and exploded, devastating the Richmond district of Halifax. 1,782 people were killed, largely in Halifax and Dartmouth, by the blast, debris, fires, or collapsed buildings, and an estimated 9,000 others were injured, many by flying glass. It’s amazing that I’d never heard of this incident until this year.
Dartmouth is quite a large area in Halifax, but the downtown part near the ferry terminal is quite limited. We had time before our restaurant reservation, so we walked around a bit. Obviously. There’s a waterside trail which features a couple of curiosities: the propeller of HMCS Macdonald, broken by ice when assisting another vessel in crossing the North West Passage (astonishingly the damage was only discovered later in dry dock);
the World Peace Pavilion, dating from the 1995 Global Economic Summit and containing symbols of peace from nations around the globe;
and a decent view back over to Halifax.
We had an excellent meal in the Wooden Monkey,
(above – the lift lobby going up to it from the ferry terminal)
which takes local produce and environmental issues very seriously. My theory about the restaurant name was that it was called such because it wooden monkey around with the quality of its offerings (actually, we were told that it came into being in the Chinese Year of the Monkey when wood was the element associated with that year).
Afterwards, wandering back for the return ferry journey, we came across more artworks.
It really is a pleasure to see such trouble being taken, pretty much wherever we’ve been in Canada – and Alaska – to use art in various forms to make places more attractive. I hadn’t got a mental picture of Halifax before I arrived, but such a bounty of interesting and quirky touches was not something I had expected, and they make it a nice place to be.
Whilst waiting for the ferry to go back to the city, I caught sight of this chap in a wheelchair, nonchalantly doing stationary wheelies; very impressive balance and control.
And, as we walked back to the hotel, we passed yet another mural that we hadn’t seen before.
We decided to try to find a Pedway route back to the hotel, doing which gave us this final nugget about the city.
One hopes the future will see the place developing and improving itself even further. It’s been a pleasure discovering the city. Even though we missed out on the Bay of Fundy hike, we’ve had a really nice two days here.
We leave tomorrow to go to the final new adventure before we return home – St. Johns, Newfoundland. Here’s hoping that our last couple of days on this nine-week odyssey will be a pleasant conclusion to what has been an excellent holiday. Join us, if you will, to find out….
* It turns out that there has been a miscommunication between the various agencies behind our intricate and ever-evolving itinerary. Our UK agency had thought the Canadian agency had nailed it down whereas the local operator had cancelled. It’s a shame, but it did mean we had a more relaxed day here.