150th Canada Day

birthday bash in Halifax

former Royal Canadian Navy ship

The CSS Acadia, a former research ship and only Royal Canadian Navy vessel still afloat to survive both world wars, is anchored at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the Halifax waterfront.

Halifax is Canada's largest port city on the Atlantic. It's been repelling and welcoming visitors since 1749, and still remains small enough to be friendly. The navy and 2 universities contribute to a pub-centred nightlife. As cities go, it has a modest downtown. Safe, modern and walkable, with historic stone buildings squeezed between restaurants and office towers. A good Nova Scotia intro.

For 2017 the aircraft carrier U.S.S Dwight D. Eisenhower  made a courtesy visit to Halifax. The ship is so big it has its own zip code.

An immigrant to Canada shows his official papers, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, C

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21Canada's newest national museum — occupies the building where a new life began for thousands of immigrants, including Alumni Volunteer George Zwaagstra from Holland in the 1950's. It's the Canadian equivalent of New York City's Ellis Island. 

Canadian passport

Families can trace their roots, see the creative attempts of immigrants trying to smuggle in their favourite foods ("walking delis"), prepare a suitcase for their immigrant ship and see the photo that inspired one of the pages in Canadian passports.

Immigration ships, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax
A game helps a family learn about their roots, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax
Food display, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax

A boardwalk leads along the waterfront where crowds end up congregating on Canada Day. A sculpture of light standards appeared to indicate that Dali was employed by the city works department.

A sculpture on the boardwalk near the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Halifax
Sculpture of Dali-like bent light poles, the boardwalk, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Outdoor café on the boardwalk, Halifax

For a cultural touch, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia displays a limited collection of paintings and folk art. Nice to see a number of Group of Seven works, with several made by Lismer during his time spent in the province. 

A sculpture and exterior view of Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax
Oil painting of warships by Group of Seven painter Arthur Lismer, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Interior view, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax

Pub grub isn't everything in Halifax. Stories Restaurant is a prime example. Chef Scott Vail has been labouring over a hot stove for 19 years, and as our servers Eleanor and Katie said "[His] Food is a joy." The intimate 2-room restaurant is in the heritage Halliburton Hotel. Dessert could have been a painting by Norval Morrisseau. "Refined east coast plates in fancy digs" but super casual. 

Heritage property plaque, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Dining room, Stories Restaurant, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Food plate, Stories Restaurant, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Food servers, Stories Restaurant
Food plate, Stories Restaurant, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Dessert plate, Stories Restaurant, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The walk back to Hotel Halifax, took us past magnificent Government House, the Lieutenant Governor's residence, which also happens to be the oldest official residence in the country.

Government House, the Lieutenant Governor's residence, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Our dinner was actually one night before Canada Day. Next morning, July 1, I was up and at 'em to catch the morning light. I love surprises. The street behind our hotel could have been an A.Y. Jackson painting. And a navy vessel seemed like a model placed on a highway ramp. It was going to be one of those days.

Early morning street scene of buildings, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Royal Canadian Navy ship appears to rest on a highway overpass

The city began to awaken in time for the traditional parade. Bands were in town from NATO allies Germany and the USA doing double duty for a music competition and the parade.

Mother, son and daughter with Canadian flags, Canada Day, Halifax
Crowd with Canadian flags on Canada Day, Citadel Hill, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canadian pipe band marching past Citadel Hill, Canada Day parade, Halifax, Nova Scotia
 German military band marching past Citadel Hill, Canada Day parade, Halifax, Nova Scotia
 American military band marching past Citadel Hill, Canada Day parade, Halifax, Nova Scotia

We nearly missed the parade, but ultimately managed to catch the drums, pipes and swirl of the kilts, after which many in the crowd climbed the National Historic Site of Citadel Hill (Fort George) for some 19th century military demonstrations.

Canada Day crowds at Citadel Hill Fort George, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Re-enactors of 78th Highland Regiment marching at Citadel Hill Fort George, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Families play and rest on 18th century cannon gun barrels, Citadel Hill Fort George, Halifax, Nova Scotia

We wandered off the hill and into the Museum of Natural History where children were naturally very much in the present shrieking and racing between exhibits. 

Exhibit of extinct marine dinosaur, Museum of Natural History, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Down at the harbour, the free-for-the-day Maritime Museum of the Atlantic was a throbbing affair. Exhibits ranged from the tragedy of the 1917 explosion (the biggest non-nuclear explosion before the Second World War) to remembrances of the Titanic and the golden age of cruising. By telegraphing my name I managed to earn a Certificate of Proficiency in Morse Code at one of the displays, modestly accepted with a drop of salt water.

Boats at dock viewed from inside main building of Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia
 Exhibit of 1917 Halifax explosion, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Child's shoes retrieved from the Titanic sinking, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Model of ocean passenger liner, Child's shoes retrieved from the Titanic sinking, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Document detailing destruction caused by Exhibit of 1917 Halifax explosion, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

We sampled hors d'oeuvres and drinks at our hotel, then made our way over to the cluster of eateries on and around Argyle Street for an early evening munch at Bistro Le Coq (permanently closed 2022) where we'd had a few beers previously.

Hotel chef preparing hor d'oevres
Plate of food with wine inside restaurant, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Outdoor dining, Argyle Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia

The town was in party mode. I spotted 3 women dressed in matching whites as we made our way back to the harbour. 

3 women wearing white pose for the camera, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Fireworks too — over the harbour for everyone to view from dock or boat! It was a fine evening.

Canada Day fireworks over boats, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Boys beneath large Canadian flag

Happy 150th CANADA!

Photos, text and design 
© Gary Crallé 2017
(updated 2022) 

All rights reserved