The Halifax Waterfront told us we could tie up with no power or water, which we didn’t find very neighborly, but then the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron offered to take us in. Which is cool, because this is the oldest yacht club in North America, dating back to 1837. In 1860—as Americans were starting to squabble between themselves over this and that—the Prince of Wales who later became King Edward VII came over to go clubbing in Halifax and enjoyed himself so much that he agreed to serve as the club’s patron and got his mom (or mum we suppose) Queen Victoria to let the club become “Royal.” And they’ve been sailing around in these waters ever since. Fortunately for us (1) most everyone was off on their boats for Chester Race Week so we could squeeze in, and (2) the clubhouse/restaurant was cozy with good food.
From our dock we watched the famous Halifax Orange Moon rise across the Northwest Arm. Okay we know it probably was orange everywhere, but Dana still got a good photo of it.
The only bad thing is that the marina is several miles (and 1.609 times as many kilometers) from downtown, and there isn’t much at all between here and there. And literally no rentals were available, which sucked for the good guys. On our first day, however, a nice dude named George offered to drive us into town from the marina. Turns out George’s full name is The Honorable George Archibald, former Commodore of the Yacht Squadron, long-time Nova Scotia legislator, and one-time Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Transportation. On our drive, we passed through Sir Sandford Fleming Park and past the Dingle Tower.
The tower is a monument to the first form of responsible government in the British Empire outside of Great Britain or some such thing, but that wasn’t the interesting stuff. The interesting stuff relates to old Sandy Fleming, who donated the park land. He created the first Canadian postage stamp and for a while lived in Peterborough, home of The World’s Highest Lift Lock. But that’s not the interesting stuff about him. He also was a railroad guy who engineered much of the Trans-Canadian Railroad, which likely doesn’t really affect us one way or the other. But that one time he missed a train in Ireland because the town and the railroad used different clock settings got him thinking about, well, time. So he contrived a system of standard time zones and pushed it through in the U.S. and then everybody slowly signed on and now with only a couple of exceptions we’re all in one of twenty-four zones based in hour increments off Greenwich Mean Time. Now that’s cool stuff.
Minister Archibald also took us past his old office building. Province House is the oldest legislative building still in use in Canada, dating back to well before everyone started using the same clocks. Dating back even further is the Halifax Citadel, aka Fort George, with roots stretching to 1749. It never saw any military action and the Queen doesn’t have a house here, so we walked around but didn’t pay to go in.
Halifax Harbor is home to a bunch of interesting maritime-related stuff. For example, there’s Theodore Tugboat. Theodore is a beloved character in a Canadian TV series, with many heroic adventures set in Halifax. They originally wanted to do a show about a locomotive named Thomas but found out that was already taken.
The most significant event in Halifax Harbor, however, was in 1917 when the SS Imo collided with the SS Mont-Blanc. If the latter had been carrying a boat-load of fountain pens instead of a boat-load of explosives, the aftermath would’ve been much different. As it was, the Imo caused the largest man-made explosion in the history of the world until Paul Tibbets chucked Little Boy out of Enola Gay over Hiroshima. About 2,000 killed and 9,000 wounded and a huge part of town blown to smithereens. The museum had a great section on it.
The museum also had a section on Halifax’s role in saving passengers from the Titanic, which as we recently noted sank not too far from here. Hmmm. Turns out we’re right in the middle of the “Shipwreck Shoreline,” with the worst yet to come.
Well that’s not very pleasant to contemplate. But we successfully crossed one “Graveyard of the Great Lakes” and then an entirely different “Graveyard of the Great Lakes.” So at least we’ve got a chance.
A famous Canadian Navy corvette is docked along the waterfront as a floater night museum. We didn’t have time to go through it, but we did like the beachy color scheme.
No Drama caught up to us with their newest guest crew member Fred. We always have a good time with Jeff and Ann. Then best of all, Shannon arrived, looking as pretty as two pictures.
Hopefully we’ll get her around to Maine so she can fly back to Florida before her first class.
Anyway, Halifax is pretty cool, except for the abysmal lack of rental cars. Doug took Oscar to the vet by taxi, but another nice dude—this one named Michael—volunteered to drive them back. As a child, Michael’s grandma was rescued off a “dead cart” after the explosion. He said she spent the rest of her life picking bits of glass out of her skin.*
The plan was to leave this morning for Lunenburg, six hours away. Yesterday, however, we discovered that the shaft seal may be reaching the end of its anticipated lifespan. Long story short, the Dockmaster told us to call Peter. Peter said he’d come by this morning. Then Peter came by this morning and said it was too big a job and we should have it done in Lunenburg, we left this morning after all. Bye Halifax.
On the way out, a slightly newer Canadian naval vessel—the HMCS Shawinigan—zipped past us. Maybe not quite as awe-inspiring as Warship 61, but still not something to crowd. We also were lucky enough to see an American-flagged relic from back in the days when things like oceans and pollution and climate change were important issues.
Mostly the trip across to Lunenburg was uneventful. Which is good, because it had the theoretical potential to go catastrophically bad.
But we made it in. Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, because it basically was a British master-planned community. Of course, the whole master plan was to run off the Acadians, but it’s still a darn cute village.
Because the wind doesn’t look cooperative until the weekend, we’ll have plenty of time to explore while Misty Pearl awaits her new shaft seal.
* If the Halifax Explosion wasn’t such a tragic and solemn topic, this would be a most excellent place for a bit from the classic Holy Grail “Bring out your dead” scene.