2017 Travel: Cape Breton

Baddeck lighthouse on the Bras D’or lake, Cape Breton

I’ve been blogging about our big trip to British Columbia and Hawaii in November, but there’s another shorter trip that we’ve been looking forward to, as well. We have a house guest visiting form the U.K. in mid September and we’re planning another “Three Amigos” tour, this time to Cape Breton Island (The last Three Amigos tour was to Northumberland in the UK, read about that here)  Cape Breton, an island off the east end of Nova Scotia, has often been voted one of the best islands to visit, not just in Nova Scotia but in the world. The magazine Travel + Leisure had it ranked number one  and number 3 in two different years in the past few and it’s also been mentioned by other travel magazines.

It’s not your usual beach and resort type island. There are beaches, yes but the real beauty is in the scenery and the history. Hiking, fishing, golfing for those that want active things to do. The mountains of Cape Breton and the winding Cabot Trail around the tip of the island, with lots of little coastal towns and villages along the way will take you a full day of driving with stops for the local craft shops and tea rooms and cafes. Fortress Louisbourg brings you 300+ years of history. The small city of Sydney has arts and culture and a nice waterfront area. Discover Alexander Graham Bell in Baddeck where he had a summer home. You can go whale watching and spot the seals and birds and other nature from the boats. There’s even a whiskey distillery in Glenora near the Margaree Valley.

Louisbourg gates

Gates at Louisbourg

We won’t get to do all of that, but we do hope to go whale watching somewhere off the Cabot Trail and we will definitely go to Louisbourg. (My photos here) It’s an easy day trip from Sydney where we’ll land after a day or two driving around the Cabot Trail exploring. I also fancy seeing the Highland Village Museum  and we’ll likely stop in at the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site. It’s really very interesting. . We have a couple of motels and a hotel already booked. All we need is a picnic lunch, some flasks for coffee and tea and a full tank of gas to get us on the road! The great thing is that this year, to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, all of the national parks and historic sites are free to enter!

Nova Scotia’s Bluenose II

We have a few more of those on our list besides the ones in Cape Breton. We are thinking of other day trips to go on to take our friend around more of this beautiful province. A big bonus, the schooner Bluenose II has been refurbished and will be taking public sailing out of Lunenburg, another World Heritage Site, while our friend is here so we’re going to make plans to drive down the south shore and do that. I’ve never been out on the water in the Bluenose. It just never worked out, timing wise.  Lunenburg is a beautiful town as is nearby Blue Rocks,  Mahone Bay and Chester, also very nice places to stop.

There are museums and the Citadel fortress here in Halifax that he’ll enjoy. Maybe we’ll get into the Annapolis Valley. He might like the Grand Pre National Historic Site commemorating the French Acadian settlers who were the first non-Indigenous settlers in Nova Scotia (which was called Acadie back in the 17th century, thus…Acadians).

September is usually a month of pretty good weather so we’re hoping for as much sun as we can get.

Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

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Don’t Blame Canada

Halifax skyline

There was a song released some years ago based on the South Park tv show, called Blame Canada. Fun little send up of us Canadians but on the eve of the country of Canada’s 150th birthday, I’d like to state that I’m really proud of being a Canadian. I feel very lucky to live here in one of the best countries in the world. Without getting political, can I just say that my country, the second largest in the world (physically) contains extraordinary scenery and the loveliest people from the west coast to the east coast and all points from the southern borders to the chilly Arctic ocean in the north.

Blue Rocks, Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia

Travel to Canada, you guys. There’s something here for everyone, no matter what your interests are. Just remember, we don’t have snow in the summer, we do say “Eh?”, Timmys (aka Tim Hortons) is a popular coffee chain where you can always get a drink, a light meal and where there’s usually always a toilet if you get caught by chance! We apologize a lot, we talk about the weather because it changes frequently. In one day. Or an hour. We don’t know your cousin who lives in Vancouver or Toronto. You can’t do a day trip from Halifax to Montreal unless you fly.(it takes you the best part of a day to drive there!) In fact, it takes 5 or 6 days to drive from one side of the country to the other. There are whales. There are icebergs off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. There is theatre. There are wineries. Golf? We have golf. Lots of it. Recreated historic fortresses and Open Air historic villages.

If you visit, and I strongly urge you to, take one area, one province or one small region and explore it. There’s too much of Canada to do in one trip. Because I’m not objective, I think you should start on the east with the Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.

Happy Birthday, Canada!

Nova Scotia Tourism
New Brunswick Tourism
Prince Edward Island Tourism
Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

Here is an album of a small sample of some of the photos I’ve taken in this part of the country over the years.

Dalhousie University campus, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Come for the fresh seafood chowder!

Find rustic corners to explore

Nova Scotia’s Bluenose II

Rural Prince Edward Island

Yes, it does snow in the winter sometimes!

DP Challenge – Heritage

I love history and a lot of my travel adventures and explorations will relate to some historical aspect. It might be a museum in a city or it might be an old stone circle in a field. I enjoy visiting castles and cathedrals for the architecture and historical connections.

Where I live carries on historical traditions, too. There’s the 78th Highlander regiment at the Citadel. There’s the Freedom of the City ceremony giving the freedom of said city to said regiment. Halifax also hosts the majestic Tall Ships, echoing back to the golden age of sail with an accompanying waterfront festival. One year they celebrated the Acadian (French) heritage in the province. This summer, with the return of the ships, I think the First Nations are holding Mawio’mi throughout the weekend, with sunrise ceremonies, demonstrations, storytelling and more. (below is a photo I took at a Mawio’mi on the Halifax Commons a few years ago) There will be heritage programming put on at the Citadel and a few Pirate themed things going on for kids as well. Pirates, or, rather, Privateers ;) were common in the port of Halifax!

Schedule of events for the Tall Ships, July 29 – August 1, updated with more info closer to the dates.  (They will also be in a few other ports around the Maritimes through July and into August). All of my Tall Ships photos here. (includes waterfront events, people, etc)

Young Spirit drummers

Spirit Drummers, Mawio’mi, Halifax

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Mawio’mi performance competition. Halifax

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78th Highlanders. Freedom of the City. Halifax

Pipe & Drum Drill

78th Highlander pipe and drum drill. Halifax Citadel

Sagres (Portugal) and Unicorn (Holland)

Tall Ships Sagres (Portugal) and Unicorn (Holland), Halifax harbour

Waterfront at dusk

Halifax waterfront at dusk, Tall ships docked

Masts of the Cuauhtémoc

Masts of the Cuauhtémoc

WordPress’s Daily Post challenge. 

DP Challenge: Home

The Daily Post Challenge this week is Home, asking people to show photos of where they live, home being where the heart is and all that. Halifax, Nova Scotia is my home, on the east coast of Canada. Halifax has one of the largest ice-free harbours in the world and is home to Canada’s East Coast Navy. There are two large container shipping ports, and oceanographic institute,  and a ship building  yard. Needless to say, a lot of Halifax’s life is structured around the sea. There are also 5 universities and colleges and it’s the seat of the provincial government. Lots of lakes and beaches, culture, shopping, food and a gorgeous waterfront where there’s always something going on.

McDonald Bridge nearly dark

One of the two harbour bridges just after sunset

Halifax Waterfront

Halifax downtown skyline and the ferry

Public Gardens gazebo

The Victorian Public Gardens

Dalhousie effects

Dalhousie University campus

Lake 022

“My” lake, Albro Lake, in my neighbourhood

Cisne Branco (Brazil) and Kruzenshtern (Russia)

Visits from the Tall Ships (another visit coming in July 2017)

DP Challenge – Living on the edge

This week, The Daily Post from WordPress wants to see things on the Edge. Here in Halifax, we get a visit from the Tall Ships every few years. I find the ships fascinating and they’re just magnificent at full sail. The crews of the ships are used to some rather precarious spots to do their job. They may not walk a plank but they do need good balance and a head for heights. Here are a few photos from various crewmembers.

Pride of Baltimore

Pride of Baltimore

No vacation for this guy

Pride of Baltimore

No mutiny here

HMS Bounty. No mutiny here.

Laundry day on a tall ship

Laundry day on the Iskra

Proud

In a departure from my usual travel related topics, this post is about pride, in more definitions than one.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Toronto's Pride parade, 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Toronto’s Pride parade, 2016

Toronto had their annual Pride parade over the weekend. They have a huge parade, one of the biggest in the world. For the first time ever, a Canadian Prime Minister made history by  participating and marching in the parade and from all accounts and photos, looked like he had a fantastic time. It’s not the first Pride parade he’s marched in, but the first as the Canadian Prime Minster.

He dressed casually, not in a suit, he allowed himself to be doused with water pistol ammunition. And a young man who marched with him  in his group turned out to be a short, gay HIV+ Syrian refugee whose life has probably been saved by immigrating here, considering he had more stacked against him in his former country than just politics.

PM Justin Trudeau and Syrian refugee Bassel Mcleash to the right, holding the Canadian flag

PM Justin Trudeau and Syrian refugee Bassel Mcleash to the right, holding the Canadian flag

I am proud to live in a country that took on some of the refugees. I am proud that my Prime Minister even went to the airport late at night to greet the first families that arrived and invited at least one refugee who was gay to march in his entourage in the parade. I’m proud that the PM did march in the parade and celebrated with everyone.

Halifax has a fun Pride parade later in the month, in a couple of weeks and I will probably go unless it’s teeming down. In anticipation of Pride Week here, several main intersections downtown and one in Dartmouth have had rainbow panels painted on them. Awesome!

I know that there’s still a lot of negativity towards LGBTQ folks and they are often still targets for violence, even here in Canada and I’m not proud about that but I think,… I hope, little by little it’s changing for the better.

Technology school

Parading in Halifax

Be proud of who you are.

And should you wish to travel to Halifax for the Pride festival, which runs from June 13 – 24 this summer, Check out the website for all of the events happening locally.  In addition to the Parade on the 23rd, there’s the fan favourite Dykes and Divas softball match, a theatre festival, drag shows, a drag queen Bingo night, family barbeques and picnics, concerts, lectures,  a Lip Sync battle, and a lot more.

Five photos / five stories Black and White Challenge:

Cardinal Guzman nominated me to post 5 photos/5 stories. The rules, slightly modified are to post 5 black and white photos, one a day with a story or some text and to nominate someone each day.

I may have posted this photo before but it’s one of my favourites in a poignant way. The man may or may not have been living on the street, his shopping cart full of stuff, with a bag of collected tins and bottles on the back to take in for the recycling fee. The sign behind him, “lost mittens” always seem to reflect what I felt about him, a little lost and looking for a home.

I’m nominating Books, Music, Photography and Movies, blogging about all the things I like, too, including travel! (Don’t feel obligated to take up the challenge, though!)

Christmas travels

Actually, I haven’t traveled around this time of year very often. It’s usually expensive and the weather is unpredictable. Ten years ago, I arranged to fly to Manchester a couple of days after Christmas and a snowstorm cancelled the flight. I couldn’t get out for two more days but at least I got there a day or two before New Year’s Eve.

I’ve also done a bit of traveling in November now and then. Sometimes I’m lucky enough that the Christmas decorations have started to go up though normally, I think that’s  just a bit too early for it! Still, I thought I’d post a few photos that I do have from my few sojourns, mostly from November visits.

Regent Street, London, Christmas lights in London are beautiful! Sadly I only have a few of these shots taken from the traffic island in the middle of the road with the cars and busses whizzing by.

Galleries Lafayettes, Paris. During our visit to Paris in November, 2007, most of the department stores were decorated and windows dressed for the season.

The Manchester town hall always has an oversized Santa. This is a newish one that they put up a few years ago. Locals were dismayed that the old style Santa was gone and don’t really like this new, stylized version. He lights up with glitter after dark. From Mid November on the city centre has a few blocks chock full of the Christmas Markets

Manchester, UK.

And something from my own home town…

Halifax’s Christmas tree, in the Grand Parade square.

The journey of a tree – Thank You, Boston

New Glasgow's Town Crier

New Glasgow’s Town Crier

It’s a bit early to be talking about the Halifax Explosion on one hand. The anniversary of that isn’t until December 6 but there’s a 13 metre (43 foot) Christmas Tree en route to Boston today. It was cut down from a tree farm in Anitgonish, NS yesterday and will be driven to Boston in time for their annual tree lighting ceremony on December 4.

Today there was  a send off in the Grand Parade Square with music from The Stanfields (always worth a listen) and with a “Thank You” book that was available to be signed as well in gratitude the good people of the City of Boston. The tree was blessed with a First Nations ceremony and there were Town Criers from a few places in Nova Scotia there as well, though the one from the town of New Glasgow near where the tree was cut was the one to give the proclaimation. For the first time in over a week, the sun came out and the temperature was lovely and warm for this time of year.

BostonTreeStanfields

The Stanfields rock the Parade Square

BostonTree

The Nova Scotia tree, to Boston with thanks

Why?

An actual photo of the Halifax explosion

An actual photo of the Halifax explosion

On December 6, 1917, two ships collided in Halifax harbour. One, a Belgian ship,  was carrying relief supplies as a WWI effort and the other, a French ship, was carrying munitions and explosive materials, also for the war effort. There was a miscommunication about which channel the ships were supposed to be in, one entering the harbour and one leaving it, and the munitions ship was t-boned. Sparks flew and the barrels of TNT on the deck went up. So did the rest of the ship. It was the larges man made explosion before the nuclear bomb and it levelled the north end of the city. 2000 people died and thousands were injured and made homeless. The day after all this, there was a winter blizzard. The army set up huge tents for people to stay in and schools and churches were used as mortuaries. Dishes rattled on shelves from the impact of the  blast 100 miles away in towns like Truro and New Glasgow.

Within that first day, the City of Boston loaded up a train of supplies, medical gear and doctors and nurses and sent it on its way to Halifax.  Since 1971, Nova Scotia has sent Boston a Christmas tree for their city hall square in the centre of the city as a thank you.

Halifax Explosion Memorial. Fort Needham Park.

Halifax Explosion Memorial. Fort Needham Park.

Halifax remembers the explosion and the victims in a ceremony every year on December 6. There are only 2 or 3 surviors left to attend, all of whom were small children at the time of the explosion. There is a memorial on the top of a hill in a park that overlooks the site in the harbour where they have the main ceremony but there’s also a smaller one just around the corner from where I live in North End Dartmouth, across the harbour. Nearby, a twisted cannon from the munitions ship landed, nearly 2 miles from the harbour and it’s been set up on a cross roads with plaques and information. There’s also a twisted ship’s anchor that’s on display in Dartmouth near the McDonald harbour bridge. That was found 3 miles away across the other side of Halifax. The city really was devastated but with help, pulled together and rebuilt the north end of the city.

Life goes on.

CBC has a good website with lots of information here.