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.
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.
In a departure from my usual travel related topics, this post is about pride, in more definitions than one.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
There’s an interesting take on 50 cities world wide that National Geographic Traveler sees as up and coming or which have smart reasons to visit. I was chuffed to little mint balls to find my own home city, Halifax, on the list because of our new central library being built. It’s due to open later this fall and the new building, in my eyes, is beautiful! It resembles a stack of books, too! I can hardly wait for it to open to see the inside. I’ve been photographing the construction over the past few years which you can see here. I’ll add to that when I get some interior shots later this year after it’s open to the public.
23 Halifax, Nova Scotia: population 375,000: One coastal Canadian city is betting on books. A $57.6 million central library will act as hub to 14 branches—an investment in words and indoorsy charms in a town with a famously outdoorsy outlook.
Other samples are Vancouver, Canada’s quest to be a green city, New York’s development of the High Line park, Rio de Janiero’s new science and high tech museum, a sidewalk in Calais, France that can generate power, and the rejuvenation of Melbourne, Australia.
It’s that time of the week again when Sue at A Word in Your Ear posts a random word for a photo challenge. I can almost never pick just one photo and this is no different. This week’s challenge word is “Traditional”.
I’m lucky to live in a city with lots of history. We are a sea port and Halifax was founded as a military establishment originally. We have a citadel fort on a hill overlooking the city, the fourth structure on that spot since the city was founded in 1749 but it has never fired a gun in aggression or defence.
There is a tradition of firing the gun off at noon every day, though. You could set your watch by it! The fort also has a regiment of infantry foot, a reenactment group representing the original regiment stationed at the fort in 1869 – 1871. They are the 78th Highlanders and there is also a pipe and drum band for the 78th as well. If you visit the Citadel you can see the infantry drills and hear the music of the pipes and drums.
Another tradition that is still kept is a ceremony every summer in front of City Hall, on the spot that has long been a Grand Parade Square (though much smaller than it was when the city was founded). The 78th Highlanders are ceremonially given the Freedom of the City by proclamation of the Mayor. They march from the Citadel down the hill to the parade square for a public ceremony. That’s pretty interesting to watch, as well.
For a number of years, there were Highland Games held in Halifax though they haven’t been held for the last few years. Lack of funding, I fear. Highland Games are a very long standing tradition in Scotland and are also held other places around the world. In addition to the games themselves, you would see music, traditional folk dancing and see lots of booths and displays from the various clans. The town of Antigonish in Nova Scotia still does have a weekend long Highland Games festival and one of these years, I’m going to go.
Here are some photos of local Highland Games and the 78th Highlanders. There’s a video of them in drill formation here. And there’s a video of one of the participants tossing a caber here. It’s quite something to see.
This week’s challenge from WordPress is “Community”. Rather than photos from my travels, this time i’m featuring a gathering that celebrates the Canadian First Nation bands of the Mi’kmaq community here in the east coast of Canada. It’s a weekend-long celebration and powwow that they have held here several summers in a row. These are photos from the grand entrance and competitions that were held the day I went. The community comes together and it’s all ages and generations carrying the traditions onward.
This week’s challenge is “boat”. Oh, where do I start? I live in Halifax, the city that hosts the Canadian East Coast Navy. There are boats and sailors everywhere. Living on a large natural harbour, there are also marinas all over the place and there are many lakes as well with people kayaking and canoeing, fishing and rafting. And because it’s a large harbour, there are huge container ships and cruise ships and the harbour ferries and, oh, well you get the picture.
But my very favourite thing of all is the Tall Ships Festival that comes to Halifax every 2 or 3 years. I love walking along the waterfront looking at all the ships, large and small, docked there and even better, whenever possible, I find a spot on the waterfront and watch the Parade of Sail as the ships leave Halifax. I could post many, many photos of those. Here’s my Flickr set of Tall Ships from the various visits.
There are too many more and I can’t post them all!
The WordPress weekly writing challenge wants to know about local or regional slang. For those of you planning to visit Halifax or the Maritime provinces of Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island…the Atlantic provinces are the same but include Newfoundland), here are a few expressions you may want to tuck away for future use.
When drinking in the local pubs and listening to a band play on stage, you may hear one of the band members, while in between songs, call out to the crowd: “Sociable!!!!!!” You will probably sit and look around you, mystified, as the room full of assorted drinkers stops in mid-conversation, raises their glass and hollers back “Socialble!!!!!” and then takes a very sociable drink. I’m not sure if it’s to be found outside of Halifax though I suspect Cape Breton pubs are full of sociables.
Old vs New
In Halifax, the harbour is crossed by two suspension bridges, the Angus L. Macdonald bridge and the A. Murray MacKay bridge. Nobody local who has lived here a long time calls them that. the MacDonald bridge, opened in the mid 1950s is the “Old” bridge and the MacKay, opened in the early 1970s is the “New” bridge. So if someone gives you directions and suggests that the new bridge is the better route, you will know to go to the north end of the city and take that bridge rather than the one closer to the downtown core.
Which way was that?
There are a lot of people who were born and raised in Cape Breton Island who are now living and working in Halifax. Lots of them visit their home towns. They go “down home” to CB on the weekend but they are traveling “up” to Cape Breton. Hmmmm. We may travel “up” to Toronto or Ottawa or we can also go “out west”. Up seems to refer to the direction as looking on a map though Cape Breton is techincally east of Halifax and perhaps a little higher on the latitude grid. We also think of the south shore of the province of Nova Scotia as “down” as it does point a bit lower than the geographical point of Halifax on the map. The Annapolis Valley is “down” but you go “up” to Truro and Amherst, both north in the direction of New Brunswick and the rest of Canada.
And then Buddy said…
A common way to talk about someone you don’t know is to refer to them as “Buddy” but it’s always a man, never a woman. And you don’t call him Buddy to his face either, it’s only in the third person. You could be telling someone about “buddy driving the bus” or “and then buddy says (or does…)”. It’s all in how you use the word. If it isn’t used correctly, it sounds awkward. The narrative is generally in casual conversation, of course. You never ask “who’s Buddy” because, of course, we don’t know. That’s the point. It’s much nicer to call a stranger Buddy than to say “this guy”. This isn’t restricted to Halifax, you’ll hear this used all over the Maritimes and Newfoundland.
And the last thing that comes to mind is the Maritime reference to the province of Prince Edward Island. We almost never call it that. We nearly always go “over to the Island”. We *may* sometimes refer to it as PEI (pee-ee-eye). That’s as close to it’s proper name as we might get. Everyone knows what you mean and you don’t have to ask “which Island”?
This week’s Word a Week challenge is “Dance”. Most of the photos I have of dance were taken here at home. One of the videos below was taken at a First Nations gathering on our Halifax Common, and they had dancing and drumming, some amazing traditional costumes and music. Even the smaller kids could dance and all generations participated.
My only nod to travel was a video I took while we spent some time in Piazza Navona in Rome just as the dusk was settling in. There are buskers and artists all over the square and after a delicious gelato, we were making our way out to the street when we heard music and spotted the couple dancing. So atmospheric!