21 September 2018:
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada:
Fair Season

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

We’ve been to Halifax more times than we can remember…and it always leaves us gushing with appreciation of its great harbor. More about that in a moment.

On this visit, though, our port call coincided with a great old event: the Hants County Exhibition, an agricultural fair that lays claim to being the oldest such gathering in North America: 253 years old, to be exact.

We could not resist that opportunity and so we rented a car and drove about 40 mills across Nova Scotia to Windsor, near the Bay of Fundy.

It was the real McCoy, with flower arrangements, apple pies, barnsful of cattle and horses, a midway, and us.

Here is some of what we saw today:

THE HANTS COUNTY EXPOSITION

THE GREAT AND TERRIBLE HARBOR

Cruise ship visits to Halifax are at an all-time high, and on this visit we docked around the corner from our usual location, tying up at the commercial wharf.

It was from this wharf that thousands of Canadian troops embarked for the two World Wars, and also where tanks and tires and foodstuffs were loaded aboard convoy ships.

The machinery of the port and the connection to the trans-Canada railroad system remains:

The great port of Halifax—by some measures the second largest in the world, after Sydney (the one in Australia)—is lined with handsome architecture. Some of the buildings are great Victorian and Edwardian stone structures; more modern buildings are almost all lined with mirror glass to reflect the sky, the water, and the old buildings around them.

Sky, clouds, and water in Halifax. Photos by Corey Sandler

A bit further into the city, at The Narrows, the architecture is a bit more uniform and relatively grim. This was the area that was leveled by the Halifax Explosion of 1917: considered to be the largest manmade explosion from the dawn of time to the atomic bomb.

The explosion was the result of a collision between two ships that were part of the gathering convoys bound to and from World War I Europe. One ship, the Mont Blanc, was packed with a witch’s brew of TNT, benzol, and picric acid.

In the explosion, about 1,951 people were killed—most of them spectators gathered along the waterfront. More than a thousand were blinded by flying glass.

It is, for me, impossible to look at today’s Halifax without hearing an echo of one of the worst moments of that war, nearly three thousand miles away from the front lines.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

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