Halifax & Its Proud Maritime History
McLaren, Robert, Sea Classics
A city steeped in its rich maritime heritage pays tribute to its proximity to the sea with a magnificent maritime museum complex
Halifax has always been and still is a sailor's town. It is also a very good city for tourists, who arrive by plane, automobile and cruise ship. The city was founded in 1749 by Governor Edward Cornwallis along with 2500 settlers. Halifax was known as a strategic location because of its ice free harbor.
The famed Citadel was built by the British to counteract the growing strength of the French in North America. The star-shaped fortress (the fourth built on the site) was built between 1828 and 1856. It has a commanding view of the city and its harbor looking over the old historic, as well as the new buildings along the water front. It was one of the largest British forts built on the continent. This massive-looking fort is one of the major reasons Halifax was never attacked.
During the 18th and 19th centuries the city was crowded with brawling military soldiers, sailors, privateers as well as adventurers seeking their fortune in the new world. The Citadel is open from early May to the end of October with guides dressed in period clothes giving tours.
Today, the Citadel is Canada's most visited National Historic site. Halifax continues to have heavy international ship traffic due to its ice-free harbor. Its clean streets have fine international restaurants, good pubs, shops, galleries and is a friendly city to visit, day or night.
Another National Historic site, Pier 21 is the last remaining immigration shed (dock) in Canada. From 1928 to 1971 more than one million immigrants, refugees, war brides and their children entered Canada at this pier, known as "Canada's Front Door." After going through immigration they set out to find new lives in Halifax or other Canadian cities and towns.
During World War Two, 494,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen left for overseas from here. The self-guided interpretive center, on the second floor takes you through the path an immigrant would follow. Audio and video exhibits lead you along the way. Available is a list of the 100 ships that most frequently arrived and departed between 1928 and 1971 and includes a data base of facts and pictures.
In the theater a 25-minute virtual projection is a feature presentation. You can view the deck where the Canadian Troops embarked for Europe during World War Two. Today, passenger ships debark tourists for a day of sightseeing in Halifax.
THE MARITIME MUSEUM OF THE ATLANTIC
The museum was founded in 1982 and is operated by the Province of Nova Scotia. It started in a small space at the HMC Dockyard where Canada's Naval artifacts would be preserved until a permanent location could be found. Today, it is in its permanent location in the historic building of the William Robertson & Son Ship Chandlery and A.M. Smith and Company on Lower Water Street.
The two-story museum has over 200,000 maritime artifacts making_ in the largest collection of various items in Canada's Maritime History. The ship Chandlery has been restored to its 19th century look and you can still smell the pine tar and manila rope. The collection includes a small carft gallery, ship models, the only known wooden deck chair from the Titanic and more. It is all well done and not to be missed when visiting Halifax. The Museum is open year-round.
THE CSS ACADIA
Located and maintained by the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on its wharf. This hydrographic research vessel was launched in 1913 and has all the elegance of ships built in that era. During war time it was used as a Patrol Ship for the Royal Canadian Navy. The ship is still used to train students in methods of oceanographic research. CSS Acadia is the only ship remaining that served the Canadian Navy in both World Wars. This very well kept ship is worth a visit and is open from May to October.
Located on the south side of the finger pier adjacent to the CSS Acadia is the HMCS Sackville. …