It was a good plan to arrive in Halifax on a Sunday. On-street parking was free and there was plenty of it, at least early in the morning in late October 2010. I parked Casey up in Hollis Street - at least I think that it was Hollis Street - close to where all of the activities begin and walked down to the quayside.
First port (if you will excuse the pun) of call on the quayside is the café that symbolises for me the city of Halifax. This area is called Chebucto Landing, Chebucto being the original name of this area, and it is where the first settlers in Halifax came ashore.
What caught my eye on the quayside in the background was the dockyard clock, or the clockyard dock as it might well have been described by Doctor Spooner. It is apparently the last remaining architectural feature of the original Halifax naval dockyard and one of the oldest turret clocks in Canada.
Moving onto the quayside, I went to have a butcher's at the Silva. Who Is Silva? What Is She? It is a little-known fact that this ship appeared in several episodes of the TV series "The Lone Ranger" - hence his strident call of "Hi-Yo Silva" "are you sure about this?" ...ed
But seriously, the Silva is one of the very last commercial sailing barques ever to be contructed, being built in Sweden as recently as 1939. With the World War looming, the Swedes were pessimistic about the supply of diesel fuel. Their reasoning was that it would be much easier in the future to fit a diesel engine into a sailing ship if they could secure the fuel, rather than convert a diesel ship into one to be powered by sail if supplies of diesel dried up.
During World War II she travelled quite considerably under nothing but wind power, and if the fuel crisis continues to accelerate she might well be back on the ocean again.
How she came to be in Canada is a long story, of which there are several versions. One version told to me was that someone bought her in order to exhibit her in a small inlet that he owned somewhere up the coast. The local authority refused permission for this, their argument being that his inlet was already in a deplorable state, full of junk and so on, and the ship was in an even more-deplorable state. They considered that his barque was worse than his bight.
I'll get my coat.
A little further along the quayside is the terminus of the Dartmouth Ferry and this is to be one of my ports of call "you've used this before" ...ed for later on this afternoon as I may have already mentioned. You can see how cute the little ferry vessel looks.
In the background is an absolutely huge container ship sailing up the harbour towards the Bedford Basin. That set me off wondering where it might be coming from, because China isn't at this side of Canada. It set me thinking of how much of Canada's balance of payments deficit is on board that ship. But then again, Canada is a leading producer of raw materials and energy and so whether there's a rise or a decline in world trade, the balance of payments isn't going to be upset too much.
Mind you, I must admit to having had a little laugh at this photograph. This little ferry weighs in at around 200 tonnes and the container ship probably 200 times that. And yet from here it looked to me as if the little passenger ferry was setting off to do battle with the giant container ship in something of a David-and-Goliath fashion, or of Don Quixote going off tilting at windmills.
All in all, I was quite pleased with this photo. It worked quite well considering that they wouldn't let me pose the ships.
This small ship anchored here is quite interesting. She's called the Acadia and dates from 1913. Her claim to fame is that she was used as a survey ship and it was she that was used to chart almost all of Canada's eastern coastline, right up beyond the Arctic Circle.
And that wasn't a work of 5 minutes either. She was on active service for a total of 56 years and that is a long time for a ship such as this.
You might remember that last night as we were wandering along the quayside in the dark, we noticed what looked like a large industrial complex across the river in Dartmouth. I made a few enquiries this morning, and I was told that it was Irving's Ship Repair Yard.
There are two major projects that are currently on the go over there. The blue and orange object over there is an oil service platform. It was anchored off the coast of New Orleans and during Hurricane Katrina it was blown free from its moorings and wedged firmly underneath a bridge. It suffered considerable damage and has come here for repair.
The tall object that you can see is an oil-drilling platform that has been used to drill for oil at Sable Island, 200 or so miles off the coast. And isn't that a frightening thought?, drilling for oil just off the shore of an island of some considerable ecological interest.
Such is the fragile state of the ecosystem on Sable Island that people can't go there just as they wish. Access to the island is very tightly controlled. Apart from anything else it's the home of some very rare horses, believed by some to be the direct descendants of horses that survived from some of the 350 shipwrecks on the island. Others say that they are the descendants of horses confiscated from the Acadians 250 years ago and let loose on the island. Either way, these horses have maintained their own distinct and historic genetic make-up.
I often wonder how far advanced we would be as a society if the money invested in oil exploration had been invested in developing alternative sources of energy. Part of my thesis for my University degree was based on the prospect of mounting large wind turbines on redundant offshore oil platforms, using the energy created to break down the sea water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen would be released back into the atmosphere to reduce global warming and the hydrogen would be piped ashore using the oil pipelines and converted into fuel cells. This would also cause sea levels to drop ever so slightly, at least in the very beginning.
But I digress.
Now one thing that goes really and firmly up my nose is the phenomenon that I call "Bad Bilingualism" and one of the best examples of that can be seen right here (the very best example is yet to come, of course).
The Francophone minority in Canada insists - and insists to the Nth degree - in standing upon its rights and principles in translating into French absolutely everything that is in English, and here we have a sign that the Francophones have translated into French.
But wait a minute - while Place might indeed be the correct French term to use, the word from which it is translated - Plaza - is of course ... errrr ... Spanish.
I come from a country where - never mind the minority - every single one of the population was deprived of the right to speak his own native language in public from the 1530s until 1967. Today, native Welsh-speakers form just a small proportion of the population of Wales and there is a great deal of work to do so that the spoken language can recapture the glory of its traditional literature.
To enable 100% of the population of Wales to speak their own native language is a massive amount of work and a project that is no light undertaking, and so you cannot but admire the progress that the Francophones have made in something of a similar timescale. But this Plaza - Place translation is just totally absurd. It's the kind of thing that brings ethnic minorities into disrepute and simply undermines their cause.
But one thing that did make me smile here along the quayside was that there was a plaque in honour of someone or other, and honour was spelled h-o-n-o-u-r. Hooray! Mind you, I shall have to be careful about when I criticise transatlantic spelling in the future. I shall have to make sure that my criticism is directed to the south of the border.
It was along here that I enountered several chisellers. A few people came up to me asking for money, a cup of coffee or a cigarette. Actually I quite fancied a coffee - it was at least an hour since I had last had one - and I would gladly have bought someone a drink in exchange for 20 minutes of local gossip. But when I put the suggestion to that one particular guy, he sodded off quite rapidly once he realised that I was serious. He went to try to chisel another visitor for some ready cash.
Another woman tried to chisel me because she apparently felt the need for some kind of reward for spending 10 years helping to clean up the city. Of course, it was about 10 years since I first came here and I don't remember making that much mess.
Still, at least the excuses are original. I'll give them that.
There's one of the piers along the quayside that juts out quite a distance into the harbour. It might possibly be Cable Wharf but signs are rather sadly lacking along here.
Anyway, I went for a stroll out as far as I could go and it was well-worth the walk as the view back towards the city from out here was phenomenal. Even the modern steel-and-glass buildings were looking quite impressive.
The view farther up towards the MacDonald Bridge was just as impressive too, and Dartmouth, across the river, was looking splendid in the sun. It really was a gorgeous day for photography and I was really having my money's worth. Well, so are you, if it comes to that.
And that reminds me. If you are enjoying the stroll around Halifax with me and profiting from my adventures, please give some thought to making your next purchase from Amazon by using the links on the sidebar of this webpage. I receive about 4% commission on the sale, although the cost to you remains the same, and this 4% will go some way to paying the cost of my webhosting.
Now I think that the road up there - that is Salter Street. I'm reasonably certain of that. And if so, the older building up there would be a part of St Mary's Cathedral Basilica.
We shall have to go and have a look at that a little later because it is a building of some significant historical interest. You can't see too much of its most impressive feature from here though because they have put one of these modern concrete monstrosities in the way.
How anyone can call that a wonderful piece of architecture is totally beyond be. My opinion is that it is from the School Of Architecture known as the Albert Speer Berlin Bunker School, and its looks would certainly be improved by a being on the receiving end of a direct hit from a "Tallboy" or a "Grand Slam".
This however is much more interesting. It is Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Brewery, built of local ironstone. It is said to be still working just as it did in the mid-19th Century and there are guided tours available if you like, if you have the time, and if you have a couple of friends to carry you home afterwards.
It's one of the very few surviving original dockside buildings from, what the City of Halifax proclaims quite loudly and with not the slightest trace of guilt or irony
"the elegant homes" of "many of Halifax's wealthiest citizens".
Judging by the demolition sites all around, many of these "elegant homes" of "many of Halifax's wealthiest citizens" may well have still been here until comparatively recently and isn't that a sin that they have been all swept away to be replaced with ... errr ... nothing at all?
Don't get me started on the contempt that North America has for its history and values. It's bad enough seeing what they do to historical artefacts in the USA without me dwelling on things here in Canada. Canada is going right downhill in my estimation, and for a variety of reasons too.
It seems that the area is being cleared for development, says the Waterfront Development Corporation Limited. A commercial centre, boutiques and a hotel are envisaged. Now isn't that a surprise?
And look at the second word on the third line of the notice. Remember that this is a notice erected by a major limited-liability company in connection with a multi-million dollar development.
It's bad enough when you look at a hand-scrawled sign by Joe Bloggs Scrap Metal Collection when he can't tell the difference between "it's" and "its" - or "your" and "you're" - or "their", "there" and "they're". But when a Multi-Million Dollar company couldn't care less about its spelling and punctuation and the negative effect that it has on its business credibility, then you know that the end of the world is nigh. Like I say, my opinion of Canada is sinking rapidly.
The trouble is that many of the clients can't tell the difference either, and that's a shocking indictment of the modern educational system.
Over there anchored in what I think might be the Woodside Industrial Park just outside Dartmouth is this monster ship. I'm noy quite sure what it is doing there because there don't seem to be any unloading facilities over there - just a few oil storage tanks.
Judging by how high it is riding on the water it looks as if it is completely empty, and this is giving me a few second thoughts. If this were a container ship, then normally she would have containers stacked high on deck and so the superstructure would be quite tall so that the captain and the helmsman can see forward over the top of the stack of containers. With a low superstructure like this, she won't be carrying much topsides, and so maybe it's simply a small oil tanker. That would account for it being here and empty.
Here on the waterfront we have a roundabout, or a "traffic circle" as the Lady Who Lives In The SatNav calls them. And in the centre of the roundabout is a statue to Samuel Cunard, the wealthy shipowner who started up in business here in Halifax 200 years ago.
Of course, you know that Halifax is home to one of the world's oldest jokes, and it relates to Samuel Cunard
"My husband is a sea captain. He works for Cunard"
"So what? My husband is a builder's labourer and he puts a great deal of effort into his work as well"
Here and now, down at the southern end of the harbour, there are quite a few exciting things to see and so I'm heading off there.
Later on in the afternoon, after my megaramble around the city, I found myself back on the waterfront. I've already mentioned the weird phenomenon of marching women. But never mind them for a moment, another phenomenon that I had been encountering all throughout the day was the presence of groups of runners all over the place.
Everyone seemed to be in such a hurry just here in Halifax and that is a sharp contrast to everywhere else in Eastern Canada. It's either that, of course, or else it is that there is so much to see in Halifax that they can't afford to hang around and waste a minute. It could also be that they can't afford the bus fare, because I did notice that here in Halifax there does seem to be a public transport bus service around the place.
I knew that if I waited long enough, there would be a group of runners passing in front of my camera lens sooner or later and sure enough, one such group came panting past me, in good camera range. I've never ever seen so many people running around in a city anywhere else.
And it's not only the joggers that are doing exciting things down on the waterfront. There are all kinds of other things going on here too, and some of them are stranger than others.
It seems that I've stumbled across a photo shoot just here, although what it is all about I really don't have any idea. Normally, as you know, I would go up and make enquiries but in this case, interrupting people during their work is something that would not always be welcomed.
And so after a long and weary day around Halifax and Dartmouth, I finally return to Casey, to find a group of children gazing into the window to look at Strawberry Moose.
Sitting down, I remembered saying that I'd certainly walked my lunchtime chips off. And I'd walked a few other things off too, I reckoned, and I haven't finished yet. But what a good purchase these new walking boots were.