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There are also a few interesting things to see down at the southern end of the city, and so I left the waterfront for a look around.

westin nova scotian hotel Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

This building here is one of the larger and more-upmarket hotels that you find in Halifax. There are plenty of these all over the town, presumably symbolic of Halifax's position as the leading commercial city on the eastern seaboard.

But have a look at the façade of the building. We have seen this kind of architecture before, haven't we? Especially those readers who have "done their time" in Brussels. Old façades being incorporated into much more modern buildings is a way of life over there and it seems that this fashion is spreading over here as well.

Mind you, I'm not impressed with the rest of the architecture. It's all early 20th Century brickwork style that is quite often used for warehouses, Government offices and prisons. I suppose that with it being an up-market businessman's hotel, that choice of architecture is intended to make the businessman feel really at home.

pier 21 canada immigration Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Over there is probably the most significant building in Halifax for many of the residents of the city, and also significant for many of the residents of the Maritime provinces. It is Pier 21 of the harbour and was in service between 1928 and 1971. During that period the immigrant ships tied up there and it is said that over one million immigrants to Canada were processed here.

It's now been transformed into, would you believe, an "award-winning interactive interpretive centre that is a testament to Canada's profoundly emotional immigration experience". Pass the bucket, will you? I've come over all emotional. Whatever is wrong with the word "museum" or the phrase "visitor centre"?

I would imagine that not a few immigrants also left from there too. Emigration is not for everyone. My own ancestors gave Canada a go back at the end of the 19th Century but within 25 years they were back, leaving at least one of their number behind . Whyever they didn't stick it out I have no idea. I can't imagine what Europe would have to offer to anyone who has lived in North America for that length of time.

Halifax seaport farmers market solar panels wind turbines nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Still, it isn't all doom and gloom down at this end of the harbour. There's also some good news. That building over there on the quayside is the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market, and your attention, as mine was, will be immediately drawn to the roof line.

For the last I don't know how many pages I've been complaining about the total and utter inexplicable absence of wind turbines along the Maritime Canada coast, and I've also been commenting more-or-less continually about the strength and persistence of the wind. It seems that someone else has been listening to me as here on the roof of the Farmers' Market are the first small-scale wind turbines that I've seen in Canada since that one on the lake near Labrador City a hundred years ago.

Not only that. Judging by the alignment of the building - due south, by my calculations - I reckon that there are also solar panels there on the roof too. Now isn't that exciting? I'm glad to see this initiative here, but why isn't anyone else doing it?

general electric f40 ph-2 diesel locomotive 6442 Halifax railway station nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

And so you are all dying to know exactly what it is that I am really doing having come down here at this end of the city, aren't you? Of course it can only be one thing - and that is that here is where you find the railway station. And, more importantly, the train is in town.

"The train?" I hear you say. And, yes, THE TRAIN. Because Halifax is favoured with, would you believe, just one passenger train each day, and then not on a Tuesday either.

general electric f40 ph-2 diesel locomotive 6452 Halifax railway station nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Now my Jane's Train Recognition Guide guide is somewhat sketchy as to Canadian locomotives, but nevertheless these two pulling this train seem to be a couple of General Electric type F40PH diesels.

The front one is PH-2 model 6442 and the rear unit is the identical 6452, both built in 1989. They weigh in at around the 120-125 tonne mark, are rated at 3,000 - 3,000 horsepower and while Jane's credit them with a top speed of just over the ton, VIA Rail credit them with a much-more sedate 90mph. VIA Rail is the proud owner of 59 of these, of which 54 are PH-2s.

The first locomotives of this class were introduced in 1976 and some idea of the state of Canada's passenger railway service may be gauged from the fact that the much-maligned and grossly under-financed Amtrak - the United State's passenger railway service, which was the principal user of these locomotives, had withdrawn all of theirs from service by 2002 and replaced them with more modern engines.

via rail coaches carriages railway station Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

And if you want any further indication of the state of the Canadian passenger railway service, then a brief glance at the state of the rolling stock will tell you everything else that you need to know.

I was told by the way that there is some kind of Government plan for a huge investment programme in Canada's railways, and it's all going to be invested on refurbishing existing stations and in the infrastructure. Judging by the state of this carriage and the age of the locomotives that are pulling it, I can't say that it's before time.

I was of course totally intrigued by this "just one train a day" business. And they aren't joking either - it's perfectly true. It's a train that runs from here to Montreal via the Acadian coast, with a connection to Québec City. There is not even one other passenger train here in the whole of Nova Scotia. Not even a local or commuter train.

I chatted to one of the railway officials about this, and he told me that "a politician named Mulrooney pulled up all the local lines" which made me think that firstly he must have been a big guy and secondly that he didn't have enough other work to do. In the UK it took large teams of trained fitters months to dismantle even one line

Not only that, there are no plans whatever to reinstate them either, which is remarkably short-sighted seeing as we are in the grip of a real energy crisis and Canada has more than enough electricity-generating capacity. What with the absence of wind turbines around here "God - he's off again" ...ed how much longer are politicians going to keep their heads buried in the sand?

And so having finished a really good rant, I go next door to the huge Atlantic supermarket that is next door. That gives me the opportunity to stock up on a few bits and pieces for lunch. It's just turned midday and I ought to be thinking about food some time in the near future.

So having dealt with the waterfront and the railway station, I wander back along Barrington Street towards the nerve centre of the city. It's all around here that was the historic centre of the city and where all of the important buildings are to be found.

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