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HISTORICAL HALIFAX

As part of my walk around Halifax I'd been along the waterfront and down to the railway station. From here, I wandered 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.

government house barrington street historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

This old building is called Government House. It was formerly the residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia in the days when Nova Scotia was a British colony. Construction of the building began in 1799 and was completed in 1803 and it is said to be Canada's oldest official Government residence.

There's a sign that tartly announces that the building is "not open to the public". I suppose that says a lot about many of the people that pass up and down Barrington Street for the purposes of sightseeing.


Across the street from Government House is what is known as "The Old Burying Ground" and in many respects it is strange to see a place such as this still here in Halifax. In other big cities throughout the world the corpses have long since been dug up from graveyards in prime city-centre locations and incinerated, with the land sold off at immense profit to eager developers.

In Halifax, they have so far managed to resist temptation and the graveyard is still here. There are some really old graves here although the headstones are so worn that it is impossible to read with any certainty what is written upon them.

old burying ground parker wellsford monument st matthews church barrington street historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

This photograph might be considered to be something symbolic, in the sense that ...
 i.... ... in the foreground we have some of the oldest graves in the cemetery
 ii... ... just behind them is the monument relating to the Crimean War of 1853-1856 and the two local regiments, Parker's and Wellsford's, that served there. Back in those days, regiments were known by the names of the Colonels who raised them. It was only later that they were numbered, with Parker's becoming the 77th Regiment and Wellsford's becoming the 97th Regiment.
 iii.. ... behind the monument we have St Matthew's Church. The church itself was opened for worship in 1859, although it is said that there was a religious building of some kind here in 1749. Nevertheless it fits in nicely with our escalating scale of age,
 iv... ... in the distance we have the hideous concrete Bell Alliant Building, representant of the more modern Comecon style of architecture.

Yes, this photograph worked out quite well.


st marys cathedral basilica historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

From the graveyard I turned right into Spring Garden Road. There are many famous and historic buildings up here too. What we have just here on the corner is the front end of St Mary's Cathedral Basilica - the rear end of which we saw as we were walking along the waterfront a little earlier.

You probably remember that a little earlier this morning I was having a really good chunter about how the new Bell Alliant building has hidden the basilica from the waterfront. The reason for my remarks is that the spire of the church is quite significant and deserves to be seen from the best possible angle, for it is claimed to be the tallest polished granite spire in the whole of North America. But does this mean that there is a taller unpolished granite spire somewhere in North America? I think we should be told.


halifax court house spring garden road historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Across the road from St Mary's here in Spring Garden Road is the Halifax Court House. Judging by the looks of it you would immediately think "mid-Victorian Public Architecture" and you would be perfectly correct for it was built in 1863. It's very reminiscent of anything of the same period that is to be seen in London, Birmingham, Manchester and a hundred other cities that were either British or had come under the influence of British architects.

Mind you, unless I am very much mistaken, the wing to the right of the central part of the building looks quite suspiciously like a more-modern addition. And if it is, then chapeau to the designers and builders for while they haven't achieved a precise match, they've had a pretty good go.

Not like London of course, where British architects are so inept that they can't even be bothered to try, and simply desecrate historic and magnificent works of construction by grafting what can only be described as concrete-and-glass sheds onto the sides


You may also remember that after visiting the Railway Station a little earlier this morning I went across the road to the supermarket to buy something for lunch. But here I had a dramatic change of plan.

Just over the road from the Law Courts is the Public Library and parked right outside was a mobile fritkot. The smell of the chips was overpowering and I'm afraid that temptation got the better of me. I went over there and ordered a large portion of chips.

There's a story about the vinegar too. They don't do malt vinegar in North America and I've no idea why. Nova Scotia and Halifax in particular being so attached to the Mother Country you would have expected to see at least some malt vinegar on offer but not a bit of it. How can anyone eat chips without malt vinegar?

But anyway, the clear transparent vinegar would have to do, and the guy in the fritkot sprayed it on with one of those spray pump things in which you normally find household cleaning products. That put me off a little - it was like putting household detergent on the chips.

But anyway, they were delicious. And I wasn't the only one to think so for as soon as I sat down to eat them I attracted the attention of the local pigeon population, of which there is a considerable number. They slowly crept up on me and every couple of minutes I had to shoo them away.

But sooner or later it had to happen - there was one a little bolder than the others and he executed a perfect dive-bombing raid on my chip wrapper and in a flurry of wings and feathers he managed to grab one or two. It wasn't the one or two that I particularly begrudged, but in the fracas, half of my remaining chips fell to the floor.

Having supplied the crowd with the lunchtime entertainment, I gathered what was left of my pride and what was left of my lunch and slunk quietly away, resolving that next time I buy some chips at the fritkot outside the Public Library I shall come prepared - by bringing a cat.

Any pigeon that then tries to grab hold of my lunch will have his chips.


From here it's but a short walk up to the Citadel and we will be going there in early course . In the meantime, however, let us continue our perambulations around the old part of the city.

st pauls church historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

This building just here is the Church of St Paul's, viewed from the corner of Carmichael Street and Argyle Street. The astonishing thing about this Church is that it seems to have been built twice, according to the Halifax Metropolitan Authorities. On page 13 of their 2010 Visitor Guide, they proudly announce that it was built in 1750 whereas on page 37 they even more proudly announce that it was founded in June 1749.

Anyway, it is claimed to be Halifax's oldest building, and the oldest non-Catholic church in Canada. The remains of many illustrious local dignitaries may be found in its crypt.

It's not just illustrious dignitaries of whom the remains may be found here. There is also said to be a piece of wreckage from the Great Halifax Explosion of 1917, which might even be part of the remains of the Mont Blanc more of which anon embedded in the wall of the church.

Halifax's connection with the sea means that of course the church would be well-known to matelots the world over. hence it is no surprise that with matelots and women of ... err ... less-fastidious and more mercenary tastes being closely associated, the Church of St Paul's is the setting of one of the oldest of all of the sea shanties
"As I was walking by St Paul's"
"A harlot grabbed me by the arm"
"I cried for help"
"But no-one came"
"And so she grabbed my arm again"

In front of the church is the former military parade ground. It's now a public open space and the centre of most of the open-air gatherings and meetings.


province house historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

A little way further down George Street and into Granville Street we have Province House. Dating from the period 1811-1818, it was the seat of Government of the Province when it was a colony, in the days prior to Confederation.

Province House is loudly trumpeted as being "the birthplace of the first responsible government in the British Empire". I don't know enough about that to be able to comment, except to say that I do know of an extremely large number of irresponsible governments at one time or other in the British Empire.

This of course reminds me of the days of my employment in one of the world's largest pan-national Government bodies, when someone poked his head around the door of our office during the lunch break when I was the only one there
"Monsieur - are you the "responsable du service"?"
"No, monsieur. I am the "irresponsable du service"!"
No wonder that mine was the first name on the redundancy list


elephant and castle historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

This is an interesting building just here. It's the home to the Elephant and Castle pub, which is one thing, but I wonder what it was before that because you don't normally have pubs built in this kind of style or fashion. If you know anything about the history of this building then please feel free to .

In fact all around this part of Halifax were loads of buildings, interesting from a historical or architectural point of view, that I would ordinarily have stopped to photograph but they were all covered in in scaffolding and netting and it wasn't possible to have a decent view.


kwikstage scaffolding historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

Mind you, the scaffolding was interesting in its own right and I had to take a photograph of parts of it.

Terry and I own a Kwikstage scaffolding set-up which has a lot of use and we are always eager to see how other people arrange their scaffolding. This here is a Canadian version of Kwikstage Scaffolding, extremely similar to ours, and you can see how they have fastened down the feet so that they don't slide about.


purple yellow cab historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

When I was in Labrador a week or so ago I saw a couple of things that made me decide to have my eyes tested when I return home, whenever that might be. And the further I travel along my lonely route then the more convinced I am becoming of the necessity of having it done.

Take this taxi for example. It proudly proclaims itself to be a yellow cab, and if it really is yellow then I think that my eyesight must be worse that I imagined.


old town clock historical Halifax nova scotia canada october octobre 2010

On the way back to Casey at the end of my afternoon's exertions, I passed by the lower end of George Street, and I remembered that I hadn't taken a photo of the Old Town Clock from this perspective. We need to put that right.

1803 the clock was installed, as I said elsewhere, and you can tell that by that date the local residents considered there to be little danger of an attack on the harbour. You can see just how the clock cuts down the field of fire of the defending troops in the Citadel.


And 1803? That reminds me of the American tourist on the evening tour of Québec City a few years ago.
"When did the city finally fall to the British?" he asked the tour guide.
"1759" replied the latter.
"Damn!" exclaimed the American, looking at his watch. "We just missed it".



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