Friday, November 19, 2021

Splish Splash and Cannon Blasts - Forts and Cruising in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Fully rested up, we're ready to start exploring a little deeper into Halifax.  After breakfast and getting ready, the phone rings. It's the Harbour Hopper tour office telling us we will not be able to do the 1:30pm tour we booked because the accessible vehicle will not be ready until 2:30pm. Would we mind waiting an hour?

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No, we're good. Actually, this is great because it gives us a litte more time to explore what would become my favorite attraction here, the Halifax Citadel.

This is where the English part of the city was founded back in 1749. A heavily fortified hill that was the North American military backbone of the English Empire. It also just happens to be right across the street from our hotel.

It may be just across the way but it's still up a steep and big hill. We have to track up five blocks, feeling every step in our glutes, to get the accessible route up to the entrance. Tim has a power chair so it's no big deal for him.

We buy our tickets and pose with the guard.

Over the moat and into the cobblestoned entrance, it's another photo opportunity with the guards but this time, they can break the pose and smile with you.

Inside, there's a large parade ground covered with hard packed gravel. It's not a problem for most chairs. There are some deeper, softer spots around the edges that you should take care to avoid.

Built into the wall, there's a museum of British and Canadian military history that winds you through several rooms.

It's interesting, especially as an American seeing things explained through the British side of things when you get to the period of the Revolutionary War.

Tim's am what sounds like a cannon going off repeatedly. Actually, it's a musket demonstration going on over in another corner of the fort. I amble over, too late to take pictures, but hear a very interesting spiel about why the armies of the day marched in attack lines, hundreds of soldiers wide, as opposed to taking cover.

In short, it's because the soldiers were nervous, the guns smooth-bore, and they figured with everybody shooting at once, there was a good chance that someone would hit something, even if a lot of shots went wild.

Over in the barracks building, a docent tells us the fascinating story of everyday lives of the soldiers.

Here, he demonstrates some of the games the soldiers would play to pass time in the barracks.

I must say that the docents here at the Citadel are among the best we've ever encountered in our travels. They were very knowledgeable, engaging, and made the history come alive. We enjoyed our visit to the Citadel a lot more than we thought we would.

At noon, another crew fires off a cannon over the wall that was to alert the ships and citizens of the town so they could set their clocks.

At this loud point in the action, we take our leave of this fascinating old fort that also has an elevator so that wheelchairs can access the path around the top of the ramparts.

It's about four blocks down the rather steep hill to the city's waterfront. This afternoon, we need to be there for our next adventure. We're going on the Halifax Harbour Hopper tour. This is like the Duck tours you have in cities like Boston but up here they're named after a frog instead of a waterfowl.

An old army surplus amphibious vehicle is used so that after tooling around the city streets for the first half of the tour, the truck turns into a boat and floats in the water for the second half.

You need to book the wheelchair accessible vehicle at least a day ahead of time. We stopped by the office yesterday to do just that.

At the appointed time, the vehicle pulls up and a manual, hand-cranked, wheelchair lift is deployed to get Tim onboard.

Once he's in, and strapped down, we're off.

First stop is a couple of loops around the Citadel, where we'd just come from, so we got a bit of a rerun.

Then, it's off to the streets where we see some old cemeteries and the large park known as Halifax Common.

It's through the shopping district and then by St. Paul's Church, the oldest building in Halifax dating back to 1749.

It's off to the casino where a ramp hidden alongside allows us to splash into the water.

It's a slow cruise along the waterfront, an area we've been exploring on foot for a couple of days now. The HMCS Sackville, a Canadian Corvette that was a legendary U-Boat hunter in WW I, is docked next to the Maritime Museum.

Georges Island, with it's pretty lighthouse and another historic fort, is the next landmark we pass.

We see the Halifax Transit ferries ply their way across the harbor, make one more pass along the waterfront from the casino to the cruise ship dock, and then it's back to the base.

It's a lot of fun and one of the few, truly accessible boat tours in the region.

Afterward, we make our way back down the waterfront to Pickford and Black, a waterfront seafood restaurant where we can bask in the late summer sunshine.

Letty has their wonderful seafood chowder and lobster roll...

...Tim the fish 'n chips...

...and the landlubber in the family has a creamy pesto chicken thigh.

It was all marvelously delicious and a perfect way to end this day.

Darryl Musick
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