Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bridges and harbours and ships, oh my !

Halifax is a marvellous city. It's located on a peninsula that dips down into the world's second largest natural harbour.  Two bridges link Halifax with Dartmouth to the east.  Ferries ply the waters bringing commuters to the downtown terminal.

Driving over the southern bridge from Dartmouth,  I glance to the right (north) and there are three old black submarines parked in the water near the shore.  I think they've just been dragged there to die.  Farther up to my right I can see a container ship being loaded in the Halifax Shipyard.  Pier 6 was ground-zero, for the devastating Halifax explosion of December 6, 1917.  During WWI a fully loaded munitions ship "The Mont- Blanc" and an empty provisions ship "The Imo" collided.  The ensuing fire brought many curious school children and others to the dock to watch.  Few knew that the burning ship was fully loaded with explosives as it did not display a warning flag.  The blast was terrifying.  There was great loss of life and many were blinded by flying glass because they'd gone to windows to watch the fire. Perhaps you have seen the "Heritage Moment" commercial about the courageous telegraph operator, Vince Coleman,  who remained at his post to successfully warn an approaching train to stop.  The blast zone was so large that even if he had left his post, he most assuredly would have perished.

To my left lies the naval shipyards with war ships moored and a submarine in dry dock.  Further south are wharfs where double-masted schooners tie up in summer and Theodore the Tugboat lives year-round.  In the summer a two hour tour of the harbour on the "Bluenose II" can be had for a mere $20.

Farther down are docks touring cruise ships moor in succession from May to October spilling tourists onto the boardwalk where they can choose from tours of the Alexander Keith's museum, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, the public gardens or the Old Burying Ground which mysteriously contains 12,000 bodies but only has 1,200 markers. Or perhaps they'll just pop into a wharf-side pub for a pint.                                               
This is a very kewl place.  Full of history and new things for me to explore. 

And I didn't even mention the Citadel or the three islands in the harbour with three more forts between them.  

 * Yes.  I do know how to spell "cool".

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