Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Chapter 20 - Halifax and Dartmouth

July 4th, Day 38: Today is exclusively an American holiday. This morning our campground here in Canada is relatively quiet as many of the travelers who had been enjoying their own Canadian holiday had left yesterday. When we drove to downtown Halifax this morning it was obvious that today was just another workday. All of this was just fine with us. Our plans today are somewhat limited especially since on Wednesday my sister and her husband are arriving by air from Boston and we certainly do not want to visit all of the local attractions before their arrival. The idea is to share this visit to the ancestral home of our great grandparents with my sister. First, mostly out of curiosity, we drove past the hotel where my sister and her husband will be staying just to get a feel as to how far apart we are. Only about 15 minutes. Then Kathy, Cabo, and I drove to downtown Halifax mostly just to get familiar with the streets to help with our later visits, but we also wanted to view some of the beautiful old churches that are here in downtown Halifax

One of the most spectacular churches in downtown Halifax is the St. Mary's Basilica. Construction of this church first began back in 1820 and after many changes through the years it now boasts of having the tallest granite spire in North America. Frankly it's tall spire made it very difficult for this photographer to get a good photograph. The above photograph that I attached to this blog just does not adequately portray the beauty of this structure. We were surprised to find the front door of the church locked. We assumed that it must be the poor neighborhood. Just kidding, although we have often found Catholic churches with open visitor access.

Almost across the street from St. Mary's is another beautiful church by the name of St. Mathew's United Church. The construction of this beautiful structure began back in 1753 not long after the 1749 founding of Halifax. The original members were of the Protestant faith although today the church is considered Presbyterian.

Across the street from both of these churches is Halifax's well known and beautifully maintained cemetery known as the Old Burying Ground. What we found really interesting about this old cemetery is that there was a guide on duty who asked if we would like to be shown around the cemetery. We declined but I did complement the guide on the high quality of the maintenance of both the grounds and the gravestones and the obvious respect that was being shown to the graves of these early founders of Halifax. The last burial in this old cemetery took place back in 1843.

The last church that we visited (at least on the exterior, they are all locked) was The Cathedral Church of All Saints, an Anglican church which first opened in 1910 and is now reported to be the largest Anglican church in Canada.  Unfortunately this photo does not capture the enormous size of this church which is somewhat obscured by all of the buildings that have been constructed around the church since 1910.

Living in the southwest Florida as we do, we miss seeing these old and elegant church buildings particularly where so many of them are concentrated in an area of only a few square blocks. The final church that we photographed was actually one that sat right next to where we had parked our car, but somehow we had overlooked it.  It seems that after parking, our interest lay solely in visiting the nearby St. Mary's Basilica.

The Grafton Street Methodist Church shown in the photo to the left is a Methodist Church although it seems to be also referred to as the  St. David's Presbyterian Church for reasons that are not entirely clear along it appears that several congregations merged in the past. The current church was built in 1925.

We apologize if we have bored you with our writings and photos of old churches, but one of the great joys that Kathy and I both have when we travel is to visit places and things that reflect the history of our country and in this case, the history of Canada. Clearly in a place like Halifax and its neighboring city Dartmouth, churches and religion have played an important role.

Two final things that Kathy wanted to do today that I will briefly mention. She wanted to visit a Scottish kilt fabric store and a book store. Surprisingly, we found a wonderful kilt store right in downtown Halifax by the name of The Plaid Place. Our goal was to find the kilt pattern used by my Scottish ancestors, the Pattersons. Unfortunately, while we could have ordered a fabric, they did not have anything available in the store relating to the Patterson Clan, and we left empty handed.  Following this stop, Garmin helped us locate a bookstore in Dartmouth and Kathy purchased another book to read during our late afternoon quiet hours. Another great day of being tourists while enjoying spectacular weather.

July 5th, Day 39: Our only real plan for today is to get ready for tomorrow's arrival of my sister and her husband and if some interesting tourist attraction gets our attention, then all the better. Last night we tentatively selected a place where we might enjoy dinner with Anne and John on their day of arrival. Our tentative selection was the Wooden Monkey Restaurant located right down on the Dartmouth Harbour overlooking the ferry terminal. We knew after a phone call that they allowed dogs out on their outdoor patio, but we still thought it might be fun to drop by this morning to see what the place was like. The view in this photograph was taken from their outdoor dining area. I could not believe that in this photo I captured both the incoming ferry as well as an overhead helicopter probably flying around tourists.

On the return drive back to our campground we again passed a series of lakes that we learned later were all part of the Historic Shubenacadie Canal System which operated first from 1826 to 1831 and then from 1856 to 1870. The canal was built to connect a mining operation up near Maitland, Nova Scotia to the harbor in Dartmouth. Basically as we understand it, the canals simply connected a series of seven lakes and an existing river together.  In any case, the lakes are beautiful and every time we pass by, activity is taking place out on the water. Today there were people of all ages rowing in sculling boats of all sizes. While the photograph is not really very clear, the large yellow "scull" was filled with young children. We assume that the kids were all attending a summer day camp at the end of the lake.

The lake in these photographs is Lake Banook and the large red "clubhouse" in this photograph to the right is where the sculls are stored and rented we assume, and where the summer camp for children is organized.  The building does appear to be used by more than just boaters for when we tried to walk in one of their entrances, the room was filled with people all laying on their backs following orders given by an exercise instructor. We soon learned the building was a club for members only.  What a nice place to spend the summer. On the other hand, my grandfather, and my great grandfather were all great hockey players and I am certain that during the long winter months they made good use of these ice covered lakes.

Like I said, what a way to spend the summer. These tents and all of the people sunning themselves around the tents, are all located behind the large red building and they are undoubtedly all members of the "Club."  Kathy said quietly "It sure would be fun to spend a summer here." We are both very impressed with both Halifax and Dartmouth.

As I previously mentioned these series of lakes are connected by small canals and we followed one of these canals a short distance over to Sullivan's Pond.  It was here at the north end of Sullivan's Pond where we found a wonderfully small, wooded, and landscaped park, named Henry Findlay Park, named after the man who once operated the lock by which we had just walked. This park and it's views made our day. Perhaps Kathy is right about where to spend a summer.

We returned to our campground by early afternoon content to spend the rest of the afternoon just relaxing. Oops, I forgot that one of our goals today was to get the car washed, so off I go again following Garmin's wise advice to find the closest car wash. It was found; the car was washed; I returned home.  Our day is complete. Oops again, no it is not over. One of the other adventurers that we wanted to do today was to briefly explore part of Shubie Park, a small part on which sits our Shubie Campground. This park is quite unique in that despite it's large size, around 40 acres, the only means of accessing the park is through it's extensive hiking trails. At either end of the park are two of the lakes that are part of the previously mentioned Shubenacadie Canal System and part of the old canal cuts through the center of the park. Near the entrance to the park which is next to our campground was a sandy beach that was very much in use considering that it was a Tuesday afternoon. Every day's a holiday in Canada?

We continued walking through the park and soon came across the long ago abandoned canal connecting Lake Micmac to the south of the park with Lake Charles to the north. If we were younger or at least in better shape and not carrying a dog, a hike through the entire park would be a very special day.  Our half hour hike will just have to suffice.  We look forward once again to another day, tomorrow. Until then . . .

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