The first thing I came across when telling people that I was going to study abroad in Nova Scotia was ‘…where’s that?’
Not many people realise that there is a Canada outside of the metropolises of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal etc. Believe me.
But there is! And I am proud to call Halifax my home from home. In my opinion, Halifax is truly the only city that actually FEELS like a coherent cultural idea. Toronto is great, Downtown is bustling and it does feel a bit like London. Montreal is grand, but a bit barren. Vancouver is wet. However, Halifax has it all. There is a distinct feel to Halifax that you can automatically gel with.
So I thought I’d compile a series of facts about Halifax that you probably didn’t know. I’ve had to narrow it down to 10, mainly because that’s a nice number, although there is genuinely an infinite plethora of cool things about Halifax that I could write on.
No. 1 – The Capital
Halifax is actually the capital of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia being the easternmost mainland province of Canada (Newfoundland is an island of the east coast).
Nova Scotia has a population of just over 1 million, and it is the size of Great Britain basically. This literally means that the wilderness is everywhere, and being a coastal province, the scenery is breathtaking.
Halifax is the largest city east of Quebec City, and has a population of around 400,000.
No. 2 – The Halifax Explosion
In 1917, two ships collided in the harbour of Halifax, one full to the brim with explosives. This caused, prior to Hiroshima, the largest man-made explosion in history.
Much of Halifax was leveled, and sadly 2,000 people lost their lives with another 9,000 injured.
You can get the history of the explosion and the aftermath at pretty much any museum in Halifax, most importantly the Maritime Museum though.
No. 3 – Citadel Gunfire
Halifax is built around a HUGE fortress called the Citadel, as you can see above. The Citadel was constructed in 1749 and is the most visited National Historic Site in Canada!
If you’re wandering downtown at around midday, you’ll be caught off guard by the sound of a huge gunshot. Everyday at 12:00 noon, a cannon is fired from the Citadel. This practice originated in 1856 and continues everyday to this day.
No. 4 – Rent a park!
The City of Halifax occupies an entire peninsula in the Halifax Harbour, and right at the very tip of the peninsula is Point Pleasant Park.
It’s a 77 hectare park and absolutely stunning. Some say it’s Halifax’s best park… but it doesn’t actually belong to Halifax.
The site actually belongs to the British Government (of course) and Halifax rents the park from them for a whopping 10 cents a year, and has a 999 year lease. Don’t ask me why, it just does.
No. 5 – University City
Halifax has, as I’ve said before, more bars and clubs per capita than anywhere else in Canada. This may be due to the fact that it has six degree-granting universities in the city!
These are: Mount Saint Vincent University, Saint Mary’s University, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Nova Scotia Community College, The Atlantic School of Theology and of course, the biggest and best: Dalhousie University, shown above (my uni).