Memorial to where it all started.
Before anyone starts having a go at me, I fully appreciate that the Mi'qmak people had been in the area of Halifax / Dartmouth for centuries if not millenia and I do not wish to decry that at all. I wish to draw attention to a memorial of not even the first European settlers to the area but perhaps the most significant group.
Sited in the delightful Leighton Dillman Park, so named for a gentleman who tended the place for many years, which I thought was a lovely touch, this is a memorial to the 353 brave souls who disembarked the good ship Alderney in 1750 and effectively founded the place that is now the Provincial capital of what is now Nova Scotia.
Imagine, if you will, what it must have been like for those people in the mid 18th century. Coming from Europe they were entering a place with no medical facilities, no rule of law and all in a place totally alien, in every respect, from what they were used to. That must have taken some guts.
Anyway, back to the memorial itself. It is a very simple cairn (a cairn being traditionally merely a pile of stones, often on a mountain top) with a couple of small memorial plaques attached. Having taken the requisite images (see below) I did pause for a while to consider how these people must have felt stepping ashore for the first time and, eventually, forming the country that we now call Canada.
I would not suggest that the traveller will make a special visit here as the actual site is of no historical significance but if you are in the area then it makes for an interesting thing to see.
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Legendary, and rightly so.
I dislike the words legend / legendary as I find them much overused by lazy journalists tring to "spice up" a headline. Why then, would I use it in regards to a small eatery in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia? I'll tell you, it is simply because this place deserves the accolade.
I was travelling there recently with my dear friend VT member RavensWing and she had simply raved about this place and told me that no trip to that excellent Province would be complete without a meal here. She lives in Alberta which is about a five hour flight away and she used to deliberately time her flight so that when her Father picked her up from the airport in Halifax that this place would be open so they would eat here before driving home. That was fair enough recommendation for me but it didn't end there. We coincidentally happened to visit on the day Hurricane Arthur hit the locality. Yes, the weather was appalling, and I have posted videos on this page and still, when we turned up, we had to queue for a seat! I was getting the idea already.
The delightful server told us it would be a while for a table for two but we could sit at the counter if we wanted so that sounded like a plan. Having pitched oursleves up my companion told me I had to have the clams, which I had never had prepared like this before i.e. battered and deep-fried. In the end I plumped for the clams with "haddock tips" accompanied by fries (chips in proper parlance). No idea what the "haddock tips" are, possibly the offcuts from the (extremely) local pier where they source their produce but they were gorgeous.
I had a look round whilst waiting and saw an abolute plethora of awards on the walls. They are all well-deserved, I can tell you. The wait, I have to say, was not long, and after a short time our orders appeared. The image show that it is a basic place, no fancy nonsense. I have been lucky enough to have eaten in some very good reataurants and paid for it. That is great in it's place, and I do enjoy it, but what they served me here was worthy of any Michelin starred chef who would have been proud to offer it.
I don't actually know why they call this place John's Pizza as I didn't see a single one served. I didn't even see a pizza oven! I am sure they do them but that would seem to be very secondary to what people actually come here for which is the fish / seafood.
I don't have the words (unusually for me) to describe how good the food was here. I had never tasted anything like the clams before, the haddock tips (whatever they may be) were succulent, the batter was fresh as you like and the chips (fries) obviously at least double if not treble cooked. I have rarely eaten a better meal in my life. If you are on a budget, it is not expensive. I think my meal ran to about $16 Cn. which, frankly, is a small price to pay for the quality of that food
If pushed to a one line definition of this place, I suppose it would have to be "haute cuisine" on a cheap white plate. This place is not merely recommended, it is an absulute requirement if you are in the Dartmouth area. If you don't, you will have missed out on something really, really special. This place really is the best. As I said earlier, I do not have an adequate grasp of the language to tell you how good the food is here.
Just go for yourself and find out, come back, and I defy you to tell me I'm wrong!
- Food and Dining
A fascinating piece of history.
It would be true to say that as far as travellers are concerned Dartmouth, which is across the bay from the Nova Scotian capital of Halifax probably suffers a little in comparison. However, a bit of digging, especially using some of the excellent free publications that seem to be so readily available locally, will turn up some fascinating little gems. This tip concerns one such which is the rather grandly named Dartmouth Heritage Museum which seems to be locally known more prosaically as the Quaker House for that is what it was.
The history of Quaker House and the wider Quaker society in this area arises out of the American War of Independence when the people of that particular religious sect were mostly based in North America in the area of Nantucket in what is present day Massachussetts. Most of them were involved in one way or another with the whaling trade, shipwrights, sailmakers, chandlers, coopers and so on. At that time privateering (licensed piracy) and blockades effectively wiped out the previously successful whaling fleet. A British tax on American whale oil did not help matters and so many Quakers decided to head North to Nova Scotia, the first of them arriving in 1785.
Notably industrious, the Quakers set about getting the new fleet to sea and within a short time had a hugely successful and lucrative industry set up again. This in turn led to a bit of a boomtown of which this house is merely a small example but it didn't last long. Within about ten years, a very lucrative offer from the UK led to many of them travelling to Milford Haven in the UK to work from there.
Although I do not like whaling as a trade, I appreciate that it is a hard one and with men at sea for over two years at a time it must have been hard on them and their families. Apart from the separation aspect from family and loved ones, the seas they whaled were notoriously dangerous and the very act of destroying those magnificent creatures was undoubtedly dangerous.
What the Quaker House represents therefore is a remembrance of what was effectively a very short period in the history of this area but it is still fascinating. As is the way with so many places like this in Nova Scotia, there are re-enactors here in costume and this is where the place really comes alive. Certainly you could wander round yourself although it wouldn't take you too long but when the costumed young people take you on a tour and tell you the full history and a few little anecdotes, then it becomes a lot more real and it is a delight to listen to them as they really seem genuinely interested in showing the place off and do it very well.
I should mention, in the interest of fair reporting, that many of the artefacts are not actually original to the premises but "representative of the period". The building was actually used as a dwelling house until well into my lifetime and many of the originals had long since been disposed of by then. This really didn't seem to matter and we had a wonderful time. I think my favourite story of them all was that whilst renovating the premises builders found four different single shoes in the wall. We were told that this is to fool the Devil, if you don't mind! Apparently, if he found a single shoe then he would be so busy looking for the other one that he would leave you alone. That made me smile.
I shall deal with the logistics presently but I have to say that at $2 per adult for a guided tour like that, I thought represented excellent value and I would commend the Dartmouth Historical Society for saving the place from destruction. It will not take more than an hour to go round it and it really is well worth doing. Should you wish to visit, here are the logistics, taken from the attached website.
"Quaker House is open seasonally from June to August.
Tuesday—Sunday 10:00-1:00 & 2:00-5:00
Admission is $2. Children under 12 free."
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Great Irish pub.
I am not generally a great fan of "theme" pubs be they Irish, Scottish or Outer Mongolian as I think they lack authenticity for the great part. Occasionally, however, I'll find one that I do like and this tip concerns Ceilidh's pub in Dartmouth which is excellent. I still haven't worked out if it is meant to be Scottish or Irish themed or perhaps a bit of both but that doesn't detract from it at all. If you don't know, the word ceilidh is just about interchangeable in the Irish and Scots languages and means a dance or party and this is appropriate as they seem to have live music on just about every night. Musical policy tends towards Celtic / folk in keeping with the style of the place.
Although we did not actually eat there, the food looked excellent and appears to have a daily special. A quick look at the attached Facebook page suggests that they actually post each day's offering up so you can check before you visit.
We had discovered this place more or less by accident as it was the nearest bar to our campsite and so we decided to give it a try. We were greeted by the customary friendly server, something of a trait in Nova Scotia, and chose from a wide selection of beers both local and imported. We returned a couple of times and were always welcomed the same way, indeed the locals proved to be as friendly as the staff.
One evening I even ended up playing a short "troubadour" gig in there. The booked band had been double-booked somehow and were out of town and so I mentioned that I had a guitar in the RV and would they like me to do a bit. "Go right ahead" was the immediate answer and so the good folk of Dartmouth were treated (if that is the right word, subjected may be better) to an impromptu planxty session. It was great fun.
This is an excellent bar if relatively new, and I do recommend it.
- Wine Tasting
- Beer Tasting
~ Quaker House ~
The first wave of Quakers came to Dartmouth in the early 1700's. Whaling was their way of life. It took the men away for long periods of time. Men were at sea for up to 2 years, although the longest trip was 11 years. While the men were gone the women had to find a way to pass the time and find ways to fill their pantries. The women would churn butter, make bread, clothing, etc and take it to the market to sell or barter for items they needed.
~ Open Hours ~
Quaker House is open seasonally from June to August.
Tuesday—Sunday 10:00-1:00 & 2:00-5:00
Admission is $2. Children under 12 free.
The Museum offers group tours of Evergreen House all year and seasonally at Quaker House to groups over 5 people. The tours are also done in English and French.
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
~ Ceilidh's Pub ~
Ceilidh's Pub is a small cozy pub. The staff is very friendly. We stopped in for a pint and had a very friendly chat with the barmaid. There is live music played on the weekends. Unfortunately the weekend we were there the live music had been cancelled. There musicians that usually booked their gigs there were off at a Ceilidh in Cape Breton.
Planxty (Fergy) just happened to have a guitar in the 'Beast' and so he asked the barmaid if she wanted him to bring it out and play it. Thinking it was only going to be for an hour - because the pub closed at that time - was a mistake. She kept the pub open an extra 2 1/2 hours while he played, singing old rock songs mixed in with some Irish folk songs.
- Food and Dining
~ Oh No! No Headlights! ~
We were leaving Mahone Bay and heading into Halifax when we discovered that both headlights were out. We waited until daylight to travel to Halifax. We stopped in at Canadian Tire to see if they could check the headlights on the RV - "Sorry we can't do that but Diesel and Auto Electric Limited will be able to help you"
It was Thursday at 4:55pm when I called them and they were closing in 5 minutes. They told me if I could come in the next day they would try to fit the job in between their other jobs. They were extremely busy as they are closed over the weekends but would do their best.
We arrived at 2:00pm Friday and they took the RV in right away, found that the dimmer switch had corroded and caused the problem. We were out of the shop before 3:00pm and back on the road.
The staff was kind, courteous and very efficient. I would definitely recommend this shop to any traveler or any resident in the Halifax/Dartmouth area.
Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday 0800 - 1700
Saturday - Sunday Closed
- Road Trip
Gaby_Thieme's Things to Do Tip
Looking for lighthouses, we found this to be the biggest and most beautiful lighthouse in Nova Scotia