As one of Canada's oldest cities, Halifax has a lengthy and eventful history that has become an attraction in itself! Perhaps this is why the city has come up with a historical walking tour that you can do on your own in about 3 hours. This walking tour is available in the official Halifax tour guide and on the city's Web site. It starts, quite conveniently, at the tourist information centre - I suggest you drop in as they'll be more than happy to let you know what's going in town during your stay and if you haven't got a tour guide already, this is the place to go to pick one up for free. The walking tour covers quite a bit of the downtown area and is very easy to follow. On top of the main attractions, it also points out lesser known facts, such as the building where Anna Leonowens, on whom the movie, book and play "The King and I" is based, taught school in the 19th century. A great way to kick off your stay in Halifax!
You do not have to be in the Historic Properties area to see great old buildings in Halifax. Some of my favorites were sprinkled throughout the city like this one right on Barrington Street. I cannot remember the name but it was a listed historical site that had been converted into an Internet Cafe/pub/coffeehouse. Looked pretty cool inside too.
If you like beer, are a history buff, or just like something a little different to kill an hour or so, be sure to check out the Alexander Keith's Brewery and take the $8 tour.
During the tour, small groups of people are led through a working re-construction of the original brewery from the early 1800s. An overly enthusiastic tour guide, dressed in authentic costume conducts the tour. You get the impression that this guy lives for his work, and his obsessive enthusiasm is a bit contagious.
You get to taste the raw barley & hops, which kind of sits in your teeth for a while until the end of the tour, where you get to taste the finished product. I wasn't allowed to stay there drinking all day, but they did give me an extra one.
If you're going to be in Halifax for a few days, you might want to find out what's on the bill over at the Halifax Metro Center. This facility serves as the town's civic auditorium, performing arts venue and sports complex. I've already mentioned that the local CHL hockey team, the Halifax Mooseheads, take the ice at the HMC, as it's called.
Among the recent and/or upcoming events slated for Haligonian enjoyment are a Guns 'n Roses concert, the finals for the Canadian version of "So You Think You Can Dance", an Art Garfunkel concert (we saw him in Tallahassee, FL last year, he was terrific), and even an appearance by THE quintessential Canadian folksinger, Gordon Lightfoot. There are dozens of Moosehead games on the slate, and if none of that is your thing, consider this....next July brings the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo Show to the HMC.
We're already planning a return for next July. Just kidding.
My favourite street in Halifax. Spring Garden Road is posh, funky, and alive with people. It's near the hospitals and universities and the Public Gardens. There are lots of coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and shops along the road and the cross streets. St. Mary's Basilica guards one end across from the Old Burying Ground and the other end stops at Robie Street and then becomes Cobourg road past that.
Don't miss the cross streets and courts like Birmingham Street and Queen Street as well. there are some wonderful shops there like Woozles, a children's book store. You can buy designer wear in Park Lane and Spring Garden Place, also in Mills Brothers, Winchesters and Winsby's for shoes.
There are movie theatres in Park Lane and the Halifax Main Branch Library is a gathering place for many people. There's Bud the Spud's and Bill's chip trucks that park outside the library most of the year besides the dead of winter. The street is serviced by public transportation and really is the life and buzz of downtown Halifax
The story is told that the clock was put there to resolve the tardiness of the local garrison. Today it serves more as a landmark,maybe today people can afford their own watches. In any case, the Prince ordered the clock made in London.
The building is a 3 story octagon and is one of the most immediately recognizable landmarks in Halifax.
The City Hall of Halifax is a historical building of Victorian architecture located along the junction of Barrington Street and Duke Street. In front of the City Hall is a war memorial statue and surrounding the City Hall are tall buildings of the city centre of Halifax..
JRW Farms does a tour of Halifax in a horse drawn trolley with a canopy for shade. They say they are wheelchair accessible if you call ahead. Having said that, I tried calling and couldn't get through to get the prices. The trolley seems to sit outside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street on the waterfront, though, so you could walk up and find out the prices. I've also seen them outside the Cruise ship docks by Pier 21 when any of the cruise ships are in. I think it might be a nice way to see the downtown historic sites.
At the Spring Garden Road Memorial Public Library a statue of Winston Churchill is in the front lawn.
- Sculpture: Oscar Nemon
- Weight: 1.5 tons
- Height: 10 feet
- Unveiled at: January 20, 1980
Sir Churchill visited Halifax during WW2 in 1943 and inspecting the city from the Citadel he said to Mayor Lloyd, "Now, sir, we know your city is something more than a shed on a wharf".
Downtown Halifax, especially Barrington Street, is lively and has some interesting Victorian architecture. There are some good shops and restaurants down here, too; take your time and spend a few hours wandering. Be sure to visit St. Paul's Church (1750) and City Hall (1888), both on opposite ends of the Granville Parade from one another. Don't miss the Province House on Hollis Street, either.
The Halifax Tattoo. Look for it near the end of June or the first week in July.
The world's largest annual indoor show will present spectacular acts never before seen in Canada as well as audience favourites.
Over 2,000 international performers will delight audiences with the Tattoo's unique combination of music, dance, drama, gymnastics, comedy, military displays and much more!
The Tattoo, now recognized as one of the best combined military and civilian shows produced anywhere in the world, has grown from a two day local production into a spectacular nine day international event with a cast of more than 2,000.
St. Paul's Anglican Church is located in the heart of downtown Halifax; opposite City Hall at the south end of the Grand Parade.
The building that dates from 1750 is the oldest still-standing Anglican church in Canada.
Sunday services: 9AM and 11AM.
St. Matthew's Church dates from 1749. In that year the church was called Mather's Church, but later it was called the Protestant Dissenting Church. From 1814 it often was called the Presbyterian Church, but after 1820 it became known as St. Matthew's Presbyterian Church.
From 1925 the name changed into St. Matthew's United Church, since the church became a member of the United Church of Canada.
Sunday service at 10:30AM.
The stretch of Halifax between Citadel Hill and North St. is fast becoming the "Kensington Market" of the city. It's a short twenty minute walk from Downtown and runs the length of Agricola Street. Clothing shops, antiques, a quaint hotel, and cafes and restaurants. I recommend One World Cafe for a strong cup o' joe, good used books and free wireless for your laptop. Bakery, second hand shops, and a cold draft at Gus' Pub would be a good way to spend part of your afternoon in Halifax.
Halifax has something for everyone ranging from the waterfront, pubs and restaurants, parks and museums as well as some great shops.