Halifax is the capital and largest municipality in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, and the largest municipality in Atlantic Canada. It was the first permanent European settlement in the region on the Halifax Peninsula and the town, establishment in 1749, was named after the 2nd Earl of Halifax. The port of Halifax is a favorite port of call for Fall cruise itineraries visiting the Canadian Maritime provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, the St. Lawrence Seaway and Quebec.
Where Your Ship Docks
Halifax is a major seaport and there are several piers available. Most cruise ships dock at Pier 20 or 22 located just south of downtown. Pier 21 is historically the “Ellis Island of Canada”. This area of piers are known as the Cunard Piers, named for Samuel Cunard who is the Father of Passenger Cruise Ship Travel.
A Bit Of History
The City Where the United States Attacked Canada
The United States declared war against Britain in 1812 over maritime rights and the British seizure of American neutral ships and their cargoes on the high seas. A number of American politicians believed that the war could be the opportunity for the United States to achieve the annexation of Canada. The United States attacked the Halifax Royal Navy’s Canadian supply base in the city but British regulars and Canadian colonial militia defeated the American attack.
The city is also famous particularly for historic disasters. In December 1917 one of the greatest disasters in Canadian history occurred when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions, collided with the Belgian Relief vessel SS Imo in “The Narrows” near Halifax Harbour. The resulting explosion, the Halifax Explosion, devastated the Richmond District of Halifax, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 others. The blast was the largest artificial explosion before the development of nuclear weapons. Significant aid came from Boston, strengthening the bond between the two coastal cities.
The other was the sinking of RMS Titanic in April 1912, on her maiden voyage. Rescue attempts were based out of Halifax. Many of those who lost their lives aboard the ill-fated vessel were brought to Halifax, Nova Scotia where they were laid to rest.
Downtown Halifax is about a mile from the cruise ship dock and taxis are plentiful with a flat rate of C$10 to downtown. The easiest way to see the city is through a ships excursion or with a Halifax tour company. Tours can also be arranged with a taxi (C$45 per hour). One private tour company with custom tours and good reviews is Halifax Tour Guys HERE. There aren’t any public transportation visitor passes and the local bus rates are about C$2.75 per trip. Route maps and additional information HERE.
The local currency is the Canadian Dollar (US$1.00 = <C$0.80) but often American Dollars are accepted by local shops. Major credit cards are welcome and ATM’s are readily available.
Halifax Maritime Atlantic Museum
Located on Halifax’s historic waterfront and not far from the cruise piers, this is the best place to familiarize yourself with Nova Scotia’s rich maritime history than this museum. From small craft boatbuilding to World War II Convoys, Days of Sail and the Age of Steam, the Titanic to the Halifax Explosion, you’ll find exhibits that tell the history of the city and its connection to the sea.
This cemetery in Halifax is where the majority of the recovered victims of the Titanic sinking are buried. The Titanic section is a well maintained area in the cemetery with several rows of headstones that even today attracts a large number of people interested in the stories surrounding this famous tragedy.
Take a short trip out to Peggy’s Cove to take a look at one of the world’s most photographed lighthouses. The recently added deck is an open space where you can view the lighthouse and experience the waves and rocks of this iconic location. The area includes public facilities, walkways leading to the lighthouse, and nearby parking.
The Halifax Citadel
A Living history program celebrates the 78th Highlanders and the 3rd Brigade, Royal Artillery, and features activities like changing the sentries, the noon gun, nad regular performances of the pipes and drums.
Enjoy the Halifax Citadel walking tour with a guide dressed in historic clothing. This complimentary guided tour is a great place to start your exploration of the many period rooms, exhibits, films, and different perspectives on the history of Halifax, the four successive versions of the fort and the role the Citadel had in the protection of the British Naval Base.
Halifax Public Gardens
One of the finest examples of classic Victorian Gardens in North America. Created in 1837 its sixteen acre include iconic plantings, shrubs, flowers, a bandstand, fountains, numerous statuary and wrought iron decorations.
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