Fall Foliage Cruise Continued: Halifax, Nova Scotia


By Mary McClung

We are now at our first Canadian port on the ”fall foliage cruise” I took from Boston to Quebec in October 2019.  Recent hurricane Dorian had hit Halifax, as evidenced by many downed trees.  Who knew that hurricanes extended this far north!  Halifax really deserves a 2-day visit but we are here for only one full day.

The Acadian area north of Halifax is an interesting UNESCO World Heritage site. French settlers had prospered here but were kicked out by the fearful British based in Halifax (and many became the New Orleans "Cajuns" of today in the local dialect).  However, I chose a trip with four of my fellow ship mates on a private tour in the other direction because I wanted to learn about the history of the city and to visit the Peggy’s Cove lighthouse. 

A number of tragedies have affected Halifax.  We passed by “The Narrows,” where in 1917 an explosion decimated the northern part of the city.  A French munitions ship loaded with explosives for WWI battlefields collided with a Norwegian ship containing relief supplies for Belgium.  The ensuing blast leveled the area and killed more than 2,000; 850 were permanently blinded. 

Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax
And in 1912, Halifax-based ships were sent to recover the bodies floating in the North Atlantic from the sinking of the Titanic.  Of the 333 bodies recovered, 121 are buried in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery, which we visited. 

And finally, on September 11, 2001, the NYC World Trade Center had just been attacked, and air traffic over the U.S. was shut down.  All flights from Europe were diverted to Maritime Canada.  Small-town Gander got most of the publicity (and a Broadway musical “Come From Away,” which played in Seattle), but the Halifax airport handled more flights.  Diverted passengers bought space on a Halifax billboard to express their appreciation. 

On our way out to Peggy’s Cove, we stopped at a “sugar shack,” common all over eastern Canada.  The owner explained how the sap is tapped from sugar maple trees and then boiled into maple syrup. Delicious samples galore. 

Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
The lighthouse at Peggy's Cove is the most photographed in Canada.  Peggy's Cove itself is a small fishing village nowadays filled with tourists rather than fishermen.  Colorful wooden houses cling to the rocks, and perched along the narrow inlet are weathered piers and fish sheds. The lighthouse is erected on stunning well-weathered granite boulders. According to local legend, Peggy was the sole survivor of a nineteenth century shipwreck. A beautiful spot on a beautiful day.

… To be continued