The Citadel etc.

For our second day in Halifax, the weather was a little better. At least, it wasn’t raining. It was pretty chilly, and it changed from partly cloudy in the morning to totally cloudy in the afternoon. So we could do some outdoor things, but the light was bad for photos, and wearing shorts and a t-shirt turned out to be ok but not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.

Anyway, the big goal for the day was to go see the Citadel — a big star-shaped fort on a hill in the middle of Halifax. It didn’t open right away in the morning, though, so first we went down to the public gardens. Some local artists had set up shop on the sidewalks outside the gardens, and I looked at some acrylic paintings and some framed art made from ink drawings and sea glass (glass that’s been in the ocean for around 30 years), but nothing really grabbed me so I didn’t get anything.

One of the many decorative flower beds in the Halifax Public Gardens

One of the many decorative flower beds in the Halifax Public Gardens

The gardens themselves were beautiful — lots of huge old trees, all different kinds; a big pond with a miniature lighthouse and steamship; some fountains; an area with a gazebo that looked like it should have a brass band playing in it; and lots and lots and lots of flowers.

Flower in the Halifax Public Gardens

Flower in the Halifax Public Gardens

We spent about an hour there, drove away from our parking meter after it expired and mere seconds before the parking police got there (my fault; I paused to talk to the guy selling the sea glass), and drove over to the Citadel. After debating with the person at the park gate about whether or not we should qualify for the “family” rate, we paid up and went on in…just as the noonday gun went off.

You see, every day, for the past two-hundred-and-I-forget years, they’ve fired a cannon (without the cannonball) from the Citadel walls. Originally, they fired it early in the morning (5:30, I think) as a wake-up call for the soldiers, at noon to let everyone know what time it was and so that ships in the harbour could set their clocks, and at around 8:00-9:00 in the evening to tell soldiers to stop drinking and get back to the fort. They’ve stopped the early morning and late evening guns now, but they’ve kept up the noonday gun as a tradition, and haven’t missed a day for as long as they’ve been keeping records (except for Christmas, when they take the day off). They have reduced the black powder charge from 4 pounds down to 1 pound, so that it doesn’t break windows anymore. They say it does still set off the occasional car alarm…

Angus MacDonald and the noonday gun

Angus MacDonald and the noonday gun

Unfortunately, we had just missed the start of the guided tour, so we sort of hung around and killed time for 20 minutes until “Private Angus MacDonald”, kilt and all, came and guided us around the guard room, the top of the walls, the noonday gun, the signal masts, and a couple other things. After that, we went to the coffee shop for a snack/lunch, wandered around the military museum, did a little more random walking around, and headed out.

View of the Halifax Citadel, from up near the signal towers

View of the Halifax Citadel, from up near the signal towers

Pamela was very bored.

Rifle firing demonstration

Rifle firing demonstration

Then, we went to a nearby cemetery, for reasons that were never entirely clear to me. It was, actually, not that bad a place to walk around. We saw Alexander Keith’s grave, which was unexpected, and in general there were a lot of interesting headstones, including two made out of iron (very, very rusty, and impossible to read). A lot of the people were far older than we expected; we were surprised at how many people born in the 1800s lived into their 80s and 90s.

Headstones for Alexander Keith and his wife. A larger memorial was nearby.

Headstones for Alexander Keith and his wife. A larger memorial was nearby.

After supper (at East Side Mario’s, half-price pizza and appetizers), we went back to the hotel, and tried to plan out our next couple days of vacation, so that we have a vague idea of where we’re going and when we’re going to be there. It was…not exactly relaxing…but hopefully the next few days go a little smoother as a result!

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Posted on September 16, 2009, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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