Sunday, 13 June 2010

Things that One Ought to do in Halifax

This morning I visited Pier 21 with a friend of mine. Despite having lived within an hour's drive from this museum the entire time it has been in operation, I've never visited before. In some ways, I'm glad I didn't. It strikes me as the type of thing you would hate as a child, and then since you hated it already you would never want to go back, or wouldn't be able to appreciate it even if you did.

It's basically incredible when you're a non-child, though. It gave me a whole new perspective on Halifax, and it was sort of an emotional experience. Maybe more on that later. The point is, while I was there, I happened to think that I would recommend it to anyone in Halifax.

That got me to thinking about what else I would recommend to anyone in Halifax. So I've compiled the following list, which I believe will likely be expanded as I do more things in Halifax.

1) Visit Pier 21. Learn about immigrants and refugees and hope and fear and new beginnings and tragic endings. Stand in the spot where millions of people entered our country for the first time. Imagine our city in those times, in those days; think about how different it must have been, and how it's shaped where we are today.

2) Take the ferry over to Dartmouth. Think not of the sewage beneath your vessel which we normally associate with that body of water. Remember instead that you are crossing the second largest natural harbour in the world.

3) Take advantage of our rumoured 'most bars per capita' to go see a good ol' east coast band and clap your hands and stomp your feet and bang on the tables and sing "Home for a Rest" at the top of your lungs. That's how we do it on this side of the country.

4) Walk the waterfront on a sunny day. Eat ice cream or a Beavertail or fish and chips or something else that's delicious and over-priced and not very good for you. Sit on a bench and watch the waves and the boats and the seagulls and the tourists.

5) Go to the Farmer's Market. Wander around aimlessly. Make good use of all five of your senses. Preferably do this in the next month or so before they move to the new location. I don't feel this way often, but in this situation I do: green movement be damned. The brewery has fucking character.

6) Go to John W. Doull's bookstore. Crawl over boxes of books, sit amongst the stacks, hope today isn't the day the teetering piles come crashing down, and peruse the best offerings in used books you've ever seen.

7) Observe either sunrise or sunset from Citadel Hill. It really is rather beautiful.

8) Take a walk (or bike) through Point Pleasant Park. Watch the people. Look at the sea. Listen to the trees. Read all the little plaques and signs and everything. If you find a hollow tree, crawl inside it.

9) Learn something. Halifax is home to seven university campuses, not to mention several colleges and technical schools and whatever else. I know King's and Dal both offer free public lectures fairly regularly, so I assume the others do as well. You can view student art work at the NSCAD gallery, and Dal and MSVU both have art galleries. There are concerts and conferences and a million different things that anyone, no matter their age or income or relationship to the university, is totally able to participate in. Broaden your horizons.

10) Go to the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. It's actually really incredible. So much talent, so much music, so much performance, so much big feelings.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Anything obvious I've missed? I'm looking for things that are more-or-less uniquely Haligonian (more as in Pier 21, less as in the waterfront). I have a few in mind that I think would likely make the list, but I haven't done them yet (I'm thinking Halifax Jazz Festival, Shakespeare by the Sea, maybe Halifax Pop Explosion?), so I'll add those if I decide they make the cut.


Anonymous said...

There is a Ste Anne's campus in Halifax too, you know!

gnomesque said...

This is true! I always forget that. Consider it fixed.