Tuesday, September 1, 2009

graced by the tongue of the beetle-green sea

Full Flickr stream from Halifax

We got into Halifax at something like 7am Tuesday morning. It feels appropriate to start my travels right at the beginning of a new month. The weather out here is blessedly mild and sunny, and I have decided that I am a complete sucker for coastal cities.

So far, Halifax is very lovely and historic. Our hotel lobby has display cases full of artifacts from the historical archaeology excavations that took place before the construction of the hotel.

Every other building downtown is brick (including some interesting green coloured ones) and looks to be pre-1900; every once in a while there is a pre-1800 one as well.

I always complain that, for Canada, anything built before 1900 is considered historical while the same dates would be considered relatively new by continental European standards. I'm excited to go see some serious ancient stuff, but Canadian history is fun, too.

Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the Maritime Museum (no surprises there), especially their Titantic and Halifax explosion memorabilia. I was about 10 years old when the film Titanic came out and was fairly obsessed with the story of the voyage itself. Cool stuff.

I quite liked the above piece - it was labelled 'A Fisherman's Valentine' and is made of shells.

This is the only photograph from the Halifax explosion section of the museum - the exhibit is surprisingly intense and personal, and I didn't feel appropriate taking pictures of the other artifacts. I was also a little surprised at how aware one is made of the history of the explosion while in the city. We found a store with prints of antique photographs of Halifax, the Bluenose, etc. and a large portion of them were photos of the post-explosion destruction. The clerk offered to waive the taxes on our purchases if we answered his historical questions...which we failed at. Mom said 1740 by Cornwallis instead of 1749 by Cornwallis for the establishment of Halifax, and I didn't know what kind of tree Halifax sent to Boston yearly in recognition of their assistance that awful December of 1917. It's a spruce tree, by the way. We're also flying through Boston en route to Reykjavik but there's not enough time there to see anything but the airport.

I also got interviewed by a French journalist for Radio-Canada while on the boardwalk. It was actually pretty hilarious - I spoke better French than he did English, which should indicate to you how poorly the journalist spoke English. :P I told them I didn't want another freaking election anytime soon, because the last few times the changes it incurred weren't worth the money. Or at least I think I said that. Nice way to drive home both a) the higher predominance of French speakers out here compared to Calgary and the West Coast and b) how badly some Easterners want Harper out of Ottawa, even if it means yet another election. There is a hilarious comic by Kate Beaton about Harper feasting on the blocks of hate sent to him by Maritimers but I can't find it on her site. Oh, Harper, you and your gaping maw.

P.S.: I got to meet Miss Beaton in person on my last day in Vancouver, and she drew me a picture of Pope JPII flashing a peace sign and told me about seeing him at World Youth Day! JPII loves you too, man, JPII loves you too. Do you know how HARD it has been not to pepper this entire post with links to her comics, given she's a Nova Scotian and (I think) used to work at the Maritime Museum? Screw it, have some more awesome. The Bluenose! L'Anse Aux Meadows! The first recorded Viking raid!.

Alright, we're up and at 'em early tomorrow to go check out some cemeteries and the Citadel before heading to the airport to begin the journey to Reykjavik.

In order to make the music seems I must break so many things
Turn over like bracken and sea shrapnel
Graced by the tongue of the beetle-green sea

Let each note be a full-bodied song
Enough fingers, enough toes
Skin to cover the wreckage bloody beat
Enough belly, enough feet

- Joanna Newsom


  1. You know, after listening to Dawn harp about Halifax and it's problems, I had no desire to go. But you've changed my mind, it's beautiful over there!!!

  2. Halifax looks amazing. I've never been farther than Quebec, but now I want to. I also love that you went to the Titanic museum. I have seriously been wanting to visit that place since I was a young child. I want to /sit/ in that deck chair, even if they toss me out for it. maybe. most of the artifacts there are from the Olympia, right? (also, heart Kate Beaton)