Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ten lines leading to the seashore - did i really drown?

My mom and I fly to Reykjavik through Boston this evening, so we had about five hours to spend in downtown Halifax this morning before we headed to the airport. Which I am at now. Waiting. The last time I flew to the States was pre-2001. May I just say that I have never met scarier people than the people who put me through American security? And this is coming from a girl who has walked through the downtown Eastside of Vancouver, the textbook definition of a scary place. [/whiny crabbing from the person who doesn't fly regularly]

Downtown Halifax continued to be charming and historical and pretty this morning. I'm starting to think I'd like to come out east for grad school, just so I can hang out in a city with this many historical buildings. *_* There were yea many indie book and music stores that I was jonesing to go into but I don't have room in my luggage or bank account, haha. I know that just seeing the nice tourist part of a city doesn't tell you a lot about it, and I have friends from Halifax that have somewhat educated me on the social and economic issues out here. But I liked what I saw and I really wish I had had more time in the city.

First up: The Old Burying Ground. I could have spent all day in here and would have been thrilled. When my family lived in northern Manitoba and BC, my mom was hired by the towns we lived in to survey and record the names in some of the small graveyards in the area, since she had an archaeology background. I remember coming with her on these excursions when I was around 4 - 6 years old and I can pretty much define those trips as the beginnings of my own interests in mortuary archaeology, and archaeology in general.

It had the full range of death's heads to hourglasses to Victorian urns and drapery and weeping willows. You could do a thesis on tombstone decoration seriation from the cemetery alone - in fact, there were two students sitting in front of graves with laptops and cameras that were doing just that, I believe. My favourite style is the overturned torch, which was unfortunately lacking, but there was one Masonic stone (undated) with very childlike drawings of the sunstone, moon and all-seeing eye, which I'd never seen on a Masonic gravestone before. There's a Masonic cemetery close to my university that I've wandered around, but the symbolism on those stones are uniformly the stonecutter's symbol.

Overall the grounds have a very Old World feel to them, all straightbacked slate stones and low tombs. I freaking loved it. As we were leaving, we read this:

My mom is also a genealogist and knows one of my great-great [insert more 'great's here] grandfathers and his sons worked as quarrymen in Massachusetts Bay during the mid to late 1700s, so it's entirely possible that they cut some of the stone for the Old Burying Ground. That's pretty freaking cool in my books.

Across the street from the grounds is St. Mary's Basilica and a historical building that I wish I lived in, both for its exterior and its location. Le sigh. There are a bunch more cemetery and building pictures in my Flickr set.

Aaaaand we're off to Reykjavik!

1 comment:

  1. That cemetery looks so totally sweet. Also, your camera takes some /nice/ photos. is that the new one? I love that picture of the two over-lapping stones with the tree and sunlight in the background. fabulous!