I’m a bad Canadian. I hold a Canadian passport, speak with enough of a Canadian accent that Americans have asked where I’m from, and spent many a childhood weekend in Canada visiting grandparents and other relatives. But I’m a bad Canadian. Until last week, I had only visited two provinces (visited = seeing family) and, with the exception of a ski trip as a child, had never gone to Canada on holiday. For this reason and more, it was a pleasure to finally take a trip to Halifax and neighbouring Dartmouth to visit my closest friend from Singapore, who grew up there and has since moved back.
We began the tour of Halifax and its environs with a trip to Peggy’s Cove, a fishing community with a famous lighthouse. It looked like everything that comes to mind upon hearing the word “Maritimes” and, as you can imagine, smelled of the sea.
The air tasted like salt and the wind picked up as we walked further along the boulders, heeding the warnings to stay off the black rocks.
The community of Dartmouth is located across the harbour from Halifax. One can cross the bridge by car or take the ferry, which is conveniently free on the weekends (and, on the weekend of my visit, decorated for Halifax Pride). The best part of Dartmouth is the view of Halifax, I was told, though I beg to differ. Dartmouth has a vibe and charm all on its own.
The next day we walked along the boardwalk and through downtown Halifax, admiring ships-turned-museums, murals, and funky buildings.
The license plate of Nova Scotia states, “Canada’s Ocean Playground,” so it was only fitting that the last full day of my visit include a tour of the nearby beaches. The water was cold and for the first time in my life, I saw people wearing sweatshirts at the beach. I dipped my toes into the North Atlantic and that was more than enough.
On the final morning of my visit, we went to Fisherman’s Cove to go for a walk and browse the gift shops.
Just like everywhere else we’d been, you could taste the sea on the air. My favourite part of Dartmouth/Halifax was the integration of the ocean with regular life. It was everywhere and the communities had been built in it, around it, and with due regard for how the sea behaves. There are lakes everywhere, too, and life by the water is simply a normal part of life. I felt lucky to finally be there, a visit that was in the planning stage even before the pandemic, and grateful for the locals who took me around. My visit concluded with, “And next time we’ll go to. . . .” I am already looking forward to it.