Our first day in Halifax was a lovely day. We wanted to do The Citadel right away since we expected to be there most of the day. We arrived just in time for the firing of the Noon Gun. This cannon has been fired precisely at noon every day except Christmas Day since the stone fortress was completed in 1856. They actually call Ottawa every day to confirm the time. The gun fires over the rampart so you can’t see the smoke, but you can sure hear it. It is a 12-pounder and rattles windows in town every day. The original fort was one of four built to defend the new city of Halifax in 1749 and was constructed as a counter-balance to the French stronghold Louisburg (located further up the coast – we’ll be there in a few days) but it has been re-fortified and expanded four times into what we saw today. It is officially called Fort George after British King George II, and was considered militarily obsolete by the time it was finished – it took 28 years to build; 1828-1856. Halifax was the headquarters of the North American Station of the Royal Navy with The Citadel as the port’s principal landward defense. Fort George became a very important defense during the War of 1812 and continued to play a significant role right up to WWII when Halifax harbour was targeted by German U-boats trying to impede supply convoys sailing to Britain and the allied forces in Europe. University students work at The Citadel every summer. They act out the duties of the 78th Highlanders Regiment who were stationed here for 3 years; they do shooting and bayonet drills, marching, firing of the cannons and talking to the tourists about the duties of the 19th Century soldier. There are also a couple of museum displays: one tells the story and importance of the fort over the centuries, the other is a really thorough display of Canadian military units, battles and memorabilia. Two 45-minute films are available as well but we didn’t watch either because we had already spent 4 hours touring around. The place is huge and is built into the hill. Only the tops of the ramparts are visible from outside. The front gate Firing a 6-pound gun Going down the stairs through the outer wall to exit the fort. Look how thick the walls are.
After we left the Citadel we walked the steep path and steps past the Prince Edward Town Clock. The Prince was commander-in-chief of all military forces in British North America. He was a real stickler for punctuality and wanted to resolve the tardiness of the local garrison. He commissioned the clock before he returned to Britain and it began ticking Oct 20, 1803. City Hall The War
Memorial with St. Paul’s church behind (also with design elements contributed by Prince Edward) Province House is located almost at the waterfront so it was down a lot of steps and steep sidewalks. (Halifax is built up a steep hillside with The Citadel at the top) It is a solid no-nonsense sort of building but has some very nice plaster-work and art. The most interesting bit of knowledge we were told today was about Joseph Howe the young owner of The Nova Scotian newspaper (He bought the newspaper when he was 23). He was charged with seditious libel after publishing a letter highly critical of the corruption among local politicians who were pocketing public money (things haven’t changed much, have they?). No lawyer would take his case as they felt it would be a doomed defense, so Mr. Howe defended himself. The court took place in what is now the Legislative Library at Province House. Joseph Howe spoke for over 6 hours and received an acquittal at the end. He is directly responsible for our right to Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. There is a statue of him in the garden beside Province House. This is a piece of our history I don’t remember ever hearing before. By then our feet were tired, our brains were full and we climbed up the hill and steps back to The Citadel to get Poppy and return to our hotel.