Day 48 – July 24 – Dartmouth, NS

Today was only a half day. We took the morning off from touring and spent it in our hotel room working on our itinerary for the next few days.

We headed out about noon and drove to the Halifax International Airport. Nearby is the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum.

When you drive in the parking lot it does not look like much, but what you do not notice is the huge hanger attached on the left of the building half-hidden behind a row of tall trees.

I am not a huge airplane person but there are always interesting stories attached to some of these planes.

This one was found in several pieces in the attic of a house where it was sitting incomplete for almost 50 years. It is the oldest known homebuilt aircraft in Nova Scotia.

When it was brought to the museum and restored they intentionally left the fabric covering off in order to show the construction methods and operating control surfaces, as well as Mr. Craig – the original builder’s -workmanship. The plane is frequently used as an educational tool to demonstrate how the control surfaces on an aircraft work and how an aricraft is built.

A model of the Bell Hydrodome – a hydrofoil watercraft designed and built by scientist Alexander Graham Bell. A full scale replica of this hydrofoil is in the Bell Museum in Baddeck. We saw it on our 2014 trip.

The plane at the top is a replica of the Silver Dart also built by Alexander Graham Bell. The team who built it used the original drawings from the Bell Museum. The plane underneath is a Starfighter, a single seat reconnaissance-strike aircraft built by Canadair in Montreal. It flew at Cold Lake, Alberta and in 1967 a CF-104 climbed to 100,100 feet (30,000 m), still a Canadian record.

The museum intentionally displayed the Silver Dart above the Starfighter to demonstrate what a remarkable change had occured in aviation during its first 50 years.

This is a Hercules bicycle. It was used on all airbases in England and Canada during WWII. It was built in England. The thing I liked about this was the very secure wooden bolted lock that ensures this bike will not go missing.

On June 2, 1977, the Canadian National Ferry “William Carson” was making its first trip of the season to Labrador with 37 passengers, 90 crew and 950 tons of supplies. While traveling through icefields 16 miles east of Square Islands it started to take on water. Within 30 minutes the captain gave orders to abandon ship. Just as the first rescue helicopter arrived, the “William Carson” sank. A very skillfull Bell helicopter pilot off the Coast Guard Ship, “Sir Humphrey Gilbert” rescued 42 of the survivors in 50 minutes. Everyone on the ferry was accounted for, without injuries.

The Rotorway Exec is a family of two-bladed skid equipped, two-seat kit helicopters that could be built by amateurs at home. Completed in 1993, it was the first of its kind in Nova Scotia.

Just as happened in Gander, Newfoundland; Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton and St. John, New Brunswick’s airports were deluged with flights from all over the world when US airspace was closed after the horrendous terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Halifax received its first plane within 35 minutes after the Trade Center buildings were struck and over the next few hours had 40 international airplanes carrying 6,978 passengers and approximately 580 flight crew land at the airport. It was four days before the last one left again and all the people were fed and housed and cared by the people of Halifax coming together in a time of deep distress to be of assistance to thousands of unexpected strangers.

If you have limited room to house aircraft you just tuck the little ones under the wings of the big ones.

This is a Pitts Specical S-1C. It was built in the US in the 1970s and brought to Canada in 1978, but could not be flown here so the owner donated it to the museum.

There were displays of model airplanes all around the building and the gift shop has a gigantic supply of model airplane kits, plus tanks and spacecraft and a few other things. They get orders from all over the place. I had no idea model-making was still popular.

The Golden Hawks were the RCAF Aerobatic Team from 1959-1963. They performed in 317 public air shows and became very famous in Canada and the United States.

The Sabre, seen here flying past “Bluenose II”, was the best jet fighter of its time and was first used in the Korean War in the 1950s. They were built in Montreal by Canadair.

I had noticed that all the planes were very clean and shiny so when I saw one of the staff I asked what day was dusting day and he immediately replied, “Wednesday, unless we have been very busy and then the planes will be cleaned every day.” There are four fulltime staff in the summer months and they use very long-handled dusters to keep the planes looking nice.

This is a Scamp 1. It is a homebuilt aircraft designed, built and flown by a man called Donnie MacDermid of Cape Breton. Mr. MacDermid built 13 other aircraft as well using only one hand having lost his other hand at a young age.

A bit better photo of Alexander Graham Bell’s Silver Dart.

There was a four-shelf display case of wooden airplane models made from kits during the 1930s.

We had some lunch in the parking lot of the aviation museum and then drove to Shubenacadie (pronounced “Shoo-ben-ack-a-dee”) Canal. It links Halifax Harbour with the Bay of Fundy by way of the Shubenacadie River and Shubenacadie Grand Lake. Begun in 1826, it was not completed until 1861 and was closed in 1871. Currently small craft use the river and lakes, but only one lock is operational. Three of the nine locks have been restored to preserve their unique fusion of British and North American construction techniques. 

Shubie Park where one of the old locks is located is a popular hiking area and water playground. On a summer day like today there were many canoes and waterboards plying the slow-moving water of the canal.

We walked from this lock to Lake Charles, crossed over the canal on the bridge, and came back down the other side. It was a very pleasant walk through the trees.

American Black Ducks

Lots of people were enjoying the lake on this sunny Sunday afternoon.

This American Black Duck is displaying a bit of the bright blue they have along their sides.

Tomorrow we head up the coast road to Sherbrooke.

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