Mistakenly, we had once thought that only Quebec was Francophone. Certainly it is the part of Canada most French in language and culture, but its neighboring provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, have much to offer visitors interested in languages and how they are used. We became accustomed to the highway signs, such as Little Free Library "CHEMIN CUTLER ROAD" or "FIN DE CONSTRUCTION ENDS." In New Brunswick, "Hello bon jour" is the standard greeting. Menus are sometimes trickier, but tourists have no trouble, in any province, including Quebec, in carrying on the basic conversations, and in truth many of the hotel employees are happy to practice their English -- it's not at all an indication that your French is inadequate. As people whose French is practiced rarely and with difficulty, it's a relief to enter Nova Scotia where English is expected from tourists.
Early in our Nova Scotia visit, we drove one of the roads near the Bay of Fundy. The alternating high and low tides here are world famous. The water is colored a rich muddy brown. The contrast between the high and low tides, or just the Dahlias in Halifax Public Garden water movement generally, is impressive. Associated sights include tidal bores, where the incoming tide pushes the resting water along, are also something worth stopping to see.
In Port Greville, along the shore, we spotted a Little Free Library. Fortunately, we had a couple of books we had finished, so we made our contribution. We found several small harbors, which did not seem active; we soon learned that we had come during a lull in the authorized fishing times, periods strictly controlled with the good result that supplies of valuable fish (lobster, halibut etc.) are increasing.
The last time we were in Halifax, a couple of years ago, Elsa had developed pneumonia, making sightseeing, even with friend Rita, a struggle. This year we tried again, with better results (although unfortunately without Rita who was traveling Admiralty Conference Room elsewhere). We stayed in the next-door suburb, Dartmouth, an odd city filled with businesses of many kinds but lacking in tourist comforts like restaurants. Nevertheless, the drive into Halifax was easy enough to encourage us to continue seeing this maritime community.
We spent one Sunday morning at the public gardens, which was overwhelmingly colorful and scented with blooms. One garden bed specialized in dahlias, which included flowers of all kinds and colors. We met another fancier, a long-time Winnipeg resident who had moved into a Halifax apartment overlooking the gardens specifically so that she could trace the changes in the gardens throughout the year.
On another day we drove into Halifax to see the displays at the Naval Museum of Halifax, located in the historic 1819 Admiralty House on the Naval Base. It is a grand old museum featuring a wonderful display of artifacts from the British and Canadian Navies, and houses mementos of many Canadian warships, naval heros, uniforms, armament, decorations, customs and courtesies over two centuries of Two lawnmowers at Memory Lane history. We wandered through happily for a couple of hours, enjoying all the fascinating naval displays, as when one Canadian ship which had been badly damaged in the Korean war needed a new ship's bell while tied up for repairs in Japan, and ended up with a Japanese-style bell.
The curator spoke to us at length, noting that the museum holds a lot of archival material, much of which will be turned over to Archives Canada. The museum is short of funds because it is part of the Canadian Armed Forces, which clearly prefers to spend money on modern troops and ships to improve fighting capability, and not on museums!
On another day we left Halifax to drive a half-hour to Memory Lane Heritage Village. It is designed to stimulate the visitor's memories, and in our case it succeeded quite well. The items in the store, the houses and shops all seemed familiar for the mid- to late 1940s. We took many pictures of these artifacts and meandered happily from one building to another. There was a boat shop and miner's Old General Store cabin (yes, they discovered and mined a bit of gold) and a shingle shop and a couple of old cars and trucks, not to mention the sheep, kittens, and young hens around the place.
One of the big successes was the cookhouse where you had your choice of hot or cold. Elsa had pea soup and beans (hot) while Bob had ham and potato salad and relishes (cold) and we both enjoyed lemonade and cake with rhubarb sauce for dessert. All were homemade, and the potato salad used real mayonnaise.
The house was the biggest stimulant to our Gees! and Goshes! as we spotted little items that were familiar from our childhoods. The bed was the exact one Bob slept in, we both had a washer like that (although Elsa would have pronounced it "warsher"), the potty chair was familiar, the overstuffed furniture brought back memories, and so on. Halifax Public Library
We had not been to a heritage village featuring this time period before, and enjoyed it very much. There were no reenactors that day, although a staff of three or four ran the cookhouse and store, and apparently they get some of the mills working at times.
We finished our visit to Halifax by exploring the new public library, which is so gorgeous that it is featured in the tourist literature. It is a multistory building, whose flights of stairs add to its complex architecture by dividing the middle of the public spaces. Reminiscent of the San Francisco Public Library, a large display near the entrance is composed of ceramic images of book covers and catalog cards.
Not only are the Canadian Provinces different from one another, they are a vibrant, exciting and complex amalgam of people and resources which repays careful examination by their neighbors to the South.