Here We Are, Halifax!
Our trusty steed Engine #6416 escorted us into Halifax on Monday, July 13th. I look much like Zach Galifianakis in the first Hangover Movie.
It was another ride on the train for Tiger Moon, this time along the St. Lawrence Valley and through the maritimes. The end of the line was in Halifax, NS - founded in 1749 by Honourable Edward Cornwallis of England. It’s one of the most beautiful cities in Canada, situated midway down the Eastern coast of Nova Scotia.
We got off the train and my cousin John was waiting in the station to pick us up and bring us back to his family’s beautiful house across the harbour in Dartmouth. After a short ride we had arrived, and we were greeted with an authentic Nova Scotia lobster supper. Kasey and I had been waiting for this very moment much of the trip.
Tasty lobster, prepared by my Cape Breton cousin Valerie. We got some great tips and tricks to get the best out of one of these little critters…
After a few brief tricks to opening and eating the lobster, we ate heartily with my family. It was a brilliant start to our time in Halifax.
After a great sleep in a bed my cousin Thomas so generously gave up during our stay, we headed down to the Halifax Boardwalk. We wanted to set up to play some music and see what the maritimes had in store for us. I had forgotten how gorgeous the Halifax Harbour is. We ferried from the Dartmouth side over to the boardwalk, and watched as Theodore Tugboat putted up and down the bay.
Anyone of my generation who grew up watching TVO or Global TV cartoons may have seen a cartoon called Theodore Tugboat - a great little show about Theodore and his buddies working away in Halifax Harbour. This is a life-size recreation of Theodore, embarking on a tour up and down the harbour as we had lunch.
We performed down near Pier 21, an iconic building and a big part of Canada’s immigration history. My cousin Val came down during her lunch break to enjoy some of our tunes!
Next up we visited Peggy’s Cove, one of my favourite spots on the planet. The rugged beauty of this place is astounding, and it feels like it’s the end of the world. We sat on the ancient rock and watched as the tide rolled in, heaving massive waves against the ancient rock. It’s famous for the small fishing community which has remained relatively unchanged since long ago thanks to The Peggy’s Cove Commission Act passed in 1962. It’s also famous for the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse (est. 1868), and the location where Swiss Air Flight 111 caught fire and eventually plunged into St. Margaret’s Bay. (Peggy’s Cove’s namesake.) We sat for hours - unable to pull ourselves away from the moment. This was a particular high on this tour insofar.
Sweet Kasey finding time to contemplate and relax at Peggy’s Cove. The tide was rising and we had our own little rocky spot to watch the waves roll in… It made me think of one of our favourite songs by Kelowna band My Kind Of Karma, entitled Sweet, Wild Life.
Next up, we had made plans to go rafting on the Bay of Fundy Tidal Bore with my cousins Val, Jade and Cole. We were going to ride the bore as it cruised up the Shubenacadie River! If you’ve never done this, you gotta. We had the opportunity to watch the tidal bore come in and form waves up to 8 ft tall… It was much like a chocolate river, ochre coloured - although it tasted much more like a salt lick than chocolate. We shared our boat with a family from London, England and had a blast. As the tide rushed in, we literally rode with it through the waves over and over again before moving further down the river to more spots where waves had formed.
We almost lost Jade at one point, but heroic actions by my cousin Cole and I kept her in the boat. We almost lost the father of the English family at another point - he was fully out of the boat but holding on tightly until the whole team in the boat heaved him back in. It was an absolute blast!
We were rafting through history as well, as there was evidence of the canals and dykes the Acadians used hundreds of years ago still along the river banks. This was some of the most fertile land for Acadian Farmers to farm, until the British expelled them from the land in The Great Upheaval from 1755 through 1764. This is an amazing piece of history that all Canadians should read about - there’s also a great Canadian song based on the story by The Band.
Acadian Driftwood, in my opinion it’s one of the best songs around…
That night we played a house concert for my family. It was really special to be playing for those Halifax cousins of mine… It was nice to be able to share our stories from the last couple years, and to accompany them with the songs we wrote. It was also very special to be playing music beside this beauty:
This is the piano I grew up with… A Davies Family heirloom.
John and Val had inherited a beautiful gift from my Mother a number of years back when they lived in Ottawa. It was the piano that My Mom learned to play on, and that I had learned to play on as well. I couldn’t describe the feeling I got when John pointed this out. They had it moved all the way from Ottawa to Halifax to keep it with them. It’s such a beautiful masterpiece of art - an old Cabinet Grand with real ivory keys. From the John Raper Piano Company in Ottawa.
There’s kind of a funny story about this piano… When I was a boy, my musical inspiration struck me one day. I believe it was when I learned that Piano was actually considered a percussion instrument. Well, five-year old Dan (as always) took this to another level… I picked up my mini hockey sticks, and decided to play the piano with the sticks. I whacked away at the keys as hard as I could, assuredly creating a musical score fit for a Michael Bay movie. I didn’t quite understand at the time why my Mother came screaming downstairs and ripped me away from the piano. I just thought I was making too much noise.
Years later it was when Mom was telling me stories about Andrew and I as kids. (Dribble & Drool, for the record.) I had completely destroyed the piano keys, which were made of pure elephant ivory.
Nailed it again, Dan!
Next was Cape Breton. I hadn’t been to the Cape since I was very little, at John & Val’s wedding… I was probably about four at this point. So for the first time in over twenty years, I was returning to tour the beautiful coastlines and highlands of Cape Breton. The Cabot Trail took us counter-clockwise around the Cape, and we watched wide-eyed as the landscape enchanted us.
We had to leave our mark somewhere…
Just one of the scenic scapes we saw along the Cabot Trail. Unforgettable.
If you ever go to Nova Scotia, do yourself a favour and afford yourself a day or more to spend on the Cabot Trail. It’s a truly unforgettable experience. Next time will be with tents on motorcycles.
The day to depart Halifax came on Friday. We gave our hugs and kisses, and with hearts full of love, packed our gear and left once again for the train station. This would be our last train trip of the tour - and we were en route to New Brunswick!
Thank you John, Val, Jade, Thomas and Cole for all your love, support, time, food and hospitality! I’m proud and grateful to call each and every one of you family.
Next Issue: Rainy Day People in Moncton, NB!
Currently Listening: Acadian Driftwood - The Band.