Halifax – Lunenburg

Lunenburg is a port town, located on the Fairhaven Peninsula at the western side of Mahone Bay, approximately 50 miles southwest of the county boundary with the Halifax Regional Municipality and 25 miles (by water) from Peggy’s Cove.


Since we were arriving there from Peggy’s Cove, we drove part of the distance through the marshy coastal landscape,


although in the inland areas, farming had tamed some of it.


The town was established by the four founding fathers, Patrick Sutherland, Dettlieb Christopher Jessen, John Creighton and Jean-Baptiste Moreau during Father Le Loutre’s War, four years after Halifax was established.


The town was one of the first British attempts to settle Protestants in Nova Scotia intended to displace Mi’kmaq and Acadian Catholics. British settlement posed a lasting, grave and certain threat to Mi’kmaq’s control over their traditional territorial borders of Mi’kmaq within Wabanaki. Considering that British conditions for peace required surrender of Mi’kmaq sovereignty to the Crown, Wabanaki groups raided Lunenburg nine times in the early years of the settlement in an attempt to reclaim their loss.

The historic town was designated a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site in 1995. This designation ensures protection for much of Lunenburg’s unique architecture and civic design, being the best example of planned British colonial settlement in Canada. We decided to explore the town before seeing the harbor and fisheries museum.


The design of the grey house above, including an extended central bay, carrying up from the entrance to the roof level, is apparently unique to Lunenburg. Though it’s not something used on every building, there are still enough examples for it to be a notable town feature.


Otherwise, the housing stock has been generally well preserved but the styles are typical of many Canadian and American small towns.


In the center of town, there’s a small park, balanced somewhat precariously on the side of a hill, that acts as a civic center for the plan, complete with facing church,


octagonal bandstand, and war memorial.


Imposing a ‘standard’ planning approach on to a steep landscape, has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s orderly, in that everyone can see the map in their heads,


but getting it to work and make it walkable is definitely harder. On the other hand, having a variety of viewing angles adds drama, when drama is called for.


We headed back down hill towards the main streets where we once again encountered the Canadian love of overhead wires. I can certainly understand the difficulty


of putting wires underground in very rocky ground; but you would think that in a World Heritage Site historic district some other solution could be developed – something more than adding occasional attractive graphics.


The harbor (red dot below) sits at the northern end of the long, complex Lunenburg Bay.


The town wraps around the end of the bay, basking in the southern exposure, here seen from a small park on the other side,


and here from the dock, looking back up the hill to a hotel and restaurant.


We had lunch on the terrace of the Salt Shaker Deli that also backed up to the view.


It also looked over the memorial to fishermen (and women) lost at sea.


This dedication explains it.


Each side of each pylon lists people from a lost ship; but this one lists just the ships themselves. A stark reminder of what you’re getting into out on the ocean.


Across the dock from the memorial we spent time on the Bluenose II.


Bluenose II

It has quite a story. Bluenose was a fishing and racing gaff rig schooner built in 1921 in Nova Scotia, Canada. A celebrated racing ship and fishing vessel, Bluenose under the command of Angus Walters became a provincial icon for Nova Scotia and an important Canadian symbol in the 1930s, serving as a working vessel until she was wrecked in 1946. Nicknamed the “Queen of the North Atlantic”, she was later commemorated by a replica, Bluenose II, built in 1963. The name Bluenose originated as a nickname for Nova Scotians from as early as the late 18th century.


Designed by William Roué, the vessel was intended for both fishing and racing duties. The design was a combination of the designs of both Nova Scotian and American shipbuilders had been constructing for the North Atlantic fishing fleet. The vessel was constructed of Nova Scotian pine, spruce, birch and oak; and the masts were created from Oregon pine.


Bluenose II, being a Lunenburg schooner, used the dory trawl method. Lunenburg schooners carried eight dories, each manned by two members of the crew, called dorymen. From the dories, lines of strong twine up to 1.6 mi long which had 3 ft lines with hooks on the end spaced every 10 ft were released, supported at either end by buoys which acted as markers. The dorymen would haul in the catch and then return to the ship. Here’s a model of one of the dories in action.


Sailing ships like Bluenose II are sort of automatically photogenic; so it’s easy to wander around and find interesting things to inspect.


For the nautically curious, here are the ship’s statistics.


And for those who appreciate history and art, here’s the commemorative stamp (borrowed from Wikipedia).


A world away but still available on a nice day (They give sailing tours).

At the other end of the harbor we visited the Fisheries Museum.


This differed from the Maritime Museum in Halifax in that it focused less on the ships and more on the activities. Here’s a sense of the ocean where all this took place.


Along Nova Scotia, but especially south of Newfoundland, shallow areas (shown in white on the map) provided huge fish nurseries where the water was warmed by the sun and the Gulf Stream. Fishermen had long been aware of this; and fleets were developed specifically to take advantage of these conditions. (Of course, in true human fashion, they took so many fish that the entire cod fishery was destroyed – hard to believe but true)

The native Mi’kma’ki fished along the coast and in the rivers, using a different approach.


This worked for them but didn’t deliver the kinds of quantities that the European settlers were trying to deliver to a larger market place. The museum contains boats, drawings, and models to tell its story. The Lunenburg Dory drawings have elegant simplicity.


The real thing is still is a bit messier but still visually compelling.


Displays of tools and templates give a sense of what it takes to build a dory; but it would have been fun to see one actually underway.



Upstairs, pictorial sketches and scale models told the fisherman’s story.



Although they were not easy to photograph, given all the reflections, the portrayal of the water with small waves and larger swells gave the boats a real sense of being out on the water, and at work. On the other hand, the view from a dory could be much compelling than the one that these models present. Here are three by famed artist Winslow Homer.


The Herring NetWinslow Homer

The Herring Net gives a sense of how small these dories would feel with two fishermen and all the paraphernalia required for successful fishing. Emphasized by their ghostly silhouettes the ‘home base’ schooners seem very far away.


The Fog Warning – Winslow Homer

The Fog Warning underscores how vulnerable fishermen were to the vagaries of weather, again how far it was back to the schooner, and the grit it took to do this alone.


Lost on the Grand Banks – Winslow Homer

Finally, Lost on the Grand Banks makes clear what can happen when the fog stops warning and closes in for real – obscuring the schooner and creating confusion and fear.

Needless to say, we mere tourist mortals didn’t have to deal with any of this; and when we emerged from the Fisheries Museum we caught a glimpse of the Bluenose II returning across the harbor from one of its runs. Nice way to end the day.


That wrapped up our tour of Halifax and environs. Next we headed for Moncton !


See you there.


Halifax – Peggy’s Cove

With a few days of walking and sightseeing in Halifax, we decided that a day trip by car might be a good change. And in contrast to the previous day’s downpour, we were promised a bright, sunny day – a perfect chance to get outside. We opted for two well-known tourist destinations west of Halifax: Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg.

Peggy’s Cove is a small rural community located on the eastern shore of St. Margaret’s Bay, which is famous for the Peggy’s Point Lighthouse (established 1868). It is 26 miles southwest of Downtown Halifax and comprises one of the numerous small fishing communities located around the perimeter of the Chebucto Peninsula. The community is named after the cove of the same name, a name also shared with Peggy’s Point, immediately to the east of the cove. The village marks the eastern point of the St. Margaret’s Bay, the red dot right above the words NOVA SCOTIA on the map below.


The first recorded name of the cove was Eastern Point Harbor or Peggs Harbor in 1766. The village is likely named after Saint Margaret’s Bay (Peggy being the nickname for Margaret), which Samuel de Champlain named after his mother Marguerite.


This overview gives a sense of the scale of the place – essentially a big extrusion of granite being constantly beaten on by the wind and ocean, with a lighthouse to give warning and a small collection of buildings that were likely originally about fishing but today mostly support tourism. The Atlantic sweeps up the eastern seaboard and beats pretty hard on this coastline. There’s no breakwater.


The iconographic lighthouse seems too small for the setting but I guess it’s anchored well enough to not be blown away. There are probably several hundred thousand pictures like this one in digital collections around the world.


Here’s another view, from the approach road.



Of course, in today’s world, you have to time your shot.


We had arrived just barely in advance of the first wave of landliners and tourists. From its inception, the community’s economy revolved around fishery. However, tourism began to overtake fishing in economic importance following the Second World War. Today, Peggy’s Cove is a major tourist attraction, although its inhabitants still fish for lobster, and the community maintains a rustic undeveloped appearance.

Looking back towards the restaurant you get a clear sense of the way in which the granite boulders have been strewn across the landscape. More than 400 million years ago, in the Devonian Period, the plate tectonics movement of the Earth’s crust allowed molten material to bubble up from the Earth’s interior. This formed the rocks we see today and are part of the Great Nova Scotia batholith.

The unique landscape of Peggy’s Cove and surrounding areas was subsequently carved by the migration of glaciers and the ocean tides.


The village was founded in 1811 when the Province of Nova Scotia issued a land grant of more than 800 acres (320 ha) to six families of German descent. The settlers relied on fishing as the mainstay of their economy but also farmed where the soil was fertile. They used surrounding lands to pasture cattle. In the early 1900s the population peaked at about 300. The community supported a schoolhouse, church, general store, lobster cannery and boats of all sizes that were nestled in the cove. The photo below shows the tourism restaurant on the left and ‘village’ buildings scattered to the right.


If you’re willing to get a bit off the path to the lighthouse, you can get up close and personal with some of this geology. The view below shows the way in which the undulations trap pools of water between tides.


Closer to the shoreline there’s a clear warning about “sneaker” waves.


Of course, the black rocks are the ones that attract some people – it was such a beautiful day, what could the harm be?


I found some of the layering, fault lines and smooth-rough contrast intriguing.



And of course, here and there, signs of determination and resilience – hard to believe.


We headed back inland towards Lunenburg. It didn’t take long for the landscape to show it’s softer side where soil had been able to accumulate around the boulders.


And once we reached the main road and rounded a bend, a view back put things in scale.


Halifax – Maritime Museum

The museum was founded in 1948 as the Maritime Museum of Canada; but through several moves it developed into the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, and a part of the Nova Scotia Museum system. In addition to over 30,000 artifacts, the museum also has a collection of 30,000 photographs as well as a large collection of charts and rare books. A reference library, open to the public, is named after the Museum’s founding director, The Niels Jannasch Library. The museum has Canada’s largest collection of ship portraits



as well as a large collection of ship models.


SS Damottar Castle

Always impressive to see how much detail gets replicated.


The galleries surround a large open space filled with sailboats.


It’s really helpful to be able to see them from so many different angles.



It helps also being able to so clearly see the interior construction,


especially in a couple of cases where the exterior skin of the hull has been removed.


Much of this is also what you would find at many maritime museums; but two parts of this museum are absolutely unique to Halifax.

Sinking of the Titanic

A special permanent exhibit explores the sinking of RMS Titanic with an emphasis on Nova Scotia’s connection to recovering the bodies of Titanic victims.


This exhibit of a ‘found’ teacup shows some of the romance and fashion that was associated with the new class of steamships, in this case one from the Quebec Steamship Company, a “tangible reminder of the pride, opulence and attention to detail that was common in steamship companies at the turn of the century.”


There was also a lot of bravado about the advancement of steamship technology.


During construction, the Titanic was heralded as unsinkable. “Marine tragedies would be a thing of the past“.


A close-up of the section gives a sense of the massiveness of the construction, revealed by comparing the size of the engine room below to the cabins above.


The museum has the world’s foremost collection of wooden artifacts from Titanic, including one of the few surviving deck chairs.


The Titanic exhibit also includes a child’s pair of shoes which helped identify Titanic‘s “unknown child” as Sidney Leslie Goodwin, previously unidentified for 100 years.


The other dramatic event presented by the museum was explosive.

Mont-Blanc Explosion

December 1917 saw one of the greatest disasters in Canadian history, when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions, collided with the Belgian Relief vessel SS Imo in “The Narrows” between upper Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin.


In this case, the significance of the Narrows was that it required the shipping lanes to be located quite tight to the shore line where limited maneuvering room made collisions more likely. The resulting Halifax Explosion, devastated the Richmond District of Halifax, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 others.  The blast was the largest artificial explosion before the development of nuclear weapons.


Significant aid came from Boston, strengthening the bond between the two coastal cities.

One unique story made the event intensely personal. A young girl was lifted by the force of the blast and carried a quarter of a mile through the air – and somehow survived.


As an adult many years later she commemorated the event by creating this quilt of her “flight” and other events of the day.

This bowsprit commemorated our events of the day and we headed out for dinner.


Next time a side trip to Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg.






Halifax – Museum of Immigration


The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is Canada’s national museum of immigration. The museum occupies part of Pier 21, the former ocean liner terminal and immigration shed from 1928 to 1971. Pier 21 is Canada’s last remaining ocean immigration shed. The facility is often compared to Ellis Island (1892-1954), in terms of its importance to mid-20th century immigration to Canada an association it shares with 19th century immigration history at Grosse Isle, Quebec (1832-1932) and Partridge Island in Saint John, New Brunswick (1785-1941). The Museum began as an independent institution run by the Pier 21 Society in 1999. It became a national museum run by the Canadian federal government in 2011.

We came at it from the end of the building, walking along the harbor from downtown.


Today, it’s used as a cruise ship port; and the scale of these ships is impossible to avoid,


especially as you deal with them in an architectural context. They dwarf everything.


Since the building is long and thin, and retains its original openings out to the pier, some of this scale comes (visually) crashing into the building as well.


This part of the harbor bends at a sharp angle (see sign below), so some of the relationships to the ships can be dramatic.


On the inside, one end of the building has been outfitted as a tourism market focused on the cruise ships. It was interesting on this trip that this pattern repeats itself at just about every port. There is strong desire to cater to travelers’ curiosity about the ‘local’ community; but that tends to be focused on not going to far from the ship and buying lots of local products. The other pattern, of course, takes passengers via cruise buses to distinct tourist destinations. We did a bit of that ourselves which we will show you later.


The Museum itself is located farther down in the former Pier 21 immigration facility built in 1928 as part of the Ocean Terminals development in Halifax. The Pier played a crucial role in World War II and in the peak years of postwar immigration to Canada in the 1940s and 50s. Pier 21 closed as an immigration terminal in 1971. From the 1970s until 1991, Pier 21 housed the Nova Scotia Nautical Institute, a training facility for professional mariners. During the 1990s, the former immigration quarters provided studio and workshop space for artists, which has influenced the approach that the museum has taken towards telling the ‘immigration story’. The ocean liner pier itself became increasingly used as the Halifax Port Authority’s cruise ship dock.

The museum entrance area has a rather sobering display about the WW II MS St Louis.

The MS St. Louis was a German ocean liner. In 1939, it set off on a voyage in which its captain, Gustav Schroder, tried to find homes for over 900 Jewish refugees from Germany. After they were denied entry to Cuba, the United States, and Canada, the refugees were finally accepted in various European countries, including Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, and France. Historians have estimated that approximately a quarter of them died in death camps during World War II.


MS St Louis – Wheel of ConscienceDaniel Libeskind

In 2011 a memorial monument called the Wheel of Conscience, was produced by the Canadian Jewish Congress, designed by Daniel Libeskind with graphic design by David Berman and Trevor Johnston. The memorial is a polished stainless steel wheel. Symbolizing the policies that turned away more than 900 Jewish refugees, the wheel incorporates four inter-meshing gears each showing a word to represent factors of exclusion: antisemitism, xenophobia, racism, and hatred. The back of the memorial is inscribed with the passenger list, and that is also displayed on wall panels.


This wall of honor is dedicated to the Jewish passengers, and is used to frame the main lobby of the Museum of Immigration. The museum itself is on the upper level, past another view of the current cruise ship.


The Canadian Immigration Hall was created to tell the story of 400 years of immigration to Canada, from initial contact with First Nations peoples to the present day. A multimedia immigration map allows visitors to visualize migration trends. The BMO Oral History Gallery includes almost 200 oral histories that visitors can browse by theme. The exhibit is divided into four sections: Journey, Arrival, Belonging, and Impact.


The Pier 21 story collection has broadened from those who actually passed through Pier 21’s doors, to include stories about immigration from all points of entry from the early beginnings of Canada (including First Nations) and concentrating on all immigration from 1867 to the present. Pier 21 is collecting family histories that go back to 1867 and is eager to begin collecting stories from those that arrived after 1971. These stories will be among the raw materials used to create future exhibits.

I was struck with the way that the museum had artists create displays from the various artifacts to help tell the stories in striking ways. This one, for example, uses the dishes that some immigrants brought with them to display their story.


Although it’s subtle, the plates are distributed as a map, reflecting settlement patterns. A painting introduces some of the chaos that immigrants experienced along the way.


The Immigrants: Homage to F.H. VarleySoheila Esfahani – 2015

This panel tells one woman’s story about telling others’ stories. Soheila Esfahani moved to Canada from Tehran, Iran in 1992 and is an artist who “reimagined the painting Immigrants, by Frederick Varley in 1922, as an installation of 60 plates that correspond to the many faces in the painting and represent the individual’s culture in the form of an ornate plate”. A detail gives a sense of the variety of backgrounds included.


Here, the details offer a sense of the individuals who shared the journey.




Holder of DreamsLin Xu – 2012

Lin Xu explains, “Holder of Dreams consists of a used suitcase filled with ceramic pillows, each printed with words conveying feelings and emotions in different languages. . . A suitcase is a holder of the most meaningful memories and personal stories. . . A pillow is an object that provides a unique sentimental support as you travel and are away from home.” They are common objects that have strong symbolic meanings.

Visitor Reflections from Across Canada – Canada: Day 1 was first launched as a travelling exhibition in 2014. During its cross Canada tour, Canadians . . . shared many stories about immigration. This exhibit showed personal messages to new Canadians in the form of annotated baggage tags.


Sometimes these reflections on immigration seem very in the moment.


Baggage tags were not just for baggage but sometimes used to show where to send the people themselves, because they could not speak English.


The variety of people arriving over the years is broad, much as in the US.











Interesting to contemplate in light of the immigration tensions around the world today.

In some cases the displays are prosaic but the attached messages are not.


Canadian Hockey Skates

These were donated by Chai Bouiuphaphanh from Laos along with his comments, “I love winter, which is strange . . . I learned to skate the first day. I went out to the pond. I wanted to learn how to play hockey. And we went to my friend’s farm . . . and learned how to skate but I couldn’t do it. Everybody gave up on me, but I kept going at it and I learned to skate the first day and play hockey.

In other instances the sentiments inform an aesthetic.


Abeng – carved horn as a spiritual instrument – 2017

Shauntay Grant and Tyshan Wright, are husband and wife from Jamaica. She is a descendant of Jamaican Maroons exiled to Nova Scotia in 1796, and served as Halifax’s Poet Laureate from 2009 – 2011. He is from the Maroon town of Accompong in Jamaica and skilled in the art of making traditional Maroon instruments. They collaborated on the Abeng, that is used in celebration, ceremony and war.


              We Walked The Gravel Path                        The Trees They Loosened

               Past The Sleeping Stalls                                And The Sky

               The Rock Fence And Cryptic Stones            Painted Itself Ember & Rose

If you enlarge these, you can read the rest

There were other approaches to presenting the materials as well, such as murals.


These two back to back rooms conveyed the “waiting in line” quality of the experience


and displayed some of the historic time lines involved.

In more contemporary fashion, a large, changing electronic wall graphic illustrated the immigration flows at different points in time and from different directions.


Some of the data could be viewer-manipulated by date to show how the conditions changed – or you could just watch it cycle through. I took pictures at intervals.


Historically immigration came primarily from Europe; but in more contemporary times the flows have been from Asia and Africa.

There was still more to see, especially a documentary section towards the end, where this piece of American-related history showed up, slaves escaping from the US, to be greeted with this greeting: “I do not impeach these people with any lack of industrious habit nor would I impugn their honesty of purpose, but . . . I would consider it unwise to permit them to come in large numbers to our country . . .”


It’s revealing to read Canadian Immigration practices, even up through the 1960’s: “Before 1967, Canada’s immigration policies were clear in some ways and vague in others. They were designed to make it easier to admit desirable immigrants, while leaving room to exclude others based on race, nationality or ideology. Some reasons for exclusion relied on evidence that a person may have a negative impact on society, such as an applicant’s criminal record. Sometimes, it was at the discretion of the officer if an applicant was “likely to become a public charge.” Canadian officials denied immigrants before arrival or at the port of entry. They could also deport immigrants after arrival.”

These issues sound all too familiar as we debate them in the US today. Canada’s approach seems broader but not all that different.


We headed out towards our next Halifax destination, lunch, then the Maritime Museum.



Halifax – Art Gallery of Nova Scotia


With locations in downtown Halifax and Yarmouth, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is the largest art museum in Atlantic Canada. Since 1908, the Gallery has been a gateway for the visual arts in Atlantic Canada by engaging people with art. It is committed to this mission as an agency of the Province of Nova Scotia and one of the premier arts institutions in Canada.The gallery was founded in 1908 as the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts. It was renamed in 1975 as the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. In 1988, the gallery moved to the historic Dominion Building, built in 1865, designed by architects David Stirling and William Hay.


Dominion Building, 1865

The gallery expanded in 1998 to include several floors of the Provincial Building located just to the south of Dominion Building (just to the right in the photo above). The two structures are separated by Ondaatje Court, a public space that besides being used for temporary exhibitions, contains several large permanent sculptures.


Underneath the courtyard is a large underground exhibition room which connects the two buildings.

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is an agency of the Province of Nova Scotia. Its mandate is to develop a collection, exhibition program, and public program that brings Nova Scotians and visitors in contact with contemporary and historic art that is associated with the province while also introducing art from across the region, the country, and other nations and cultures.


The entrance inside the museum is dramatically modern (and hard to photograph). This screw-shaped sculpture hangs over the street level atrium and stairs sweeping to the gallery levels below.


We worked our way down to the next level and discovered the work – and the story – of local folk artist Maud Lewis.


Maud Dowley Lewis (1903-1970) was born to John and Agnes Dowley on the Yarmouth and Acadian Shore of Nova Scotia. As a child, Maud spent most of her time alone, mostly because she felt uncomfortable about her differences around the other children. She had been born with almost no chin and was always much smaller than everyone else. However, Maud seemed to be a happy child who enjoyed the time she spent with her parents and brother. Her mother introduced her to watercolor; and she began her artistic career by selling hand-drawn and painted Christmas cards.

In 1935, Maud’s father died and in 1937, her mother followed. As was typical at the time, her brother inherited the family home. After living with her brother for a short while she moved to Digby to live with her aunt. There she met Everett Lewis, an itinerant fish peddler, and married him shortly after in 1938. They moved into Everett’s one-room house with a sleeping loft in Marshalltown, a few miles west of Digby. This house would operate as Maud’s studio, gradually become her most important work of art, and eventually be acquired by the Art Gallery for its permanent collection.


Her paintings and house murals both dealt with local scenes, birds and flowers.


There’s no question that the work has a similar spirit to that of Grandma Moses; but, in an honest way, the work also reflects the large differences in their circumstances as well.


The small house almost seems like a stage set; and it’s hard to focus on the idea that she lived nearly her entire life in this one room.



The art has a way of unifying everything so that, for example, the heavy cast iron stove, the tray that sits on top of it, and the pan that sits on the burner all contribute equally to the composition. The tea kettle by contrast feels out of context because it isn’t (yet) done.


Of course when she was working in the space it took on a more dynamic character,


almost like an inventor’s laboratory full of interesting experiments, out of which would appear these calm, direct records of what she saw.




The house seen in context really reveals its modesty;


but she was apparently very happy to be living and working there.


Framing her work in a way were some other pieces of folk art from the museum’s collection. In 1951 the Danish-Canadian designer Thor Hansen argued that the only way to develop a dynamic craft sector in Canada was in connection to the country’s folk arts. “A strong and vigorous folk movement embracing all the legitimate crafts, assures a healthy, continuous growth in the fine arts of a nation.” Hansen believed that there were two basic principles of folk art that were essential to the crafts, “one is the extensive use of symbolism and the a rhythmic repetition similar to that found in musical composition.” As the objects in Folk/Funk demonstrate, there are important similarities between these forms of art making.

Here are a few examples.





Ocean Liner – Samuel Bolivar – 1967


Red Winged Blackbird Platter – Lucky Rabbit Pottery, Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia

A third strong show at the museum was built around Canada’s native peoples and their cultural expressions, both traditional and contemporary.


Edward Ned Bear – Ni’ceskwa 2011


Margaret Johnson – Wisqoqe’k jikijijk 1997


                                                 Caroline Gould – Tl-na’msitewey kloqowejig 2001;                                                                                         Margaret Pelletier – Njijaqmij Toqlukweyak – 2002;                                 Ursula Johnson – Family Picnic 2010


Charles Doucette – Signals: A Communique from Terra Nullis – 1999


Norval Morrisseau – Moose with Birds – c 1975


Allen Angeconeb – Man series – 1955


Bill Reid – Raven Banner c 1980


Brian Jungen – Beer Cooler 2001


Sarah Uppik – Loon – 1970s


Annie Pootoogook – Three Men Carving a Seal, Three Women Cleaning – 2006

A wonderfully wide-ranging collecting point of view exhibited in this show.

Finally, a TOTALLY different but equally dramatic show:


Since this title was a mystery to us, and may be to you, here’s an introduction:

The Salzinnes Antiphonal is an illuminated choir book in the collection of the Patrick Power Library, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax. Originating from the Cistercian Abbey of Salzinnes on the outskirts of Namur, present-day Belgium, it was made in 1554-1555 for the former cantrix and prioress, Dame Julienne de Glymes.


Hand-scribed on vellum using iron gall ink, the scale of the over-sized manuscript is breathtaking. A cultural artifact of international significance, the Salzinnes Antiphonal exhibits rare full-page illuminations; features multiple images of nuns and their corresponding inscriptions; records three separate religious orders; and illustrates patrons’ coats of arms. Unprecedented among antiphonal manuscripts, it serves as a hybrid record of commemoration, monastic kinship and communal devotion, and a dedicatory record to the de Glymes family as patrons.


No other manuscript to date includes all of these features together in one book. The text, musical notation and illuminations combine to make for an extraordinarily rich document of a time, place and a specific group of women.

The show includes an exposition of the steps involved in creating these books, first the vellum – which looks as if it must have been a very warm process.


Hongroyeur, L’Operation de mettre au Suif et Plan de L’Etuve – 1869

Then, the tools of the trade


As you might intuit from the looks of some of these, the process was not necessarily simple nor gentle. There was a lot of punching, scraping, pulling and binding to go along with the lettering and painting. As you can see below, it took some training to sing from these scores because while the notes have positions on the scale, they are all the same note in time – yet clearly not the same when sung.


In one gallery, a recording played the sung version while an electronic display stepped from note to note.


For Antiphonals like these, conservation is a must in order to deal with the age of the materials; and in today’s museums showing the conservation is part of the display.



A final touch completes the story – a look at the sisters who did the singing.


There’s lots of other things to see at the Gallery; but for this trip it’s time to move on.


Island in the Ice – Tom Forestall

From what we hear, we don’t want to stay so long we get stuck in the ice.

Next stop – Halifax Harbor




Halifax – Old Burying Ground

The Old Burying Ground (also known as St. Paul’s Church Cemetery) is located in Downtown Halifax. It was founded in 1749, the same year as the settlement, as the town’s first burial ground. It was originally non-denominational and for several decades was the only burial place for all Haligonians.


In 1793 it was turned over to the Anglican St. Paul’s Church


and was closed in 1844. The site steadily declined until the 1980’s when it was restored and refurbished by the Old Burying Ground Foundation. Over the decades some 12,000 people were interred in the Old Burial Ground. Today there are about 1,200 headstones, some having been lost and many others being buried with no headstone. Many notable residents are buried in the cemetery, including British Major General Robert Ross, who led the successful Washington Raid of 1814 and burned the White House before being killed in battle at Baltimore a few days later.

The last erected and most prominent structure is the Welsford-Parker Monument, a Triumphal arch standing at the entrance to the cemetery commemorating British victory in the Crimean War.


The arch was built by George Lang


and is named after two Haligonians, Major Augustus Frederick Welsford and Captain William Buck Carthew Augustus Parker. Both Nova Scotians died in the Battle of the Great Redan during the Siege of Sevastopol (1854–1855). This monument was the last grave marker in the cemetery. It’s a little less imposing seen more in context.


Ongoing restoration of the rare 18th century grave markers continues.


Many of the stones were carved by hand, though I’m not sure if that is the case with the restorations.


It was interesting to see the Central Library, School of Architecture and Old Burying Ground all lined up in a row along Spring Garden Road, underscoring its continuity in the changing history of the city of Halifax.

Halifax – Dalhousie Architecture School

Dalhousie has three campuses within the Halifax Peninsula and a fourth, the Agricultural Campus, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia. The Sexton Campus in Downtown Halifax hosts the engineering, architecture and planning faculties. It’s immediately adjacent to the Halifax Central Library.


There’s a bit of irony that contemporary architecture is being taught in this handsome, neoclassical building next door to the brand new, very current, Halifax Central Library; but I think that falls into the ‘life is like that’ category. School was in session; and many of the building’s areas were not accessible. I gave myself an informal tour, starting with the fact that building was originally The Halifax Courthouse, built in 1858.


As in most neoclassical buildings, there’s no doubt about where the front door is found – front and center.


As in many older buildings, where the height of the spaces is generous but the floor plan may be limited, inserting a balcony level (here, around the perimeter) provides some additional real estate (although it also adds in the complexity of more stairs). It’s also a bit hard to tell what the working spaces below the balcony might be like.


In other areas this creates the opportunity for more display and storage.


Not all architecture programs include shop space as robust as this. It appeared from what I could observe, that orientation and training were taken seriously.


The lowest level had the sturdiest construction (with modern bracing) but also the most constrictions, and was used the most informally.


I don’t recall that we ever posted a graphic weekly calendar of academic events; but it seems like a good idea – though I suppose that today everyone would have the information on their phones.


Project review spaces don’t seem to have changed much – casual, flexible, and always looking a bit forlorn between sessions.


The exterior materials were a handsome combination of stone and brick.


They looked towards the library – an interesting conversation.