HOHO Halifax, Part 4 – Fairview Lawn Cemetery

October 2, 2017 (continued)

Our final stop on the HopOn HopOff route was the cemetery where the 150 Titanic victims were buried.


The graves, most provided by White Star Line, were arranged in three rows which curved down a hill, to resemble the hull of a ship.


Each gravestone, set neatly alongside each other, was engraved with a name, if known, the number assigned to that body, and the date of death – always the same: April 15, 1912.


A female guide dressed in a long tartan skirt and woolen stockings took groups of us up the hill and gave explanations at a few of the graves.

SONY DSCIf the name was engraved on the top of the gravestone, it meant that the person was identified prior to the time of burial; if the name was on the front of the stone, the person was identified afterwards.


At the grave of the unknown child were many small toys and stuffed animals left by visitors.

SONY DSCAt the front of that stone was a separate plaque and a photograph of a baby (provided by his descendants), indicating his identity. Identification was made possible recently by extracting the DNA from a piece of bone and tooth found in his mortuary bag. Even so, the original headstone has been left as a memorial to all the children who were never identified that died at the sinking of the Titanic.

One headstone is labeled “J. Dawson.” For a long time, girls infatuated with the Jack Dawson character played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 1990s movie about the Titanic would leave flowers and love letters at the grave. dsc02508.jpg

In fact, Jack Dawson was a fictional character; the J. Dawson buried here was named Joseph. James Cameron, director of that movie, may have used the name on the gravestone in the creation of his character, because he had visited this cemetery, but it could also be a coincidence! (The guide told us that a person, in all seriousness, had told her that she saw Rose visiting the grave – that person apparently saw some elderly lady there and was convinced it was Rose – also a fictional character!) An older version of the Titanic story was the British film A Night to Remember – apparently a more accurate account of the disaster.


I believe these two graves may be of two of the musicians on the Titanic; they continued to play uplifting music as the ship sank, and they went down with it.




We returned on the next HOHO to the pier, arriving back on the ship in plenty of time before it sailed.



HOHO Halifax, Part 3 – The Citadel

October 2, 2017 (continued)

Our next stop was the Halifax Citadel, a fort on a hill with many things to see.

We went up to the ramparts and looked at cannons. A kilted guide spoke for a long time to a tour group. We descended a ramp where another guide in a kilt demonstrated how we primed and prepared his musket.

SONY DSCThe Citadel sits on a large hill overlooking the easily-defended harbor, which was what led the British military to found the town of Halifax there in 1749. One of the first buildings constructed was a wooden guardhouse on Citadel Hill, and Halifax’s first settlers built their homes at the base of the hill, close to the shore. As the fort grew, so did the town, which catered to the businesses of supplying the soldiers with essentials as well as off-duty entertainment.


The Citadel one can visit today was completed in 1856 and its official name is Fort George, named after Britain’s King George II. This is actually the fourth fort built on Citadel Hill. It is built in the shape of a star which was typical of many 19th century forts.  This shape provided a wider range to shoot from in case of attack.  In fact, the Citadel was never attacked. SONY DSC

The Citadel National Historic Site contains several things to see: the ramparts with their cannons, the Army Museum, the changing of the sentry guard (every hour that the site is open), reenactment by interpreters in full 78th Highlander uniforms, and one can become a “soldier for the day”, including: getting dressed in a full 78th Highlanders’ uniform –  a cotton shirt, wool kilt, sporran, red wool Highland “doublet,” wool socks, boots, spats, and a Glengarry bonnet bearing the brass badge of the 78th Highlanders. During the three hour program, one can learn to drill, fire a rifle (or, for those under 16, play the British Army’s field drum) and learn the ins and outs of a soldier’s life in Her Majesty’s army! (Pre-booking required; program fee and details available online.) (See Halifax Citadel National Historic Site within novascotia.com website for more information about the Citadel.)


You can dress like a bona fide Highlander in the program Soldier for a Day.


In the gift shop, I found only one style of hooded sweatshirt – not my favorite design, but I was desperate. I bought it along with a few other Scotland-related souvenirs. Dale told me the changing of the guard was about to happen, but by the time I finished the transaction and went outside, it was over! I went to the restroom where I put on the sweatshirt under my fleece jacket. After that, I was comfortable, but could still feel the cold.


Gift shop Mackenzie tartans!

We did not participate in the Soldier for a Day program and only had a quick look at the Army Museum. By far the most interesting thing, to me, was the trench warfare installation. I knew this was a grueling and commonly used type of warfare during WWI but really didn’t have a clear picture of how it looked and worked. We entered as small room where anther kilted guide explained the layout of the trenches in one area of France. There was a diorama of trenches zigzagging across the landscape, which I had never conceptualized before. When the guide moved over to a wall covered with battle maps, I went to have a closer look at the diorama.

A doorway led out to a realistic reconstruction of a trench, which snaked around until it led to an exit onto a grassy area. The floor of the trench was covered with wooden slats, which surprised me. I had envisioned muddy dirt. A female guide dressed in a woolen army uniform explained that the slats were added to trenches after too many soldiers got “trench foot” from constantly standing in muddy trench bottoms. The wooden slats greatly alleviated the problem.

The walls of the trenches were also covered with wood, and I was surprised at how high they were. How were the men able to shoot their guns from them? She explained that there were ladders and benches on which men stood or used to get in and out of the trenches. In some sections, there were rectangular holes where guns could be fired from.SONY DSC

There were also lots of sandbags. Here and there were small rooms, one for an officer’s post, one with medical equipment used for basic first aid (they had even smeared patches of red paint to the floor to look like blood!).


Serious wounds called for transport out of the trench – a hazard itself – to a medical tent or field hospital located some distance away from the battlefield.

When we exited, we returned to the main part of the fort along the outside of the trench, where recruitment and propaganda posters were plastered on the outer wooden walls.SONY DSC



Again we were lucky to arrive at the stop just when a HOHO bus was arriving. As on all of these tourist buses, there was a guide on board pointing out places of interest and narrating as we went along.SONY DSC

HOHO Halifax, Part 2 – the Public Gardens

October 2, 2017 (continued)

Emerging from the Maritime Museum, we took the first available Hop On Hop Off bus. The next place we went were the public gardens, a bona fide Victorian garden.



The requirements to be an “official” Victorian garden include being enclosed by a fence or wall and having a bandstand on the premises. It also has to be free to the public.


The gardens contained many still-blooming rose beds,

as well as a display of dahlias, identified by type.


Although many were starting to wilt, many other still looked beautiful and fresh. I took many close-up photos, happy for the chance to try out how well my new camera worked doing this (it did very well!).

There were designs of flowers arranged symmetrically around historic fountains. One of the fountains dated from 1869. One floral design consisted of flowers that resemble flames (celosia) of red and yellow in S shapes with silver round lights at one end of each, that resembled eyes, so they looked like snakes! (Whimsical snakes, not scary ones – I wonder if that was done on purpose?)

The Weekly Photo Challenge is about rounded this week, which these gardens demonstrated very well!




The gardens were delightful but I was glad it was lunchtime, giving us an excuse to go inside a café near the entrance where the HOHO buses stopped, since I was very cold! We both had coffee and chicken melt sandwiches. From the table we sat at, we could see the bus stop form the window, and when we were ready to go, a HOHO bus happened to pull up, so we ran out and waved so it would wait for us. It wasn’t full, so we got right on.



Horticulture Hall, post-1945



HOHO Halifax, Part 1 – Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

October 2, 2017

Today was an enjoyable day, especially because we got to choose exactly what we wanted to do. We had signed up for the “Hop On Hop Off  (HOHO)with admission to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic” and it also included admission to the Citadel.

The double decker buses painted various colors (like blue, pink, and white) were made in England and used in London until they were “retired” and sold to the city of Halifax. We were told that some London visitors recognize the buses by their numbers and can tell you what route they were on in London! The driver sits on the right side of the vehicle as people do in the UK, but Canadians drive on the right.
The Maritime Museum was Stop #3 and we spent quite a bit of time there. Significant exhibits were dedicated to the 1917 Halifax Explosion and the Titanic disaster. Halifax’s connection to the Titanic is that most of the bodies were retrieved off the coast of Newfoundland and brought to this port, where White Star Line had a headquarters, and about 150 of them are buried in Halifax cemeteries.


In front of the museum


The Halifax Explosion occurred on Dec. 6, 1917 (and the city will commemorate its 100th anniversary this year), when two ships collided in the “Narrows,” a less than one-kilometer wide passageway between the bay and the sea. There is a lot of maritime traffic in that spot. The explosion didn’t actually happen when the ships collided, but rather when they pulled apart. One of the ships was a French warship loaded with explosives. The explosion caused a major fire which destroyed more of the city that had not been blown up in the explosion.


The photographic mural on the wall shows what the port of Halifax looked like after the explosion.


Nearly 2,000 people died and about 9,000 were injured, while others were lifted into the air and set down some distance away unharmed or with only minor scratches. About 500 people suffered damage to their eyes, rendering them blind. That is why the display of the memorial quilt is surrounded by panels with the victims’ names stitched in Braille with beads. 20171002_092034



Each panel is stitched in Braille with 12 victims’ names using beads.


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Halifax’s ophthalmologists were busy operating on people’s eyes.



The Titanic exhibit showed comparisons between the Titanic and other passenger vessels. White Star Line was known for their luxury liners, but Cunard (which still exists today) had a better safety record.

The Titanic sank off the coast of Newfoundland and about 300 bodies were recovered and brought to Halifax. The bodies were numbered chronologically according to when they were recovered. This was a meticulous process to insure accuracy in identification.20171002_100930 (2) About 150 are buried mostly in Fairview Lawn Cemetery (another stop on the Hop On Hop Off route), 12 were buried in a Catholic cemetery and 10 in a Jewish cemetery. Each body had a mortuary bag with its corresponding number, which contained any personal effects that were found that belonged to that person. Some of the bodies were returned to families, but those buried in Halifax were either from families who could not afford to have the body shipped home or were unidentified. Some of the mortuary bags are catalogued and stored at the museum. One item on display was a pair of shoes allegedly belonging to the “unknown child” buried in a special grave at Fairview Lawn. (That child was identified in recent years due to the advances in DNA identification techniques.)

There was information about the separation of first, second and third classes. A lot fewer women and children from third class were saved than those in first class! There were also different menu items for each class.

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This cross section of the Titanic shows where the staterooms of each class were.

Even what they got to eat was different! (L-R: 3rd class menu, 2nd class menu, 1st class menu)

The museum had profiles of some of the victims. One was a man who had kidnapped his


Profile of a sound sleeper

two children and boarded the Titanic under an assumed name. He got his two children onto the last lifeboat, and they were eventually reunited with their mother. The father died and was buried in the Jewish cemetery under the assumed name, even though by then his real name was known.


Another story was of a mother who lost her life along with four of her children. They had not booked passage on the Titanic; they were supposed to sail on another ship, but the coal from that and other vessels was diverted to the Titanic for its high profile maiden voyage. As a result, these other ships were unable to sail as scheduled and some passengers were transferred to the Titanic, including the mother and her four children. The mother was buried with whichever of her children were recovered and identified. Although most of the children’s bodies were never found, all her children’s names were engraved on the tombstone, including those who had not been with her, because the survivors also requested to be buried with their mother when they died.

When we went outside to see a replica of a ship called the Acadia, the wind was blowing strong and cold. One can tour the entire boat, but I only spent a couple of minutes out there before telling Dale I was very cold and was going to wait for him inside.

When I came out of the bathroom, he was waiting for me, having visited a couple of the souvenir shops. (I wish it had occurred to me then to purchase a hoodie in one of those shops; I would have been more comfortable a lot sooner!)



Diorama of the way the Titanic looked when it was discovered at the bottom of the ocean



Pirates were a problem in the 18th-19th centuries. Here is what could happen to them if they were caught! This cage hung from a scaffold above our heads. I took this picture from a 2nd floor window.




FOTD: Celosia

I always thought of this flower as “flame flower” because I didn’t know its real name. I’ve seen these in many places. I have since found out that it is called celosia, in the amaranth family, and the red version is sometimes called “forest fire.” So I was close. In tribute to fall, in sympathy with the victims of the California wildfires, and participating in Cee’s Flower of the Day, here is a yellow celosia from the Public Gardens of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Yellow and red celosias were used to make swirly designs that looked like snakes. (More on that in a future post.)SONY DSC