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A Look at Halifax

HALIFAX: From Hell on the Water to Harbor Imperium

 

One place you won’t want to miss when traveling through Canada is Halifax, Nova Scotia. This Maritime city is known for many things, one of which is being the site of the second largest natural harbor in the world. Only the harbor of Sydney Australia is larger. This fact obviously made Halifax a town of industry and innovation as it was one of the major harbor towns in the world at the time.

 

 

This coastal Canadian city is also responsible for quite a few other memorable events. For example in 1752 the first Canadian newspaper was published. This newspaper was named the Halifax Gazette. Only a few years after, the first Canadian post office was opened in town. Because of its location, it was a meeting place for pretty much everyone from all walks of life. British military were still based in Halifax at the time it became a very important harbor town and civilians from all places of the world crossed paths here when traveling internationally.

 

One of the things that Halifax is probably most famous for, unfortunately, is an event that we know today as the Halifax Explosion. For those who don’t know the story, this was an unprecedented explosion caused by two ships that collided, as one tried to navigate into the harbor and the other tried navigating out. The ship responsible for the ensuing explosion which caused the deaths of over 1900 people and wounding of over 9000 others, was the called the Mont Blanc. This ship was carrying close to 3000 tons of ammunition bound for France.

Even with its grim history in this regard, what makes Halifax a wonderful place to visit is the feeling you get when walking through this amazing harbor town. For example, you can feel like you’re walking through a page in the history books when visiting Privateers Wharf. This is a completely restored 19th-century Halifax neighborhood. Once you have seen this quaint little nook, take a ride out to the Halifax Citadel. This is the location of yet another fort called Fort George. At Fort George one can gaze across the whole city center.

Interestingly enough, there are quite a few famous showbiz names that were born in Halifax. One name that all of us probably recognize is that of Denny Doherty from the band; “The Mamas And The Papas.” Besides Denny, another famous singer, Sarah McLachlan also has her roots in this old coastal city. These two share their birthplace with no less than two famous producers, a screenwriter, two actresses and a well-known ice hockey player! No doubt that Halifax is a place that everybody visiting Canada should get a chance to experience.

 

By Kimberly B

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Feel Like Royalty On Prince Edward Island!

Known for its relaxing aura and quaint scenery, Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) is a place that many people continue to come back to each year. It has a special feeling of rustic history, but still offers many opportunities for entertainment and relaxation. Some, like me, are lucky enough to be on Prince Edward Island during the Charlottetown Festival, an elaborate event hosted each year at the Confederation Center of the Arts. Definitely it’s something to check out if on the island during this time.

It’s not often that you can see a real version of something depicted in a fictional book. On P.E.I. this magic is possible, as Green Gables, known from the world famous books by L.M. Montgomery, is located in the town of Cavendish.

Another yearly event that is pure enjoyment even for the non-jazz enthusiast is the Prince Edward Island Annual Jazz and Blues Festival. Lasting a full week, this festival essentially takes you all over Charlottetown, while you enjoy the sounds of many different local and non-local blues and jazz musicians. As I said, even for the non-jazz enthusiast, the ambiance and atmosphere during this special festival is in its own right, addictive.

Don’t let the serenity of Prince Edward Island fool you into thinking it’s a boring place. During the summer, those who seek activity and entertainment will get more than they bargained for. Prince Edward Island is home to many water sports activities. The Northumberland Strait, for example, is a booming and busy water sports area. The waters here and in the Gulf of St Lawrence are generally warmer than those off the coast of New England. This makes Prince Edward Island one of the preferred vacation hot-spots in the area.

Maybe its beauty can be attributed to the way it was created. 15,000 years ago, the area we now know as Prince Edward Island was originally covered by glaciers. The receding of these glaciers gave way to the island. This could also be the reason why P.E.I. has some of the richest soil in Canada.

If you are an avid golfer, then Prince Edward Island is also a definite must-visit location. Aside from the fact that golf  is one of the most popular sports on the island, its beautiful courses and greens are not found anywhere else. It would be a shame not to experience the game of golf in the environment in which it was meant to be played!

Fort Walsh and the Cypress Hills Massacre

 

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Canada?

For many people, the answer to that question is one of five things: 1) maple syrup; 2) beavers; 3) hockey; 4) beer; and 5) Mounties. Of those five things, only Mounties- formally known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP- are unique to the Great White North.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police of today- with the exception of those guarding Parliament Hill in Ottawa who, at least according to the Arrogant Worms, “just sit on [their horses] and tell American tourists the parliament’s in session”– have long since exchanged the iconic campaign hat and scarlet serge of their precursors for the darker, duller uniforms typical of law enforcement officers around the world. However, every once in a while, things like those little Mountie bobble-heads you find in airport gift shops and road markers along the Red Coat Trail depicting the eponymous ‘red coat’ who once dominated the Northwestern literary genre remind us of the RCMP’s legendary precursor, the North West Mounted Police.

Although the North West Mounted Police first came into being in 1873, it had existed conceptually since the time of Confederation. When the Dominion of Canada was formed in 1867, it was a tiny country consisting of present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and parts of Ontario and Quebec. Its first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, however, had visions of a vast Dominion spread across the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic. At the time, the only other ‘civilized’ North American territory under British control was the Province of British Columbia, located on the other side of the continent. In order to realize his dream of a huge unified Canada, Macdonald knew he would need to build a railroad connecting the Dominion with BC. In order to do that, however, he would first need to establish some sort of law in order in the vast, wild country in between known as Rupert’s Land. And in order to do that, he would need to send in a rugged mobile police force like the Irish Constabulary… a Mounted Police.

Macdonald toyed with the idea of establishing a western Mounted Police for years, but was reluctant to pull the trigger out of fear that the force might put undue strain on the Dominion’s meager budget. In order to determine whether or not such a police force was really necessary, he dispatched government agents to assess the situation in Rupert’s Land, which had been renamed the North-West Territories in 1870, on two separate occasions. Both agents returned with the disturbing reports that American adventurers from Montana had moved into the area, and that some of them were causing trouble.

Meanwhile in the North-West Territories, whisky traders from Fort Benton, Montana, had established trading posts in what is now southern Alberta. There, they sold various goods, including rotgut whisky and repeating rifles, to the local Blackfoot in exchange for valuable buffalo robes. The whisky and repeating rifles had a particularly devastating effect on the Indians.

Along with the whisky traders came another breed of entrepreneurs known as wolfers. These men were after the pelts of prairie wolves (the prairie wolf is a now-extinct subspecies of gray wolf which was common on the Canadian prairies at the time). Instead of hunting and trapping the wolves in the regular fashion, these men would shoot a bison, dress its carcass, and rub the meat with toxic strychnine. Later, wolves would flock to the carcass and gorge themselves on the meat before succumbing to the poison. The wolfers would later return to reap the rewards.

In May 1873, a party of wolfers known as the ‘Green River Renegades’ was making its way south from present-day Alberta to Fort Benton, Montana, to trade in a season’s take of wolf pelts. Just before the wolfers reached their destination, they were accosted by a Blackfoot raiding party. Although the Blackfoot didn’t kill any of them, they stole all their horses. Furious, the wolfers made their slow, painful way to Fort Benton on foot.

When they reached the town and traded in their pelts, the wolfers rounded up a posse and thundered after the Blackfoot, hell-bent on retrieving their stolen horses. They followed the trail north into British territory, but lost it just south of the Cypress Hills. The wolfers knew that a number of whisky traders had established posts in the Cypress Hills, and decided to pay them a visit before heading back to Montana.

The only two whisky traders still operating in the Cypress Hills at that time were Americans named Abel Farwell and Moses Solomon, who built their posts a short distance from each other, on opposite sides of a creek. When the wolfers cantered into the coulee in which the whisky traders had their posts, they saw that a small, impoverished band of Assiniboine had made camp in the area.

The wolfers met with the whisky traders and quickly got drunk on their stock. In their inebriated state, some of them started accusing the Assiniboine of stealing their horses, despite the fact that the Indian band hardly owned any horses at all. One thing led to another, and soon the wolfers found themselves riding towards the Assiniboine camp, rifles at hand. The Assiniboine braves, many of whom had also been drinking heavily, grabbed their own firearms, and in no time both parties were firing at each other. In the end, a large number of Assiniboine were killed.

Word of this Cypress Hills Massacre reached Ottawa, and Macdonald knew he could stall no longer. The North West Mounted Police was born, and in 1874 it rode west to stomp out the whisky trade and bring law and order to the Canadian west.

After establishing Fort Macleod on the Oldman River west of present-day Lethbridge, the North West Mounted Police traveled to the site of the Cypress Hills Massacre. There, they established Fort Walsh, which they named after its first commanding officer, Major James Morrow Walsh.

Fort Walsh served as the main headquarters for the Northwest Mounted Police from 1878 until 1882. Due to its location in the beautiful Cypress Hills and the fascinating story it has to tell, Fort Walsh is a must-visit location in Canada. History was made here in very many ways. For example, much of Canadian law was established at this very location. Fort Walsh also played a key position in imposing Canada’s Indian policy.

 

Some of the greatest names in Canadian history have been known to spend time at Fort Walsh; names like Jerry Potts, James Macleod, Lief Crozier and even Sitting Bull. Aside from being headquarters of the Northwest Mounted Police, it also was a well-known meeting place for people from all different areas of western Canada. Metis, Mounties and First Nations crossed paths at this historical landmark.

In addition to quelling the whisky trade, the Mounties of Fort Walsh also launched an investigation into the Cypress Hills Massacre. Their efforts were rewarded when the U.S. Authorities arrest 8 participants of the massacre. Unfortunately the men were never extradited to face murder charges in Canada.

 

By Kimberly B and Hammerson Peters

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Gibraltar Point Lighthouse

In Toronto stands a The Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, that very well may be haunted. If you are a ghost hunting buff and love historical mysteries then the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse is a place not to forget. There are many different versions of the story told in and around the area.  One was about the first lighthouse keeper, J.P. Rademuller, who suddenly vanished. Rademuller was the lighthouse keeper from the time it opened in 1808 until seven years later in 1815.

There are many scary tales circulating about Rademullers ghost, haunting the lighthouse. For years his disappearance went unsolved. Two men that were said to have visited Rademulleron a cold night in 1815 were eventually arrested as suspects in his vanishing. As Rademuller was locally famous for his homemade bootleg beer, it was thought that the two men were there looking for a taste of the delicious brew. Unfortunately, They were never convicted because they didn’t confess, and at the time there was no body, which meant that Rademuller may not have even been dead. He could have just left, never to return.

Ironically the mystery was solved in the late 1800’s. Strangely enough, the lighthouse keeper that followed Rademuller found a part of a coffin and a jaw bone belonging to Rademuller. This finally confirmed the suspicions of Rademuller being killed by the two previously arrested and released men.

The lighthouse has an air of mystique surrounding it and is an attraction that should not be skipped or missed when visiting the Toronto area. Much care has been taken to keep the lighthouse looking as it did when it was built. Georgian architecture made for sturdy yet beautiful buildings, and the lighthouse is no exception.

The lighthouse is accessible to tourists on Saturdays and Sundays. Take a nice ferry ride out to the island, and maybe you will see our friend John Paul Rademuller climbing towards the top of the lighthouse he once guarded. After walking up its 90 steps, you will have a bird’s eye view of downtown and of course over one of the Great Lakes, which is a sight not easily forgotten.

The lighthouse stands about 100 meters inland these days, as over time, sand has built up around and in front of it. Still, once atop its 82 feet, a breathtaking view is awaits you. The Gibraltar Lighthouse, with its mysterious history,  is both a haunting and beautiful place to visit.

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Manitoba. In the Middle of It All

Manitoba is a Canadian province that finds itself right in the middle of Canada. Due to this unique location, it’s a perfect place to start a journey through Canada. I can pretty much guarantee you that you will have a hard time leaving Manitoba, however. It’s vast landscape and waters alike, are home to some of the most stunning animals on earth, such as the Beluga Whale.  If you are lucky enough to be around during the right seasons, you may even get the unique opportunity to float along one of these gigantic but docile animals, giving you a spectacular, once in a lifetime birds-eye view.

Manitoba’s view of the Northern Lights is the best in the world, though you will be stunned at the amazing view of nature that encompasses you during the day as well. There is no shortage of relaxation opportunities when in the so-called “Heart of Canada”, as it is home to many a wellness resort, each with their own personal ambiance.

Once you are sufficiently rested and rejuvenated, head out towards Asessippi Ski Area Resort, where winter fun awaits! With over 20 different runs to test or flaunt your skiing and snowboarding skills, Asessippi Ski Ares Resort is a Manitoba attraction for the entire family!

Even for the experienced adventurer, there are places in Manitoba that will need guides who know the territory well. There are many amazing guided tours available that act as your VIP pass into “unchartered territory”. Horseback adventure tours through the wilderness or a visit to polar bear country, where you can admire these beautiful creatures up close. Even guided hunting and fishing tours are available for the avid sports hunter.

After your exploration of this vast land of nature and clean air, you can come back to civilization by enjoying a spectacular and elegant four course dinner, while watching original Canadian comedies and musicals played out for you by the actors and actresses of the Celebrations Dinner Theater in Winnipeg.

Like I said, Manitoba is a great starting point to a Canadian journey, but you might enjoy this captivating and unique area so much, that leaving it will be almost unbearable! You might think that I’m exaggerating, but I guarantee that when you get there, you will know what I mean right away. It’s got it all. All the time!

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Top 10 Things To Do In Montreal

Although Montreal is a city with endless possibilities, I’m going to give you the top 10 things that you have to see if you get the opportunity to visit!

  1. Musée des Beaux-Arts – Though there are many museums to see in the city, if culture and history is what you are looking for, the Musée des Beaux-Arts is at the top of the list of museums to visit.
  1. Muséed’Art Contemporain – If you don’t have time to see all the museums that you might like to in the great cultural city of Montreal, and you are forced to make a choice, then the Muséed’Art Contemporain is the best choice, hands-down!
  1. McGill University – For those that like to visit the places once inhabited by famous people, I recommend McGill University. Star Trek’s William Shatner and the singer and poet famous for the song “Hallelujah”, Leonard Cohen both attended this University at one time.
  1. Biodôme – For the kids there is plenty to do in Montréal but one that is loved by all who visit is the Biodôme! Most kids love animals and learning about animals, and for those kids the Biodôme will be a place they will want to come back to time and time again.
  1. La Ronde – For the kids that are into excitement, sheer terror and fun, then the biggest amusement park in Québec,La Ronde is your Valhalla!
  1. The Net – If you love seafood then you cannot skip a meal at “The Net, a wonderful seafood restaurant with Chef YazuOkasaki in its kitchen.
  1. La Barberie – Once your stomach is full, it’s safe to take a trip to the famous brewery, La Barberie. This is my personal favorite thanks to their, “Eight beer carousel”, which allows you to sample the best brews the brewery has available.
  1. Le Cercle – Montréal is definitely not lacking nightlife, but the one place you just have to go to is Le Cercle. It has multiple functions and venues, so check out their website for information on what you can expect to see. Definitely a place to go to if you want to be part of the “in crowd“!
  1. The Underground Pedestrian Network – This is the place to be for shop till you drop action! If you are looking for a gift for someone else, or looking for presents for yourself this where u want to go in Montréal for a shopping extravaganza!
  1. Skyventure – Finally, attraction at the top of my list, the totally awesome, Skyventure!! This skydive simulator blasts you with 110 km/h winds giving you the skydive sensation without actually having to jump out of an airplane! An adrenaline packed excursion, worth visiting each time you are near it. It’s a ride you’ll never forget!
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The Curse Of Oak Island: The History Channel

The History Channel teams up with the current owners of most of the island, Rick and Marty Lagina, to make this spectacular documentary on the secrets and possible hidden treasures on the most speculated place in Canada.

The Curse of Oak Island will give you a close-up view of previously inaccessible areas on the island, where most of the digging and searching happened. Not only does the show give an exciting look into the areas few have seen, it also confirms that there is definitely reason to believe something is buried under the islands sands.

All of the enthralling episodes not only contain pieces of history that have never been seen before, it also gives more meaning or explanation to stories already known. In one episode, a relative of two men that died in a tragic accident on the Island visits the brothers to tell her story. It was this accident that caused some to believe that the island holds a tragic curse.

Many people have their own theory on where the treasure under Oak Island is supposedly buried. Obviously this is an important focal point in the documentary, and the viewer will get to hear first-hand the theories that some people who have studied the island have come up with over the years. Will the brothers and the History Channel try to build on one of these theories? Find out in the first season of “The Curse Of Oak Island.”

One would assume that a full season dedicated to this island would be enough to cover all the mysteries about this site, but Oak Island has such a vast history and so many places to explore, that a second season of this documentary was made.  For those that  are captivated by the history of Oak Island, this extremely informative and exciting documentary, made by The History Channel is one that should definitely be watched in its entirety. With episodes covering basically every facet of the island and all of those nooks and crannies, explored and unexplored, The Curse of Oak Island clarifies much of the facts surrounding this beautiful place in Nova Scotia.

For those actually lucky enough to visit the island, a “Walk The Mystery Tour” is available to the public. One of the tour guides is the now famous historian, Charles Barkhouse . He is the go-to-man when it comes to Oak Island.

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Battle of York

Another site of diverse military history in Canada is of course Fort York. Originally designed to protect the area that we know today as Toronto, it was a fortress to be reckoned with, built from the ground up by the British and some Canadian militia.

Battle of York Plaque

In 1793 a man named Simcoe was quick to realize that this area was a perfect place to settle and set up camp, as it was flanked by a natural harbor and was situated relatively far away from the United States. It is also this man who decided to originally call the city of Toronto, the city of York.


Battle of york

 

Many people recognize Fort York from the historical, “Battle of York“. This important battle in history was part of the war of 1812. In April of 1813, it was essentially overrun by US troops, as they attacked the fort from Lake Ontario. The British eventually decided to abandon Fort York, but before they did, they were smart enough to set the powder magazine to explode, killing many US soldiers including the famous general after which Pikes Peak was named, Zebulon Pike.

Although the US troops burned most of the fort and surrounding settlements down, the fort was later rebuilt by the British, who made it once again formidable, as it proved to be when it withstood another attempt by US troops to invade it in 1814 was made. Most of the buildings we see today at Fort York stem from this fortification effort by the British. Because of this, the fort was even occupied during the first and second world wars.

Although Fort York is open to visitors year-round, it seems to actually “come back to life“, during the months of summer. It is during this time of the year when the Fort York Guardgivethe visitors of Fort York a glimpse into the past. The Fort York Guard was originally established in 1934 on the day known as Victoria Day. Although it is active today, the Fort York Guard’s is made up of high school and college students that reenact musket and artillery scenes from the past, during the summer months at Fort York.

 

Fort York was almost leveled once again, much later in history. In 1933 there were plans to build what we know as the Gardener Expressway on its site. Eventually, though  building plans for the highway continued, they were rerouted to an area just south of Fort York’s York.

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Oak Island Money Pit: Latest Developments

When in Canada, Oak Island is definitely a place you will want to see. This island, shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years, can be investigated by booking a “Walk The Mystery Tour.” Actual digging and searching for the treasure, that supposedly lies in a location called The Money Pit, is not allowed. The amazing history of the island is enough to keep your mind busy for days, if not years speculating about this vastly explored island and its hidden treasure.

For those not aware of the history surrounding Oak Island, it has been believed that there is a hidden treasure buried deep under the ground in a location called The Money Pit. Over the years many private companies as well as people have tried searching for the treasure. Though many unusual things have been found, none have been treasure The excavating excursions have cost not only millions of dollars but also have claimed the lives of numerous people in the past. It is said that Oak Island is the site of the most costly treasure hunt ever recorded in history.

The island has only recently been made re-accessible to the public, but only on a guided tour basis. As there are still many shafts on the island, it would certainly be a dangerous place to explore by yourself. In the past the island has been bought and sold by many organizations and companies.

Though it might sound unbelievable, there are some famous names in history connected to the mysteries on Oak Island. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was part owner of the company that did some digging on the island. Even when Roosevelt was out of office he continued to get updates about the developments on Oak Island. Even Edgar Allen Poe and Shakespeare are a part of this unbelievable mystery, which is claimed not only lives and money, but has been speculated upon by millions of people all over the world. Even the History Channel has made a full documentary on Oak Island. Chances are that your tour guide will be the man featured in the documentary on the History Channel, Charles Barkhouse, Oak Island historian.

Though a lot can be learned from taking a tour such as this one, there is still much secrecy involved with this island and the possible treasure buried beneath it. The History Channel features an area called the war room, which is off-limits to the public and is top secret. One would assume that the stories of buried treasure must be true, or there would be nothing secretive, and nothing hidden. I highly recommend taking a look for yourself, and drawing your own conclusions.

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