Leaving your local accommodator or cruise dock we’ll retrace some beginnings of our city and make our way to the first established site by Edward Cornwallis under the instruction of the British Government to create a sizeable military and civilian settlement to be named Halifax before moving it below the site of Citadel Hill.
Point Pleasant Park is a historic 75-hectare wooded park which offers some great talking points of our beginnings and excellent views of our harbor and city, before moving on to the South End. The name also serves as a geographic locator, is home not only to Downtown Halifax, the financial center of the municipality, but also to a variety of parks and historic sites as well as universities and hospitals, making it a casual, cosmopolitan center.
We will explore some of old Halifax and view many preserved Victorian homes which although not our oldest architecture because of the catastrophic explosion of 1917 These Victorian homes are now our oldest surviving examples of residential architecture. Continuing along the non-commercial part of Halifax Harbour known as the Northwest Arm, pass by two major local universities, St. Mary's and Dalhousie on our way to Halifax Public Gardens.
Depending on your requests and time you may enjoy a stroll through The Halifax Public Gardens. The oldest Victorian Garden in North America. Officially opened in 1867, the Public Gardens has retained the original Victorian character thanks to a series of talented superintendents, chief horticulturists, and gardeners. Through their efforts our 16-acre oasis, in the heart of downtown Halifax, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1984. Like Alice in Wonderland, lose yourself in the wonders of the surrounding Victorian nature...
From here we’ll take view from the top of Halifax at the site and one of the reasons of the founding of our city, Fort George or what is now known as Citadel Hill. Once again based on your requests we can arrange a drop off service and the admission fee paid on behalf of Nova Scotia Van Tours for some self-exploration in this fortified summit and interact with the 78th Highlanders regiment of foot. A classily trained regiment of volunteers just for our beloved historic site they are in full regalia, drums beating and Colours flying in their red doublets, kilts, sporrans, feather bonnets and red and white checkered hose stockings.These soldier volunteers are not only trained but steeped in their Victorian era roles so as to answer any questions you have.
Based on your requests we can arrange to have you present at the fort for the firing of the Noon Gun which marks mid-day each day, except for Christmas Day. A Halifax tradition since 1857. The present noon gun is a reproduction 12 pounder, smooth-bore muzzle loading gun used during the reign of King George III (1760-1820). Watch as the 3rd Brigade Royal Artillery load and prepare the canon before the firing.
If the timing doesn’t allow for a visit inside the fort we’ll be sure to take a leisurely drive around the outside walls. This will allow you to take in the sights and the strategic 360-degree view of downtown Halifax.
Leaving the Citadel, we’ll follow along the Halifax harbor front passing a number of historic sites along the way. Among those is the home port of the Royal Canadian Navy Atlantic fleet. This area also allows a view of both suspension bridges that link the twin cities of Halifax and Dartmouth. We’ll pass the closest point to the 1917 Halifax explosion and discuss the events of this tragedy before making our way to the Titanic Memorial Cemetery for a detailed narrated tour of the site. There you will learn of the Halifax connection to the Titanic disaster. You will learn the answer to the question, why is there a Titanic cemetery in Halifax?
We will make our way to the "place where time began” which has a connection to a beautiful parkland that was donated to the people of Halifax by Sir Sandford Fleming the father of standard time. The centerpiece of the park is an impressive tower that commemorates Nova Scotia's achievement of representative government in 1758.Also in this area is one of the few remnants of the Mont Blanc, the ship that exploded in 1917 which resulted in the Halifax explosion.
Leaving the city behind us we will make our way toward Peggy’s Cove. Only 15 minutes outside the city on route to the cove you will see a remarkable change from the urban economy of the city to the rural economy of Nova Scotia. This means you will be seeing fishing coves, villages and wilderness views that are a photographer’s playland. The next stop is one of the most photographed places in Canada and the most photographed lighthouse in North America: Peggy’s Cove. We’ll discuss the namesake of the area before entering the village.
Like stepping back in time, Fisherman’s cottages line the shore, with lobster pots, rowing boats and fishing nets paying testament to the fact that this is still a working community. Picturesque it may be, but Peggy’s Cove is alive and well. Signs directing the many visitors through the village stress the need to respect the inhabitants as they go about their working lives.
After a very brief orientation we’ll allow you and your group some time to self-explore the light house site, weather depending take in the sounds of the local bag piper, shop at the various artisan shops, take in a snack or lunch and satisfy your inner culture vulture at William deGarthe Art Gallery.
Leaving the fabled lighthouse behind we can visit the Swiss Air Flight 111 memorial and discuss its impact on the local area. Then we will travel along a winding picturesque route toward Halifax. Be sure to let your guide know if you’d like a stop at the Acadian Maple Product retail store so you can learn about the Maple syrup industry in Nova Scotia or find the perfect gift to take home. Maple syrup doesn’t get any cheaper than where it is made.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: Regarding your exploration and walk about at Peggy’s Cove; The rocks at water’s edge are as dangerous as they are iconic and if boundaries and warnings are not heeded there is a possibility of falling into the ocean. We have never lost anybody because so far everyone has heeded warnings, signage, and boundaries. We simply ask that you do that too.
The private, pre-booked Peggy’s Cove & Historic Halifax Tour will take approximately 6.5 hours (+/-) and is fully narrated by your driver/guide.