Sunday, 1 September 2019

A Grave Discovery!

On my August 8th stroll, I turned right down South Street, then left onto South Park Street (not to be confused with the South Park Street TV show!  lol).

It was hot and humid, and I was really hoping for a bit of a breeze to cool me...but alas, it was not meant to be, so I walked on.  I heard from some people that it's not normally really humid in Halifax, so I just chalked it up to the unusually hot summer we were experiencing.  Nevertheless, despite the humidity, I never realized how much excitement my morning walk would bring me.

As I turned onto South Park Street, on my right I noticed a cemetery.  Now, I normally don't make it a habit to wander through cemeteries (sudden thoughts of creepy, scary movies come to mind), but the sign on the entry fence invited me to check it out, so in I went.  The entry was via a driveway, which wound its way up to a church (which was under renovations) on the upper right of the hilly property. 

Cemeteries in Halifax are huge!  I mean really, really huge!  They take up blocks and blocks worth of real estate.  I'm not used to seeing so many cemeteries, so this one made my eyes bug out!  Old stones with markings, long worn, greeted visitors...aching for someone to strain and read their names again, to give them life once more.  Others were tall, regal, well marbled with age.  There were granite stones, cement stones, and some even had stone borders around their individual gravesites.  The cemetery's residents' loved ones made it personalized, to their own taste, it seemed.

I knew I didn't have a lot of time to walk through the whole cemetery, so I just kept walking straight.  Then, I came upon a beautiful above-ground crypt that  made me stand rock-still.  I could not just walk past it.  I was in total awe of what lie in front of me...I stepped forward and knew that this was a special grave...for this was not just another resting spot, but the crypt of Canada's 4th Prime Minister, Sir John Sparrow David Thompson. 

Sir Thompson was just 47 when he became Prime Minister in 1892 (although the website I researched indicates he was 48).  He was the first Roman Catholic and Maritimer to become Prime Minister. 

According to the website, Sir Thompson was a lawyer, judge and politician, who for a brief time in 1882, was also the Premier of Nova Scotia.

Sir Thompson was part of Sir John A. MacDonald's government, as Minister of Justice.  When MacDonald passed away, JJC Abbott took office as there would have been issues with Thompson taking over as Prime Minister, due to his religion.  However, Thompson acted as House Leader.  When Abbott retired in 1892, Thompson became Prime Minister and gained much support from his party.  One notable mention was that Thompson created the Criminal Code of 1892.

Thompson passed away in 1894, at Windsor Castle, only an hour after being sworn in as a member of the Imperial Privy Council by Queen Victoria.  Such a shock!  His body was then sent back to Canada for burial.

After reading about Sir Thompson and walking around his beautiful, ornate crypt, I felt I needed to walk on just a bit...and what I saw was equally astounding.  From the huge crypt to a single granite memorial stone, I read the names of the Halifax explosion victims that were buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery.  I wanted to cry, for I knew most of those victims were women and children.

Last year, our family went on holidays to Halifax and Cape Breton, and while in Halifax, visited the Maritime Museum where we learned about the explosion.  It was a sobering experience seeing the blown-apart bits of ships, clothing, personal effects, and reading about the victims and survivors.

The Halifax explosion happened on December 6, 1917.  It was devastating to the city.  Two ships (one them a munitions ship) collided in Halifax Harbour.  The result was one of the largest explosions prior to 1945's detonation of the atomic bomb.  The website "Canadian Encyclopedia" has some great articles about it:

It took me a while to digest all of the information I learned about Sir Thompson - and I'm so glad I took the time to stop and look closer at his gravesite.  I'm also very humbled by the single stone I saw that marked the victims of the Halifax explosion.  Such sadness, but at the same time, makes you think about history and how it shaped the country.  I noticed that my 20 minutes was coming to end, so I headed back to the office, with deep thoughts running through my mind.  I would have to come back another day.

The next time you're by a graveyard, shrug off the spooky feelings and step inside.  You never know what lies inside!

Until next time...

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

A New Beginning

With every beginning comes new discoveries.  That's how I thought of our move to Nova Scotia.  It's a scary thought packing up, purging your household and saying goodbye to friends and family.  A tough decision, to say the least!

True...a lot of my family live in Cape Breton and I was born there, but I didn't grow up there.  My dad was in the military, so we moved when I was quite young, and I ended up spending some great years in Lahr, Germany.  But that's a story for another day...

When we discussed moving here, one of the things we wanted to do was travel and explore the province.  I had come to Halifax in May of 2019 for a conference and happened to come across the boardwalk in the downtown area. I found that walk really relaxing, exciting, and beautiful...and so, that's where we went for our first weekend stroll...

The boardwalk starts off at Pier 20 (or Pavillion 20 as the sign says) which is next to the cruise ship terminal.  Inside the building is the Farmer's Market - a host of vendors selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables, multiple varieties of ethnic foods (which smell so good when you walk inside), craft beers and wines, arts and crafts and so much more.  Something for everyone!  It was fun to meander through the throngs of people, all so happy to be inside the air-conditioned building, and to see such a wide variety of goods for sale.  Families sat at tables in the little restaurant areas, licking ice creams, sipping slushies and noshing on dumpling meals.  Others considered which fruits and vegetables to buy, looking intently at them, pinching fruits and taste-testing some.  The atmosphere was excitingly contagious.

We walked through there for a while, then made our way to the wooden boardwalk that wound its way around the perimeter of the harbour.  Sounds of a harpist playing greeted us as we strolled...soft melodies to entice us to listen and appreciate the sunny day and what lie ahead.  Then, as we strolled past, the roar of ski-doos broke the enchantment, reminding us that there was more to see farther down.  We strolled along slowly, sitting from time-to-time, enjoying the smells of the ocean breeze and the sounds all around us.

One thing I noticed was there were so many statues.  The city really tries to commemorate its history and its roots.  The statue below really struck a chord with me.  If you look closely at the tree in the background, above the family left behind, it's actually hands waving goodbye.  I stood and took that in for a long time.  It's called "The Emigrant."

We passed souvenir shops (which offered everything from "New Scotland" t-shirts to maple in jars and candies) to little canteens under awnings that sold slushies (and in the heat, a very welcome treat!).  Further down, we saw a vendor that I needed to visit...a place called "Cows."  I had never heard of the company before and when I was at my conference in May, one of my colleagues told me I needed to try "Cow" ice cream.  "It's so good!" she said, "you have to try it."  So, as we approached, her voice suddenly reared up in my head and I said, "Hey!  There's the Cow place.  Let's try some ice cream."  I have to say, I was NOT disappointed.  The ice cream was smooth, cold and very refreshing for the hot day.  Multiple flavours on the sign told us this was no ordinary ice-cream shop:  Nanaimoo Bar; Moo York Cheesecake; Cownadian Maple to name a few.  I had Chip Chip Hooray.

After our stroll, we decided to head out of downtown and over to Dartmouth Crossing for a very exciting trip - to a store we didn't have in Victoria - IKEA!  Oh boy!  You could walk all day through that store!  There is so much to see there, and I felt like a kid in a candy store.

IKEA also has electric car chargers!

And, because I love the movie "Jaws," I had to take a picture of the baby sharks!  Will have to buy one, one of these days!

I hope you enjoyed this New Beginning with us.  Until next time...

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Why 20-Minutes?

Hi everyone!  Welcome to my first Blog!

You might ask, "20-minute Stroller?  What's with that?" 

Let me give you a bit of background, since this is the first post and you'll need some context of why I decided on the name.

In July 2019, my husband, Jack, and I, moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia.  We lived in Victoria, British Columbia for almost 30 years, but felt that for economics, the time had come for us to move to my home province. 

I was born in Nova Scotia...most of my family still lives here, so it made sense to move back to the province where I was born.  But...I actually never lived here! I was born here, but my dad was in the military, and we moved away when I was very little. That's a story for another day!

I was offered a job here, which I really like, but I also enjoy being outside.  When I worked in Victoria, I would go for a stroll with a co-worker every morning for our "chill pill" - it gave us our much-needed breathe of fresh air, and we could walk for about 20 minutes to stretch our legs and reinvigorate our senses.   I don't drink coffee, so never really took a real "coffee break!"  ha ha.  Fast forward to now...

When I started my new job, I wanted to continue taking my 20-minute strolls.  What could I explore and see in those 20 minutes?  Well, let me tell you...there's a lot to experience in that time.

Join me on my 20-minute adventures (and some weekend excursions) and see the sites of picturesque Nova Scotia...learn some of its history, and just some really neat things that I see along the way.  I'll be posting about once a week, so stay tuned!

And, in the meantime, if you want to learn more about me, please visit my website at