A Secret Halifax Community
Throughout the travelogue below click camera image to see a photo
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There are two historic sites or neighborhoods within walking distance of the cruise ship dock. . Begin by heading north towards the Harbour Walk sign and around the Garrison Brew Pub, veer left and follow Marginal Road to Hollis Street. The Westin Hotel should be on your left.
Arriving at Barrington Street, turn left and head south until you come upon a Tim Horton’s on your left. Almost directly across the street from Tim Horton’s is Smith Street where you will find twelve simple wooden row houses dating from the 1860's. The street and houses have been designated Heritage Properties by Nova Scotia. This Victorian complex was almost destroyed by fire in 1999, but has been faithfully and completely restored to its former glory on the outside with the interiors being totally modern.
Some may be interested to know that water from Freshwater Stream from Griffins Pond in the Public Gardens is flowing to Halifax Harbour in underground culverts located in and around Smith Street.
Take a left at the corner of Barrington and Morris and head up the street. As you proceed up Morris Street, you’ll cross over Church Street . On the west corner of Church and Morris you will find the oldest existing apartment building in Halifax.
Crossing over Queen Street (you’ll see Atlantic News on the west corner), you’ll pass by Spenser House & Saint Mary’s School (both on your left) and you’ll come to a number of fine examples of Victorian housing on both sides of Morris Street, both row and detached homes .
Mr. George W. Wright was a very wealthy and prominent native son. He acquired his wealth by publishing business directories in the United States. Mr. Wright developed the block of land starting from Wright Avenue to the east side of South Park Street and south to Holy Cross Cemetery.
The Wright Avenue portion of this area was designed by a local architect to be a “mixed income subdivision“ with residents working jobs as varied as banking to the trades
. You’ll note the Victorian row housing is much different here than that found on Smith Street.
In 1912 Mr. Wright was in England, and although not originally booked to sail on the ill-fated Titanic, purchased a ticket from another passenger. Sadly, he did not survive and his body was never recovered.
At Holy Cross Cemetery, you’ll find Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel, known as the church that was built in one day! It was built on August 23, 1843 by 2000 Roman Catholic parishioners. It seats up to 70 people, has a large stained glass window dating from 1661, and wood carvings brought over from a Flemish church founded in 1550.
Among the many who are buried at Holy Cross Cemetery are two of note:
Charles Robinson was a U.S. Medal of Honor recipient from Yazoo River, Mississippi. He was born December 23, 1862, and died April 21, 1896.
Sir John Sparrow Thompson was the fourth Prime Minister of Canada. He was born in Halifax in 1844, was Premier of Nova Scotia in 1882, and died in London, England on December 12, 1894, only a few minutes after being knighted by Queen Victoria.
Leaving the Wright Avenue / Holy Cross area and returning to Morris Street, turn left and proceed to South Park Street where you will see Victoria Park ahead to the left and All Saints Cathedral on the other side of the park.
All Saints Cathedral opened in 1910 and is an example of Gothic architecture. Visitors are welcomed. The church is well known for its stained glass windows, wood carvings of its pulpit and chancel, and the handmade needlework on the kneelers and bishop’s stall.
Leaving the cathedral, walk north along Victoria Park where you’ll find statues of Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott. You will come to Spring Garden Road where you’ll find the Public Gardens (see other parts of our The Almost Free Family Fun in Halifax, Nova Scotia DIY Cruise Ship Excursion to continue your self guiding tour of this great port city). The free bus, FRED, has a stop nearby as well.
If you turn right on Spring Garden Road and walk to the end (Barrington Street), you’ll find the Old Burying Grounds will be on your right hand side with the entrance off Barrington Street. Here you will find many interesting headstones with many odd writings and more as the old fashioned workman was not always very good.
Buried in this cemetery is “the man who made the White House” in Washington D.C., Major General Robert Ross. He lead British troops in the capture of Washington on August 24, 1814, and ordered the burning of the Capitol and the President’s House which is now the White House, which was painted white to cover the black burn marks.
General Ross died in combat attacking Fort McHenry on September 12, 1814. His body was preserved in 129 gallons of Jamaican Rum and originally destined for Ireland, but the British continued on to New Orleans so the body was sent to Halifax for interment.
Enjoy, and until next time,