header image via @jaemeyer
Some of the most interesting parts of a city are not easily discovered. It’s always fun to visit popular attractions, but it’s just as exciting to find out what’s hidden off the beaten track.
Here are 5 of Halifax’s LOCAL SECRETS that may surprise both tourists and locals alike:
1 – The Window of St. Paul’s Church
The church also plays a prominent role in the folklore of Halifax. The story says that due to the intense light and heat generated by the Halifax Explosion, the profile of one of the church’s deacons was etched into the glass of a second story window of the church.
2 – A Prince’s Estate on the Bedford Highway
If you’ve ever driven along the Bedford Highway or taken the train into or out of Halifax, you may have noticed a small, round, white building just off the side of the road and wondered what it was. The Rotunda is a former music room, and the only remaining building of the estate of Prince Edward, Duke of Kent. Prince Edward arrived in Halifax in 1794 to serve as the Commander-in-Chief of the King’s forces in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The Prince’s estate also features a heart shaped pond in what is now Hemlock Ravine Park (at the top of Kent Avenue). The pond was originally oval, but was reshaped into a heart by Prince Edward’s grandson, Prince Arthur, in honour of the love shared between his grandfather and his mistress for over 27 years.
3 – The Secret Underneath the City
Every city has secrets – but does every city have secret tunnels? Rumours have swirled for ages about the existence of secret tunnels that supposedly link the Halifax Citadel to various buildings in the city, and even George’s Island in the Halifax Harbour.
Learn more about this legend through CTV’s coverage of the mystery of the Halifax tunnels.
4 – Halifax & the Harry Houdini Connection
When you think of magicians, illusionists, or escape artists, Harry Houdini is among the first who come to mind. In 1896, Houdini found himself in Halifax, set to perform a weeks’ worth of shows at the Academy of Music. His act wasn’t the successful run he was looking for, but that didn’t stop him from leaving his mark on the city.
Houdini broke out of his jail cell (at that time located in what is currently City Hall) escaping from handcuffs and a brick cell “that was secured with a lock on the heavy, iron door.” He also walked down Barrington Street naked, but maybe that’s a story for another day…
5 – A Mini Titanic in the Heart of the City
On a hot summer day there’s nowhere better than the Halifax Public Gardens. Declared a National Historic Site in 1984, the garden is one of the best surviving examples of a Victorian Garden.
Within the boundaries of the park, you’ll find Griffin’s Pond. The pond was named after a young Irishman who was, “wrongfully convicted of murder and hanged along its banks” (that probably counts as a secret on its own). The pond has featured a model of the Titanic since 1994, which was donated by the Maritime ship Modelers Guild.
Now it’s time for you to discover Halifax’s secrets for yourself! Discover even MORE local secrets with our SECOND EDITION of this blog!
Originally published February 10, 2015. Updated April 2018.
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