October/November 2005 - ATHA

Biennial Tours - A Wonderful Experience

Submitted by Sibyl Osicka

I would like to share with you my experiences at the Biennial in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Nova Scotia is Latin for Scotland. My husband and I arrived in the afternoon on Monday, August 22nd.

Tuesday was our first free day, so off went to see downtown Halifax. We checked the boardwalk along waterfront and signed up for a whale watching tour. There wasn't a whale to be had, but we did see tuna and harbor seals. When we were on the boat we told how two ships collided in 1917, in narrow part of the harbor, and there was a very bad explosion where many lost their lives. Everyone from the near areas sent in their emergency crews, including Boston, MA. The Boston crews helped so much that Halifax thanks them every year by sending one of their largest Christmas trees. On December 5 of every year someone from Halifax goes to Boston and lights it.

Tuesday evening about twenty of us went to eat at Sally's Restaurant on the Waterfront. There was a lot of laughter and good food.

Thursday, as the tours started, it began to rain. A of us with Fred, our driver, went to Bay for our first stop. The name came from the old French word mahonne, a "low-built pirate ship." We stayed there for 45 minutes and walked all over the town. We had the opportunity to shop if we choose, but what was so memorable, were the reflections of their three churches in the bay.

Then, off to Lunenburg, named after Lunenburg in Hanover, Germany, from where many early settlers came, and the birthplace of the Bluenose, a sailing ship. There they had horse drawn carriages for tours within the town. We were allowed three hours there. There were many shops to visit, the architecture of the homes was very interesting and on top of a steep hill was a very old academy. This academy burned down and was rebuilt in the early 1900's. It is now used for the early grades of school. We found a restaurant for lunch and ate on the second floor balcony outside, enjoying the waterfront and horse drawn carriages.

Friday, we went with Fred to the North Shore area. The Northumberland Strait is an endless stretch of gently sloping sandy beaches, washed by the warmest summer salt water on the coastline. As we drove, we were surprised to see so many pine trees along the way to Pugwash, population of 800. We also saw the area where Ann Murray and family lives.

Seagull Pewter is made in Pugwash where we had the opportunity to see some of the factory. We saw Salt Mine area, but tours of the mines were no longer available, due to insurance. We stopped at the Northumberland Gold Country Club for lunch.

After lunch, we went to the Nova Scotia Picnic Park. Many took off their shoes and waded in the water. The bus then took us to Malagash, located on Nova Scotia's Sunrise Trail. There we visited Jost Vineyards. Some of us took a tour of the winery with wine tasting following. In 1970, Hans Jost and his family immigrated to Nova Scotia from the Rhine Valley in Germany. Hans and his ancestors had established a 300-year-old tradition of fine winemaking from the family vineyards.

Saturday we spent the morning at Peggy's Cove. What a beautiful shoreline and lighthouse. When we arrived back from Peggy's Cove we stopped at Murphy's Boat Tour and Restaurant to sit and rest for a while. This is where we signed up for the whale watching on Tuesday.

Who sat down next to us was Mr. Murphy himself. We heard the story how it all came to be. Mr. Murphy was in the textile industry for many years and traveled so much with his job. One day a snowstorm hit his area, and he told his wife, "This is it, I quit my job." He took the kids out of school and sailed around for two years. Realizing his money wasn't going to last forever, he bought a charter boat and then the restaurant. That was 22 years ago.

My husband walked up the Citadel, perched on top of a very steep hill. This was once the command post and landward bastion of Halifax's defenses. It was used as the site of four different forts. The Citadel, which took over 28 years for completion in 1856, was intended to deter an overland assault on the city in the event of war with the USA. In 1951 the Citadel was declared a National Historic site, signaling the end of its proud military career.

Sunday, we went to the Art Museum of Nova Scotia. We saw the Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World. It contained items from the cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome. There were two buildings of things to see with three floors each. The last floor housed the Maud Lewis home plus many of her paintings. What a wonderful day we had.

The weather for all three tours was perfect and I was told at this time of the year it does rain a lot there. So lucky we were!

I wished everyone that belonged to ATHA could have attended the Biennial. A great big thanks to the Northumberland Chapter of ATHA for working so hard and putting on a fabulous Biennial. See you at the next Biennial in 2007.