Before arriving in Halifax, I had read that this small port city was filled with interesting ghost stories and I was looking forward to hearing some of them. Sadly, this city endured quite a few disasters with the Halifax Explosion still being the biggest man made explosion of all time. (A munitions ship collided with another ship and this devastated the entire North end of the city.)
On a happier note, my first visit was to a brewery, this time, Alexander Keith’s, one of the oldest breweries in Canada that dates back to 1820. As a change of pace from other breweries, here actors in period costume and character bring you back to Alexander Keith’s time to learn about him, the history and the beer. It was a memorable experience led by the lovely Artistic Director, Jeannette White who completely understood how to change things up for us and the cameras. (Thanks so much Jeannette and all her gang!)
A short walk around the harbor area and I found myself in a Rum cake factory, something I thought I would only see in the Caribbean. I had to taste the samples, especially a whisky cake there that is made with locally distilled single malt whisky.
It was then off to a place I was really excited to hear more about called Economy Shoe Shop. I bet you think I am off to shop but, no, this is a bar/restaurant that was started years ago by owner, Victor Syperek who was tired of entertaining friends at his home and
wanted another place to gather. For a while, there was no name as he had no idea what to call it. But soon, his friend suggested he use this old sign that he had picked up from his friend’s basement, and that was the metal Economy Shoe Shop sign. The name has stuck and it’s now the hangout people call “The Shoe.” Besides their very popular nachos (that my director Johnny could not get enough of,) I devoured fabulous salmon and seafood chowder, and their unique caeser salad made with a blue cheese vinaigrette that uses Nova Scotia local Dragon’s breath blue cheese, a light, slightly spicy and delicious blue.
By now I was getting ready for some of those ghost stories and I was expecting to hear some good ones at the next location, The Five Fisherman restaurant. Originally built as a school in 1817, it then became the Victorian School of Art until it was taken over by the Snow family and turned into a funeral home. This was where many of the wealthier victims of the Titanic were brought so proper arrangements could be made. This is also where many victims of the Halifax explosion were taken and so, it’s easy to understand why stories of hauntings emerge. It was taken over and refurbished into The Five Fisherman restaurant in 1975 becoming an upscale and elegant seafood restaurant.
I was excited that before sitting down to chat with General Manager Sean Neil, I was invited into the kitchen with Chef Jeff McInnis while he cooked up his signature dish, The Five Fish, a combination of sautéed colossal scallops and shrimp, pan seared halibut and Atlantic salmon with lobster, champagne and asparagus risotto, vanilla scented braised fennel and lemon butter cream. He made the preparation look so simple. The restaurant’s Sommelier, Avery, chose a Nova Scotian Chardonnay for me to sip along with the dish and I did so, as Sean told me stories that I had been waiting to hear. He told me about glasses falling or silverware moving, feeling someone nearby or actually hearing someone when no-one else is around, or seeing a person in the mirror mounted on the wall. He had nights where he would be the only one there and yet the hand dryer in the bathroom would start up. It seems most things happen when the restaurant isn’t open but one night a hostess seating a couple felt a brush against her face and a few minutes later there was a hand print on her face as if she were slapped. Nothing happened while I was there, ah well.
Our final stop was to get some beauty shots of the city from on top of Citadel Hill, a National Historic site, also known as Fort George. You can tour the fortress here and learn about the history of the fort and the area but would need more time than we had and since it was a close call getting back to the ship on time in Sydney, we decided to stay on the Captain’s good side and return a bit earlier this time.
Tomorrow, back to the U.S.A.
Cheers and all the best,