Touring Halifax by Bicycle

Sorry for the delay in completing this journey

Thursday, June 30, 2022

This morning we made our way past the Warf parking area, further past the Halifax Harbour, where ships were being unloaded, and finally out to a point where we found Point Pleasant Park. We unloaded our bikes in the parking lot and headed off along the trails. It was a beautiful morning – warm and sunny. Birds were singing. The trail we followed lead us beside the inlet to the harbour and eventually to within sight of the Atlantic Ocean, before turning right, into the tall stands of trees. The paths were all light gravel, and well-maintained, making the ride pleasant. There were some hills where we made use of our electric assist.

Somewhere in the middle of the park we came across a round, stone fortress. At least it looked like a fortress to us. We stopped to read what it was and why it was there.

Prince of Wales Tower, Halifax, Nova Scotia

We learned it was the Prince of Wales Tower Historic Site, now belonging to all Canadians, but managed on our behalf by Parks Canada, an agency of the Government of Canada. The site is part of a family of National Parks, National Historic Sites and Marine Conservation Areas across the country, administered by Parks Canada.

In 1794 Prince Edward, son of King George III, was appointed Military Commander for Halifax. Under his command the tower was built by British army engineers to assist in the defence of Point Pleasant. Upon its completion in 1798 Prince Edward named it after his older brother, George, the Prince of Wales.

The round design of the tower was inspired by a small, round, stone tower at Mortella Point on the Corsican Coast, which had effectively resisted a joint British naval and land attack for several days in 1794. The  Prince of Wales Tower had a long life as an element in the over-all Halifax Defence System. In 1866 most of the Point Pleasant land was leased to the City of Halifax for use as a park.

The morning had slipped away and it was almost time for lunch, so we found our way to one of the park exits. Along the way we met up with two other friendly Ontarians who were on foot, trying to follow a map of the trails. We chatted for a bit, shared some of our travel stories, and exchanged email and website information before we left them to explore. We returned to the car.

“Instead of taking the car back to the Warf and paying for parking, why don’t we leave it here where it’s free, and ride back to find some place for lunch?”

“Umm, okay.”

I led the way and surprised him when I made the right turns. I lost him a time or two when he stopped to take more pictures of the ships being unloaded at the docks.

We found an interesting restaurant on the Warf, The Bicycle Thief. It had a wrap-around outdoor patio so we could sit at a table with our bikes parked beside us, just an arm’s length away. We weren’t taking any chances with that bicycle thief! Lol

We were  thrilled to find lobster rolls on the menu at a lower price than any others we’d seen. They came with a small salad and a tin cup of French fries. We both ordered iced tea.

Then our server said, “And what kind of  water do you want? We have lime, watermelon or just plain sparkling.”

It sure sounded like it was included in the total price, so we ordered plain sparkling.

“I’ll bring you a bottle to share.”

I cancelled my iced tea.

The lobster rolls, fries and salad were delicious. We each drank one glass of the sparkling water.

Enjoying lobster roll lunch

When the bill came, we were a little annoyed to see the charge of $6.00 for the water! We knew then how they could sell the lobster rolls for less than the competition.

By the time we finished up there and were on our bikes again, the walkway was becoming very busy. Jim wanted to go the rest of the way down the Warf, where we hadn’t been the day before.

E-bikes are much heavier than regular pedal bikes, and I find mine harder to balance when riding slowly, so riding through crowds of people made me really nervous. I had my feet down most of the way; at one point I got off and walked it.

We did see some beautiful yachts docked in the harbour. The biggest, Jim learned by doing a search of its name, Majestic, is owned by the Money Investment Manager and principle owner of the Miami Marlins, Bruce Sherman. It’s valued at over $70,000,000! Sigh. I  won’t share my thoughts about that.

We rode back, through the crowds, to the street and on to the car, where we loaded up our bikes and returned to our apartment. After a little nap and a second lunch of sandwiches we made, we got changed, ready for our walk up the hill to see the Tattoo.


Discovering some Canadian History

At Wasaga Beach we found a spot to park at Gateway Campground, just a few blocks from the beach and at a discounted rate since it was the beginning of the week, before the first long weekend of the season. We were told that the busy season would start in a few days and the rates would jump. However, after taking a stroll along the boardwalk at the usually popular party beach, we had some doubts. The large section of retail stores and restaurants that had been wiped out by fire in 2007 has yet to be rebuilt and a store clerk told us that the former manager of two of the remaining bars had walked away, leaving employees and patrons “high and dry”. Attempts by someone else to get them up and running again in time for the upcoming long weekend were being thwarted by red tape, so the prospects looked slim. Still there was a throng of sun-lovers lounging on the beach.

Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach

We hadn’t even packed swim suits, and the biking gear we were wearing was clinging to us like a shy child to its mother. Jim insisted we buy suits, which we donned to take a dip in the campground pool after we cleaned some of the carbon out of the bike on a ride out to the country, and we picked up BBQ chicken and potato salad for dinner. It was just too hot to walk back to the beach!

The next morning Jim searched the GPS for the historical site of Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, which he was certain was at Penetanguishene, but to no avail. He settled for the All Saints Shrine in Midland as the GPS point to follow, thinking once we got there it would find us what we were looking for. But once in Midland and heading toward Penetanguishene with Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons entered into the GPS, our guide tried to return us to Midland, once even trying to direct us down a narrow dirt path to turn us around. Now occasionally the GPS does steer us in the wrong direction, but it usually eventually figures out where we want to go. But sometimes Jim just doesn’t trust it, or me or anyone else he may ask for directions.  This was one of those days. While he continued on to Penetanguishene, I dug out a travel brochure that told me Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons was indeed in Midland, but that must have been an editorial error, because when we got to Penetanguishene Jim found internet access at a Tim Horton’s and Google Maps told him where to find it there. A few minutes later we arrived at a spot called Discovery Harbour, a military historical park. This time Jim had no choice but to believe the girl at the desk when she told him that Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons was in Midland. I prided myself on my patience, and Jim decided to give up the quest and enjoy what Discovery Harbour had to offer. Discovery Harbour (1817-1856) tells the story of the original 19th century naval and military outpost built to safeguard Upper Canada after the War of 1812.  With our animated guide, Ryan, dressed in historical garb, we toured the reconstructed dockyard, sailors’ barracks, workshops, Captain’s residence and the original Officers’ Quarters, and heard the fascinating stories of life at that time. We also boarded the historic Tall Ships, H.M.S. Bee and H.S.M. Tecumseth moored at the dock. In the end we were both happy to have been diverted.

Captains Quarters

Captains Quarters (courtesy of Jim)

Our Guide, Ryan

Our Guide, Ryan (courtesy of Jim)

Tall Ship

Tall Ship (courtesy of Jim)

We left there asking the GPS to head us toward New Liskeard, and it did, right back through Midland and past both the All Saints Shrine and Sainte-Marie Among the Hurons, which are directly across from each other on the highway heading north. It was too late to stop. We’ll make that a day trip on the bike another time. We were still a couple of days’ drive away from New Liskeard.