It rained most of the night and was still pouring when we woke. A nuisance as we wanted to get a reasonably early start and do some sightseeing. When I opened the door to get out of the Land Rover I was met by a puddle, not quite up to my middle, but certainly deeper than my shoes. Yuk! Fortunately I have a pair pf plastic flip flops (jandals for the Kiwis) and so paddled about in those. By the time we had packed up a sopping wet tent, showered etc it was already after 11am.
We carried on with our plans and headed for Peggy’s Cove. Supposedly one of the prettiest fishing villages in Nova Scotia.
Just outside the village was a memorial site to the passengers who perished in 1998, 229 of them, when a Swiss Air flight crashed into the sea, just off the shoreline here. Swiss Air flight 111, a code share flight with Delta, had taken off from New York bound for Geneva. It was an MD-11 aircraft and many passengers on board were UN personnel. Shortly after take off a fire was reported on board. The aircraft was trying to make an emergency landing at Halifax, but didn’t make it. Apparently there was a very large consignment of diamonds and jewellery on board. Although over 90% of the aircraft and its cargo were recovered, the jewels never were. There seems to be a bit of suspicion regarding whether the jewels really were on board.
Peggy’s cove is pretty, but was of course, heaving with tourists because of this. We parked on the edge of the Tourist Information Office car park overlooking a very rocky shoreline and had lunch.
A lady, Bonnie, from Pennsylvania, came up to talk about our travels. She was a traveller herself, getting married in Afghanistan. Her brother is the photographer, Steve McCurry, who took the famous photograph of the green eyed Afghan girl, which graced the front cover of National Geographic Magazine.
It was already mid-afternoon and we wanted to see a bit of Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia province. It is a very calm, gentle, clean city. Lovely tree lined, flowery residential streets of pretty clapboard houses. Cafes, craft breweries and pubs abound.
We visited the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Between 1928 and 1971 over a million immigrants entered Canada here. it is similar to Ellis Island in the US. A young, recent immigrant, a Syrian Armenian girl, very sweet and nervous, took us on a tour explaining the process by which people who arrived here by ship entered the country.
We would have liked to have seen the Maritime Museum as well, but time didn’t allow us to do this. Halifax has an interesting naval history. On April, 14th 1912 three ships were sent from here in response to a distress call from the unsinkable Titanic. Over 1500 people died in this tragedy and many are buried in a nearby cemetery.
Another significant tragedy occurred more locally in 1917. During WW1 A French munitions ship, the SS Mont-Blanc, collided in the Halifax Narrows with a Norwegian vessel, the SS Imo.The French vessel was carrying TNT and highly flammable benzol. A fire broke out on the French ship and after about 20 minutes it exploded. The blast, which ripped through the city, became known as the Halifax Explosion and was the world’s most powerful detonation, prior to the testing of the atomic bomb. More than 1900 people were killed and 9000 injured. The Mi’kmaq communities along the shore were inundated by a tsunami, which resulted from the blast.
On our way out of Halifax we drove up to the Citadel. Construction work was going on and the structure was covered with scaffolding and plastic sheeting. As we were in the height of the evening rush hour we decided not to stop and look around. Getting out of the city was slow and the weather was looking ominous once again. We headed for a campsite just south of Truro. We arrived just in time for the rain to be coming down steadily and put up our already sodden tent. Snug inside the Land Rover though, we proceeded to cook sausages for dinner.