Origins (the calendar)

‘Haligonians’ was first a desktop calendar created a few years back from old Kodachromes, a low-end flatbed scanner and a complete disregard for effective graphic design. The first printing was a gift for a friend, then more copies were made for a few more recipients because, hey, it was already done, right? Now following in that tradition, here’s much of that same material again, repurposed for the Web. Newer glimpses of the unknown Halifax will be posted from time to time on the main blog page.

And now…
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Halifax: Land of the Haligonians

Halifax – a regional municipality with a past full of yesterdays and a future full of tomorrows!

Like her citizens, Halifax is situated on the east coast of Canada (or the west coast of the Atlantic Ocean, depending on your species and/or point of view), but there’s more to this jewel of the Occident than location, location, location. There’s also location, and the magical combination of people, places, and things (and sometimes all three at the same time) that make this the ONLY place to be if you want to be in Halifax!

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Recent additions to Halifax’s streetscapes include this collection of strikingly phallic altars, erected (if you’ll pardon the pun) to receive the supplications of a little-known cult of low-budget creatives and part-time academics. Sacrifices -in the form of photocopied posters- are placed on and around the altars throughout the month, in hopes that this impressively tumescent deity will bless the supplicants by providing paying patrons for basement theatres, tantric gardening classes, and gallery openings in public washrooms. Every new moon high priests remove the offerings, and the cycle begins anew.

So who is this god that the city’s grass roots self-promoters sacrifice their toner and coloured paper to? It’s a mystery to those outside the sacred circle. All we can say with certainty is that he’s been circumcised.
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Pigeons

Like many large cities, Halifax occasionally has a pigeon problem – but while most cities just complain, Halifax gets busy! The Princess Honoria Royal Light Avian Regiment, resplendent in their red tunics (obtained at a local RCMP surplus sale) and pith helmets (worn for obvious reasons), are captured exercising the finest military traditions of precision and overkill during an ‘eviction with extreme prejudice’ operation at the city’s Grand Parade.

Of course, every great warrior respects his adversary, and after the mission is complete, one marksman from the regiment engages in a symbolic moment of silence for the fallen foe. Then, it’s squab for dinner!
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Scott

The bust of Sir Walter Scott, standing guard in the city’s Victoria Park, is perhaps best known for the fact that no one really knows why it is there. (In fact, a great many citizens don’t even know who is there before reading the pedestal.)

The fact is that Sir Walter never saw, and probably never heard of, Halifax – but the Scottish poet isn’t the only irrelevant celebrity commemorated within the city limits. Also in this small greenspace named for a queen who never crossed the Atlantic, Robert Burns (who also never saw Halifax) looks down upon many of the city’s minor protests, while a few blocks away, Winston Churchill strides motionlessly on the lawn of the Regional Library.

To be fair, Churchill did gaze upon the city in 1943 and 44, but only stayed long enough to ask directions and borrow the key to the washroom out back. Still, the Prime Minister’s flattering observation that, “…your city is something more than a shed on a wharf,” is now a keystone of Halifax’s annual tourism campaigns.
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Fish Poster

Thanks to a home that doubles as the world’s second largest, ice-free sewage treatment facility, fish ‘living’ in Halifax Harbour constitute an internationally recognized sub-species all their own – a distinction not even bestowed upon the organisms that inhabit the Sydney Tar Ponds!

Members of the Defunctus sub-species are noted for their sluggish (or non-existent) swimming motions, an inverted posture, and migration patterns largely dictated by the tide. Catching a Halifax Harbour fish is considered a great stroke of luck -for the fish- but anglers on the city wharves are rare, as they can’t do anything with the catch but return them to the Harbour waters – an act which typically results in cruelty to animals charges.

(ed. In the past few years, there has been a multi-million dollar attempt to filter the sewage before it reaches the harbour, but one of the main treatment plants broke down after it got wet, so for the moment, the Defunctus sub-species continues to … ‘thrive.’)
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Foghorns

While the nation’s Coast Guard may be replacing lighthouses with automated systems and reliance upon GPS, in the case of global electronic failure (you never know), the Corps of Nova Scotia Volunteer Foghorns stands ready to serve.

Shown at their annual convention and lung capacity workshop, volunteers of all ages from across the province practice their craft – many using instruments painted with the distinctive identifying colours of each individual post. Using the time-honoured combination of the bi-labial fricative and a really long tube, the deep tones from these guardians of the coasts can be heard by ships several yards out to sea – though not until after they’ve run aground and shut down their engines. But in the case of complete technological collapse, row boats and kayaks will be able to navigate the coast with complete peace of mind.
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Stump

At first escaping the clear cuts mandated for nearby Point Pleasant Park, The Public Gardens still had most of its trees until one day when the words “Brown Spruce Longhorn Beetle” were overheard in the vicinity of a tourist reading the local paper.

The resulting pre-emptive ‘denial-of-habitat’ was immediate and absolute. And while some citizens felt that wholesale deforestation was not entirely necessary to combat an invader with exactly the same habitat, diet and predators as an already common native species, it’s hard to argue that the now tastefully denuded Gardens represent the finest in the Halifax tradition of ‘making the best of a bad situation.’ Come visit us and count the rings!
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Ferry

Taking a page from blueberry and strawberry growers throughout the region, local entrepreneur, Smilin’ Bob Hanrahan decided to bring the U-Pick concept to lobster dinners. As the image shows, this necessitated certain imaginative modifications in the design of the “Trawl of Fame” floating restaurant – to accommodate the lobsters at one end of the structure and the diners at the other.

Alas, the U-Pick concept didn’t translate well to food that had the ability to defend itself, and after numerous lost digits, and one diner declared, “missing, presumed lobster dinner,” the restaurant underwent a final conversion to serve as Canada’s interim submarine fleet. (It couldn’t actually cruise underwater, but neither could the new subs.)
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Theatre

Another less than successful Smilin’ Bob adaptation was the attempt to repurpose the concept of the Drive-In movie for a busier, more hectic lifestyle. The world’s first -and only- Drive-By Movie Theatre opened at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street on July 7, 1996 – and closed as soon as the police were able to break down the projection room door.

While overcoming such obstacles as daytime visibility and exceptionally short projection distance, and taking advantage of a free ‘screen’ in the form of scaffolding erected for renovations to the Lord Nelson Hotel, Smilin’ Bob claimed that he never considered the effect that such a distraction might have on the performance of drivers negotiating one of the city’s busiest intersections.

The resulting ‘car-nage’ took three days to clear away, but Bob actually made money from the disaster – thanks to the coincidental purchase of a financially troubled auto-body shop a few weeks before. It is said that July ’96 is when Smilin’ Bob got his nickname.
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Shearwater

With the continuing downsizing of the Canadian Armed Forces (soon to be Force), Metro’s Shearwater Airport has gone from major military base to oversized helicopter parking lot. (And considering the frequency with which helicopters can’t make it back to base, it’s not even fully utilized in THAT role.) There have recently been efforts to use the base in a private capacity, however, and one new tenant is the Shearwater International Air Force Repair Technician Training Establishment School (Inc.), where the otherwise unemployable are taught to maintain the world’s most sophisticated combat aircraft.

Dean of the school, Crash Manly, believes his students can learn as much from their mistakes as from his underqualified faculty, and here we see first-year student, the late Jigger Tweed, as he’s about to learn that a smart mechanic steps clear of the afterburners before shouting, “Okay, turn ‘er over and let’s see if she fires up.” Oh, well, he won’t make THAT mistake again.
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Sidewalks

New Brunswick may brag about its covered bridges, but no one can match Halifax for its spectacular covered sidewalks! Perhaps a little strange and archaic to 21st century eyes, these indoors-while-outdoors constructions marked the first small step towards shopping in the climate controlled comfort of the modern mall – and they kept bricks from falling on your head!

Today, enthusiasts come from blocks away (many deliberately) to walk under these beautiful, albeit rudimentary, structures – some appearing almost overnight, others vanishing just as quickly. But the most magnificent -and quasi-permanent- example of this magical marriage of plywood and 2X4s is the George Montagu Dunk Memorial Walkway, standing majestically in front of the Halifax Armoury. Designed as a make-work project for idle reservists threatening to take up needlepoint, and featured on a special double episode of This Old Armoury, the Dunk Walk serves as a permanent reminder in these troubled times that we must be ever vigilant of the possibility of rocks falling on our heads.