All About Halifax, the Capital of Nova Scotia

The Sea Defines This Cultured and Appealing City

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Halifax waterfront during the Tall Ships Festival. Shaunl / E+ / Getty Images

Halifax, the largest urban area in Atlantic Canada, is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia. It sits in the center of Nova Scotia's east coast and is an important seaport that looks out over one of the world's largest natural harbors. It's been strategic militarily since its founding for just that reason and is nicknamed "Warden of the North."

 

Nature lovers will find sandy beaches, beautiful gardens and hiking, birding and beachcombing.

Urbanites can enjoy the symphony, live theater, art galleries and museums, along with a lively nightlife that includes brewpubs and a great culinary scene. Halifax is a relatively affordable city that provides a mix of Canadian history and modern living, with the constant influence of the sea.

History

The first British settlement that became Halifax began in 1749 with the arrival of about 2,500 settlers from Britain. The harbor and the promise of lucrative cod fishing were the main draws. The settlement was named for George Dunk, Earl of Halifax, who was the main supporter of the settlement. Halifax was a base of operations for the British during the American Revolution and also a destination for Americans loyal to Britain who opposed the Revolution. Halifax's remote location hindered its growth, but World War I brought it back into prominence again as a shipping point for supplies to Europe.

The Citadel is a hill overlooking the harbor that from the city's beginnings was valued for its view of the harbor and surrounding lowland and was from the start the site of fortifications, the first being a wooden guardhouse. The last fort to be built there, Fort George, stands as a reminder to the historical importance of this key area.

It's now called Citadel Hill and is a national historic site that includes re-enactments, ghost tours, changing of the sentry and walks around the inside of the fort.

Statistics and Government

Halifax covers 5,490.28 square kilometers, or  2,119.81 square miles. Its population as of the 2011 Canadian census was 390,095.

The Halifax Regional Council is the main governing and legislative body for the Halifax Regional Municipality. The Halifax Regional Council is made up of 17 elected representatives: the mayor and 16 municipal councilors.

Halifax Attractions

Besides the Citadel, Halifax offers several interesting attractions. One not to be missed is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which includes artifacts from the sinking of the Titanic. The bodies of 121 victims of this tragedy in 1912 are buried in Halifax's Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Other Halifax attractions include:

Halifax Climate

Halifax weather is strongly influenced by the ocean. Winters are mild and summers are cool. Halifax is foggy and misty, with fog on more than 100 days of the year, especially in spring and early summer.

Winters in Halifax are moderate but wet with both rain and snow. The average high temperature in January is 2 degrees Celsius, or 29 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring comes slowly and eventually arrives in April, bringing more rain and fog.

Summers in Halifax are short but beautiful. In July, the average high temperature is 23 degrees Celsius, or  74 degrees Fahrenheit. By late summer or early fall, Halifax may feel the tail end of a hurricane or tropical storm.