With the temperatures picking up a little after the big freeze of the past week, the snow around Halifax slowly began to melt. Seeing the green grass where snow used to be, I could comprehend how deep the snow was – what seemed like my foot going straight down to the centre of the Earth, it was actually touching the grassy ground. Maybe spring will soon be on the way in Canada? (It’s already well underway back home in England!)
In a little change-up, we decided to head west of Halifax (rather than east as we had been going for most of the week), although of course we were still staying within the Halifax city region. We visited the Halifax Shopping Centre in the western suburbs of Halifax to try to find a souvenir for my sister Melissa (she is somewhat hard to please) and a few more clothes to last the few days of our holiday we had left. I even got some Canada-themed goodies like a wallet, lanyard (to clip my student ID and travel cards on to while also showing off my love of Canada) and a little bottle of maple syrup! (You can’t go to Canada without bringing home a bottle of golden maple syrup!)
After taking a short ‘tour’ of Sobey’s (based in Stellarton, Nova Scotia), we jumped on the bus heading back downtown to visit the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Near the gallery, I snapped a photo of a statue of Joseph Howe beside the Nova Scotia Province House. He is apparently one of Nova Scotia’s biggest figures in history, so much so that the past Monday was dedicated entirely to him.
Once inside the art gallery, we viewed some masterpieces from Nova Scotian folk artists, like Maud Lewis, whose paintings depicting Nova Scotian rural life are perhaps the most famous in the province. We also found some paintings from more contemporary Nova Scotian artists depicting landscapes from around the province, like Peggy’s Cove and the Halifax Clock Tower. (Could some of my drawings of Nova Scotia make it in here one day?)
On the way back to the hotel, I came across a statue of Edward Cornwallis, the founder of the city of Halifax in 1749. While he is commemorated for the birth of the modern Halifax, some people in Nova Scotia do not want him to be “celebrated” as in the process of founding Halifax, he exterminated almost the entire Mi’kmaq population of the Halifax region. The Mi’kmaq are the prime First Nations people throughout Canada’s Maritime Provinces, and they inhabited much of the region before the arrival of European colonists who sought to found towns at the expense of the Mi’kmaq lands. (The Micmac Mall in Dartmouth is so-named because it is located on former Mi’kmaq grounds, who sold it to the city.) Today, the Mi’kmaq live in tiny communities on reservations around Nova Scotia, being pushed out by modern Canadian populations who live in the bigger cities and towns, but their culture lives on through place names (like Pictou and Antigonish), folk stories and art, like carvings and embroidered rugs.