Start of Halifax Tall Ships Festival

Slide Show of first ships in port – July 18th – with more to dock yet

If you like tall ships, sail and dreams of a by-gone era, the Halifax Tall Ships Festival is a treat. The Festival is free, with a $5 fee charged to actually walk onto the boats.

View photos on Flickr Some of the best tall ships in the world will be in Halifax, Nova Scotia, including the magnificent Pride of Baltimore II modeled after the War of 1812 vessel that helped defend the new United States from Great Britain.

Gazela, one of the Tall Ships in Halifax July 19-25 (photo Stephen Pate)

The five-day Festival of Tall Ships is the event of the summer in Halifax with photo opportunities, historical tours, boat rides, music, great food, and amusements for children – virtually something for everyone.

From July 19 to 25, 2012, more than 100,000 people are expected to attend the largely free festival.

The War of 1812 is part of this year’s theme with special displays and shows by Parks Canada.

The 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812

“The theme of this year’s Tall Ships Festival is the War of 1812. Four sailing vessels from the period will be berthed at Queen’s Wharf (or King’s Wharf as it was known in the time of King George III), including HMS Bounty, privateers Lynx and Spirit of Baltimore, and the Rhode Island naval vessel Providence.”

Pride of Baltimore II, replica of US Chasseur which captured or sank 17 vessels during the War of 1812. (photo Stephen Pate)

“Interpretive demonstrations and activities, including a roving press gang, musket and cannon firings, demonstrations of naval discipline, and hands-on displays will be provided by Parks Canada and the Halifax Citadel Regimental Association. Walking tours of 1812 sites between the waterfront and Citadel will also be available.” Parks Canada

Unlike the jingoistic displays of Canada’s Conservative government, in reality Nova Scotia tried to stay neutral in the War of 1812. Many Halifax merchants and families had strong ties with the 13-States, especially Boston.

Unlike the adventurous excursions by the Americans on the Great Lakes, Nova Scotians kept their heads down and business flowing to the States. They did not need Laura Secord’s cows to rescue them.

Historian and retired military officer John Bouleau called the War of 1812 “A pointless, inconclusive war.” If there ever were a pointless conflict, the War of 1812 was certainly it. In the words of marine historian Faye Kert, it was “unnecessary, unpopular and inconclusive, declared in response to American politi­cal and economic agendas related to national ambition, regional self-interest and political opportunities.”

“Neither the practical New Englanders nor the equally pragmatic Nova Scotians wanted a war, fearful of the disruption it would cause to the lucrative sea­borne trade in which both regions were involved,” wrote Bouleau. “Nova Scotia Lt.-Gov. Sir John Sherbrooke essentially established a truce with the New Englanders within days of the American declaration of war. On July 3, 1812, he issued the proclamation above.” The article in the Chronicle Herald brings an interesting perspective to the War, not discussed in Ontario too often.

Each ship has an information plaque to tell its story.

Things to Do at the Halifax Tall Ships Festival

From July 19 to 25th, Halifax will be buzzing with things to do and full of tourists from all over the world. Last night on the boardwalk, there were more Yankee accents and foreign languages being spoken than the Queen’s English.

Theodore the Tugboat rides (photo Stephen Pate)

More than 90,000 people attended in 2009, so park your car, take public transit, walk or a cab. Patience will be a great virtue for all in attendance and Halifax excels at a convivial Maritime attitude.

Of course, there are beautiful and nostalgic sailing vessels to admire or board for a modest fee.

The Festival climax is the Parade of Sail from 12 pm to 2 pm on Monday as the boats parade in full sail.

Taste of Nova Scotia is featuring fine Maritime dining at many restaurants and along the boardwalk.

CBC has free concerts and Hey Rosetta will be performing on Georges Island Saturday evening. Music is playing everywhere such as free concerts by Lennie Gallant and Joe Murphy’s Blues Review.

There are games and rides for children, and adults who want to be children one more time.  Halifax is home to Theodore the Tugboat and he is always available for rides and a tour of the harbour.

Georges Island (Parks Canada photo)On Sunday, Parks Canada is allowing the public to tour the mysterious Georges Island, which was used to house prisoners like the Acadians during the maudit Grande Derangement, or the Expulsion of the Acadians in 1755.

You will need a guide if you come since there are so many events to entertain the public, many of them free.  Check out the Events Schedule on-line or in any Halifax newspaper.

For more information – see Tall Ships Waterfront

Things to See in Nova Scotia

Best of all, no one is going to be kicked out for taking pictures like I was at the TD Halifax Jazz Festival. Joe Murphy put the proper spin on that event when he said “I’ve been kicked out of lots of places.” TD Jazz Festival Hassles Reporter

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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