Though the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has been open to the public for more than six decades, within its walls, time stands still. Here, steamships still travel up rivers, the Battle of the Atlantic wages on, and Nova Scotia is still rallying to aid in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster. Through permanent and rotating exhibits, the museum?which is the largest of its kind in Canada?lets visitors relive these and other key moments in maritime history.
Located on Halifax's historic waterfront, the museum's collections house more than 24,000 artifacts of Canada's naval and maritime heritage. The permanent exhibition Halifax Wrecked intimately connects visitors with the events and aftermath of that historic disaster, considered to the the largest man-made explosion before the atomic bomb. A thorough Titanic exhibit lets viewers experience what life was like on the doomed ship, including a replica deck chair to sit in and an authentic one to admire. Visitors can also enjoy the museum's largest artifact, CSS Acadia, a 101 year-old ship on the water (check for availability). Beyond receiving free admission for children 5 and younger, kids and parents will find plenty to enjoy, as well, including the massive tentacles of a full-size kraken and Merlin, the friendly rainbow macaw and museum mascot. At the William Robertson & Son store, guests can soak up the waterfront atmosphere or try their hand at making their own knot craft.
Surprisingly spry for a 90-year-old, Gus the gopher tortoise greets Museum of Natural History visitors while strolling around the premises and snacking on clover and dandelions. As the museum's mascot for more than six decades, Gus has amassed a substantial following, and he keeps his 1,500+ Facebook friends abreast of the latest goings-on at his home's seven permanent galleries. Unearthed tools, arrowheads, and Tupperware of the Mi'kmaq and Acadian peoples await in the archaeology exhibit, and the pre-contact culture, religion, and language of Nova Scotia come to life in the ethnology hall. Life-sized models of feathered bipeds and four-legged furballs lurk in the mammals-and-birds gallery. Live snakes, frogs, salamanders, and honeybees call Netukulimk home, embodying a Mi'kmaq conception of the relationship between the human and natural worlds.
The Theresa E. Connor and Cape Sable may not be sea-borne, but that doesn't stop visitors to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic from boarding the wharf-side vessels. Once aboard, they can explore above and below deck while retired fishermen and captains demonstrate their fishing skills and recount tales from their seafaring days. Inside the museum's 19th-century buildings, three exhibition floors share space with a 7-foot high vista tank, and 11 salt water tanks that comfortably house oceanic critters such as lobsters, eels, and Atlantic whitefish. More animals including scallops and sea anemone occupy the wharf, whose Tidal Touch Tank lets visitors stroke a bumpy sea star or share their first kiss with a mermaid.
Elsewhere in the museum complex, guests can launch a model schooner, watch fish-filleting demos, learn about Prohibition-era rum running, or take in fishing-related films in the Ice House Theatre. The Old Fish Factory Restaurant & Ice House Bar and the Salt Store Gift Shop, housed in a former salt storehouse, provide souvenirs both edible and otherwise.
The museum's season lasts from mid-May to mid-October.
Certified by Transport Canada for safety, Four Winds Charters' experienced captains have been floating guests across picturesque St. Margaret's Bay for more than two decades. Tours and private charters set sail toward scenic coves and private islands as dolphins and sea birds pass by on their watery commutes. Four-hour deep-sea fishing trips drop anchor approximately 5 miles from shore, allowing the included hooks, rods, and hand lines to grab at mackerel, cod, and shipwrecked inner tubes. Catering is available for both private charters and fishing trips upon request.
I Heart Bikes loans two-wheelers and recommends a variety of self-guided routes to visitors and locals looking to explore downtown Halifax. A couples bike rentals include four hours of biking time and a picnic blanket on which to spread a romantic lunch of energy bars and protein shakes. After selecting their spokes, explorers depart from the waterfront location to chart their own course or follow one of five routes, each of which encompasses opportunities for sightseeing, dining, walking, and shopping. Couples who work up a hunger surveying the city topography or racing flying carpets up the skyline can stop in for a snack at one of the three eateries along the routes at which I Heart Bikes' touring customers receive a 25% discount.
Fundy Tidal Bore Adventures founder Morgan McDonald is a passionate rafter with a decade of experience navigating the Shubenacadie River, whose shores are made of clay and dotted with trees. The high and low tides here mean that there are varying degrees of wave intensity, and the company's experienced guides can tailor the experience to suit each group’s comfort level. Before the trip, guides will help passengers suit up in PFDs and store their valuables in waterproof bags. The crewmember can snap pictures of the trip along the way; they’ll then email the photos to you later or stuff them into a bottle and float them to postal workers wearing waterskis.