My visit to Pier 21 and especially my encounter with Robert Vandekieft, an 89-year old immigrant who first arrived in Canada at Pier 21 more than 52 years ago, were a real highlight of my time in Halifax. Stefani Angelopoulos, Communications Manager for Pier 21, had kindly taken me on a tour of Canada’s Immigration Museum and when we were finished, we both embarked on a walk along Halifax’ Harbourwalk since we were both headed to Dartmouth, a formerly independent city, and now part of the Halifax Regional Municipality, located across the harbour from downtown Halifax.
The ferry linking Halifax and Dartmouth
Stefani and I had a very interesting conversation and I found out that Stefani’s father had come through Pier 21 himself as an immigrant from Greece. Stefani has extensive experience with international student exchanges and volunteer assignments, so naturally I requested her to participate in an interview with me. As a local Dartmouth resident, she also gave me a bit of information about the area. She explained that Dartmouth’ nickname is “City of Lakes” because there are 23 lakes within Dartmouth proper. Stefani also mentioned a number of beaches that are located in the area that I would like to visit next time I travel to Halifax.
A view of the Halifax Harbour with the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge
Dartmouth’ history dates back more than 250 years: in 1750 the sailing ship Alderney brought 151 immigrants to the Halifax area and it was decided that they would settle the area east of the Halifax harbour. Dartmouth was incorporated as a town in 1873 and the town hall was built four years later. In 1955 a permanent link to Halifax was built in the form of the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge, named after a former premier of Nova Scotia. This fixed link resulted in a huge residential and commercial construction boom. Dartmouth expanded even more after the Murray MacKay Bridge opened in 1970.
A view of the Halifax skyline from Dartmouth
Today, Dartmouth is home to several Canadian Armed Forces Installations including CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Shearwater. It is also the backdrop to Canada’s popular “Trailer Park Boys” television show which is set in a fictional Dartmouth trailer park and filmed locally in the surrounding areas.
For a $2 investment, the ferry ride between the two cities is a great investment because it gives you a great view of downtown Halifax’ skyline. The Halifax ferry service is actually the oldest salt water ferry service in North America – the first crossings took place in 1752. Having arrived at the Ferry Terminal Building on the other side of the harbour, Stefani and I said goodbye, and I embarked on my self-guided Dartmouth Walking Tour. The Ferry Terminal Building also holds the Visitor Information Centre, so convenient access to brochures and travel information is ensured.
Looking at Dartmouth across the harbour