When I heard that The Citadel in Halifax was a restored fort, I have to admit I was not all that thrilled about seeing it.
That was before I saw this.
- Citadel sentry.
For a person who is an avid fan of Diana Gabaldon and all things Scottish who actually tears up at the thought of the Battle of Culloden, which changed Scotland and the clans forever, this was roughly like handing a chocoholic a huge, unopened box of chocolates.
Which, come to think of it, would be pretty darn fabulous as well.
I have already written about how Krista Langley from Parks Canada immediately picked up on the Scottish love I was exhibiting and kindly presented me with one of my most prized treasures, a miniature Highlander, which sits on my bookshelf at this very moment.
- My preeeeecious!
Once I saw the Highlander sentry, I was immediately intensely interested in the history of the Citadel and listened with rapt attention as our guide, Hal, showed us around with obvious delight and pride in the fort.
Halifax was one of the stops for the Norwegian Jewel and the Citadel in Halifax, an easy walk from the port, is well worth a visit. The current fort (there have been several on the same site) was completed in 1856 and is now a national landmark, commemorating Halifax’s role as a key naval station in the British Empire and bringing history to life in a novel and interesting way. It is in the shape of a star and has riggings like a sailing ship which could be used for signal flags.
The Citadel. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
You can read more details about the history of the Citadel here
but the detail I find the most interesting is that, of all the regiments stationed there, they chose the 78th Highland Regiment to represent all the soldiers. They even have the soldiers (re-enactors, not actual Highlanders) go through a changing of the guard.
Waiting to go on duty.
My heart is skipping a beat at this moment.
Just about when I thought my heart was going to stop from the beauty of this moment – it must be my Scottish blood – the piper began to play the bagpipes. I’m not sure if everyone feels this way, but there is something about the wistful wail of the bagpipes that I just adore.
Getting ready to play the bagpipes.
Hal had one of the soldiers come over so he could show us more details about the uniforms and how authentic they are.
Hal showing us the plaid in the kilt. The soldier is trying to be cool about Hal lifting his kilt.
One of the first things Hal told us after the changing of the guard was that we should try to stick around until noon because that’s when the cannon would be fired.
If I had harbored any thoughts of leaving before that time, I could dismiss them immediately once my husband Tom heard they were going to fire a cannon.
Athough I have to say I was a teeny bit excited about the cannon myself.
We toured around the whole fort and one of the most interesting things we saw was the tailor shop. They order most of the uniform items because they are difficult to make, but they do make some, as well as making repairs on existing pieces. In addition, they keep supplies so that visitors can try things on.
- Uniforms on display.
More uniforms to try on.
As a retired teacher, I was particularly interested in the classroom, where the children of the soldiers went to school.
When I first started teaching, we were still occasionally using filmstrip projectors. They were on the way out and being replaced by VCR’s, but were still used sometimes. So I was really amazed to see what looked very much like a filmstrip projector from the 1800’s!
Precursor to the filmstrip projector.
We walked around the inside of the fort with Hal explaining everything and Tom asking all kinds of questions, usually related to firearms of some sort. Tom and Hal were all about talking about all sorts of armaments I had never even heard of before.
Some of the buildings inside the fort.
More of the interior of the fort.
Finally, it was time for the cannon. Every day at noon, the Royal Artillery re-enactors fire the cannon. Dressed in uniforms with caps that remind you of bell hops (apparently hotels stole their uniform design), they thrill their audience (and all of Halifax) with the boom of the cannon.
Ready to fire the cannon.
So, if you are in Halifax and you like cannons – seriously, who doesn’t
like cannons – stop by the Citadel
for a tour. You will be so glad you did.
Full disclosure: Our time in Halifax was sponsored by Destination Halifax, but, as always, I will share my honest opinion about any travel experiences I have.