Summers in the city

Photo: Nova Scotia Tourism/Patrick Rojo

My first couple years living in Halifax, I was a university student staying in residence, so I missed summer in the city. I went home to Digby, took seasonal jobs (junior assistant maintenance guy in a hockey rink, “information host” in a tourist bureau) that reaffirmed my desire to stay in university, and engaged in the usual summer shenanigans (bonfires in quarries, garage parties, Scallop Days).
Eventually the call of the city outweighed Digby’s limited joys. In my third year of university, I got an apartment and a summer job as a busboy/food runner at a waterfront restaurant. I worked harder than I ever had before (or since) but with the boundless energy of one’s early 20s, found lots of time to explore Halifax in a new season.
Well it was glorious. In what I’ve since learned was something of an anomaly, the weather was ideal: clear and balmy day after day, just enough rain to keep everything fresh and vibrant.
Streets I only knew as gray and forlorn exploded in a riot of colour. How had I never noticed all these trees? Every house in my neighbourhood seemed to have lively gardens. There was a constant background hum of activity. One festival after another, barbecue scents, music wafting in the breeze, the convivial chatter of a dozen backyard parties.
I had never walked around the city much. My memories of my first two years in Halifax are a steady parade of rain and/or slush. My city was limited to spots that could be easily reached by taking Halifax Transit Route #1. But during this first summer, walking was no ordeal. I strolled everywhere. I roamed the waterfront, crossed the Macdonald Bridge, circled Point Pleasant Park, clambered up Citadel Hill.
It was like I’d moved to a whole new city. My first JazzFest concert, my first visit to York Redoubt, my first harbour cruise. Every day I had some new and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Until then, I’d planned to leave Halifax after university, with dim notions of settling in Toronto or Calgary.
That summer, I decided Halifax was a city I could live in.
Not every summer since has been so lovely, but I can’t say the shine has ever really worn off. Every year reminds me of why I’ve chosen to make Halifax my home for more than two decades. Every summer the city awakens anew, offering fresh discoveries.
I hope you feel this way about summer in Halifax too, but if you don’t, let us make our case. Read our cover story for Kim Hart Macneill’s opinionated round-up of the best the city has to offer this season. You’ll find old favourites like the Halifax Jazz Festival and the Seaport Cider & Beerfest, but we also have tiny neighbourhood events, new festivities, and fun road-trip ideas.


A couple of years ago, people started talking about building a spaceport in Canso to launch commercial satellites. My mind instantly went to schemes like the Parrsboro board-game factory, the Glace Bay heavy-water plant, an earlier dream to build a spaceport in Cape Breton: grandiose job-promising plans that require a lot of public support and still never get off the ground.
Despite my (not isolated) skepticism, the Canso plan seems to keep inching forward. The guy behind it is a Halifax-based (by way of Albuquerque) engineer named Stephen Matier. He’s made lots of appeals for government support as he navigates the regulatory hurdles, but he hasn’t asked for government money. His plan seems cautious and incremental.
Eager to be wrong (it’d be pretty cool to have a spaceport in Nova Scotia), I asked veteran journalist Alec Bruce to explore Matier’s idea. With in-depth interviews with Matier and space-industry insiders, Bruce breaks it all down, and looks at the likelihood of success. Read his story here.


This is your last issue of Halifax Magazine until September. While our team is busy preparing for fall, you’ll find lots to read here. In addition to our huge free archives, we have regular web exclusives. Recently environmental columnist Zack Metcalfe wrote “The truth about the horses of Sable Island.” We like to romanticize them, but those horses lead short harsh lives, suffering from brutal weather and extremely limited food supplies.
For a wry and insightful take on the issues shaping our city, see our regular posts from stand-up comic and TV producer Mark Farrell. His latest is “Doing a good-enough job.” He delves into the (very limited) powers of a Halifax mayor, and considers just what it is people like about Mike Savage. Spoiler: sometimes it’s more about who you aren’t than who you are.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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