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Cruising Article – 2011-05-11

Explore the history of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Canada and New England Cruise Destinations

Halifax may not be the most well-known destination that you visit on your Canada and New England cruise, but fans of history will have a lot to see and do here, as the city was once considered to be one of the crown jewels of the British Empire's overseas holdings.

Much of Halifax's history dates back to the colonial era, when it was considered to be both an economic and militaristic power under the control of Great Britain. The city's location near trade routes, along with its fortified harbor, meant that the town became a major port and was well-established as the capital of the region even after the British left North America.

Since then, Halifax has continued to grow, and is now a modern urban city on par with any others that you'll find in Canada. Yet it's the history that you'll likely have the most fun delving into. For example, pay a visit to the nearby village of Lunenburg to learn more about Nova Scotia's colonial period. Lunenberg was once a "planned community" set up by the British, and has since been recognized as a historically-significant UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Back in Halifax proper, spend some time at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, which charts Halifax's role as a major port and naval power. You'll also be able to see the role that the city played in the Titanic disaster. At the time of the tragedy, Halifax was the closest major city to the wreck, meaning many of its ships were charged with helping in the aftermath. As such, a large portion of Titanic memorabilia and artifacts reside in the Maritime Museum.

For a different sort of history, be sure to visit Pier 21. Halifax's location on the Eastern Coast of Canada means that it was often the landing point for immigrants, and Pier 21 became known as Canada's version of Ellis Island. Like the famous American site, the area is now set up as a museum that looks back at the struggles of the many people who braved the journey across the Atlantic.