Halifax Walking Tour 2
Thanks for coming along on our walking tours of Halifax and surrounding areas. When we last left Jamie, she and her friends Nick and Lenore had traveled across Halifax from Flamingo Drive to Young Street in quest of certain information that you must read to believe. Sisterhood of the Sword will be available beginning September 1, 2023.
Here begins the second leg of our walking tour. Once again Nick Fagan, who is from Halifax, will be driving Jamie from Young Street, having left Walter and Hazel's house. From here, he is driving to York Redoubt. This walking tour is also set in modern times. We will fall back in time soon enough! As in the first blog, I will share a portion of the book so you can become familiar with Jamie and the story. However, certain details may be redacted to preserve the surprise of the story. For this excerpt, it is necessary to know that Lenore is an art student, and she has been told about the graffiti near York Redoubt. Nick has promised to show it to her. Have a read:
Nick pointed the Volvo toward York Redoubt. “I know Robbie wants Lenore to see this place, but I think you’ll like it too, Jamie.”
“Have you considered becoming a history teacher?” I asked.
He gave a small laugh. “I have, believe it or not.”
Despite the funk I’d felt myself falling into all day, I looked forward to exploring. A ten minute drive brought us to a gated stone wall. Side-by-side, cannons lined the wall.
“Those are from the 1870s. There’s more inside. Come on. This fortification was built after the outbreak of the French Revolutionary War in 1793 to defend a newly formed Halifax…er…sorry about all the babble on dates. We’ll have to walk a bit to see the graffiti Robbie was talking about. You might like that better than a dry history lesson.” He parked the car and hid the statue in the trunk.
We followed him past several rifle muzzle loader cannons mounted as if
ready to fire at unseen enemy somewhere across the water. Beyond the cannons and through the trees was the mouth of the harbour and open ocean. Once again I felt ghosts of the past sauntering all around. Conveniently, there were also several boarded up brick buildings for ghosts to loiter against. Nick explained the function of each building, but I wasn’t listening.
I no longer heard Voices of the Dead that had haunted my childhood. After changing Time, those people had fallen asleep softly in their beds with no reason to beg for help. However, the Dead hovered close as we walked
through a time capsule—layer upon layer of capsules—protected as a national historical site. This area has been more recently used like the Citadel for barracks during World War II. In fact, it had remained in use until 1956. All those ghosts clamored atop each other, vying for my attention. Was it crazy to imagine they guarded me? That was the impression I felt as one brushed against my arm while another breathed against my neck. I followed their slithering shadows as they trailed us. Their uniforms from different centuries were in muted shades.
And from what did they guard me? I cast a wary eye every direction.
From deep within the forest I heard the echoes of soldiers calling to each other. A tune caressed my ear, and I heard the clop clop of hooves and the groan of carts rolling past on the trail Nick led us to. We joined them on the forest trail, and they seemed undisturbed by our presence. I never fully saw my guardians, but I felt them press against me on all sides.
“Where are we going?” Lenore asked as we left the buildings behind, and the trail descended through the forest toward the ocean. Fortunately there was little snow, and the trail was easy to follow.
“Sleepy Cove. Where we’re going is a gun battery used as a command center during World War II. From here they monitored for submarines and mines. The whole place is amazing. The hike will be worth it.”
Nick squeezed through a gap between wall and fence.
“But the signs,” I flapped my hand.
“Live a little, Huck,” Lenore chided. “Don’t drift back into the slow lane. You’re way cooler now. Almost.”
I sighed and slid through the gap. We entered a World War II fortification. Above us two square lookout towers would have given soldiers an excellent view of the harbour mouth. Two gun emplacements remained, but the guns were gone.
“Originally they’d have been 12-pounder guns,” Nick pointed. “They were replaced by 6 pounders. Still big enough.”
I shook my head. “And Lenore picks on me for all the information I’ve accumulated from old books. Seriously, consider teaching.”
He shrugged. “I am, seriously. Plus you gotta admit. This stuff is amazing. I mean, this area is full of history. You don’t just read it. Walk down the cobbled streets. Watch them remodel an old building. You see history. Often there’s another, even older building built within the first. You can see all the layers, buildings built upon buildings, when they peel them back. Most of the downtown has been repurposed. There are so many amazing hidden places.”
“Dial down the enthusiasm,” Lenore interrupted.
I watched another Eighteenth Century soldier drift past. He regarded Lenore quizzically for a moment.
“Sorry. But you gotta see this stuff!” Nick pointed out three search light batteries and a series of cinder block bunkers. “They used those to search for submarines. They stretched anti-submarine nets between here and McNabs Island across the water there.”
I couldn’t see because of trees which had grown up after the place had fallen into ruins.
Nick realized he was losing his audience. “I didn’t bring you here for a history lesson. Sorry for my enthusiasm. I brought you here for art.”
Sometimes art and history are the same thing, a disembodied voice spoke from one of the abandoned structures. This voice was new! New and oddly familiar. It wasn’t one of my guardians nor was it oily and abhorrent.
“Robbie will kick my butt if I don’t do it justice,” Nick said overtop the new voice, disregarding what he couldn’t hear.
“I see that.” Lenore had already wandered off. The circumference wall had been decorated with spray paint.
“The best stuff is in the bunkers.” Nick hooked a thumb...
And here we will leave them as they explore Sleepy Cove. Jamie will discover more than she expected. For her Sleepy Cove is more than ghosts from the past. Much more.
During World War II Sleepy Cove was exactly how Nick described it and so much more. Situated at the mouth of the Halifax Harbour, it was one of the first defenses of the city and of North America. German U-boats prowled up and down the coast making it necessary for submarine nets to be stretched across the harbour mouth. Remains of this and communication lines are easy to discover on a casual walk. The picture to the right is what remains of one of the lights used to search the waters around the submarine nets for U-boats.
What remains of Sleepy Cove today is far from the original cement compound of World War II. In the last ten years, the gun towers have been removed. Some of the bunker ceilings have also been removed due to fear of collapse. I have seen the gun towers, but I have never seen the compound without graffiti. It has become the victim of modern vandals. With the removal of the fragile rooves and the gun towers, the fencing mentioned in the book is now gone.
For the book, I left it in its state from about ten years ago with the fencing and gun towers intact to add to its mystique and to allow Jamie to see it in more of its original state despite the graffiti. For Jamie it serves a supernatural purpose as you will discover when you read Sisterhood of the Sword.
With the removal of the fencing, it is now possible to view the ruins, and it is popular with explorers. Every time I've been there since the removal of the fencing I have seen a dozen or more people exploring and photographing everything. It's perhaps a lesser known ruin in Halifax, but it is one worth exploring. It is part of our history.
Watch for the next blog! Jamie will fall backward in Time and find a Nazi spy who is so much more.
You can also purchase any of the Jamie Poole Books directly from the author. Arrangements can be made by emailing: JamiePooleBooks@gmail.com.
In working with Hal-Con there can be arrangements for drop off within Halifax. Additionally two preferred vendors can also assist you in getting the books any time of year: