Halifax Walking Tour 3
Once again, thank you for joining me on this walking tour of Halifax. This is the third walking tour in the series, and admittedly, the most chaotic one of the series. To this point Nick Fagan has been driving Jamie through the city and giving a pretty good description of what to see. It is her first trip to the city after all. This tour will be guided by someone new. As a consequence, his chaotic influence is unmistakable. Our guide will be the psychopath time traveler himself, a person who is known as Tristan. This enigmatic creature has gone by other names as well, but I've settled on this name, even though he uses three names just in Sisterhood of the Sword. He also is known to shift his appearance. In Sisterhood of the Sword (available September 2023) his eyes are brown, as is his hair. (I think.) He shifts so often.
To set the stage, Jamie has fallen back in Time. How that happened, you'll have to get the details from the book. She hooks up with Tristan. Again, details are in the book, and I'm not going to spoil it other than to say that Jamie is definitely not pleased. And still, she takes a walk with him. This is where it gets chaotic. They walked from Sleepy Cove, where we left her in the second walking tour. And Tristan and she walk into Halifax. However, the actual route they take is ambiguous at best. Why? Well, for one thing, Time ticks backward and they arrive in Halifax before they left Sleepy Cove. There are other oddities. All I can say is their destination is Hollis Street somewhere during World War II. Jamie is angry and out of sorts. Why she continues to walk with her known enemy is something she questions herself. As they walk, they talk. Tristan is his old cocky self, and he is definitely up to no good.
Let us take a look at Halifax as she would have seen it back then. An excerpt from Sisterhood of the Sword:
We weaved through foot traffic. A loaded tram-car rolled past on the cobbled street. Tristan waved. A few people waved back.
“You do get snappish without food. That’s a good sign actually, and I won’t hold it against you. I will introduce you to John Smith and his wife, Maria. His real name is Johann Schmitz. In your day you’d call him radicalized this-or-that. Smith isn’t radicalized. He’s a Nazi spy plain and simple. Did you know there were spies in here?” I opened my mouth, but he plowed forward, “Right, Nick the Egghead.”
My head spun another direction. “Are those…”
Women in white boots leisurely wandered down a sidewalk. More stood near a couple boarding houses.
“Those are brothels. This is a military city. Men need…”
“Save it,” I snapped. “Your friend lives in this area?”
“No, no. We’re just passing through. What would your dad think about you hanging with Nazis and prostitutes?
“I know that song. It’s the Indiana Jones theme.”
A mirthful laugh met this statement. “My last walking companion didn’t get it, the lame duck!” He picked up the pace, still whistling. I never realized the theme sounded ominous. I pulled my coat closer.
Regarding the buildings more closely, it appeared our walk brought us into Halifax perpendicular to Nick’s route. More homes and lodgings stood where high-rises would stand. I superimposed the images. Halifax had matured in the last decades, but it remained so much the original town if you paid attention.
As we rounded a corner, the waterfront came into view. War. Everywhere, signs and sounds of a city at war. There were more piers and rows of long, narrow warehouses. Dozens of ships were tied to docks. Men, even this late at night, labored here and there, preparing gigantic ships for their transatlantic journey. A torch glowed here. Men hauled equipment there. Ships being repaired. Trucks roared everywhere, delivering supplies. It was noisy, dirty, and very much alive. And the sidewalks swarmed with people. The closer we drew to the waterfront the more congested traffic became. It wasn’t just foot traffic. Tram-cars full of people trundled past. Restaurants appeared. They burst with people, many in uniform. Sailors everywhere...
We shall pause in Jamie's journey. The pictures included here are of a modern Halifax and the waterfront. During the war, this would have looked entirely different and would have been busy day and night. One of the resources I used to research a Wartime Halifax was the book Sailors, Slackers, and Blind Pigs: Halifax at War by Stephen Kimber. The book paints a very clear picture of wartime activities which include elements that Jamie has just witnesses: hookers. I haven't mentioned the bootleggers or other opportunists looking to make a dollar during an unsettled time. There is also the likelihood of spies living in the city. Because Halifax was active in the war, including staging ships for the Battle of the Atlantic, it was a target for German spies. A friend once told me his grandfather came into the city on a German U-boat. He stayed with the boat, but his buddies took off to explore the city. I gave that story to Nick to tell in the book. Those submarine nets they stretched across the mouth of the harbour didn't keep everyone out.
We will return to Jamie's journey with Tristan. This scene happens some time after her arrival in Halifax. One thing to note when reading this scene is the swell of people in the city. Imagine all the sailors who have come from away. Things like movie theatres and restaurants were always crazy busy. No one got to sit alone in a restaurant. Perhaps some of the friendliness we see in a modern Halifax developed when strangers had to dine with each other in restaurants. Lines to movie theaters were excessive. The Orpheus Theature no longer exists, but was popurlar during the war. The Green Lantern, mentioned in the book, is making something of a comeback.
Have another read as Jamie and Tristan walk from Hollis Street to Barrington Street:
We turned a corner, avoiding the brothels. We walked a block then turned again onto Barrington Street, which paralleled Hollis. We quickly became entwined with more people. Ahead a white church spire towered above the trees.
“You’ve threatened to leave how many times? Admit it, you’re curious. You’re having fun. Yin and Yang!”
“Blah, blah, blah.” I mocked, but he was right. Out of the corner of my eye, the familiar ghostly frame of Grandpa John appeared. He waved and pushed through the crowd. I looked away. What if Tristan saw him?
We walked a few blocks, past the church and then some brick buildings with shops inside, wading through throngs of men in uniform, many with a woman on their arm, much as Tristan kept me close. Ahead I saw the marquis for the Orpheus movie theatre. A line several blocks long stretched our way. We joined the end.
The Orpheus Theatre. How fitting. In Greek mythology, Orpheus was a musician, poet, and prophet. The stories about him centered on his ability to charm all living things with music. There was more to his story, but I stopped there. I was tethered to my own irritating Orpheus. He didn’t charm me, although he’d tried—tirelessly. Regardless, there was a charisma behind those smoldering, cold eyes. Once Dad had been charmed and broken by that bewitching smile. What would happen in this fixed point when we entered the theatre? Would I meet a similar fate?
“I say we eat at the Green Lantern. There.” He pointed to a restaurant in the same building as the Orpheus. “Some
call it the Green Latrine, but I assure you they have excellent food judging by the lineup. You can get a chocolate milkshake. It has a swell soda fountain. Do they say swell where you come from? We can’t have you getting slippy again.”
We waited an hour. As desperate as he’d been to impart knowledge, he didn’t. Instead, he fiddled with an object in his pocket as he surveyed something beyond the crowds. I expected the women in the purple dress to sashay up.
Everything in Halifax was crowded. With war, the population swelled, and there weren’t enough places to entertain service men. Another theatre down the street appeared just as busy.
Other restaurants had lines stretching outside...
And here we will leave her.
Watch for the next blog! Jamie will return to the present with critical information. But, did her presence in any way impact the war? What about Tristan? A chaotic force like him could not leave the world unscathed. You'll need to read Sisterhood of the Sword to find out more!
The next walking tour will require Jamie to action some of the information she gains in the past. Don't miss out!
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 as we are a virtual vendor. Additionally two preferred vendors can also assist you in getting the books any time of year: