Over the weekend I was lucky enough to be the only monkey allowed to participate in “Picnic In The Past“, which was an event co-sponsored by Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, Select Nova Scotia, Parks Canada, Rogers Communications, C100, Aquafina, and Waterfront Development. This was a 2-day event where the public was able to go over to see historic Fort Charlotte up close and personal.
Wait…you’re unfamiliar with George’s Island? Let me give you a quick history lesson. It’s a small island that is situated smack dab in the middle of Halifax Harbour that got its name from King George II way back in 1749. Because of it’s prime location, fortifications were established there. However, it was used as a prison shortly after its creation during the Seven Years War (1756-1763) before being used again as a fort to protect against privateers during the American Revolution (1763-1776) as part of the “Halifax Defense Complex”, along with Citadel Hill.
Okay…history lesson over. The fun stuff is that this historic property is not normally open to the public, so the opportunity to explore the fort and enjoy some local wares was a tremendous opportunity that I simply could not pass up.
After waiting over an hour to board the boat that would ferry us over (it’s alright…I realize it was the first day and there are bound to be hiccups), I was excited to disembark and start walking along the paths that were initially forged so many years ago. I decided to go straight up to the entrance of Fort Charlotte and ended up with a fantastic view of the famous George’s Island lighthouse.
I was fortunate enough to be able to chat with some of the great volunteers who were dressed up in authentic historical garb in tremendously high heat (40 degrees with the humidity!). Not only were they seemingly fine and quite comfortable, but they didn’t appear to be sweating nearly as much as I was, which made me wonder about their uniforms and how the soldiers must have felt so many years before.
I took a peak inside what was originally the jail cells before moving on to an area where kids and monkeys alike could try on some of the historical clothing. Not only did I get a great photo op with a lucky volunteer (I am a Halifax celebrity, afterall), I was fortunate enough to find a hat that fit me perfectly!
I then decided to make my way down into the tunnels of Fort Charlotte. It was incredible to really try to comprehend the work that must have gone into digging into this tiny island and constructing tunnels with stones. The tunnels twist and turn throughout the island, suggesting that those who built it really wanted to take advantage of the space that they had.
One of my favourite spots was the Lower Battery. This area was separately constructed as a way to fortify the island against a sea-based assault. It housed four powerful 10″ rifle muzzle-loaded guns (pictured at right) that were so loud when fired, that those in the Battery had to leave the rooms in order to save their hearing. Each massive gun was situated on a “wheel” of sorts, so that the gun could turn and point in a slightly different direction through a small window overlooking the harbour.
The day was beautiful and the sun was strong, but that didn’t stop the volunteers from showing visitors just how people lived on the island 250 years ago. The costumes were authentic and the stories were many, leaving those of us listening to walk away and imagine what it must have been like…and just how easy life is today in comparison.
The island was set up for tourists quite well. There were multiple port-a-potties for folks, multiple guides who were around to answer questions, and an area where one could buy food (either some great BBQ or a pre-purchased picnic box) and water (which was definitely needed on this particular day).
I would like to thank Sports & Entertainment Atlantic, Select Nova Scotia, Parks Canada, Rogers Communications, C100, Aquafina, and Waterfront Development for joining forces as sponsors in order to allow this weekend to happen. It was absolutely worth the $15 price for transportation over as it was not only a learning experience, but an entertaining experience, as well.
Have any ideas on where in the Halifax area I should show up next? Know of a great local business that you think should get some exposure? Are you a small business owner who would like to promote your product? I would LOVE to hear from you!
Just send me an email at RomanChimpsky@gmail.com and let me know!