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Big time history, great scenery and gregarious people whose musical talent seems inborn and boundless – that’s Halifax!

It is a city of superlatives. Originally the site was occupied by the Mi’kmaq Indians who called the place Jipugtug, or Chebucto – which means “biggest harbour.” In 1749, 2500 British settlers moved in to defend the colonies of the new world against French invasion. Soon after on the opposite side of the harbour, the city of Dartmouth was founded. Linking the two communities from that time on is the oldest saltwater ferry in North America which continues to operate today.

Today the Halifax Harbour, which is world’s largest natural harbour (how did the Mi’kmaq know??), accommodates Canada’s largest navel base and two thirds of Canada’s naval fleet (but not all at once). The largest city in Atlantic Canada, Halifax is also home to the nation’s largest military base and a booming offshore oil industry. Yet it retains a down home flavour that is laced with Celtic traditions and heritage.

Bagpipes and fiddles are as common in Halifax as steel guitars in Nashville. The noteworthy event of the year is The Nova Scotia International Military Tattoo. This colourful extravaganza attracts more than 2000 international and Canadian performers and an audience of 60,000 locals and tourists each July. In August, Halifax celebrates its Acadian culture with the Grou Tyme (roughly translated as “party time”) Festival.

Beyond the festivals and events are the many scenic sidetrips from Halifax. Dozens of picturesque coves, long stretches of scenic coastline that can be seen from an automobile, tour bus, bicycle or on foot attract tourists from early spring to late Fall when Autumn colours are the big attractions. And as evidence of its Scottish heritage, Halifax is home to several of the provinces 71 golf courses.

History buffs, when they have exhausted all the sites in Halifax and Dartmouth, flock to Canada’s oldest permanent settlement of Port Royal or travel back in time at Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site.

Haligonians retain, cherish and maintain hotels and inns of bygone eras. Elegant and sprawling B&Bs, which in a previous life were the summer residences of wealthy American and Canadian elite, are common in Halifax and in the many seaside resort towns, such as Lunenburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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