Breaking Bread: Pan do Seixo

Last May when I was in Galicia I spent some time with a local bread man. To my grandmother and the neighbours he is referred to as Seixo (pronounced say-show), a name that reflects the town where he is from rather than any name his mother gave him. Seixo is a little town in the mountains, not far the ancient village of Cebreiro on the Camino de Santiago. The bread that this man makes is called Pan do Seixo. 

Pan do Seixo Loaves ©2013 Helena McMurdo

The bread is crusty and chewy and filling. When the locals cut it, they hold it tightly between their arm and their body and cut off a slice, one-handed, as if it could somehow get away from them.

Pan Do Seixo © 2013 Helena McMurdo

Seixo is a daily visitor, showing up around 10 o'clock in his little van and beeping his horn. If you want bread, you're ready and waiting with your euro in hand. If you don't you wave him off and he continues on his journey through the green hills of this part of Lugo province. 

Near O Cebreiro © 2014 Helena McMurdo

I asked him if I could spend some time with him and see how this bread was made. He generously obliged. After spending most of the morning delivering, he starts baking at around 4pm. My mum and I made the short trip into the hills through some pretty windy roads to a most unlikely place for a bakery. And not any bakery. One that in addition to servicing restaurants and locals, ships bread, twice a week, more than 900 km to shops in Barcelona. The authentic Galician character of his bread is much sought after by Gallegos living in the city. He told me he started out just shipping bread to a few friends that had a shop. The bread became known by other Gallegos living in the Barcelona and the demand grew.

Despite the rustic surroundings, and the artisanal nature of the bread, the bakery itself is fairly modern.  But some traditional touches remain.

The oven is a state-of-the-art, modern one, with a rotating conveyer belt allowing Seixo to cook 80 loaves at a time. But then you see how it's fired. With wood. A delightful mix of old and new technology.

He uses a mixture of yeast and ferment (what we would know as a starter or biga ), as well as a blend of commercial wheat flour and a locally grown Galician flour. He makes two main loves a wheat loaf and a rye loaf.  


Once the dough is mixed in a modern, commercial mixer, it is cut into portions and left to proof in a traditional dough trough called an artesa. My mum remembers that in the old days when everyone made their own bread at home, every house had one of these. It's sort of a coffin shaped box on legs with a wood cover.

Cutting the dough ©2013 Helena McMurdo
Artesa first proofing © 2013 Helena McMurdo

After an initial proofing in the artesa, the dough is weighed and divided into individual portions and formed into balls (bollas) which are placed on a board for a second proofing.

Forming the bollas ©2013 Helena McMurdo
Proofing the Loaves © 2014 Helena McMurdo

After the second proof, of approximately 40 minutes, it's time for the oven. This is rapid fire, co-ordinated team work. With Roberto, bringing out the wood trays, and Seixo forming the bollas into their final shape, slashing the tops where necessary, the two men entered into a rhythmic dance. 

Pan do Seixo Bollas ©2013 Helena McMurdo

Working in batches they used a conveyer belt to load the bread into the oven, depositing it on the shelves. In no-time, approximately 80 loaves were in the oven and browning nicely.

Loading the Conveyer ©2013 Helena McMurdo

The thing that struck me most in the 4 hours I spent with Seixo and Roberto was the pace of work. It was non-stop. And they work hard. When he wasn't actively making bread and sometimes when he was, Seixo was fielding calls on his mobile phone, taking orders, doing business.  A man in demand.

Seixo on the Phone © 2013 Helena McMurdo

When the bread was ready, Seixo asked me if I wanted to try a treat from the old days. He explained this was a traditional snack that he had as a kid. He ripped into a warm loaf and sprinkled it with sugar and olive oil. Heaven. 

On the conveyer ©2013 Helena McMurdo

We left his home at nine at night, dead on our feet but with smiles on our faces. The next day he was back at our house, beeping his horn. No rest for him.


Porto or is it Oporto?

I wanted to share some images that I made while I was in Porto - a quick trip I made during my days in Galicia to visit my good Irish friends O & J. So Porto / Oporto. What's with that? In English and in Spanish it's called Oporto and in Portuguese it's Porto. Somehow this seems strange. I mean wouldn't Porto have worked for all of us? Ok. I'l stop that rant, because that's pretty much all I could possibly complain about in this lovely city. It's so gorgeous, it's ridiculous. It's crumbly and old and bright and colourful all at once. And the food isn't bad either. My two new favourite things are included in the photos below.


Pasteis de Nata

. Custard tarts that are everywhere. We had them everyday! And now I've developed an addiction. How can I make these? Anyone?


Pataniscas de Bacalao

. These are yummy cod fritters that seem to be a cross between a fishcake and an onion bhajii. Seriously good.

And of course, we must not forget Port. or as the Portuguese call it

Vino Porto.

 But that's a whole other story. Enjoy!

PortoCollage ©2013 Helena McMurdo

Pulpo a Feira

Pulpo A Feira ©2013 Helena McMurdo

One of the classic items to eat in Galicia is Pulpo do Feira. Translation: Octopus-"Market Style". In my grandmother's local market, the women working the Pulpo tent dip their sticks rhythmically into the huge copper pot, their hands seemingly immune to the scalding water below. Then using scissors, they snip the legs into pieces so quickly it's amazing that any of them still have fingers. You take your seat in the covered tent and someone plunks down a bottle of wine and a huge loaf of bread and you order your ration. It's drizzled with olive oil,  and sprinkled with salt and pimentón. Y ya está. (That's it!) Meaty deliciousness.

Galicia: Te gusta?

I'm back from a recent trip to Galicia and I wanted to share some of the images I made as well as some of the memories I have from this place. As many of you know, I was born in Spain or more specifically - as my relatives remind me often - in Galicia. Which is different. When we were kids, we visited in the summers from our home in the North of Canada. The differences were dramatic. In Yellowknife, the Frozen North, the chickens came wrapped in plastic on meat trays in the YK Super A, the local grocery store. In Galicia hens strolled around the yard of my grandparents house and baby chicks were gifts from my Abuelo (grandfather) to me and my two sisters when he came back from the local market. Today in North America we would call it a 'Farmer's' Market. In Galicia, then as now, no one felt the need to specify this obvious detail. We were disappointed to learn that grandma's chickens laid no more than one egg a day and sometimes not even any. This did not seem to tally with the pictures in our kindergarden schoolbooks of mother hen sitting on a mountain of eggs. Our relatives viewed us as city slickers (clearly not the case as anyone who has been to Yellowknife can attest), but our words and actions revealed that we ignorant of country ways. They  laughed when my sister tried hopelessly to shake a chicken in order to induce an increase in egg production.

Big excitement happened when one of the neighbours would move cows from one field to another yelling; Vaca Ve!  My sisters and I would copy them, grabbing a stick and yelling the refrain, not really understanding the words but getting the message.  Today there are fewer cows in the village. But they still move back and forth in a rhythm that marks the days. Today they wear ear tags and in the words of one of the neighbours, "they have more paperwork than we do".

Galicia Village Textures © 2013 Helena McMurdo

When we were kids, my grandparents ran a little bar come shop and their little corner of the world seemed a bustling place with neighbours dropping by to have a drink, a slice of jamón or to buy some basic essential like shampoo or the famous black soap from LaToja.

We found it all so very amusing, helping to serve the drinks and being paid in chocolate and Chupa Chups. Much of our time was spent being poked by neighbours and relatives who spoke freely with their pronouncements as to which of us was the fattest, skinniest, best looking, tallest, most intelligent etc. “The food must be very bad in Canada. The children are so skinny” The bar is  no more but the neighbours still have a lot to say. Now they tell me I am fatter but in a good way. “Estás bien ahora.”

On of the first spanish phrases I remember learning was 'Te gusta?'" Do you like it? Someone was always offering food. (What is a local custom became even more impressive presumably because of our perceived state of malnutrition.) Most of the things being offered to eat were too simply too scary for our young and picky palates to consider. Squid? Octopus? No thank you. "No me gusta". We seemed happy to exist on a diet of Fanta de Naranja, Maria Biscuits and Cola Cao with the odd tortilla francesa (omelette) thrown in. But I do remember always liking jamón and chorizo.

Today, I’m making up for my prior fussiness. In fact, there seems to be little that I don’t like. This is simple food; Green Beans with Garlic and Smoked Paprika, Kale with chorizo and a perfect farm fresh egg, a slice of empanada made in the local panadería. Octopus is boiled and sprinkled with salt and paprika and served with boiled potatoes.

Food in Galicia_©2013 Helena McMurdo

The cooking is not complicated. The ingredients are what make it. And nature provides. Y si me gusta!

Galicia : A Preview

Poppies del Prado

So if you've been wondering where I've been, I'll tell you.  I'll skip the usual excuses for not posting earlier and just say here's a bit of a teaser for what's to come  in the next week or so - a recap of my trip to Galicia. I hope that for the meantime, you enjoy these.

Pimientos&Chorizo ©2013 Helena McMurdo
Sunset Near O Cebreiro © 2013 Helena McMurdo

Sunset Near O Cebreiro © 2013 Helena McMurdo

Galician Headdresses ©2013 Helena McMurdo

Signs of Portland


I've always been inspired by beautiful  and interesting signage and architectural details and when I visit somewhere new, inevitably my camera roll will be filled with many pictures of signs. My recent trip to Portland provided lots of interesting examples both retro and modern. I love the strong, masculine and  heritage typographic forms found in many of the classic signs in Portland,but there were lots of fun, modern examples as well. Here are some of my favourites.


What do you think? Do you have any favourites?

Fish are the ones that swim, right?

For anyone who watched Gilligan's Island, the words "three-hour tour", do not instill confidence. Yet on the day before my sister's wedding we found ourselves in North Lake Harbour, PEI  at McNeill’s Tuna Fishing, about to embark on just that. Despite the company name, we won’t be fishing tuna. Although Captain Jeff McNeill could tell you some stories. Like the recent tuna he caught -  677 lbs and 924 lbs. That's too much for these landlubbers so we’re after mackerel today.


Before we leave the delightful harbour, Captain Jeff gives a quick talk using the Bride-to-Be as his assistant to demonstrate the safety features of the vessel and the functioning of the life vest to the landlubbers.

With that, we are off and sailing with the wind.  OK not really – we’re motoring but we’re motoring near some windmills on PEI’s east coast, which are most impressive.

McNeil's Tuna & Deep Sea Fishing

After this brief bit of sight seeing which also gives us the chance to see some sea lions, we arrive at thedesignated fishing spot where Captain Jeff turns off the motor and gives a quick demonstration of how to operate the fishing rod and reel and how to catch a fish.  To everyone’s amazement this actually ended with him catching several mackerel on his first reel in! Claps and cheers from the landlubbers and we’re off trying to outdo him.

We went fishing and camping as kids but let’s be clear – we’re not really outdoors people. Given the chance I choose glamping over camping. My European parents rightly thought that their children should not miss out on these Canadian experiences but this sometimes meant pitching a tent in the wooded area a few feet from our house. Not exactly adventure extreme conditions. But we found it to be quite the adventure all the same. I believe I did catch a fish as a child and there is definitely a  picture of my youngest sister with a fish she caught that appears to be twice her size.  So we are not without skills. I'm feeling confident.

The most interesting thing about this trip was what I learned about certain members of my family when caught in a primal hunter/gatherer moment. Screams from a few you might not expect and deftly exhibited skill from others came as a great surprise. Ya think you know people.

Fishing Rods

We do not cast our lines like we did when I was a kid fishing off a dock into rivers and lakes, but we simply drop them over the side and let it sink to the bottom before reeling it up while at the same time lifting the rod up and down smoothly to attract the fish. Within two minutes I am embroiled in a strange triangle with my youngest sister and her boyfriend, our lines are seemingly inextricably entangled. Captain Jeff to the rescue and we are free. So far I suck at this.

The others are catching fish left and right and our bucket of mackerel is growing. But I’m getting nothing.


And then this happens.  A cheeky seabird thought it was a great idea to wait until he saw the mackerel coming up on the line before diving down to get it. Brilliant! Or not so brilliant perhaps. Now I have a bird on the end of my line. Or do I? The line snaps and the bird is now floating a few yards from the boat but with its wings tied up on its back in a sort of reverse Namaste position (for the yogis among you).


At this point, I really have to commend the actions of the captain and crew who quickly gave the order of ‘Rods up’ and had us haul in our lines so they could get to the bird and rescue it. Catching it in a net they deftly untangled the bird and promptly set it free causing very little trauma to the animal who seemed rather un-phased by the experience shaking it off as the cost of doing business. I imagine that fishermen see this thing all the time but suffice it to say there were a few landlubbers on board who may have been scarred for life.


Beside this bird, and one mackerel which was deemed to small to keep, so far I have not caught anything. But near the end of the trip, I feel a great tug on my line and with a little effort swiftly reel in my catch. I’m told it’s the biggest of the day. Clearly I’m a quality, not quantity person.


So before we knew it, our 3 hours were up and we were back at North Lake Harbour. All in all, a brilliant day out and Captain Jeff and his crew made the day fun and relaxed while teaching us a thing or two as well.  The crew cleaned and filleted our mackerel right on board making it easy for us to take away.

But for me the highlight of the fishing trip came a day later when for appetizers at the wedding banquet, we were served small pieces of our mackerel, lightly breaded and pan fried.  There’s something pretty special about knowing where that fish came from and how it came to be where it was.

The Catch

MacNeill's Tuna Fishing Charters

North Lake Harbour, PEI

Contact: Captain Jeff MacNeill

Tel: 902 - 357- 2858

Will there be lobster?

When we found out we were going to Prince Edward Island for my sister’s wedding all thoughts turned to the obvious. Lobster.  Yes, lobster and how to enjoy and take advantage (in every way we could), of something, that on the Pacific Coast is very much a luxury. Of course the ubiquitous lobster roll is available at almost every restaurant you may stop in (including Subway and McDonald’s - yes you guessed it  - McLobster). Less known perhaps are the lobster potato chips - strangely delicious - although perhaps not that lobstery? Not sure if lobstery is really a word but heck, it should be! Aside from these, we had three lobster dinner experiences in our travels through Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

Bluenose II Restaurant, Halifax

Bluenose II is a chain of family restaurants that reminds me of my childhood. Salad with thousand island dressing anyone? Homey and comfortable, this is a very casual dining establishment and for the most part seemed to be filled with Haligonians. (Isn't that a great word? - so much more grand that Vancouverites or Londoners.)


The lobster supper ran at $23.95 (market price) for a 1.5 lb lobster and includes salad, with choice of dressing – if you grew up in the 80s you’ll remember the choices -  and choice of potato. An ample meal to say the least and on the surface would appear to be quite the deal.


Of course they supply you with bibs and the usual lobster paraphernalia, but beware. A man at the next table asked where we from.  “Vancouver,” we proudly replied. “I knew it!” he exclaimed. When I asked him, “How?”, he proclaimed frankly, “Easy -  you put the bibs on.”  Harsh!  OK, so first faux pas, apparently.  How were we to know?


As far as the lobster was concerned, I’m sad to say, I think it may have died in vain.  I found it to be more overcooked than I would like.  And no, I’m not just bitter about slights against my lobster fashion sense. Despite the texture, the flavour, was very good.  The accompaniments, especially the greek roasted potatoes, were very tasty - full of hearty flavour.  The staff was friendly and helpful in a very genuine way.

Dockside Lobster at Richard's Seafood

We didn’t go looking for this one but after a bike ride through the Prince Edward Island National Park,  near Stanhope, we found ourselves at Richard’s Seafood which consists of a dockside eatery where you can eat in, as well as a fishing shack where you can buy fish, oysters, clams and lobster to take out.


We started out with some oysters.


How could we refuse Malpeques at $1 each and $3 to shuck? The fellow helping us packed the oysters carefully in ice in a compostable take-away container and was quick with offers of tabasco.


With those going down quite nicely, we found it equally hard to pass on the $9.99 per lb lobster. An extra $0.75 if you want it cooked .  We got two cooked between four of us and plunked ourselves down right outside on a picnic table to eat it up.


In my opinion, this is the best way to eat lobster and of all our experiences, this was the best atmosphere. To be able to buy right from the fisherman and partake of the bounty right then and there was really something.  And you can skip all that anxiety of getting messy in a restaurant.

New Glasgow Lobster Suppers

One of the main planned events of the my sister's wedding weekend festivities was  a traditional PEI Lobster Supper on the day after the wedding.

After a glorious day on Cavendish Beach we made the short drive to New Glasgow.  There must have been 200 cars in the parking lot of the New Glasgow Lobster Suppers Restaurant. My first thought - "that’s a lot of lobster!"  True enough. Our waitress shared that they cook between 500-600 lobsters an evening. The restaurant's online video boasts that their tanks can accommodate 20,ooo lbs of lobster at any one time.


The process is fairly simple, harkening back to the church supper tradition of these meals. You buy a ticket at the door for the desired poundage. A 1lb lobster is $34.95 but for the larger appetites (and wallets) a 4lb’er goes for $65.95. (Prices are market dependent of course).


After taking our  seats, the server brought unlimited mussels and chowder as well as an appetizer salad.  Iceberg lettuce and pale tomato. Pass. The mussels were completely unadorned – just steamed and tasting of the sea. I mean that in a good way.


I chose the 1lb lobster, which was perhaps in hindsight, a bit small, but it was perfectly cooked. I definitely wanted more.


The ticket price includes dessert. Old-fashioned favourites like chocolate ice cream, lemon meringue and blueberry pie are the stars of the show.


New Glasgow Suppers are a true experience - one of those 'has to be done' things. It was perfect for a big group like ours and it provides a pretty safe atmosphere to try it out if there are any lobster virgins among you.

But my favourite experience was the dockside lobster at Richard's - That atmosphere would be hard to beat in a 5 star restaurant. I'll know for next time to head first to the docks, seek out the locals and skip the bib.

New Glasgow Lobster Suppers

#604 Route 258

New Glasgow, Prince Edward Island

Richard's Seafood

9 Covehead Wharf,

Stanhope, Prince Edward Island

Bluenose II Restaurant

1825 Hollis Street

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Madly in love in North Rustico

By my second day in Prince Edward Island I was pretty much in love. The rolling hills, the white-painted churches, the tidy barns, the fields of wildflowers; They had me at hello. But when I arrived in North Rustico, I was head over heels.


Fresh mussels overlooking the water. Oysters straight from Raspberry Point. The young couple beside us teaching their small children the finer points of how to eat a lobster. It was really too much. The sunset.  My nearest and dearest right there with me. Yep, I was a goner.


The Blue Mussel Café was a bit of a find. Let me tell you, travelling with 4 others, 3 of whom are blood relatives, does not an easy restaurant selection process make.  Allow an extra 30 -45 minutes to walk around eliminating those we do not care for. But everyone was happy when we found this place.


The setting is lovely. Casual and welcoming, the restaurant overlooks the water and the evening sun warms the patio. First rule broken. In my experience waterfront setting = bad food. OK perhaps that is somewhat harsh, but more than once, a beautiful location and a severe case of goldfish memory  has conned me into spending too much money on something quite mediocre.


The menu features lots of Atlantic staples: chowder, mussels, oysters, halibut, haddock. I chose the fish cakes, served with crackers and a sort of mustard pickle. Not fancy but deliciously comforting. And exactly what I was after.


Portions were ample but we did leave room for dessert and these were wonderful. We devoured them too quickly leaving this paparazzo no chance to capture them on film.

BlueMussel Cafe Haddock

We shared two desserts between 5 of us (pre-wedding diet in effect). They were a chocolate pecan tart with a caramel filling which was to die for and a blueberry bread pudding with a custard sauce that was like something someone's grandma made. No seriously a real grandma, not just a made up marketing one.


But the highlight of the night was the sunset. More beautiful every minute. We sat there hoping to hang on to it.

The Blue Mussel Café

312 Harbourview Drive,

North Rustico Harbour, PEI

Got a tall ship that needs fixing?


As the first British Colonial settlement in Nova Scotia, outside Halifax, Lunenberg dates back to 1753. If like many Canadian children, you ate the odd fish finger or two, you may be interested to know that this is also where Captain Highliner hangs out.

The brightly painted buildings, many of which date back to 1700s and 1800s, and the beautiful natural setting make Lunenberg a picturesque town, whose original plan and architecture has changed little in 250 years.


Lunenberg has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on its natural and cultural significance. Apparently it's also a good place to get your tall ship fixed. More on that later.


We arrived in the late afternoon, we spent some time exploring before grabbing a bottle of wine and having a pre-dinner drink on our balcony overlooking the harbour. (Compared to Halifax, we found Lunenberg to be fairly sleepy).  That said, along the waterfront, there is so much colour and texture. Many working shipbuilders make their homes here.


The bright colours were perfect agains the grey sky which had descended for just a few hours.


The next day it was up early for breakie which was hard to find before 9am. My brother and I ended up in Fulton's General Store which is one of those fabulous places that all medium sized towns have where you can buy a pair of underwear, a wedding present or a cold remedy all under one roof.  They had delicious coffee and bacon cheddar muffins individually wrapped in cling film with hand written tags.  We later met my dad at the Dockside Restaurant and had some more coffee while he had a traditional fry up which looked, and by all reports was fantastic, and later would receive the best breakfast of the trip award.


Those who know me well and have travelled with me before know that I have been afflicted with what I like to call the  almighty curse of the scaffolding. Where I go, it goes. Yep, if there's something worth seeing, chances are it's under construction. London, New York, Madrid - I've had the pleasure of viewing Big Ben, The New York Public Library and the stunning Plaza de Correos, under scaffolding. And so it was in Lunenberg, UNESCO World Heritage site and home of the Bluenose II (aka the #1 thing to see here, racing ship, fishing vessel and Canadian icon) and yes, you guessed  - it's currently being rebuilt.  So after breakfast we donned our hard hats and visited it in a massive covered shed.


It was still fairly interesting to see and it seems a massive undertaking with the hull being completely rebuilt. I’m told she will be ready for sail again in spring of 2012 so one day I hope to see her in her full glory. Until then, anyone who wants to keep tabs on the restoration can do so via live webcam. Interesting they've got quite a bit done since I was there.

This was our last day in Nova Scotia so after our tour of Bluenose II we hit the road for beautiful, sunny PEI.

Finding Delicious on Nova Scotia's South Shore

After two days in Halifax, we took the well known journey along the South Shore and did the drive along route 333 to Peggy's Cove winding our way around the coast on the 329 and then the #3 to Lunenberg. This is a stunning drive along some spectacular coastline dotted by pretty little fishing villages. Peggy's Cove. Yes,it's a postcard stop that no self-respecting Canadian can pass and stop we did. This is a real working fishing village and despite its picture perfect beauty, the evidence of the working village, in form of the brightly painted fishing boats and neatly stacked lobster traps, is everywhere.


I could have spent a day here easily. There are so many colours and textures to photograph.


Continuing along from Peggy's Cove, we wound our way around the coast to Chester Basin where we had planned to stop for lunch at The Seaside Shanty Restaurant. We had got a tip  from a couple of  good friends in Vancouver who travelf frequently  to the Maritimes. (Thanks N & H) and we were delighted with what we found. The setting at Chester Basin is very picturesque , on the edge of a quiet haven filled with boats.


You need to keep your eyes open for The Seaside Shanty as you don't have much opportunity to stop but with its brightly coloured sign and pretty painted building, it's hard to miss.


The back of the building faces the water, with a neat row of Adirondack chairs overlooking the boats in the harbour. The bright flowers in the flower boxes made an appearance later in our lunch.


The menu is full of staples of maritime cuisine. Chowder, mussels, scallops, lobster. I chose the lobster roll - my first of many on this trip. It completely filled a gap. Delicious and fresh and light, not overdressed. And beautifully presented.


The chowder was rich and full of fish and shellfish, not like some you get where you have to chase one prawn around the bowl.


Just like I can’t pass up a staple like crème brulee (I have a sort of running contest going), chowder is one of those things I always like to try to keep comparisons on. I don’t think that are any two the same.


My mum chose the scallop burger and seemed to enjoy it. The scallops looked beautifully seared on the outside and again, like all the dishes we had were presented beautifully.


Afterwards wth a brief photo stop in Mahone Bay, site of the famous Three Churches, where we also discovered that our rental cars tires were completely bald,  we set off in slight trepidation for Lunenberg where we would stay the night.


We ate at Magnolia Grill. Sadly no photos but this was one of our favourite places of the trip. Solid homey food, not overly done, but just tasty with lots of choices for different tastes. Very important in our group. Besides that, the service was delightful and friendly and the room was cozy with little snug-style booths. A perfect refuge from the cold and drizzle outside that descended suddenly over us. The kind of place you’d like to stay all night.

The Seaside Shanty

5315 Hwy 3

Chester Basin, Nova Scotia

Magnolia Grill

128 Montague

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

Historic Halifax

When my sister decided to get married in Prince Edward Island, my entire family was delighted to be able to finally visit the Maritimes and we booked our trip so we could also spend a few days in Nova Scotia.  First stop, Halifax. Halifax is a city rich in history. There was a British settlement here as early as 1749 and  it was the seat of Canada's first legislature, which first met in 1759 and later in 1858 became the first site of responsible government among the colonies of the British Empire.

On our first day in Halifax, I was keen to check out the Halifax Seaport Farmer's market. Established in 1750 by Royal Proclamation, the market claims to be the oldest continuously running market in North America. It is now housed in a modern building which uses green energy, at the entrance to Halifax Harbour .

Halifax Seaport Farmer's Market

Having already had breakfast, I was a bit annoyed with myself as there were lots of tasty and delicious things to sample from many diverse vendors. Wine, cheeses and local produce all feature heavily as well as arts and crafts, jewellery and other design products.

Cheese at Halifax Farmer's Market
Halifax Farmer'sMarket Vendor

Right around the corner from our hotel and on the way to the Halifax Public Gardens, on the corner of Spring Garden Road and Barrington Street, we stumbled across the Old Burying Ground which dates from 1749,the same year as the original Halifax settlement was founded. It closed in 1843 and is resting place of many of the city's founding fathers including such notable personalities as British Major General Robert Ross who burned Washington in the War of 1812 and died during that same war.

Halifax Graveyard

Further up Spring Garden Road, you arrive at the Halifax Public Gardens, a brilliant example of a Victorian style garden. Opened in 1867, it remains a wonderful oasis in the heart of a modern city.

Halifax Public Gardens

Covering more than 16 acres, the gardens remain one the oldest Victorian style gardens in North America.


From here, we were just a stone's throw from the Citadel so on we soldiered to see one of Canada's most historic places. It was completed in 1856 after 28 years of construction and was part of the British Defences against the United States because of its prominent, fortified location overlooking Halifax's natural harbour.  It was never attacked, but later served as a garrison for the Canadian Army during the 1st and 2nd World Wars.

HalifaxCitadel Drummer

The view is impressive and you from the lookout points high on the fortress walls you can see the entire harbour and the modern city that has evolved.

Halifax Citadel