To the Maritimes – Halifax (Nova Scotia)

Sun 07 – Mon 08 November 2010

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Wild wood cutters, fanatic fishermen and women who could have a moose skinned, butchered, cooked and served in under an hour.


I’d found transport, I was going to make it to the Maritimes. Right to the East coast of Canada, into the wilderness so to speak, to an area rich in Canadian history but regrettably now something of a drain on Canada’s economy. Would it just be an area in decline or would it have the character and passion I was so hoping for? Wild wood cutters, fanatic fishermen and women who could have a moose skinned, butchered, cooked and served in under an hour. It was going to be interesting; just as soon as I overcome the fifteen hour drive to get there.

Jerry was probably in his fifties, he walked with a cane as a result of his bad knee, drove a minivan and was accompanied by his also old, small, white fluffy dog. He’d been in Ontario visiting his son and was now heading back home to Halifax and had kindly responded to my Craig’s List email. Since he was heading to Halifax anyway he said he wasn’t looking for payment but just asked that I pay the additional amount to get a second bed in the motel that we would need to stay in that night to break up the journey; it was a very generous offer for such a long drive.

On the journey we chatted and Jerry told me of how he’d spent ten years confined to a wheel chair in his thirties because he needed an artificial knee. Apparently the Canadian government health care system would pay for such surgery, but they would only pay for it once and as such a procedure had a limited life of something like ten or so years before it needed to be replaced they would only do it when you were of the age that they only expected you to have that many years left to live. Ten years in a wheel chair. No matter who Jerry talked to he couldn’t get the surgery, the ‘system’ would rather pay out unemployment insurance than fix him up so he could get back to work. He moved from Ontario to the Maritimes to escape the bitter winters which pained his knee which led to a chance encounter with a top knee surgeon who was able to push his surgery through in a matter of months. I found it an interesting story of how crazy bureaucracy can get, hardships, wasted years and something of a happy ending.

On the drive we passed through heavy rain, snow and hail. We stopped overnight at a motel and continued on the next day. On arriving in Halifax Jerry drove over an hour out of his way to drop me at a downtown hostel which I was really grateful for; maybe because I’d insisted on contributing to petrol a couple of times during our trip, but really just because he was a nice guy who wasn’t about to leave me out in the suburbs in the rain.

And thats that, I’d left Ontario, passed through Quebec and New Brunswick and now found myself in the Eastern province of Nova Scotia with a new city to experience. How would I enjoy Halifax?