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Fiddleheads

I love this early sign of spring – the arrival of fiddleheads.  This wild delicacy is the delicate furls of the Ostrich Fern found in Eastern Canada.  If the fiddleheads are not cut they unwind out to the full fern.

The ferns are found in moist areas, along river banks and woodlands. But for those of us who don’t pick our own, we find them in the farmer’s markets and sometimes even in the supermarket.  If you are foraging on your own, be sure to identify the correct fern as other varieties may be poisonous.  Also, it is recommended that you only cut half of the fiddleheads in the area so that the fern population will continue to thrive.

Fiddlehead s are delicious and their distinctive shape adds a unique visual appeal to a meal.

Preparation

Wash the fiddleheads well in several changes of water to remove all the brown papery covering of the fronds.   The water will run clear and the fiddleheads will be a bright green when cleaned.  Snip off the end of the stem that may be brownish.  Then drop the fiddleheads into a pot of boiling water and boil for 7-10 minutes.  Remove from the water and throw out the water. Don’t keep it for soup as it is bitter and has removed tannin from the fiddleheads.  Then use the fiddleheads in a variety of recipes.

Recipes

1 – Saute the fiddleheads in butter or olive oil with onion and garlic.

2 – Saute the fiddleheads with butter or olive oil, onion and garlic, and mushrooms.  Add pesto sauce and serve over noodles.  Optionally add salmon chunks.

3 – Fiddlehead quiche

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Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery

Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery

Sport fishing and fish angling are a popular recreational activity in Nova Scotia.  Nova Scotia’s 6,700 lakes, 100 rivers and 7,400 kilometers of coastline offer incredible opportunities for angling enthusiasts.  In September 2016 I had the pleasure of visiting with Stephen Tibodeau at the Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery a short distance from Antigonish.

Stephen filled us in on the fish hatcheries in Nova Scotia. “My name is Stephen Thibodeau I am the acting supervisor here at Frasers Mills Fish Hatchery. My role is to coordinate the stocking and the hatchery operations. We are one of 3 hatcheries operated by the province of Nova Scotia. Collectively we stock in excess of 1 million fish to close to 400 sites province wide.

“We primarily stock speckled trout – it’s our provincial fish. We also stock rainbow trout, brown trout and Atlantic Salmon.  The role of the hatcheries is for the recreational fisheries in Nova Scotia. 30% of Nova Scotia’s recreational fisheries rely on hatchery production. The Frasers Mills Hatchery was built in 1928 by the Government of Canada for their hatchery program. It wasn’t till 1982 that the province took over operations and continued stocking.

Fraser's Mills Fish Hatchery. Stephen Thibodeau, Acting Supervisor

Fraser’s Mills Fish Hatchery. Stephen Thibodeau, Acting Supervisor

“There are 2 management programs that we do. One is through regulations for lakes that have a really good trout population we protect those through regulations. Some lakes have competition in the environment or they are heavily fished, then we use hatchery fish as a way of protecting those native stocks. In some cases we actually develop a fishery with hatchery raised trout the urban fishery we use rainbow trout for that. We also use rainbow trout for our winter fishery.

“The trout fishing season starts April 1 to the end of September. We have some special management areas some lakes and streams that have different season lengths. We always encourage people to take a look at the Anglers Handbook before they go out to fish a particular stream. Generally, the season starts April 1st to the end of September.

NS Hatcheries Video


“We get lots of visitors – locals and tourists. They usually come and take a look at the fish. there’s usually questions about good areas to fish, whether it is here in Antigonish County or elsewhere in the province.

“We get lots of visitors – locals and tourists. They usually come and take a look at the fish. there’s usually questions about good areas to fish, whether it is here in Antigonish County or elsewhere in the province.

“In the Spring we start our trout stocking so First of April we start stocking rainbow trout. Coming into late April and early May we start with our Speckled Trout and Rainbow Trout. We usually stop our stocking by the first of July.  It’s too warm for transport and too stressful on the fish. July and August is spent on site maintenance. In the fall we are gearing up for fall stocking.

“We have a number of programs we are involved in one is the Atlantic Salmon enhancement program. In late September and early October we are out collecting stock for that program. We have our own brood stock here on site and start to spawn the middle of October and we are looking after our eggs.  There’s never a dull moment.

“When we release the fish back into the wild the size varies. Normally in the spring they are what we call a “catchable size” or “retainable size”. The Rainbow Trout start out at 10-12 inches. The Speckled Trout start out at 6 inches when we start releasing them.

“There are other programs we are involved with. There’s the Learn to Fish Program geared to kids ages 8 to 12 but we are expanding it. It’s an outreach program. The kids will have a classroom component usually in the morning and we will go out in the afternoon so they will have a chance to take what they learned in the morning to a nearby pond stocked by the hatchery. Another program that we are involved with is the fishing derbies. There are about 50 every spring and summer. A lot of charitable groups use fishing derbies as a way to make money.

“Classrooms, scouting groups, boys and girls clubs take advantage of the Learn to Fish program. Its open to any group of people – usually kids – if there is enough interest and they apply for the Learn to Fish. It’s very popular. We do about 60 a year now. Depending on the location, 1 of the 3 hatcheries will supply the fish. It’s been very well received.

The Province of Nova Scotia, Dept. of Fisheries and Aquaculture operate 3 fish hatcheries to help sustain the popular outdoor angling activities: Fraser’s Mills Hatchery, Antigonish County, Margaree Fish Hatchery, Inverness County and McGowan Lake Hatchery, Queens County.

NS Provincial Fish Hatcheries and Recreational Fishing Areas

NS Provincial Fish Hatcheries and Recreational Fishing Areas

Some of the Province’s more popular stocked lakes are: RFA-1 #20 Dam Pond (Cape Breton Co.), McIntyre Lake (Inverness Co.) RFA-2 Cameron Lake (Antigonish Co.), Gairloch Lake (Pictou Co.), RFA-3 Albro Lake (Halifax Co.), Sucker Lake (Lunenburg Co.) RFA-4 Everitts Lake (Digby Co.), Christopher Lakes (Queens Co.) RFA-5 Silver Lake (Kings Co.) Meadow Pond (Hants Co.), RFA-6 Angevine Lake (Cumberland Co.), Little Dyke Lake (Colchester Co.) (Ref https://novascotia.ca/fish/sportfishing/hatchery-stocking )

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Museum of Industry

What a fascinating museum!  The design of the building uses the traditional sky lighting used in factories to take advantage of daylight.  Walk through the history of industry in Nova Scotia and experience the stories of work and workers.

There is something for everyone and you can easily spend a few hours here learning stories of the lives of people – children working in industries, women in the home and later on the factory floor, lives of the coal miners and how industries changed over time.   Stellarton was an active coal mining area which fueled the industrial age and was an important part of the growth of Nova Scotia.

There are trains of all sizes – real trains and miniature trains.   Use the interactive activity to play and learn about how water wheels work.  Explore the glass works, quilting looms and spinning wheels from the past, try out the chocolate assembly line, and use the child size crane. Toddlers will enjoy play stations.  I enjoyed seeing the industrial arts bus that used to travel around to different schools. Great idea that maybe we could implement again today.

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Browse the gift shop and take home a unique gift.

From the museum, you also can access an 8-kilometre walking trail that follows the East River to the north end of New Glasgow.

More Information

https://museumofindustry.novascotia.ca/  Open year round. See website for hours.

The Museum of Industry is part of a network of 27 quality museums called the Nova Scotia Museum, operated by the Government of Nova Scotia and spread across Nova Scotia

How to Get there

Located in Stellarton. 2 hrs from Halifax on Hwy 104.

1 hr from the Canso Causeway (Cape Breton Island)

Museum of Industry
147 North Foord Street
Stellarton, NS CA B0K 1S0
Exit 24 off Trans Canada Hwy
902-755-5425

Farmers’ Market Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has wonderful Famers’ Markets.  A great way to meet some of the locals, try fresh local produce, enjoy entertainment, shop for arts and crafts from local crafts people.  Markets vary by area so check out the local bulletin board or shop to find out the dates and times.  Or check the link below to “find a market”.

You can look for food, art, photography, crafts, jewelry, breads, cookies, muffins, fiddlers, dancers, local produce, jams, jellies, honey and sauces, beer, gin, vodka and wine, quilts, and more.  Ask for recipes and tips if you find unfamiliar items.

Enjoy a visit to the Antigonish Farmers’ Market

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Alexander Graham-Bell Museum, Baddeck

Baddeck on Cape Breton’s Inland Sea

 

Baddeck Village, on the shore of the Bras d’Or Lake in Cape Breton, is rich with land and sea activities for all ages.

Pick up a picnic lunch at the High Wheeler Café and stroll along the wharf and boardwalk.  There’s a great selection of restaurants in Baddeck where you can enjoy a lobster dinner, local cuisine and be sure to sample the Scottish Oatcakes.   Sip on a Big Spruce beer, a local craft beer produced in Nyanza just 12 km from Baddeck.

Shop for local arts and crafts in the boutiques and gift shops and visit artist studios Michael Keith a painter, Baddeck Yarns, and the Water’s Edge Gallery of Fine Arts and Crafts.

Explore the historic buildings including St. Mark’s Masonic Lodge, Telegraph House, St. Peter’s and St. John’s Anglican Church, Victoria County Court House and the many stately homes along the tree lined streets.

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The Bras d’Or Lake is a large Inland sea connected to the North Atlantic by several natural channels and the St. Peters Lock Canal at the southern tip of the lake. It stretches 100 x 50Km in the centre of Cape Breton Island with a tidal mix of salt and fresh water.  It is a boater’s paradise and a rich environment for wildlife and fishing.  The Bras d’Or Lake is now designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which is an area in the world which is deemed to demonstrate a “balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere”.  Visit the special exhibit at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.

In 1885 Alexander and Mable Bell fell in love with Baddeck and made it their summer home.  Alexander flew his Silver Dart airplane here above the frozen lake, the first flight in the British Empire.  Explore his many scientific inventions at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum.  “Discover” activities for children and “White glove tours” of the exhibits, kite flying and experiments are some of the hands on activities at the museum.

Enjoy a sail on the Amoeba schooner and look for bald headed eagles and their nests, view the Bell’s house Beinn Bhreagh, the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, the rolling hills and shoreline of the Bras d’Or Lake with its coves and islands and the Spectacle Island bird sanctuary, home of a large cormorant colony.  (June 1 – Oct 15)

In the summer months head over on the ferry to Kidston Island and enjoy the beach, stroll around the island and visit the light house.

For the sports fishing enthusiast there are rainbow trout (steelhead), speckled trout, brown trout, smelt, gaspereaux, cod, flounder, mackerel, herring, lobster, and rock crab. Licenses and guides are available from the NS Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Go hiking to Uisge Bàn Falls, 14.5 Km from Baddeck the trail follows cliff tops along the North River through hardwood forests to a lovely waterfall in a granite gorge.

North River Kayak tours are available for experienced and novice kayakers and have salt-water tours.

Or take in a round of golf at the 18 hole Bell Bay Golf Club with dramatic views.  Enjoy lunch at Alexander’s Dining Room, open to all.

Baddeck is 57 min (87.4 km) via Trans-Canada Hwy from the Canso Causeway.

This article originally appeared in The Casket, July 25, 2016

Lunenburg

Colorful buildings are perched on the hillside above the picturesque harbour with the Bluenose II and other wooden ships from the 1800s.  Lunenburg is one of Nova Scotia’s most photographed scenes. Your imagination takes you back to when this was a booming port with shipbuilding, fishing and trading.

Lunenburg is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, one of only two urban communities in North America. The multi coloured houses and businesses that line the streets are well-preserved examples of a prosperous and bustling 18th century coastal town.

Explore the town on foot on your own, by horse drawn carriage, or with a guided walking tour. Enjoy the view while you row a dory along the waterfront, or take a sail on the Bluenose II.

Click to view a short video:

Bluenose II

Bluenose II

The original Bluenose was launched from Lunenburg as a Grand Banks fishing and racing schooner in 1921. The ship became a famous Nova Scotian icon and printed on the Canadian dime. The Bluenose II, replica now has its home port in Lunenburg and during the summer and fall has water tours and sails to different ports.

 

 

Fisheries Museum of Atlantic

Fisheries Museum of Atlantic

The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic has fascinating stories and artifacts. Short films set the scene and helpful guides had stories of days gone by. The museum is set on 3 floors and a great view of the harbour ships and activities. The displays and interactive dioramas make you appreciate the lives and work of fisherman. An excellent gift shop is on the main floor.

 

 

Top Mast Motel

Top Mast Motel

There are many places to stay in the Old Town, but for my choice a perfect spot with a view of the Lunenburg town is the Top Mast Motel. The rooms are comfortable and the room patios overlook the waterfront and the Bluenose Golf Course next door. We enjoyed a lovely evening overlooking the harbour lights. The helpful manager provided a map and directions for things to do in the area and recommendations on places to eat.

 

Blue Rocks fishing shacks

Blue Rocks fishing shacks

Blue Rocks is a must visit – just a 20 minute drive to the east of Lunenburg. It has fascinating geology with folded sedimentary rocks with contrasting bands of blue, grey, brown, black and green are exposed along the tide line in fascinating shapes. A popular kayaking starting point, kayaks are available to rent at the General Store. The village has become a home to many artists.

Directions

Halifax - Lunenburg

Halifax – Lunenburg

  • From Halifax – take Hwy 103 then 3 which is a lovely coastal drive through Chester and Mahone Bay. Both are worth a stop along the way. ( 1 hr 10 min)
  • From Yarmouth take Hwy 103 through Barrington, Lockport and Liverpool.
Yarmouth - Lunenburg

Yarmouth – Lunenburg

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Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

Celtic Shores Coastal Trail

 

Hikers, bikers, snow shoe, cross country ski and outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail which runs 94 Km from the Canso Causeway along the west coast of Cape Breton Island to Inverness.

The varied terrain runs along the coast from Port Hastings to Port Hood with spectacular ocean views and on a clear day you can see Prince Edward Island or across the Canso Strait to the mainland of Nova Scotia. At Port Hood the trail heads inland around Mabou, dipping past Lake Ainslie and on to Inverness and back to the ocean.

This is a great year round trail that you can enjoy in every season. The route passes through meadows, farmland, woods and marshes with all the seasonal variety. The trail is built on the bed of old railway tracks so it is relatively level.  It is made up of five linked community trails.

Celtic Shores trail-7917

There is easy access to the trail from Highway 19, the Ceilidh Trail. Well marked signs and parking areas with interpretive signage that describe the history of the area and nearby communities, the industries and people, and how the trail was built. The trail is made up of five linked community trails and is part of the Trans Canada Trail. A detailed map is available at the Visitor Information Centre at the Canso Strait and online.

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In addition to the interpretive signage, the signs for mileage and amenities make it easy for you to find nearby food, accommodations and sights of interest. While you travel the trail take some side trips and enjoy a ceilidh and lunch at the Judique Celtic Music Centre, stop for lunch in Port Hood or Mabou, swim at the many beaches that you find along the way.   In Inverness see the old coal mining company houses, enjoy a meal and watch the golfers at the famous Cabot Links. The boardwalk runs along between the 3 KM sandy beach and the golf course along the dunes.

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Pomquet Day Trip

 

This article was originally published in The Casket Exploring Pomquet. The Casket June 18, 2015 http://www.thecasket.ca/archives/45730. This edition contains more photos and maps.

Relax or swim on a sandy beach, browse fashions, enjoy an Acadian lunch and hike through woodsy trails all in beautiful rural Pomquet, Nova Scotia. Just 12 minutes from Antigonish turn off on the Taylors Road exit from Hwy 104 to Pomquet and within minutes you are enjoying a country road with views of Pomquet harbour, rolling green hills and bird song.

The tiny Acadian community of Pomquet, overlooks the Northumberland Shore between Monk’s Head and Pomquet Harbour. This rich area of bay, harbours, islands and forest was for centuries the home of the Mi’kmaq and then settled by French settlers in the late 1700s.

Pomquet map

Pomquet map

From Taylors Road, take the left turn to L’Église Ste. Croix (Holy Cross Church) built in 1863. Genealogy buffs will find gravestones from the 1800s and the Pomquet Museum located just north of the church with historical photographs and genealogical information (Call 902-386-2679).

Continue on and turn right to Pomquet Beach Provincial Park, a peaceful long (3 KM) sandy stretch of beach on the Northumberland Shore. This is one of the best swimming beaches in the area and during the summer is supervised by lifeguards. Boardwalks lead up to the beach through the dunes and sea grasses. Enjoy a beach walk with the fresh salty air and the gulls above and a view of Cape Breton on a clear day, or beach comb for shells, stones and drift wood. Some areas are protected for the Piping Plover nesting sites. Facilities include change houses and washrooms.

Follow the wooden boardwalk trails from the beach parking lot with interpretive signs on the history, geology, plants and animals of this area. The grasses and plants found on the sand dunes are well adapted to the salt environment. The boardwalk protects the undergrowth and provides an easy view of blueberries, cranberries, beach mosses and grasses.

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Back on Monks Head road – continue on to Chez DesLauriers situated on a hill above Monk’s Bay, with a spectacular view of Pomquet Beach and harbour. The heritage home was built in the 1860s. Enjoy a home cooked Acadian lunch on Fridays during the summer. Learn about the geology and history of the area in the Interpretive Centre.

Behind Chez DesLauriers, wander to the top of the hill behind the house and well-marked signs point the way to the Acadian Trail, a 6KM series of loop trails along the meadow cliff, through the forest with mossy and well-kept paths, and along the shore. Bring along your nature guide books to identify mushrooms, mosses, trees and birds. The inland trail weaves through forests of various ages, including 100-150 year old pine trees, and views of Cape Breton Island in the distance.

Retrace your drive to the Taylor Road intersection and continue on to visit The Old Barn Gallery & Boutique to find hand selected one-of-a kind designer fashions, handbags, fun art and antique dishes. You will get lots of decorator ideas and you can enjoy cookies and tea on the patio. The Boutique recently was awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Be sure to bring water, snacks or a picnic lunch, sunscreen, bug spray, and your sense of adventure.

Directions

  • Exit Highway 104 on Taylors Road between Exits 35 and 36. 10 minutes from Antigonish, 40 minutes from the Canso Causeway.
  • Or Exit from the 104 Highway on the Upper Pomquet Road across from the St. Andrew’s sign. Closest exit for Melanson Rd and the Old Barn Gallery and Boutique.

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Destination Digby

 

Digby Town dating back to 1783 is on the Fundy Coast of Nova Scotia overlooking the Annapolis Basin. It is famous for its scallop fisheries and the high tides of the Bay of Fundy.

We stayed at the “Come From Away Inn and B&B” right on the shore overlooking the bay. The sunrise in the morning was spectacular and I just had to step out on the balcony of The Crows Nest room to get some wonderful photographs. There was a great view down to the harbour with the scallop ships where the huge difference in high and low tides were plain to see.  At low tide you can watch the herons, egrets and sea birds digging in the mud for a meal. An early morning walk along the boardwalk and the Fisherman’s Wharf was a great way to start the day followed by a delicious full breakfast cooked by the owner, Joe Van Heerden.

Across the street from the B&B is the Admiral Digby Museum where you can find out more about this history of the town. Information plaques and the Visitor Information Centre next store are also along the “Admirals Walk” boardwalk along the waterfront to learn more about the scallop industry and the highlights of the past.

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There are several restaurants in the waterfront area. Menus of course have a selection of scallop dishes. My favorite was the scallop skewers at the Shoreline Restaurant next to the Fishermans Wharf. The restaurant has a large gift shop on the street side.  The Dockside and Fundy restaurants have a great view of the harbour.

Digby Neck

An interesting day trip is along Digby Neck a long narrow piece of land and islands which extends south west along the coast. The first stop along Highway 217 was Gulliver’s Cove just to the right at the start of the scenic drive. An easily accessible grassy trail leads along the coast with cliff views and beach. There are other more adventurous trails in the area.

Head back again on Highway 217 for a lovely scenic drive about 30 minutes towards East Ferry which takes cars and passengers to Digby Island. The Petite Passage Whale Watch Café and the small Café on the island shore at Tiverton were not open at that time (June). Be sure to have a picnic lunch with you if it is off season.

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A short 10 min drive from the East Ferry takes you to Balancing Rock. The site has a well maintained boardwalk and trail with interpretive signs describing the vegetation and geology of the area. In the late spring skunk cabbage, fiddle heads and bunch berries were all found along the way.   There is a steep but interesting set of steps down to the beach level where you can view the balancing rock. It is well worth the climb. It’s hard to imagine how that huge needle of rock is balanced and continues to stay upright.

Continuing along Digby Island takes you to a Freeport / Westport Ferry which goes to Briar Island, famous for its bird life and whale watching. Accommodations and services are available on Briar Island. We didn’t visit it on this trip but plan to go back.

Activities in Digby include kayak rentals, whale watching, exploring lighthouses and beaches, golf at the Digby Pines.

Digby Annual Events

  • Early August: Scallop Days Festival with a variety of activities for all ages, including scallop shucking contests and a parade. See how scallops are harvested and shucked and learn how to prepare a variety of recipes.
  • Labor Day weekend, September 2-6, 2015: Wharf Rat Rally. The 11th annual multi-day motorcycle rally will host more than 25,000 motorcycles. Hard to imagine how they all fit but this event continues to grow with the glowing support of the town residents.

Getting There

  • From Halifax via Hwy 101 through the Annapolis Valley (2.5 hrs)
  • From Yarmouth and the South Shore via Highway 1 East (1.5 hrs)
  • By ferry from New Brunswick Info and schedule – http://www.ferries.ca/nova-scotia-to-new-brunswick-ferry/schedule/ The ferry service between Digby and Saint John, New Brunswick, on the opposite sides of the Bay of Fundy, has been in operation for over 200 consecutive years.

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Halifax Library

The Amazing Halifax Central Library

 

 

It was my first time to visit the new Halifax Central Library. The space is spectacular with the central staircases creating angles and patterns of light and shadow and giving the overall effect of expansiveness and encouraging exploration.

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The 5 storeys are easily accessible via the elevators. I decided to start at the top and work my way down. The top floor has a green area roof garden with views of Halifax. The Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar and Café rooftop patio with outdoor and indoor tables make a great place for a snack or cup of coffee. Comfortable lounge chairs for reading with a view and the adult fiction section complete this floor.

Every floor has an information desk with helpful staff. Computers and study areas, a changing use of space on each of the floors make the space inviting and interesting.

On the fourth floor you find the local history room, African History and culture, and Adult non-fiction. Quiet reading and study areas and meeting rooms of various sizes that can be reserved are found throughout the library.

The third floor is the home of the First Nations Circle. Adult magazines, multilingual materials, a Literacy Collection are found on this floor.

The second floor includes the children’s and teens and preschool areas. A media studio and creative lab and many computers are throughout the area.

The first floor entrance way has the Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar on the right with a selection of food and drink. To the left is a large comfortable reading area with magazines and selected collections for easy browsing. The art installation of 5000 paintings on the size of the traditional library card is amazing. These are all by the artist Cliff Eyland.  The Paul O’Reagan Hall (seating 307) hosts events and performances.

The Halifax Central Library is well worth a visit and if you live in the area a great community hub. It is wonderful to see such a community space in the heart of downtown Halifax and is not your traditional idea of a library.

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