Sunday was a bit of an exciting day. I finally visited McNabs Island. McNabs Island is located in the Halifax Harbour along with Devil's Island, George's Island and Lawlor Island. McNabs is the biggest of the 4 though, at 5km long and 1.5 km wide.
Sunday they had their yearly Fall Foliage Tour. Although visitors are welcome on the island year-round, the Fall Foliage Tour is a special day that brings folks over to experience the island in its autumn splendor and to participate in guided history and nature tours.
There were two ferries bringing people over for the tour, one leaving from Halifax and another leaving Eastern Passage. It was a drizzly gloomy morning but most folks were still excited about the day ahead.
When we arrived on the island we were broken up into groups and allowed to join a tour group. There was a choice of the nature tour, the history tour, the cholera tour, the hangman's beach tour and a French-guided tour. I joined the cholera tour.
The tour that I joined was led by history student Oxanna (not sure if this is how her name is spelled - sorry!). We began our tour with a walk up Garrison Road. There was 'some' fall foliage to see. There is still a lot of green out there.
We were brought to Hugonin Battery, which was used until 1993 by the Department of National Defense as an acoustic monitoring station. This area of the island, however, has some history with a cholera outbreak in the late 1800's.
Here is some information about the outbreak taken from the Friends of McNabs website:
In April of 1866, the S.S. England, a steamship from Liverpool, England, bound for New York with 1202 passengers, suffered an outbreak of cholera. With many of its crew stricken, the England found it necessary to seek refuge at Halifax.
Port authorities in Halifax, well aware of the potential devastation which could occur if the disease reached the city, ordered the England to anchor in the shelter of McNabs Cove. Over 400 stricken passengers were transferred to the Pyramus, a surplus naval ship which had been anchored just off Findlays Wharf (Figure 17). Those passengers from the England that appeared healthy were then removed to McNabs Island where they were initially housed in buildings used by workers who were constructing Fort Ives. When all passengers and crew had been removed the Cunard Company, owner of the England, began to clean and fumigate the ship.
Those not stricken by cholera were subjected to extreme hardship due to of the lack of proper shelter, adequate food, and clothing on the island.
Dr. Slayter himself contracted cholera on April 16, and succumbed to its effects the following day. He was the last new case of cholera to die on McNabs Island. Two days later the England sailed for New York with its healthy passengers and crew. Fifty-five from the ship remained on the island for several more days. Although reliable statistics were not kept, an estimated 200 cholera victims are believed to have been buried on McNabs Island. The graves at Little Thrum Cap have since washed into the sea while the remaining burial site on Hugonin Point lies hidden beneath the underbrush.
This is a picture of Hugonin Point. There is nothing to show that it is a graveyard or that there are people buried under there. It's a bit creepy.
Near Hugonin Battery there is this small little home/cottage. Apparently the person who lives in it is one of two people that actually live on the island. He's an artist.
After the tour we were left on our own to explore the island as we wish (and have lunch). My picnic lunch was some leftover shepherd's pie in a princess thermos, an apple, and a couple of no-bake pumpkin cookies (http://www.eatrealberealns.com/2012/09/no-bake-pumpkin-cookies.html)
On my hike, I made my way back down Garrison Road and found Fort McNab. Just outside the Fort, however, is the McNabs cemetery, which was the McNab family graveyard.
Here is Fort McNab; it was the first fortification in Halifax to use breech-loading guns, making it the most powerful form to guard Halifax. Apparently, it was the only fort in Halifax to fire 'shots in anger' when a local boat tried to skip inspection.
I'm getting used to seeing canons all over the place around here. Sheesh...they still fire the canon at Citadel Hill every day at noon. Where else can you walk around the city and randomly hear canons firing? Well,...in Halifax it's normal.
After visiting the fort I walked down a short trail called Wambolt Trail, which led to Wreck Cove.
Can you guess why they call it Wreck Cove? There are quite a few 'wrecks' laying around the beach. During the summer months it's a popular place for boats to land and picnic on the beach.
Going back to the trail I came upon some freaky looking orange mushrooms growing off this tree. Anybody know anything about this type of mushroom?
When I got back on the main road I went down Colin Stewart Trail and then walked along a long, long beach of big rocks and pebbles. It was a difficult walk, but I was able to walk out to Hangman's Beach and to the Maugers Beach Lighthouse. Hangman's Beach got its name from the fact that in the early 1800's men were hanged there if they chose to leave the military.
I really wish I hadn't gone there though. To get back to the trail I had to walk along the rocks and pebbles again. They are so hard to walk through since you're constantly trying to balance and trying not to trip on the rocks (hard especially when I tend to trip on my own two feet more often than I'd like to admit). So, trying to be smart I climbed up a steep hill to the Strawberry Battery and take a shortcut. Bad idea!!
Although I did get a chance to view the Strawberry Battery, which was pretty cool, I had a really, really hard time finding my way back to the trail. I'll admit...I got lost...and walked around in circles for quite a while. I was scared.
But, I did manage to get back. Sort of... I ended up back where I started near the lighthouse (which was on the wrong side of the river). Luckily it was low tide at the time so the river ran pretty low. I made an executive decision, took my shoes and socks off, and simply walked through the water (filled with sharp shells). Made it!!
Anyways, after my little adventure I thought I'd stick to the area closer to the pier since it was almost time to catch the ferry back to the mainland. Besides, I wanted to check out the Tea House. The Tea House, which was built in the 1980's sits on the camping grounds. I don't know when it closed, but it is no longer in use.
So that was my excursion on McNabs for the day. I saw a lot but also missed seeing other things that would have been interesting, like Ives Point (which gives a panoramic views of Halifax Harbour), Conrad House (a summer home for A.J. Davis that operated a soda pop factory on the island), the soda pop factory itself, and more.
There were quite a few people who took part in the tour. Many were native Haligonians and admitted to have never been to the island. Although the day started out wet and gloomy we did not get too much rain and it was quite pleasant, a good day for a long hike.
There were a couple of other people on the tour that I should mention. For one, there was my friend Sybil, who has her own blog called Eastern Passage Passage, and another one of her friends named Lynn who also has her own blog called LynneKovan. We thought it would be fun if the three of us posted our blog posts about the island tour on the same day at the same time. So now that you've seen my take on the tour, let's see what they experienced that day:
Sybil's Blog: http://crittersnus.blogspot.ca/2012/10/three-bloggers-one-island.html?showComment=1350475195069
Lynn's Blog: http://lynnekovan.com/2012/10/16/three-bloggers-one-island/