Doors Open Halifax 2013 – Day 2

After a busy Day 1 at our city’s first Doors Open Halifax, I had an even busier Day 2. We had heard of long lines as some of the venues, so my gang headed out early to beat the crowds and see as much Halifax as we could squeeze into the day.

Government House

Government House is the official residence of Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant-Governor, the Queen’s representative in Nova Scotia. The building is fairly recently renovated, and those efforts were on full, dramatic display as the crowds moved through.

Beth Israel Synagogue

I’ve basically lived across the street from Beth Israel for 10 years and have never stepped foot inside. The trip was a wonderful introduction to the synagogue and the congregation it serves. We spent a lot of time with a member of the congregation learning about their practices and traditions, and asking lots and lots of questions.

Ummah Mosque and Community Centre

At long last, I got to see the inside of the Ummah Mosque and it was fascinating. Bright and spacious, with lots golden chandeliers decorated in phrases in Arabic. Members of the community were on hand to answer our many questions and could not have been more welcoming and gracious.

At this point, we needed a bite to eat and a bit of a break. We grabbed some lunch and popped into the Dominion Building and Bank of Nova Scotia, which my friends missed yesterday, before heading on to our next stop.

Halifax Club

I’ve been to the Halifax Club before, but never had an appreciation for its many corridors and almost-secret places. It’s from another time, when men would retreat to the club after (or during) work to conduct important matters or have a drink.

And with that, we headed over to the city’s North End to check out a cluster of historic churches.

Little Dutch Church

The Little Dutch Church on Brunswick Street is older than the city, the place of worship for Halifax’s early German settlers (“Dutch” is a mangling of “Deutsche”). Emphasis on the “little,” it’s a cozy place, to be sure.

St. Patrick’s Church

For lack of a more eloquent way to put it, I was blown away by St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. I’ve passed it countless times, and, honestly, the exterior has seen better days. However, once you’re inside, it’s magnificent. It’s also home to the city’s second Casavant organ, this one an engineering marvel involving air pressure, which I didn’t really understand. St. Patrick’s was an unexpected delight, and for me, best captured what Doors Open Halifax is all about.

St. George’s Round Church

Our day ended at one of Halifax’s best known landmark, St. George’s Round Church. I had never been inside before, but I was struck by the contrast with St. Patrick’s. St. George’s is spare, with flourishes that are more in line with a British Anglican tradition.

And with that, we closed the books on a tremendous first Doors Open Halifax. Lots of feedback was collected from participants and I’m already looking forward to a bigger event in 2014!




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