Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29


Written by
Published on January 2018

I began to settle down at the YMCA, but how should I fill in my time for up to four possible days?

Fortunately, he left me a Halifax City Guide and I spent some time going through it and pinpointing various places of interest……….
My first day alone, I searched for the School for the Blind which was noted on the booklet – just to have a look at the exterior and the recreation area which was still fenced to retain the pupils. This little bit of nostalgia took me back to the day we children went from the harbour to the school whilst the blind children were away on holiday.
I remember the time when a Canadian soldier stopped and spoke to Bessie and I through the fence. We explained that we had just arrived from England away from the bombing. On parting, he gave us both a chocolate bar each and I remember it was a bar called ‘burnt almond’. It was delicious.
After viewing, for the last time, our first shelter in Canada, I looked on the guide which Mr McKinnon gave to me and homed in onto the Lord Nelson Hotel. This also had pleasant memories for me. Harking back after about three months, Bessie and I were invited to meet an English member of parliament, a Mr Geoffrey Shakespeare, who had made the hazardous trip to visit all the evacuees from England. He spoke to all of us that day and invited us to partake of food, laden on the tables, which were spread with cakes, sandwiches, cinnamon toasts (which were my favourite), all flavours of ice cream, soft drinks, candies, and marshmallows. The hotel at that time (1940) was a top class building and the home of CHNS radio. This trip was taken then with Uncle George, Aunt Allie and Carol Cole, our Canadian guardians. On this, my very last visit, I visited the tearoom and had cinnamon toast, of course.
After my hotel visit I visited ‘The Dingle’, a quite large park with a boating lake. It was there that Uncle George treated Bessie, Carol and I to a popsicle (a sort of ice cream on a stick). It was our first in the ‘new world‘.
My first day alone in Halifax was coming to an end so I made my way back to the YMCA. As I walked along I was amazed at the number of service men who were about - mainly United States personnel. I felt a little out of place amongst so many GI’s and I soon scurried back to the security of the YMCA.
The next day I spoke to the desk clerk and he assured me that there were no messages for me, so I looked at my city guide and decided that I would visit the site of the original area of Halifax, which I understand was more or less blown off the map due to an explosion in or around Bedford Basin during World War One.
One had a wonderful panorama of the Basin and its multiplicity of ships lying in wait to start their long trip to the British Isles. Gazing at my map, I spotted the place of internment for the Titanic passengers. I did not count the grave stones but there were many, many male, female and children. A very sad visit.
I paid a visit to the Halifax Citadel – interesting and historic – for the first and last time. I wandered back into town and had my lunch consisting of venison, vegetables and gravy. Afterwards, I had a walk around the shops but soon made off, as again it was crowded with Canadian and United States soldiers..
As my second day of waiting for instructions preceding boarding the ship, I had an evening in the reading room of the YMCA. My third day dawned, and after breakfast it was raining so I decided to go to the cinema which was just across the road. It was a continuous showing of the current presentation so as I found out I could have stayed in all day. But after the second time around, I had enough. It was lunch time anyway. The film showing, as I recall, was Holiday on Ice starring Bing Crosby and the ice skating star Sonja Heni. As I returned to the YMCA the clerk gave me a note and on reading it, found out it was from Mr McKinnon instructing me to make myself ready by 10.30 am the next day when an assistant would call for me and take me by car to the dockside. He wished me well.

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