Why Halifax’s happy vibes put travellers at ease

As Canada turns 150, deputy editor Alex Laws looks back on having lived a decade in this country — her 10-year Can-niversary — and reflects on seven spots that have stolen her heart. In this second instalment, she’s charmed by the quirk of Quebec City. Read other instalments in the series here.

If you had to describe Halifax as a person, it would be your hippy cousin that you’re surprisingly happy to see. From the second I arrived in Nova Scotia’s capital, I felt relief: The bicycles, the walking culture, and the fact that people were as friendly as everyone said they would be all gave me a sense of energy and ease.

I was staying with a member of a local band, Gypsophilia; he was the first guy I ever met to have a moustache, wire-rimmed glasses and dress almost exclusively in bow ties. His century-old home was filled with light and wood, and it was the first time I’d seen kitchen cupboards with the doors removed, or a person my age with a telephone table and wall-mounted receiver. I fell for the eccentric charm of Canada’s east coast when I stepped into his home.

The nature and humour of Halifax is evident looking at a map and finding an unprecedented number of bars named after personified animals, like the Toothy Moose and the Stubborn Goat. I found equal character in the local independent shopping scene. Sweet Pea Boutique on Queen Street is a true gem whose expert curation and smiley service calls for serious discipline. And Black Market Boutique is as close as you can come to walking into a treasure chest — filled with unusual finds from ear cuffs to crystals and kaftans. And east coast prices mean you can pick up as many souvenirs as you can carry. 

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