So we start our morning at the Westin Nova Scotian and after meeting the girls last night at a bar in Downtown Halifax, the first thing that struck me last night was how small the city was. Once you cross the bridge from Dartmouth into Halifax and pass the Canadian Forces Base, you’re greeted by the Casino (more on the Casion in a bit), then drive down Barrington Street for 5 minutes and your at the end of Downtown Halifax. That’s it!
Anyways, after the semi-early wake up, we decided to head over to Historic Henry House for brunch and I was introduced to the first post drinking custom of Maritimers…. the morning after Caesar…. seriously. I thought the Newfies I knew were kidding, but there are always brunch specials on Caesars in the morning. The thought of a Caesar in the morning is almost enough to make me barf, since Water and a good meal are always my saviours.
I has previously decided that I was going on a F’n C tour of Halifax, so this morning was my first F’n C of the weekend, I knew right way that there would be many more F’n Cs. Now I would write more about Henry House, but why should I when others can do it better….here is a write-up on the Best Canadian Pubs blog…http://greatcanadianpubs.blogspot.com/2008/07/henry-house-halifax-ns-part-1.html
In 1985, Kevin Keefe a brew master by trade, purchased the building at 1222 Barrington Street to re-locate his Ginger’s Taven, which was the 2nd brew pub in the nation at the time (the craft brewing industry had yet to grapple the country). The move allowed Keefe to expand his brewing capacity of English style, unpasteurized ales and he called the new location the Granite Brew Pub. Here Keefe brewed ales like Peculiar, Best Bitter’s, India Pale Ale, Stout and more using only natural ingredients with no preservatives or artificial carbonation. His ales along with his terrific food menu created a following and it didn’t take long to see that Keefe was onto something. Not long after, due to the Granite’s success, Keefe’s brother Ron opened a larger brew pub and store in Toronto, ON that has helped create the Ontario craft beer scene. It wasn’t until 2001 when a man by the name of Bill Alsop would happen to visit the Granite and change Keefe’s operating plans for the future.
In September of 2001, Bill Alsop would get in his car and make the drive from his home in Toronto, ON to Halifax to get his daughter settled into her new residence at Dalhousie University. As the story goes, Alsop figured he needed a couple of days to make sure his daughter had everything she needed before he got on his way. After meeting her roommates though, Alsop was left to wander the city during the day while his daughter socialized. By sheer chance, Alsop stumbled onto the Granite Brew Pub and was fascinated by the grand architect of the building’s granite and ironstone structure. Hailing originally from England, Alsop was quickly reminded of homes back in his native country. Upon entering the establishment Alsop fell in love with the ambiance of the place, the beer and the pub. He called his wife Donna on his cell phone and promptly asked her if she wanted to purchase the pub. Her response, “sure”, and for a year and a half, the Alsop’s did everything they could to convince Kevin Keefe to sell them the building.
It is believed that the house was originally built in 1834, yet some visitors and historians alike have told the Alsop’s that the house might have been constructed closer to 1812. It was built in the suburbs of Halifax on what was known as Pleasant Street which was home to other wealthy Halifax descendants. It was built with granite that was shipped over seas from Scotland, and ironstone from Nova Scotia creating a strong foundation. The building’s architect as a side hall building is unique in itself and led the house to garner distinction as a Historical Property. The house would go on to be the home of one of Canada’s most influential leaders of the 1800’s in a man by the name of William Alexander Henry.
Henry was born in 1816 in Halifax but moved away to Antigonish where at 24 years of age he became the youngest member of the House of Assembly. He went on to be named the Attorney General of Nova Scotia, a job which relocated him back to Halifax in 1854 and prompted him to purchase what is now known as The Henry House. Henry wasn’t done there. He went on to be a founding father of confederation, helped write the British North American Act, and was the first Supreme Court Judge appointed from Nova Scotia.
After Henry’s departure from the house, the building endured years of new residents and was primarily used as a home. It was in the 1960’s, where some renovations took place in the house to create a fine dining restaurant. The owners decided to name the restaurant “The Henry House” paying homage to the man who once lived there. The downstairs pub was created and named “Little Stone Jug” and not much has changed since. In 1985 Keefe entered the picture and the Granite Brew Pub was created.
After the Alsop’s purchased the building in 2003, they relocated to Halifax from their home in Toronto to embark on a venture. Both retired and with no experience in the hospitality industry, they didn’t’ know what to expect. They knew that the Granite Brew Pub had a loyal following of people that appreciated great ales and terrific food so their first decision was a simple one: keep Granite’s ales on tap and don’t change the menu too drastically. One decision the Alsop’s made was to change the name back to “The Henry House” out of respect to the man who once lived there.
Like in every great pub, you must serve great food. The Henry House’s food goes above today’s standard pub grub like deep fried wings and deep fried potato skins by serving delicious pub food prepared by Chef Eric Orickle, with specialties like the Ultimate burger, Bangers and Mash, and Steak and Kidney Pies which are all crafted by hand. The burgers are the most popular item on the menu next to their beer, and Donna credits their success to Orickle’s preparation and attention to detail. Everything on the menu is fresh, bought locally and prepared the day of. All sauces, dips and soups are made in the morning ensuring freshness and Orickle creates wonderful daily specials that leave you completely satisfied. But the Henry House isn’t just known for its terrific food. No, the Henry House is known for its beer, its hospitality and its good nature.
When Keefe sold the building to the Alsop’s in 2003, Bill already knew that Haligonians and Nova Scotians alike were finding the Granite’s ales interesting in taste and flavour and the pub had developed a loyal fan base. Bill, being from England and all, loved the ales himself and thought he shouldn’t mess with something so good. So the Alsop’s stuck with Keefe’s ales and to this day Keefe delivers the fresh cask conditioned beers and kegs to the Henry House personally. The lineup of ales include: the award winning Peculiar ale (that was designed after the famous “Old Yorkshire Peculiar Ale” in England), Best Bitter, Best Bitter Special, India Pale Ale, Keefe’s Irish Stout, and Ringwood Ale. There are also mixed beer creations like the Black and Tan, Lunatic Stout and more. The Peculiar, Bitter and Best Bitter Special are all cask conditioned, which means the beer is still fermenting in the keg and later it is pushed out with beer gas through hand pumps which prevents CO2 that causes bloated-ness.
So the F’n C was pretty good, not too heavily battered, fresh and tasty and the fries were homemade. D* has the Pies and Fries, which she really ordered just because it rhymed; I have never been a fan of English meat pies, because they just taste like boiled ground meat in puff pastry… once again, I have not been proved wrong, it was pretty bland and tasteless, but typical English fare. I forgot what Eryn got, but couldn’t have been that memorable, if I don’t remember. However, the beer was great….the Maritimers love their Beer and I could see why…. The Keith’s draft was fresh, such a change from the regular bottled barfness that one can get. BTW the Keith’s Brewery was down the street and with such a small town radius, I wouldn’t be surprised that there was an underground Beer line running through Halifax.
So after lunch, it was straight on to Peggy’s Cove. Peggy’s Cove is Halifax’s biggest tourist trap for sure. Wanna know how I know, there are signs everywhere leading to this place. Signs from Halifax, on the road from Halifax and all outside Halifax. However, we were blessed with some gorgeous weather and lighting that made for some great photography.
Now obviously Fishing is the number one occupation in these parts and boats and lobster traps lined up each bay and small harbour we drove past.
The drive from Halifax to Peggy’s Cove was quite picturesque and the great lighting made for some great scenes. There was snow covering all the pines trees along the road and with the slow thaw, it made for great shooting, unfortunately we never stopped to take pictures of the road *sigh*…. but we didn’t know that the whole world was talking about Shaw’s Landing until we saw it for ourselves…
So after about a 45 minute drive, we got to Peggy’s Cove and it was definitely a postcard type town and vista.
Quite the cold day though.. or so we thought until later that night. More pictures…
However after our trip through Peggy’s Cove, the next stop was the small Historic Town of Lunenberg..
I think the Tourist blog for Lunenberg is pretty apt here…
The Town of Lunenburg, in Nova Scotia, Canada, was formally established in 1753 as the first British Colonial settlement in Nova Scotia outside of Halifax. These early settlers were from various parts of Germany, Switzerland, and the Montbeliard region of France. They ship imagefollowed in the footsteps of earlier Mikmaq and Acadian inhabitants in the area. A vibrant and stable economy was built on farming, fishing, ship building and ocean-based commerce, particularly in the West Indies trade. More than 200 years in fishing, ship-building and marine related industries has provided Lunenburg with a strong economic base.
A view from Lunenburg’s beautiful waterfront today will take in many of these established marine industries. Among these are: High Liner Foods Inc., one of the largest fish processing plants in North America; Lunenburg Industrial Foundry and Engineering Ltd., founded in 1891; Scotia Trawler; Adams and Knickle; Deep Sea Trawlers; ABCO Industries Ltd., founded in 1947; and the Lunenburg Marine Railway, one of the largest marine railway complexes in Nova Scotia. A diversified economy based on the fisheries, tourism and manufacturing has become firmly entrenched in Lunenburg. The Town of Lunenburg’s 250th anniversary in 2003 is a testament to this.
The Town of Lunenburg offers visitors many architectural delights. Houses, businesses, churches and public buildings from the late 1700s and particularly early 1800s are still being used today. The Town’s German heritage has been maintained and promoted and the history of the fishing industry has been captured in the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. In 1992, the Government of Canada designated “Old Town” Lunenburg as a National Historic District. In 1995, the World Heritage Committee, under the auspices of UNESCO, recognized Lunenburg’s cultural and natural heritage by adding it to their World Heritage List.
Old Town Lunenburg has been designated by the Government of Canada as a place of National Historic Significance. Lunenburg is part of the family of National Historic Sites, one of more than 800 places across Canada which help define the important aspects of Canada’s diverse heritage and identity. For more information visit the Parks Canada Website.
Due to its strong Maritime culture, Lunenburg has retained close ties with fellow Maritimers in the New England states, such as Gloucester, Massachusetts. Lunenburg’s rich German heritage has also made it a popular destination for European visitors.
There some stunning houses and quaint shops in Lunenberg.
Of course at the harbour, I had my second F’nC for the day as well as the Captain’s Feast… all fresh scallops, mussels, pan fried salmon, baked haddock. Yum!
The seafood did not disappoint me at all, and I have come to the conclusion that Halifax is kinda like a Texan or Carolinas town…. people are friendly, the service is good, the locals haven’t seen many brown people, they like their beer and the food portions are ridiculously huge. You cannot come to any Maritime town in my experience (Moncton, St John’s, PEI) and not appreciate the people and how nice they are. So refreshing after working in NYC for the last couple months… with the snarky & smarmy people, high prices for everything and small portions of bland food.