Feather of ostrich and vulture

Towering over downtown Halifax is the Citadel atop a steep hill. A star-shaped military fortification, the Citadel in its current form was completed in 1856. An example of thorough military defensive strategies for its time, the Citadel was constructed with defensive ditches (not moats– these are “dry ditches” aimed to lure attackers into firing range from the tiny slits for riflemen and cannon shot lining the stone walls facing into the ditch). But as I learned, the original straight bore defences (i.e., traditional inaccurate but powerful cannon) quickly became obsolete. The Citadel was then outfitted with gyroscopic rifled artillery and mortars to keep up with the military technology, but its later role was principally as a barracks until the end of World War II.

Today, the Citadel is a training ground, where soldiers in traditional uniform conduct marches. Several are in Highland Regiment military dress, with kilts and bonnets of ostrich and vulture feathers.

The view from the rooftop patio of my hotel, the Cambridge Suites on Brunswick Street. The Citadel is at the top of the hill.

The reverse view. Here I am on the Citadel looking back at my hotel—the building with the blue around the windows and the red bricks. In the distance is Halifax Harbour.

Guarding the entrance to the Citadel …

This photo captures the size of the training grounds within the fortifications of the Citadel.

Practicing their marches …

Inside the dining hall …

The dry ditch—a main line of defense. It wouldn’t make sense to have a moat, since without the heavy armour of medieval times, eighteenth century soldiers in their wool uniforms could easily swim across a moat. Instead, there are gun ports in the sides of the walls through which defenders could fire upon attackers.

Inside the very dark halls lining the dry ditch defences, soldiers, protected by the high angle, could fire through these gun ports.

It’s a long walk through the dark halls for the gun ports.

Layered defensive strategies in the dry ditch would make taking the Citadel very difficult. This triangular fortification is called a ravelin. The angles provide no shelter for attackers. Defenders can sweep fire with ease along the dry ditch.

Barrels of gunpowder in the museum-like display in the Citadel …

A school room in the Citadel. Notice the slates on the desks.

Today’s lesson in the school—the parts of a fort.

A straight bore cannon—inaccurate but powerful. These became obsolete soon after the Citadel was built. These were replaced with rifled cannons, which could fire artillery with much more accuracy.

A rifled cannon can be seen in the background in this photo.

A view from the Citadel to the A. Murray MacKay Bridge connecting Halifax and Dartmouth.

Looking down from the Citadel onto the Halifax Town Clock—a major landmark for Halifax. It began keeping time for the garrison in the Citadel on October 20, 1803. The angled building with the sailboat weatherpane (in front of the TD Bank building) is the World Trade and Convention Centre, where the 2011 Canadian Library Association Conference was held.

A view of the Town Clock from Brunswick Street—a short walk from my hotel.

A view of the arena—the Halifax Metro Centre. This building housed the vendor exhibits for the 2011 Canadian Library Association conference.

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