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Halifax, Gateway to Atlantic Canada, has flourished as a prominent port situated on the world’s second largest natural harbor.  Nature has blessed this area with sandy beaches, rugged shorelines and colorful gardens. Halifax was the site of the first British town in Canada, founded in 1749. Since then, the area has evolved to be home for a diverse mix of people. Charming fishing villages, farming communities and Atlantic Canada’s largest city await your arrival.

Nova Scotia’s capital, Halifax combines the international essence of a major port city and naval base, with the youthful vibe of a university town, and the culture and heritage of one of Canada’s most historic communities.

Throughout the year you will enjoy music festivals, live theatre, outdoor concerts, symphony performances and good old fashioned Celtic ceilidhs (social gatherings). Halifax is a modern port city teeming with culture and heritage and the perfect place for you to call home.

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    About Halifax

    Halifax, the gateway to Atlantic Canada, has numerous identities. It is a genuine port town sitting on one of the largest harbors in the world (attracting tons of commercial shipping), and possesses gorgeous coastal scenery just outside the city limits. Halifax also has a strong connection to the sinking of the Titanic, having played a key role during the aftermath of the tragedy. Three of the city’s ships were sent out to recover bodies, and so it is the final resting place for many unclaimed victims — three cemeteries throughout Halifax feature rows of black granite headstones, each inscribed with the same date: April 15, 1912.

    But beyond the scenery and history, Halifax is a youthful, energetic town (home to several colleges and universities) boasting a downtown area chock-full of pubs, clubs and cafes, and a restored waterfront that once welcomed traders and privateers. Throughout the year you can enjoy music festivals, live theater, outdoor concerts, symphony performances and even old-fashioned Celtic ceilidhs (lively folk dances, often accompanied by fiddle).


    Originally named Chebucto – or biggest harbor – by the Mi’kmaq Indians who lived here, Halifax was founded in 1749 by the British as a naval and military base. Named in honor of Lord Halifax, president of the British Board of Trade, the fledgling community would eventually become a major center for international trade for the same reasons it was selected as a military and naval base: its geographic location and magnificent harbor.

    From the start, Halifax proved to be quite an innovative community. It boasted Canada’s first newspaper (1752), first post office (1755), and first representative assembly (1758). But it was war that contributed to the rapid development and growth of the community. Halifax was a strategic base of operations for Britain in the Seven Years’ War, the War of American Independence, the Napoleonic wars, and the War of 1812.

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    Fast Facts

    Population: 372,679

    Area: 5,490.90 km²

    Elevation: 0-145m

    Calling code: 902


    There are a wide variety of housing choices in Greater Halifax, ranging from urban to rural, condominiums to single family detached, offered at a full range of prices. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in Halifax the average selling price of houses in 2006 was $292,665 – making Halifax one of the more inexpensive housing locations in the country. Many new arrivals choose to buy their own home rather than rent an apartment or house. Houses in Nova Scotia are among the most affordable in Canada and there is a great variety to choose from.

    There are many Real Estate agents in Nova Scotia who will help you find a home, and many can even guide you through the mortgage and legal requirements. For an extensive list of houses currently available for purchase, visit the Multiple Listing Service website ( and select Nova Scotia. This website, operated by the Canadian Real Estate Association, lists every home in Nova Scotia being sold through a real estate agent. For a complete list of licensed real estate agents, contact the Nova Scotia Realtors Association (

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    Most things of interest to visitors to Halifax can be found within downtown, an area that remains easily traversed on foot. There are many buses running through the downtown core, with somewhat irregular service going to the outlying suburbs. In the summer, there is a free bus that does a useful loop in the area: FRED (Free Ride Everywhere Downtown). Halifax Harbor is a natural Eastern border, with the area roughly encased by Cogswell Street in the North, South Park Street to the West, and, logically, South Street.

    The harborfront boardwalk, extending from the train station in the south to the restored Historic Properties district in the north offers ample distraction for an afternoon or day. With an increasingly busy cruise ship port at the train station end, the harborfront is considerably more crowded in the warmer months when tour operators, souvenir stalls, cafes, ice cream stands, and the usual gamut of street performers vie for a share of the visitors’ budget. You can also grab a ferry over to the Dartmouth side of the harbor and wander in the Eastern Front Theatre’s Alderney Landing complex, visit an interesting Peace Pavilion, and the view of Halifax.

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    As an affluent, high-tech industrial society in the trillion-dollar class, Canada resembles the US in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and affluent living standards. Since World War II, the impressive growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. The 1989 US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which includes Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the US. Given its great natural resources, skilled labor force, and modern capital plant, Canada enjoys solid economic prospects. Top-notch fiscal management has produced consecutive balanced budgets since 1997, although public debate continues over how to manage the rising cost of the publicly funded healthcare system. Exports account for roughly a third of GDP. Canada enjoys a substantial trade surplus with its principal trading partner, the US, which absorbs about 85% of Canadian exports. Canada is the US’ largest foreign supplier of energy, including oil, gas, uranium, and electric power.


    Generally, summer to mid-fall is the most pleasant time. Summer temperatures can climb, but rarely sustain themselves at the heat wave levels common in Montreal or Toronto . And while humidity is often high, the breeze off the water and frequent foggy nights provide respite – sometimes too much, so prepare for a chilly evening if you are near the water. Warm temperatures often last through September, with a lovely crispness in the air and beautiful fall colors by October. Occasionally, as in September 2003, hurricanes do make their way in full force to the city.

    Winter is finicky. It is not uncommon for snowstorms to end in rain, and for the city to experience several freezes and thaws within one winter. Again, Halifax experiences the frigid temperatures common in Upper Canada , but not usually for such long period of time. Spring can be even more undefined along the coast, with a hot week followed by a snowstorm in April, and tree buds sometimes yet to burst into leaves until mid-June.

    Month Avg Hi Avg Lo Avg Precip
    Jan 31°F 16°F 5.10 in.
    Feb 30°F 15°F 4.20 in.
    Mar 37°F 23°F 4.40 in.
    Apr 46°F 31°F 4.30 in.
    May 55°F 39°F 4.10 in.
    Jun 65°F 48°F 4.10 in.
    Jul 71°F 55°F 3.90 in.
    Aug 71°F 56°F 4.00 in.
    Sep 65°F 50°F 3.60 in.
    Oct 55°F 41°F 4.80 in.
    Nov 46°F 33°F 5.50 in.
    Dec 36°F 21°F 5.90 in.


    Domestic or pet dogs and cats can enter Canada for any period of time (permanent stays, temporary visits, or in transit visits) without quarantine. Because rabies is a federally regulated disease affecting dogs and cats, Canada’s import requirements take into consideration the rabies status of the country of export. The United States is not considered a rabies-free country, therefore the following restrictions will apply:

    Domestic or pet dogs and cats may enter Canada if accompanied by an original valid rabies vaccination certificate which is issued by a licensed veterinarian, in either English or French, and which clearly identifies the animal and states that they are currently vaccinated against rabies. This certificate should identify the animal as in breed, color, weight, etc., and indicate the name of the licensed rabies vaccine used (trade name), including serial number and duration of validity (up to three years). Please note that if the duration of validity is not indicated on the certificate, the vaccine will be considered to be valid for one year. There is no waiting period imposed between the time the animal is vaccinated for rabies and the time the animal is imported into Canada.

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    By Car

    Highways 101-104 connect Halifax with the rest of Canada.  When you drive in town, keep your eye out for pedestrians, as they have the right of way and frequently take advantage of this by walking across the street in the middle of the block.  U-turns are legal except when specifically barred by a sign.

    Visitors or newcomers to Nova Scotia who own a passenger vehicle can drive it for personal (non-business) purposes for up to 90 days without having to register the vehicle. After 90 days, it must be registered in Nova Scotia. Similarly, if you have a valid driver’s license from another part of Canada or from another country, it is valid in Nova Scotia for up to 90 days.

    Nova Scotia has a Graduated Driver Licensing system with 3 levels:

    (1) Learner’s License, sometimes called Beginner’s

    (2) Newly Licensed Driver’s License

    (3) regular Driver’s License

    All new drivers have to graduate from the first 2 levels before they can get a regular Driver’s License.

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    Public Transportation

    Metro Transit
    (902) 490-4000
    Metro Transit administers the bus service in the area.  Fare is $2, with free transfers good for up to 2 hours.  Routes, schedules, and more fare information are available on the website.

    Air Transportation

    Halifax International Aiport
    Bell Boulevard
    Enfield, Nova Scotia B2T 1K2
    (902) 873-4422

    Located 39km northeast of the city, Halifax International Airport is connected by highway 102.

    Airporter Inc. provides shuttle service to and from various hotels in the Metro Area. Core hours of operation are 6:00 a.m. to midnight daily. Regular rates for the Airporter service are $16.00 (Canadian) one way or $28.00 (Canadian) for a return ticket. Children under 10 years of age accompanied by an adult ride for free.

    Taxi and limousine services are available curbside in the Domestic Arrivals area for all arriving flights. A one-way trip to Halifax city center is $53.00 (Canadian) by taxi or by limousine.

    Local Phone Numbers

    Dialing from New York to Halifax:
    Dial: 011 1 902 XXX-XXXX
    How the number is composed:
    011 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of U.S.A.
    1 is the international code used to dial Canada.
    902 is the local area or city code used to dial Halifax.
    XXX-XXXX is the local number. Exchange X with your number.

    Dialing  from Halifax  to New York:
    Dial: 00 1 212 XXX-XXXX
    How the number is composed:
    00 is the international prefix used to dial somewhere outside of Canada.
    1 is the international code used to dial to U.S.A.
    212 is one of multiple city/area codes in use for New York.
    XXX-XXXX is the local number. Exchange X with your number.


    Dial 911 in an emergency.
    For directory assistance, dial 1 + area code + 555-1212.
    If you need operator assistance in making a call, dial 0.
    Numbers beginning with 800, 888, 877, 866, and 855 within Canada are toll-free.

    Time Zone
    The definition for time zones can be written in short form as UTC±n (or GMT±n), where n is the offset in hours. Here is an example given the local time in Halifax and New York City at 12:00 UTC when daylight savings time is not in effect:

    Halifax Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 4 hours = 8:00am
    NYC Standard Time Zone: GMT/UTC – 5 hours = 7:00am

    Halifax is on Atlantic Standard Time and does observe Daylight Savings time.

    Note: there are six time zones observed in Canada, ranging from UTC-3.5 to UTC-8.


    Channel 3 – Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)
    Channel 5 – Atlantic Television System (CTV)
    Channel 8 – Global Television Maritime


    89.5 FM CHNS HAL-FM Classic Rock
    90.5 FM CBHA CBC Radio One
    91.5 FM CBAX CBC French Music
    92.3 FM CBAF-5 CBC French
    93.9 FM CJLU Christian
    94.7 FM CFEP Seaside FM – Easy Listening\
    95.5 FM CJLS The Wave – Adult Contemporary
    95.7 FM CJNI News
    96.5 FM CHNS KOOL FM – Oldies /Classic Hits
    97.5 FM CKDU (Dalhousie University) – Campus Radio
    98.1 FM CKBW adult contemporary
    98.5 FM CINU Hope FM – Christian
    99.5 FM CKTY Cat Country – Country
    100.9 FM CKTO Big Dog – Adult Contemporary/Classic Rock
    100.1 FM C-100 (CIOO) Adult Contemporary
    101.9 FM CHFX Country 101 – Country
    102.7 FM CBH CBC2 Classical
    103.5 FM Z103.5 FM The Beat Of Halifax – Urban / Hip-Hop
    104.3 FM CFRQ Rock


    Halifax Herald

    Halifax Sun

    Globe & Mail (national)

    National Post (national)


    Farmer’s Market

    Saturday mornings sees local farmers, bakers, artisans, and musicians descend upon the Keith’s Brewery building for this long-established market. Things get rolling around 7:00am in the summer, 8:00am in the winter, peak around noon, dying off rapidly by 1:00. More than a great place to get local, seasonal food, crafts, and hear musicians, the market is a weekly meeting place for Haligonians and the best of Halifax ‘s small-town side is evident in the friendly, high-energy atmosphere.

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    Day Trips

    The Annapolis Valley

    This strongly agricultural area has gentle scenery and is often warmer than coastal areas. At harvest times there are plenty of U-Pick’s – strawberries in July, blueberries in August, and plenty of apples and harvest vegetables in the autumn. Alternatively, you can often buy direct from farmers or farmers’ markets. Upper Clements Amusement and Wildlife Parks are both found in the Valley region, a two-hour trip from Halifax. The parks are small but appealing, with a wooden roller coaster attracting many to the Amusement Park. The admission fee covers entry to both.

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    While there is no shortage of beaches near Halifax, swimming in the ocean in Nova Scotia is nothing short of an accomplishment given the frigid water. On the Dartmouth side of the bridge, Lawrencetown is a favorite with surfers and wave jumpers, and is dependably foggy and cold. Slightly closer to town is Rainbow Haven, a more sheltered and thus marginally warmer beach. Both are supervised. Crystal Crescent, on the Halifax side of the harbor is beautiful though busy, given its proximity to town. The main beach and the nearby (but out of view from the main beach) clothes-optional area are unsupervised. Queensland beach on St. Margaret’s bay is supervised, and also quite popular given its proximity and tendency to be the warmest of options near Halifax.

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    McNab’s Island

    This island at the harbor’s mouth is easily accessible by a short boat ride booked on the waterfront. McNab’s and Lawlor Islands were made a Provincial Park in 2002 to preserve the area’s natural habitat and historical value – there are forts on McNab’s dating to the early 19th century. There are guided nature and history tours, camping can be arranged through the department of Natural Resources, and fall foliage tours make McNab’s an easy escape from the Halifax while affording a seldom-seen view of the city. Lawlor Island is closed to the public.

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    Work Permit

    Citizenship and Immigration Canada

    (888) 242-2100

    To work in Canada, you need to get a work permit, which is a written authorization to work in the country, normally for a specific amount of time.  There are certain industries which are exempt from needing a work permit.  Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) is in charge of the permits, which are then issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).  Your employer should take the first steps with HRSDC to get the process moving.

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    The dollar is Canada’s currency, which is divided into cents, just like in the US.  Often it is abbreviated C$ to distinguish it from other dollar currency.  Some merchants in Vancouver will accept American currency, as will parking meters.  The exchange rate hovers around C$1.15 for US$1, or 86 US cents for each C$1.

    Canadian Banknotes

    Canadian notes are issued by the Bank of Canada, and come equipped with modern security features, like holograms, watermarks, and other technologies.

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    US Consulate & Visa

    US Consulate

    615 Macleod Tr SE Suite 1000

    Calgary, AB T2G 4T8

    (403) 266-8962

    The consulate is open to the public from 8:30 am to 11:30 am weekdays.  There’s a line in the lobby of the building, and then a security guard escorts visitors to the consulate.  You can’t bring electronics and many other items, including cell phones, with you, so leave them in the car or rent a locker in the building to store them.  American citizens don’t need an appointment to visit.

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    Nova Scotia Health Medical Services Insurance

    (800) 563-8880

    Canadian healthcare is a publicly funded system, but most services are still provided by private companies.  To take advantage of the Canadian healthcare, you must be a citizen or be lawfully admitted for permanent residence.  Medicare is the largest government program, and it’s actually an amalgamation of 10 provincial programs.  Each province is mainly in charge of its own healthcare system, in Alberta it’s Alberta Health and Wellness that provides the coverage.  The plan is called the Alberta Healthcare Insurance Plan, and application forms are available online or at doctor’s offices and hospitals.

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    The People

    Broadly speaking, Canada has been divided into two distinct societies, one French-speaking and one English-speaking. Because they don’t form as cohesive a group as French-speaking Canadians, only very general observations can be made about English-speaking Canadians; they are generally thought of (and consider themselves) more reserved, less aggressive and less excitable than their neighbors to the south.

    Primary of British descent, the residents of Atlantic Canada (includes the Maritimes — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island — and Newfoundland) are generally more reserved, stolid, provincial and old-fashioned.

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    Mail Delivery

    Canada Post

    (866) 607-6301

    Canada Post is the Canadian postal service in charge of letter and package delivery in the country.  It delivers Monday through Friday.  Canada Post covers more area than any other postal service in the world.  Standard mail delivery throughout the country is four days.  First class mail will reach its destination in one day.  Addressing conventions for letters are the same as it is in the US.

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    Canada Revenue Agency

    (800) 267-6999

    Canada has a wide variety of social programs, and the money for them has to come from somewhere.  Canadian taxes are generally slightly higher in total than those in the US, though it’s broken down a little differently, because the Provinces are generally in charge of the specific social programs instead of the federal government.  As a Canadian resident, you are required to pay taxes here.  The Canada Revenue Agency’s website has many helpful tools to help you figure out what your tax liability is.

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    Electricity in Nova Scotia is provided by a privately owned utility company called Nova Scotia Power. While they use environmentally friendly power sources such as wind power and North America’s only modern tidal power plant, most electricity is generated by oil and coal. The commercial and consumer cost of electricity is regulated by a government-run review board and all prices must be approved by this board.

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    Compulsory Education

    Public Schools

    In Nova Scotia, most residents attend public school. Public education is run by the government and paid for through taxes.

    All children in Nova Scotia are legally required to attend school until age 16. Parents also have the option of performing home-schooling, although they must still follow specific guidelines and courses.

    Public schooling starts at age 5 in elementary school in the primary grade. Primary is followed by grades one to six. After elementary school, youth attend grades seven to nine at a junior high school, after which they attend high school (secondary education) for grades ten through twelve. Upon completion of high school, students may choose to continue their education further with post secondary education at university, community colleges or through apprenticeships.

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    Higher Education

    Universities, Colleges, and Trade Schools

    In Nova Scotia there are many opportunities to receive additional education. Most programs and courses require the completion of a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED). Yet some training is available for mature students who have had no previous formal education. Some of the different types of advanced education institute types are:


    As in the United States, universities in Canada require high school completion. University preparatory classes may also be required for admission. Some special courses might be needed for specific programs of study. When you complete your university studies, you will receive a degree in your chosen area of study. Most university degrees require 3 or 4 years to complete.

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