The ice is cold and the competition is hot at the Mayflower Curling Club for the 2011 Canada Games. Featuring six sheets of ice and plenty of viewing room, the facility has fans flocking to watch women's curling in week 1, while the men's teams compete during week 2. Curling fans from all over the country are here in Halifax to cheer on their team and take part in the festivities.
Curling has a rich history and an avid following in Nova Scotia. There are 35 clubs in the province, including the Halifax Curling Club -- the oldest continuously active club in North America and the fourth oldest organized curling club in Canada.
You never know who you'll run into at Celebration Square during the Canada Games. I spent some time at the Nova Scotia Tourism tent, meeting folks who were stopping by to record a Nova Scotia Shout Out Video to share on the internet.
And who should drop in to make a clip but the President of the Canadian Surfing Association, John Fluke -- a big fan of our province's excellent surfing scene. "Some of the best surfing in Eastern North America is found here in Nova Scotia," he says. "The water's a little cold in the wintertime, but we like it here."
The very thought of surfing in February sends me running for the nearest hot tub, but John assured me that Nova Scotia's surfing scene is active all year long. Wetsuits, hoods, gloves and boots protect against the winter cold and in summer our warmer beaches see surfers riding the waves in swimsuits or board shorts.
When I arrived in Halifax in 1982, the restaurant scene focused mostly on traditional Maritime fare -- places like Hogie's on Quinpool Road, where you could get a steak or some fresh pan-fried haddock. Or the Midtown Tavern for a burger and a beer.
And there was the legendary Momma Camille's -- a favourite among visiting sailors and locals who knew where to find the best fish & chips in town. A few Chinese-Canadian and Greek restaurants added some variety in those days but in terms of anything ethnic or exotic, we still had some growing to do.
And grow we did! Today, Halifax boasts a fantastic array of restaurants offering menus to tempt even the most adventurous palates. From Lebanese to Thai, Japanese, Indian, Caribbean, Vietnamese, southern Barbecue and beyond, the choices are as diverse as they are delicious.
My first encounter with Joel Plaskett was at the Bay Road Fire Hall in Lewis Lake, just outside Halifax. This was back in 2003. A bunch of young local garage bands hired Joel to headline at a multi-band concert that they'd organized. My son's band was part of the lineup, so naturally I wasn't going to miss it.
The concert was great. After all the bands played, Plaskett got up to perform -- just him, his guitar and a microphone. It was an intimate, magical show -- between songs he told stories and we were all enthralled. And after the show he stayed to talk to the young musicians who were there, answering questions patiently, so generous with his time. I'm sure everyone there remembers that night.
I got the chance to watch some high-powered hockey at the Metro Centre on Sunday night, where Team Nova Scotia played hard against British Columbia. Fans were out in force to cheer on our team, and the game was fast and exciting.
On the way home I passed an outdoor hockey rink that neighbours had made by flooding a corner lot, lighting it with spotlights. That scene brought back memories. Kids were playing shinny under the stars, like they used to do on the rink in my back yard when I was growing up.
Cheers! Sláinte! Salud! What do you say when you raise a glass with friends?
In Nova Scotia, we say "sociable!" -- which the dictionary defines as "engaging readily with other people." Yep -- that's us! We're friendly people and we're so excited to welcome the Canada Games to town!
Well there's nothing like home-grown talent to make you proud of your province. And at the Canada Games Opening Ceremony, we did it up!
Cheticamp's Elsie Delaney and JRDN (Haligonian Jordan Croucher) sang O Canada like it's never been heard before -- an English/French duet sung in sweet two-part harmony.
And it just got better and better. The Stanfields and the Trews rocked the house while Grand Dérangement gave us their neo-Acadian blend of folk, Celtic, rock and dance. And Cape Breton's Jimmy Rankin rounded the whole thing off with a heartfelt ballad that got everyone into the spirit of things.
Well, the opening ceremonies are tonight and organizers are scrambling to make every last detail perfect. From performers to sound engineers, it's all hands on deck and the excitement around the Halifax Metro Centre is palpable.
One thing Nova Scotians are good at is pitching in to make great events happen and tonight is no exception. Volunteers and performers are out in full force and tonight's ceremony promises to be spectacular.
Halifax's Emily Faulkner has been practicing madly in preparation for tonight. Last month, she and hundreds of other dancers from all over the province auditioned to be a part of the large dance troupe who will perform for the crowd. It's been big time commitment -- hours of practice every day -- all in preparation for this once-in-a-lifetime performance. It's an exhausting schedule that keeps the whole family busy.
The Halifax Stanfield International Airport was a beehive of activity as planes loaded with athletes descended on our city and were whisked onto buses to begin their Halifax adventures. For many of these young competitors, this may have been their first visit to Nova Scotia, their first taste of that Maritime hospitality that this province is known for.
And who better to greet them than a group of dedicated volunteers, decked in the signature blue Nova Scotia tartan and cheering each group's arrival? These are the folks known as the Tartan Team, and it's their job to make visitors feel welcome, to answer questions and make sure your first impression of our province is a friendly face.
One of the best ways to close the travel loop around our horseshoe-shaped bay is to traverse its entrance aboard the Fundy ferry .
I took this 'shortcut' across the bay today but not before I ran into a business colleague in Saint John, New Brunswick, who shared this mystical photo of the ferry. He's been living in the Fundy city for several months and was in the right place at the right time to capture ferry photo on one of last weeks -15 C days - an occasional winter sight on the coldest of days when our bay churns up sea mist.
Today's trip across to Digby, Nova Scotia from Saint John was clear and bright by comparison. The kind of trip which, in the summer, might net you a lucky whale glimpse on the horizon.