Healthy Canada: Halifax

Atlantic Canada’s largest city comes alive in the summer months. Here’s what to do and see when you’re in Halifax

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peggy's cover halifax

What makes Halifax healthy?

Since the age of 10, Jason McCoombs has practically had a second home at the Banook Canoe Club in Dartmouth (across the harbour from Halifax), where he honed his paddling skills. He became Canada’s top junior sprint canoeist in 2011 and then qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, where he finished in 13th place. Now 21, he’s studying physics and applied mathematics at Dalhousie University in Halifax while competing in the World Cup circuit and looking ahead to the Rio Olympics in 2016. Here are some of his favourite local haunts-plus more suggestions for what to see and do.

• Explore Peggy’s Cove.

This small community and its iconic 99-year-old lighthouse on a rocky, wave- and wind-beaten shore are just 20 minutes from downtown Halifax. “The fresh air, interesting terrain and great views are a nice refresher,” says McCoombs. Sit down for a bowl of seafood chowder at one of the area’s restaurants or cafés, climb the rocks to find the best view of the crashing waves, and browse the village galleries and studios.

• Hit the trails at Point Pleasant Park.

Criss-crossed with 39 kilometres of multi-use pathways, this 77-hectare green space with forested trails and seaside paths offers a welcome respite from city streets. “The park is a great place for a run or walk, and it has awesome views of the Halifax Harbour and Georges Island,” says McCoombs.

• Fuel up at Two If By Sea (66 Ochterloney St., Dartmouth).

McCoombs likes this downtown Dartmouth café (it has a second location in Halifax) for its brewed or specialty coffee, and its easy access to the waterfront trail, Sullivan’s Pond and Lake Banook.


Image courtesy Destination Halifax/B. McWhirter

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Summer events calendar

• Epic Dartmouth race series, June 28 and 29

On Saturday, run a 10K or 5K (or both!); on Sunday, the selection of duathlon and triathlon events includes a kids’ race. Six- and seven-year-olds, for instance, can do a 50-metre swim, a 1.5-kilometre bike ride and a 500-metre run.

• Route Halifax Saint-Pierre, July 8

This biannual yacht race covers about 560 kilometres from Halifax to the French island of St. Pierre off the shores of Newfoundland. Spectators can participate in official start cele­brations on the Halifax waterfront.

• Dragon Boat Festival, July 12

A fundraiser for the Nova Scotia Amateur Sport Fund, this event includes on-shore games and activities as well as the headline activity, a series of 200-metre team dragon boat races.


Image courtesy Manulife Dragon Boat Festival

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inn on the lake

Healthy sleeping

• Inn on the Lake, 3009 Hwy. 2 (Fall River)

This boutique hotel is in a beautiful setting on the shore of Lake Thomas; it offers a pool, canoes, walking trails to the white sand beach and tennis courts with a view of the lake.


Image courtesy Inn on the Lake

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farmers market

Healthy dining

• The Wooden Monkey, 1707 Grafton St. (downtown)

This eco-friendly eatery supports local businesses-all beef, chicken, pork and lamb are from Nova Scotia -and labels the eclectic menu based on whether items are vegan, gluten-free, raw, or containing dairy or nuts.

• EnVie, 5775 Charles St. (North End)

This vegan restaurant serves up hearty lunch and dinner items-e.g., pulled mushroom tacos and lentil burgers-alongside a retail section of ready-made food.

• Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market (downtown)

Established in 1750 but in its current location since 2010, this market sells arts and crafts, prepared foods, and fresh Nova Scotia seafood and blueberries.

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fitness woman running pants

Healthy shopping

• The Trail Shop, 6210 Quinpool Rd.

A fixture since 1967, this outdoor-gear shop carries everything you need for summer activities and sports, from tents and kayaks to activewear by brands like Lolë and Arc’teryx-all sold by knowledgeable staff.

• Aerobics First, 6166 Quinpool Rd.

While this shop carries running, workout, swim- and ski-wear, its true focus is happy feet. In summer, trust the staff to help you find the perfect pair of running or walking shoes; in winter, they’ll fit you for ski boots.

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Healthy activities

• Kayak Halifax, 1507 Lower Water St. (downtown)

See the city from a new perspective with a half-day, full-day or sunset tour of the Harbour. Explore Georges Island and its historic fortifications; or McNabs Island, a provincial park with wildlife including deer, rabbits and coyotes.

• I Heart Bikes, 1507 Lower Water St. (downtown)

Tour options include two hours around the city to see top sights and neighbourhoods, or a four-hour excursion for vistas of beaches, a salt marsh and a fishing village.

• East Coast Surf School, Lawrencetown Beach

Experts can rent a surfboard and get out on the waves at this popular beach that’s half an hour from the city; beginners’ lessons include instruction on paddling, standing and staying safe.


Image courtesy Destination Halifax


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