The Waverley Inn, Halifax, Nova Scotia

SLR_8460-003While attending the Festival of Tall Ships, Man The Capstan, had the opportunity to stay at The Waverley Inn in Halifax. This Inn is tucked away at 1266 Barrington Street, and is a reasonable walk to the waterfront. There are many other Hotels and Inns in this downtown core, but none offers quite the same experience and ambiance of this unique three story bed and breakfast.

waverly1-001Once an elite Victorian private residence, the Waverley Inn is definitely pretty special, especially if you’re like me and prefer smaller and more intimate places to stay, and particularly if they are historical houses.

Lobby-I-001This house was built in 1865-66 by a wealthy merchant named Edward W. Chipman and his wife Mahala Jane Northup. Interestingly both these last names are listed in the family trees of certain Man The Capstan Crew members. Could there be a family relationship there? Perhaps!

The Chipman home was purported to be one of the most expensive and extravagant homes in the city of Halifax. Mrs. Chipman was a very fashionable lady, who was well known in Halifax society and she immediately began to host many dances and social events. These were attended by not only the local society, but also by the officers who were stationed at the Garrison. Hence, it seemed just the place for a group of Royal Navy Re-enactors like us, to spend a night or two.Roman-Sisters-II-001

Unfortunately, Mr. Chipman’s dry goods business failed and in just a short while (1870), the family could no longer afford this home. It must have been heartbreaking to see their lovely home turned over to the Sherriff of Halifax. Much of the furnishings were seized, and the house was sold at auction where it was bought by a real estate speculator named Patrick Costin.SLR_8285-001

He sold the house to two spinsters named Sarah and Jane Romans, who had been operating their father’s business, The Waverley Hotel. They added a new wing to the rear of the house and in October of 1876 they moved into their new location. Since then the Waverley has functioned as an Inn, owned by a variety of different owners. In 1960 the Sterling Hotel Company purchased it and did extensive restorations.

SLR_8270-001Today this house still operates as a lovely historical Inn, and Man The Capstan certainly enjoyed their stay there. We stayed in the Vanderbilt room, and the twin room right across from it, and were indeed very comfortable. The house is filled with antiques and period furniture, and beautifully decorated with the opulence of the Victorian period.  The breakfast room downstairs offers a healthful and generous breakfast with lots of variety. The staff is friendly and helpful, and the rooms are beautiful and very clean. I would definitely stay there again, and would recommend it as a place to stay if ever you are visiting Halifax , Nova Scotia.

Don’t for get to click on the pictures to get their full size and effect!waverly4-001

A Visit To The Gaspereau Vineyards

We took a tour one sun-shiny day in late last fall, through the historical Gaspereau Valley which is situated in the heart of the Annapolis Valley. It is such a pretty place to visit, with peaceful scenery, hills, vales, farms and for us, a feeling of heritage. Certain members of the Man The Capstan crew can trace family lineage to this area as far back as the time of the New England Planters who came to Nova Scotia during the 1760s.

Nestled snuggly amidst these beautiful rolling hills and farmlands is the Gaspereau Vineyards Winery.  Located just 3 km from downtown Wolfville, the home of the Acadia University, it is an easy 1 hour drive from Halifax and is located near some great restaurants, gift shops, inns and markets. These vineyards were once an apple orchard. Planted in 1996, the 35 acres of vineyards grow on the south-facing slope in the ideal soil and climatic conditions of this beautiful valley. There are ten wineries in Nova Scotia which represents an ever growing industry in the province. Nova Scotia is well able to produce the excellent grapes that are required to create some outstanding wines.

The Gaspereau Vineyards produces a number of red and white wines, available in dry, off dry, and semi dry, as well as ice and maple wine. Man the Capstan was here for a wine tasting tour and looking forward to sampling some wonderful award winning wines. The staff was expecting us upon our arrival, as Katherine had made prior arrangements for this visit, and we were greeted warmly and enthusiastically.

We admired the winery boutique with it’s shelves of shining bottles filled with wine, books, souvenirs and other such local goodies and niceties, before sideling up to the tasting counter for our samples.

We tried them all…and I have to say that we loved them all. Each wine was unique in bouquet and flavour, and as each was presented to us we were hard pressed to name a favourite among them.

I am not such a connoisseur but certainly I know a good wine when I taste it, and I personally loved the Vitis with it’s dark burgundy tones, berry in the nose, and the hint of chocolate on the tongue. The wonderful Reserve Port, which we enjoyed with dark chocolate, and the Maple dessert Wine which is such a special treat.

What really surprised me though was the Rose. I am not a fan of Rose wines generally but I loved this refreshing and fruity offering. We all agreed that the wines offered at this winery were exceptional! We filled a case with a variety of them and I came away with two of the Rose, which I saved for our Turkey dinner on Christmas Day. It complimented this meal wonderfully well and was  a great hit at the table!

Gaspereau Vineyards is well worth the visit. The winery boutique is lovely. The complimentary wine sampling and tours are offered in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and the staff are great!

The winery boutique is open 7 days a week.

April-May 10am-5pm

June-Sept 9am-6pm

Oct-Dec 10am-5pm

From downtown Wolfville (Highway #1), turn up Gaspereau Avenue (Beside the Police Station and across from Tim Horton’s). Drive 3km – Gaspereau Vineyards is located on the right.

Travelling Highway 101, take Exit 11 (Old Orchard Inn) and follow the signs. Gaspereau Vineyards is 7 km from the highway.

Wine List:

2004/06 Vitis
2007 Castel (Dry)
2007 Lucie Kuhlmann (Dry)
2008 Lucie Kuhlmann Barrel Select (Dry)
2008 Pinot Noir (Dry)
Reserve Port (Medium)
Maple Wine (Sweet)
2009 L’Acadie Blanc (Dry)
2009 Muscat (Dry)
2009 Seyval Blanc (Medium)

2009 Rose (Medium)

2009 Crescendo (Medium)
2008 Vidal Ortega Icewine (Sweet)
2008 Chardonnay (Dry)

“Ahoy there!” Tall Ships 2009, Part II

Two days ago I posted the first part of this two-part post, “Ahoy there!” Tall Ships 2009, which chronicled the first day of our Tall Ships 2009 experience. Tall Ships, a maritime festival that occurs every two years at Halifax, was the culminating event for our reproductions. It allowed us to gather in uniform and dress, and enjoy the festivities on the piers and under the sun for a weekend.

Unfortunately the first day was rain-filled and dreary (as one will learn by reading the first part), but the second day was remarkable. The amount of fun we had on Sunday more than made up for the disappointments of Saturday. Our only regret was that the ladies could not get dressed up. Unfortunately the uniforms stole the show—next time I think we won’t so carelessly tread into rainy weather, given our Tall Ships experience.

We began the day with a hearty meal at the Waverley (which consisted of pretty much any breakfast food you could dream of). It was a good idea, because we wouldn’t get another bite to eat until later on in the day. The women dressed in casual clothing and took charge of our immediate superior officer, Little William (dubbed the Admiral as our respective OIC). My father Steve donned his bright red major’s uniform, trimmed in bright silver lace, while my brother-in-law Tim and I dressed in our British Royal Navy captain’s uniforms, arming ourselves with our gold-buckled belts, swords and laced hats. Having taken a few shots on the steps of the Waverley (which so happens to be a favourite picture of ours), the three of us began our trek to the waterfront. Johanna snapped an incredible photo, pictured to the left, which hearkened to an earlier day in Halifax where the rhythmic  stomp and cry of British officers was considered normal.

It was a bit disorientating as we made our way to the waterfront. This was the first time we really got dressed up and displayed our creations in public. What were we supposed to do, exactly? Roam the piers? Stage some historical conversation? Break into a spontaneous duel that would certainly satisfy someone’s wounded pride (and undoubtedly bring down the combined-might of the HRP and the RCMP)?

We unanimously decided on the first option, and began roaming the piers. The three of us in uniform stayed together, while the women trailed behind with the camera. Chance would have it that the first ship we encountered was the beautiful Unicorn, a tall-ship exclusively staffed by females. The Unicorn, paired with Sisters Under Sail, offers a leadership program for teenage girls interested in the art of sailing; like most tall ships, it is staffed by the youth of our generation, offering great opportunities to learn and grow on board a sailing ship from a bygone era. Even without our Tall Ships passes (we hadn’t gotten them yet at the time!) the women of the Unicorn intercepted us at the pier, and immediately offered us a tour of the ship. Very nice crew, and a beautiful ship.

We carried on in a north-westerly direction, quickly discovering that our progress was snail-paced (to put it lightly); we were stopped, it seemed, every ten metres by visitors and tourists looking to snap a few photos of the three British officers seemingly patrolling the piers of Halifax. It was a indescribable experience, actually; we felt like celebrities. We adapted quickly, however, and began putting on the smiles that the dozens upon dozens of pictures demanded of us. Steve warmed to it very quickly, having some experience in gallivanting about in a bright uniform. Tim and I found ourselves following his example.

One charming moment was when we found ourselves heading towards a small group of Mounties in full-dress. They were marching down the pier as well, probably experiencing the same fanfare we were. We smiled and nodded as we passed, but it was not meant to be: someone from the crowd shouted “Oh! We simply must have a picture of the two of you!” We quickly formed a group and found ourselves stuck in that position for a solid five minutes or so. It was a really classic photo opportunity!

Throughout the experience we met a handful of others in costume, but nothing quite like our three uniforms. Many reenactors and costume designers create reproductions that replicated day-to-day dress; many uniforms were styled in the undress fashion, that is without the 10-15 metres of lace that adorned our own uniforms. It meant that in that bright Sunday sunshine, we were a veritable beacon so close to the water. It wasn’t difficult to see us coming. As we passed by one actor (employed by the Tall Ships event itself) in a British R.N. captain’s uniform, we received a somewhat cold reception: we had happened across his photo booth, and very quickly were attracting more cameras and interest. Feeling a tad awkward and certainly not wishing to infringe on a fellow reenactor’s turf, we made an expedient retreat.

Hours later we finally made it to the most north-westerly point of the piers you could manage on foot (that featured any festivities, anyway). We were getting hungry, and decided to grab a bite to eat somewhere. We fixed eyes on a place called Stayner’s Wharf Pub & Grill, and made the decision to get in line. Yes, there was a line (a rather long one, too). So there we were, three men in full-dress uniform ca. 1805, and two women with a young child. The sun was hot, and Little William needed to get into the shade for a rest and something to eat. It wasn’t too long before we secured a table and readied ourselves for a meal.

It was a really awesome place to eat. The food was great, the staff was very helpful and at the top of their game that day; it was their Boxing Day, I’m sure (were they a retail outlet), and they shone. We were incredibly thirsty at this point (layered wool uniforms and July weather did not mix well), and were a bit surprised that we had managed to take care of several pitchers of beer over the course of a brief meal. At the end of the meal we had a nice conversation with one of the hosts, who indicated that there was a family from Britain that were visiting Canada that had been impressed with our uniforms; the host suggested we pay them a visit. So Steve, Tim and I gathered our uniform coats, hats and swords, and headed towards the table to say hello. It was a great experience; we learned where they were visiting from, we passed them one of our business cards, and wished them well when their food arrived. Having had a great experience at Stayner’s, we paid and took our leave.

We decided to take an alternative route back to the Waverley, travelling along the adjacent Upper Water Street. It was much easier passage, with fewer stops along the way for pictures. We passed by a Canada Forces recruitment bus with some naval personnel in uniform milling about, and couldn’t help but get a few pictures. Tim had the bright idea to wander over to one of the tables staffed by CF personnel and demand two-hundred years of back-pay (they were not as impressed as we thought they’d be). One of the naval officers there stopped us before we left, however, and asked if we could stick around for a few minutes—he had sent one of his men to grab a camera, as he wanted to have a picture taken with his naval colleagues along with the Capstan Crew. We of course couldn’t decline: they happily offered us a few bottles of water from their stock and we were allowed to tour their recruitment bus. Nice lads, all of them, and the resulting picture was just fantastic.

After the Canadian Forces encounter we made quick progress back to the Waverley, and from there began to pack to head home. It had been a really successful day, but we were all utterly exhausted. Dinner was pizza and beer graciously offered by Shara and Tim. After a quick review of the day’s pictures we headed home to the Annapolis Valley, where I immediately began writing up the posts that would chronicle the day’s activities.

Okay, that last part was a big giant lie, but hey! I wrote it eventually, right?

Keep in mind all of these photos and more can be viewed at our Flickr photostream! We update it more frequently than the blog, sometimes.

Until next time guys!

“Ahoy there!” Tall Ships 2009

Up Aloft Among the Rigging!

Long overdue, I know!

Our blog has accrued a few regular subscribers in the past two years we’ve been operational. They keep tabs on the blog updates as they roll through, and monitor our activities and progress with our reproductions. Those of you who are regular subscribers will know that the Capstan Crew’s culminating project was the display of our creations at Halifax’s Tall Ships, in particular the 2009 festival. That occurred just over 10 months ago, and was a spectacular success.

It’s a terrible tragedy that I hadn’t written anything about it afterwards, but we updated our Flickr account pretty quickly thereafter, and each picture is titled with an accurate description. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do so here (they are organized into sets)!

Sea Chest

Tall Ships is usually spread over several days, beginning with the slow but steady arrival of wooden and steel ships of sail from all over the world. Due to work commitments, we couldn’t be there for the entire festival (and surely that would have been utterly exhausting). We made plans to arrive early Saturday morning, and depart Sunday afternoon. That would give us two full days in the sun, touring the ships and wearing-in the reproductions.

There would be six of us, all family members and founding members of Man the Capstan. My father, Steve, wore his early 19th century Marine uniform, styling himself a major. My mother, Johanna, planned to wear an ivory regency gown that would be appropriate for the era; similarly, my sister, Shara, wore a darker regency gown from the same time period. My brother-in-law, Tim, was garbed in a British Royal Navy, ca. 1805 captain’s uniform. I was dressed in the same.

The sixth was our newest member, Little William! He was dressed in an absolutely adorable sailor’s costume. The star of the show, he was!

Mom and Dad and I met at Shara and Tim’s (who lived near the city at the time) to get ready. We were in breeches and waistcoat, just needed the final touches, so we were on the road and rolling for the waterfront fairly quickly.

For the overnighter, we made reservations at the beautiful historic Waverley Inn. Folks, if you ever get an opportunity to stay at this lovely place, do so! The rooms are phenomenal, and of particular note (to me, anyway) the breakfast was stellar. The Waverley was located near the waterfront (a few blocks), so it was perfect. We had to book months in advance in order to secure lodgings. It was packed full.

The first day of our Tall Ships trip, however, was not very successful. For most of that day, July 18th, there was rainfall. Torrential rain is not a kind thing to woolen uniforms trimmed with gold, bias-and-stand lace. It is even unkinder to the regency gowns worn by our ladies. As soon as we arrived at the Waverley it was coming down hard; we stayed at the inn for a couple hours, hoping for it to let up.

Cheers!

It didn’t, naturally. Stubbornly, we dressed, grabbed some umbrellas, and made the best of it. We made a successful full circuit of the docks; it was raining so bad, though, that we didn’t really stop at any of the ships. We couldn’t really take pictures (and people couldn’t really enjoy our uniforms either, though a handful did take an opportunity to snap a few shots of us). Worst of all, it was terrible conditions for Little William.

We headed back to the Waverley, but not before we stopped in at Henry’s Pub. Steve and Johanna had scouted out the pub months before during an anniversary lunch, and it was a perfect place to detour for a warm meal. It is one of the oldest buildings in Halifax, and offers the rain-weary visitor a warm place to eat and refill his or her spirits; ours was in sore need of refilling, let me tell you.

Most of us had classic fish & chips; I had the cornish pastie, and let me tell you, it was delicious.

We quickly headed back to the Waverley, then, to dry our clothing, crack open the Pusser’s we had purchased, and make plans for the next day. Unfortunately, the lady’s gowns did not hold up as well as the men’s. The rain had made them unwearable, and they needed some TLC that Johanna couldn’t provide within the Waverley—for Sunday, the last day, it was decided that the men would get dressed up again (with some minor adjustments), and the women would dress incognito. The next day was bright and sunny, so there were no problems. The success of the second day more than made up for the misadventure on the 18th.

Stay tuned for a narrative on day two. July 19th!

Man the Capstan!

Departure for Tall Ships!

departure01

Well, it’s just before 8:00 AM, and I’m about to start getting into my uniform. Tall Ships, for the Man the Capstan Crew, is here! Johanna, Steve and myself should be departing our Valley residence in just over an hour, to rendezvous with Shara & Tim. We should arrive in Halifax by 10:30 AM or so!

Been a long road getting to this point. Environment Canada is forecasting rain and thunder showers. Sou’ ‘westers and oilskins, lads! Put another reef in ‘er!

I’m bringing the laptop along with me, so provided the Waverley has WIFI access, you can expect updates later today.

Calling all hands to Man the Capstan!

By the way, the beautiful picture above was taken from the Tall Ships 2009 flickr group! The picture was taken by ruth.erin!

Tall Ships 2009 Almost Here

Tall Ships Banner

Well, being July 16th, we’re just two days away from the weekend! Come Saturday morning, Man the Capstan will be heading out in full regalia to Tall Ships 2009! Tall Ships are already arriving in Halifax (as you can see from the pictures above and below), and the events for the weekend are always being prepared by re-enactment staff at the Halifax Dockyards.

tallshipsrigging

The Tall Ships Crew have a Twitter set up, and are streaming live updates as they come in. Check them out here! They alerted us to a really cool Chronicle Herald article, discussing the events celebrating the 250th anniversary for the founding of the 1759 Naval Dockyards (one of the reasons why Man the Capstan is so interested in attending the festival). Check it out for yourself, there is some pretty cool stuff there! There will be a ceremony at 2:00 PM on Saturday (that’s four bells in the Afternoon Watch) that will include re-enactors and active service members of the Canadian Navy. You just can’t miss this one, folks.

We have a slew of new updates to post, but I’m afraid that will have to wait for another update (as we’ve so much to get done before Saturday). I’d like to remind everyone that we have a Twitter as well, and we update it frequently with new information and Man the Capstan related news. Subscribe to both us and Tall Ships 2009!

Though we are not participating in the scheduled events for the weekend, it will be a true pleasure to arrive in costume along with everyone else. It will actually be a bit of a relief to be a “uniformed” spectator; a bit more liberty to move around the festival, as it were.

We’re all excited here, and can’t wait for Saturday! You can check out the Flickr group for new Tall Ship arrivals, and Tall Ship related photos, here! The two above pictures were taken by compelling, and you can see these shots and others at their Flickr Photostream, here!