Set beside one of the world’s finest harbours, HALIFAX has become the financial, educational and transportation centre of the Maritimes, with its population of just under 400,000 making it almost four times the size of its nearest rival, New Brunswick’s Saint John. This pre-eminence has been achieved since World War II, but long before then Halifax was a naval town par excellence. Founded by British settlers led by Edward Cornwallis in 1749, Halifax was primarily a fortified navy base well into the nineteenth century with most Haligonians, as the locals are known, at least partly employed in a service capacity. Today Halifax retains a compact, thriving centre, with artists, street performers and students from prestigious Dalhousie University adding a grungy, alternative balance to the bankers and fashionistas. Workaday office blocks reflect the city’s new commercial success, tumbling down to the harbour from the Citadel, the old British fortress that remains the city’s most significant sight. The city’s other attractions – most notably the Art Gallery, the Maritime Museum and the Georgian Province House – huddle together in the lower part of town beneath the fortress. The waterfront, once at the heart of Halifax commercial life, is now lined by a series of shops and tourist attractions linked by the traffic-free Harbourwalk.
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