Relax in Halifax for Two Days Like a Local

When people think of Halifax, they think of Theodore Tugboat. Maybe lobster. Sometimes wind. All of these are fair and accurate descriptions, and none do the full city justice.

Halifax is a real, terrific “Canadian” city — it’s inescapably laid back, culturally vibrant and very, very local. Understand that because Halifax isn’t really en route to anything, it has necessarily evolved to be extremely self-reliant. The best parts of the city are totally unique: local craft beer, the ever-fresh farmer’s market, constantly active bands and theatre troupes. It’s hard to catch all of that in a guide book. In truth, guide books just don’t.


This is a true local’s guide to Halifax. You’ll do a fair bit of walking (or biking, if you prefer) and explore everything the city proper has to offer, beyond the big tourist attractions (though those are included), from choice favourite restaurants with rotating seasonal vegetable dishes to the city’s favourite farmer’s market vendors to select homegrown organic coffee shops. If it all sounds a little hipster-ish, well, Halifax sort of is. This is what young and middle-aged Haligonians do on any given sunny Saturday. But you can also enjoy the benefits in a two-day span without growing a Maritime beard and dressing in flannel. That is, unless you want to.

You can buy the full two-day tour on Unanchor. Only five bucks!


TO TAKE A MINUTE and not talk about Korea for once in eight months, I’d like to write up a little anecdotal evidence about why exactly Picnicface deserves to be a Great Canadian Cultural Export, rather then the stale leftovers of a Corner Gas entree. Here’s the thing: the folks in Picnicface are genuinely funny and genuinelier nice. In show business, from what notably little I understand of it, this is is a rare combination.

I started doing stand-up roughly halfway through my first year at Halifax’s University of King’s College. I had already gotten my tiny foot in the doggy door of King’s culture by writing for campus publication The Watch (under then-editorship, coincidentally, of Picnicface’s Evany Rosen) and decided to write monologues that were funny and not trust fickle actors to fuck them up. I was, some months in, recruited by a King’s alumnus to organize and host a comedy night to fundraise for our small uni’s iconic campus bar, The Wardoom. Having at least some vague acquaintance with Ms. Rosen and not anyone else in the troupe, I sent an email in the hopes that they would help make this fundraiser not shitty.

To have agreed would have been one thing. But I recall, and retain to this day as proof in the depths of my gmail inbox, the individual emails sent in by almost all of Picnicface’s eight members, sent from their personal email addresses. I remember receiving them one at a time, scattered throughout the day – “Oh, good, Brian’s on board. Oh! So is Cheryl… and Kyle… and….and…”

For a newbie comic several years their junior, the feeling can only be described as “awesome”.

One might argue, justifiably, that in 2009 they weren’t anywhere as big as they are now. They had no Comedy Network TV show, no Collins Canada book. They had Powerthirst but not yet Roller Town, their festival-hit feature film. They could afford then to do a fun little campus show for no money and a spot of free beer.


But they didn’t have to do it so damn well. It’s been nearly four years and I still remember Kyle’s bit about handjobs, and Mark’s full minute spent on something involving a shark in a vending machine. The crowd went fucking mental. They were really funny, and not once – this is important, now – not once did they break their humble attitudes, grow impatient, act rude or be divas. I have on many accounts reason to believe that their homegrown style of comedy, their fans-first attitude and their social media savvy all conclude that their egos have not inflated to the size of Russell Peters’s.

I’ve since watched nearly every video they’ve produced, albeit my Korean living situation has made watching their TV program range from “difficult” to “impossible” (though I just noticed they’ve uploaded some episodes onto YouTube), and if I may make this sentimental (fuck you, it’s my blog), they’ve been at times extremely comforting. I don’t often get homesick, but we all have our spells; watching Evany in a fake beard and Bill run all-too-convincingly like a girl draws me closer to the country I will always call home. Certainly, if nothing else, it makes me proud to be Canadian, no matter where in the world I am.

And that, in under 600 words, is why it’s worthwhile to #savepicnicface.


OF THE 15 ROLLER-SKATERS circling the Olympic Community Centre, almost every one has fallen down at least once. The guy in racquetball goggles and a red tie-dye tank top might be the most adventurous, but the newly formd Halifax Roller Derby Girls are clearly the most skilled; there’s a white-and-blue afro wig, a heavy-set gentleman with a thick white beard and a dead-ringer for Breakfast Club bad boy Judd Nelson. Watching from the sidelines is writer-director Andrew Bush, looking awfully tired, but still able to notice how much fun these skaters are having. “They should just open this up every Sunday,” he says. But he corrects himself: “Actually, we’re shooting next… Oh my god. Oh my god.”

“The roller derby is definitely on its way back,” Doug prophesizes. “Maybe this will do its part in bringing some roller-skating back.”

Check it out, as usual, at The Coast.