In the British Empire, from its founding in 1749 until the 19th century, Halifax was one of 4 principal overseas naval stations. In order to defend the port the British built a series of fortifications in and around the port, a system known as the Halifax Defence complex.

The current Citadel which was completed in 1856 and was the 4th fortress to be built on the hill overlooking the Halifax harbour since 1749. The fortress has a defensive ditch shaped like a moat surrounding the fort but it was never filled with water. The fort had ramparts, a musket gallery, powder magazine, signal masts and a garrison for the soldiers. The fort was never attacked but was defended by the British Army until 1906 and by the Canadian Forces during World Wars 1 and 2.

This 4th Citadel is a large star-shaped, masonry fortification that took 28 years to build. It was built to guard against a land attack from the United States. The Citadel fortifications as they were originally constructed became obsolete in the 1860’s and its armaments were upgraded to accommodate powerful rifles. Once upgraded it could defend the harbour as well as the land approach with the greater distance and more accuracy offered with the new artillery.

At the turn of the century the major role of the Citadel was to act as a command center for other harbour defences and as barrack accommodations. In 1939 at the beginning of World War 2 the Citadel was a temporary barracks for troops being shipped overseas and as a centre for anti-aircraft operations for Halifax. The Citadel was the last view of Canada and the first view on return for thousands of soldiers during the World Wars.

Today the Citadel is a world renowned landmark and is one of the most historic sites in Canada and is operated by Parks Canada. The Citadel has been restored to the mid-Victorian period with a living history program featuring the 78th Highland Regiment, the Royal Artillery, Soldier's Wives and Civilian Tradespersons.

A visit to the Citadel is a treat for all. The noon day gun fired from a cannon and the changing of the guard draws thousands of tourists annually. It is truly an educational and enjoyable heritage experience offering guide tours, an audio-visual presentation and historically themed exhibits, along with a visit to the barracks. A great visit for all the family. All in all reflecting a significant period in Canadian history.

Author's Bio: 

My name is Avril Betts, I have over 25 years experience in all aspects of Travel and Tourism. I hold a CHA (Certified Hotel Administrator). Along with my partner Khaled Azzam we own A-Z Tours and Action Travel in North America along with Travelocity Travel Egypt in Cairo, Egypt.

I have co-chaired Atlantic Canada Showcase an International Travel Trade Show, managed 450 volunteers for the Tall Ships Visit in July 2000, and was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia. In 1996 I hosted the president’s wives luncheon for the G7 conference. In 1988 I founded the Country Inn Association in Nova Scotia.

As an experienced speaker I have presented seminars for many years on subjects ranging from Marketing and Sales and Life Skills to Tourism, Travel and Real Estate, and operating an online Travel business.

I enjoy working with tourists to pass on my knowledge to help our clients make the most of their vacations. Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or travel inquiries.

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