Harry Houdini honed his craft in Halifax

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Harry Houdini honed his craft in Halifax

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Harry Houdini was an international legend.

Performing illusionist acts such as escaping from a straight-jacket underwater and surviving being buried alive were just a couple of the death-defying footprints he left behind in his legacy.

But, who would have thought Houdini had a connection to Halifax, Nova Scotia?


Houdini didn’t simply visit the province, he lived here for a month in 1896 as a young, aspiring illusionist. At 22 years old, Halifax and Dartmouth were crucial to his success as a world-famous magician.

His first headlining performance outside of the United States was performed in Dartmouth, and his first-ever jail break was performed at Halifax City Hall.

The City Hall (built between 1887 and 1890) at that time had an area that served as a jail.


In fact, just recently, in 2013, there was a Houdini séance (an organized attempt to communicate with spirits) held on the anniversary of his death.

Houdini died on Halloween in 1926 at age 52 and promised his wife that he would communicate with her from the afterlife.

Special thanks to local author, Bruce MacNab, for connecting all of the dots in Houdini’s Halifax history.


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Halifax’s old, mysterious network of underground tunnels

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Just when we hear there’s an underground river hidden beneath the streets of downtown Dartmouth, the same week it’s reported that mysterious century-old bundles of clothes have been found in one of Halifax’s oldest and most historic homes — our city does, in fact, continue to surprise us.

Check this out:

Not much is known about it, but there is a secret network of tunnels that runs below the streets of downtown Halifax.


It’s said that they link the harbour to Citadel Hill, with a known opening in the floorboards of the Halifax Club on Hollis Street.

Caption reads: "Halifax journalist Barbara Hinds is shown exploring the tunnel under Prince Street on September 13, 1976. Photo courtesy: Lee Wamboldt"

Caption reads: “Halifax journalist Barbara Hinds is shown exploring the tunnel under Prince Street on September 13, 1976. Photo courtesy: Lee Wamboldt”

It remains pretty mysterious as to what the tunnels were (or are) used for, or how many of them truly still exist, but many think they served a militaristic purpose.

Take a look at this YouTube video (courtesy of the Halifax Commoner) to get a better idea.


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Sable Island: The Graveyard of the Atlantic

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Though barely any Haligonians ever get to visit the sandy, windy shores of Sable Island, the small 34 kilometre-long sandbar is, in fact, part of HRM, falling under District 13 of the municipality.

The narrow, crescent-shaped, curious and very historic island sits about 175 kilometres off the coast of Nova Scotia, and is home to about five people year-round.

What makes this teeny, seemingly-insignificant island so fascinating is both its shipwreck history and its natural wildlife.


For hundreds of years, hundreds of ships have crashed into the sandbars surrounding the small island, leaving behind a haunting network of watery graves.

Take a look at this map showing some of the island’s recorded wrecks:

Some pretty somber statistics.

Some pretty somber statistics.


And, remnants of the Andrea Gail – the vessel that tragically fell victim to the elements in the 1991 “Perfect Storm”  — have been found on the shores of Sable, including an empty life boat and an emergency radio beacon, nine days after the crew was last heard from.


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There are thousands of people buried on the grounds of the Spring Garden Rd. library

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Our first tweet (posted July 4), is one of the most fascinating — and shocking — Halifacts out there.

The Spring Garden Road Memorial Library was built on the grounds of a “poor house” (a makeshift residency for all sorts of “outcasts” — widows, orphans, criminals and disabled people, to name a few).

Pretty crazy, right?

The people who lived there, when they died, were buried in the yard surrounding the home, not being deemed fit for burial at St. Paul’s Cemetery across the street,  now known as the Old Burying Ground.

It’s not known now many people were buried on the library grounds, but it’s most definitely in the thousands (not hundreds, like our tweet mentioned).

Careful you don’t step on too many unmarked graves next time you’re taking the shortcut to Grafton Street!