Farmersgirl Kitchen

The Citadel, Halifax: Sporrans, Rifles and the School Room

Uncategorized | June 14, 2014 | By

You could be forgiven for thinking that I am posting about Scotland, but rather it is ‘New Scotland’: Nova Scotia.  I started my second day in Halifax with a visit to The Citadel Historic site, part of Parks Canada.  I arrived just at the Changing of the Guard, which happens every two hours so most visitors are likely to get the chance to see this impressive display.

My tour guide at The Citadel was Craig, who is the ‘School Master’ for the Citadel, that’s him standing in front of the fire in the soldier’s quarters.  When the Citadel was reconstructed and developed into a visitor attraction, they had to choose one regiment to be represented, there were many to choose from but they decided to feature the 78th Highlanders, hence the kilts and sporrans. It was fascinating to hear about the lives of the soldiers, how they cooked and ate and entertained themselves.  The lengths that the Army went to try to keep them at the Citadel rather than visiting the town, including  bringing in locally brewed beer which contributed to the fortune of Alexander Keith’s Brewery! It seems that no matter what was provided at the fort, it was unable to compete with the attractions of the town!

What impressed me most about the Citadel were the ‘soldiers’.  When I first arrived I thought they really were soldiers, but in fact, they are students who are recruited for the summer season. They are drilled and trained in soldierly skills and also in the history of the Citadel, so they can take visitors on tours of the site.  In addition to the 78th Highlanders, there is  an Artillery Regiment, who were learning how to fire the cannon and going over the drill time and again until  they become skilled enough to fire the 12 o’clock gun each day. The presence of these student soldiers, and other costumed characters, really brings the Citadel to life and makes it a living museum.

As a fan of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe stories (I’ve read all the books), which are based around the same period of history as the Citadel’s hey day, I recognised many aspects of the history of Citadel and the lives of the soldiers and was thrilled to see some rapid load and fire with an original rifle from the late 19th Century.  It was incredibly loud and you will see from the video clip that it made me jump!

One of the benefits of joining the Army was access to education and the School Room at the Citadel was the place where the soldiers  came to learn. Some would have been learning basic reading, writing and arithmetic, but the artillery required a higher level of knowledge including chemistry and geometry to ensure that the canon fire was effective and accurate.    My tour ended with a walk around the moat and the revelation of the remarkable star shape of the Citadel, and other impressive design features which  along with the strength of its position, made it a fort which was never attacked.

I would certainly recommend any visitor to Halifax to head to the Citadel and find out about the military history which is so much a part of the development of the town of Halifax.

This is the second in a series of posts about my trip to Nova Scotia,Read the first part of my Nova Scotia adventure: The Bridge, The Bison and the Four Poster Bed    and the next episode in my adventure involves a Food Tour of Halifax, I’m looking forward to re-living it!

You can follow me on Twitter: @FarmersgirlCook, Facebook: Farmersgirl Kitchen Instagram: FarmersgirlCook and the Pinterest Board  Atlantic Canada Eats which I share with Lavender and Lovage.  You can also follow the hashtags #AtlanticCanadaEats  #VisitNovaScotia and #ExploreCanada to see photos and posts on all of these social media sites.

Disclaimer: I was the guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and  Nova Scotia Tourism and all my flights, car hire, accommodation and meals were included, as well as all trips, excursions and special cookery sessions with local chefs. I’d like to thank the host organisations and everyone who made this a truly memorable trip.
Photo Montage templates from The Coffee Shop   


  1. Leave a Reply

    belleau kitchen
    June 15, 2014

    i'm loving all these memories from your trip… as I mentioned before, I've never really thought about visiting Canada but after seeing yours and Karen's posts I really want to go!

  2. Leave a Reply

    Karen S Booth
    June 15, 2014

    Fabulous Janice! I know you told me all about this when we were in Halifax, but it is so nice to see the video and the photos too! I I also love the Sharpe books, and those student "soldiers" look so professional. Can't want to read your next Atlantic Canada instalment! Karen

  3. Leave a Reply

    Jacqueline Meldrum
    June 15, 2014

    Isn't it funny how they took Scotland with them? They must have been in two minds about leaving to take so much of Scotland with them. What a great day,

    • Leave a Reply

      June 16, 2014

      It was actually the British Army who were there Jac and that included the Scottish regiments, but there is a lot of affection for the Scots and everyone wants to tell you about their Scottish ancestors.

  4. Leave a Reply

    June 15, 2014

    Now that is a real hoot Janice – soldiers who are not soldiers and fake Scottish soldiers at that. Videos were good.

  5. Leave a Reply

    Heidi Roberts
    June 15, 2014

    Looks like you had a great time and a very historic place. Bet you felt right at home!!

  6. Leave a Reply

    June 16, 2014

    How fascinating, it looks really interesting. Its great how the scottish traditions live on

    • Leave a Reply

      June 16, 2014

      Canadians in Nova Scotia are very proud of their heritage and many of them are more Scottish than the Scots!

  7. Leave a Reply

    June 16, 2014

    I'm sorry but I laughed out loud and just had to watch again when you jumped after the shot! very cool blog post. 🙂

  8. Leave a Reply

    Sisley White
    June 16, 2014

    It was lovely to read about your trip. I love the historical bits you've put in. I really enjoyed reading about it. X

    • Leave a Reply

      June 16, 2014

      Thanks Sisley, I love to find out the history of a country, it helps to put things in context. Glad you enjoyed it, there are many more stories to come!

    • Leave a Reply

      June 19, 2014

      Thanks Bintu, the changing of the guard was very similar to the British one, as the students were representing the British Army of the 19th Century and I don't think it's changed that much!

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