A TRUE HALIFAX LOVE STORY - Emma Fitzgerald
I moved to Halifax in 2004 after finishing my undergrad at the University of British Columbia. I was 21 years old and thought I was in love with a boy. One month into our relationship, we had decided to apply to architecture school together, and a future as husband and wife architects beckoned.
He did the research and chose Dalhousie for its work-term program, hoping that Nova Scotia might resemble Scotland, a place he loved. Since I loved the ocean, it seemed like a pretty good choice to me. By May, his place in architecture school was secured, but I still needed to take some math prerequisites. So I signed up for three correspondence courses and accepted a summer job in the Tobeatic wilderness, waitressing and teaching art at a luxury lodge.
The leaps of logic that those decisions took seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, including the belief I could teach myself linear algebra. I arrived solo in Halifax, and before making my way to the woods for the summer, I spent a few days in the city to secure accommodation for us during the school year. A friend from an undergrad exchange program picked me up from the airport. As we drove down tree-lined streets full of colourful houses so close to each other and hugging the sidewalk, I felt an excitement. This place was different, and I liked it.
My friend Krista Davis, a mainstay of the hip hop and art scene in Halifax, but then, like me, a young 20-something figuring it all out, told me definitively, “Tonight we are going to see Buck 65 at the Velvet Olive.” I nodded, not knowing what that meant. “And tomorrow night we are going to see Buck 65 again, at The Marquee.” I went to both shows, and was warmed by the fierce loyalty the local crowd had for this performer. He seemed to my west coast ears to be the east coast’s answer to Beck; he is now known to the rest of Canada as Rich Terfry, the host of the CBC radio show the Drive.
That first night at the Velvet Olive, a now defunct venue, I noticed a girl with amazing dance moves. We chatted in that way that people do in Halifax. The next day I received an email from my boyfriend; an apartment had a room for rent on Hunter Street, and could I go check it out? I did so, crossing the Commons, asking for directions to get to Cunard Street, which I mispronounced, setting me off track momentarily. When I got to the house on Hunter Street, Rosalynn, the dancer from the night before, answered. She and her roommate, Pete, were Nova Scotia College of Art and Design students, and the house was a kaleidoscope of art, sunlight and checkered floors. Not knowing that such coincidences were run-of-the-mill moments in Halifax, I took our two encounters in 24 hours as an auspicious sign (she would also be at The Marquee show that night). I said yes on the spot, and walked back towards downtown with a feeling of possibility; the Armory appeared to me to be a castle made from chocolate, and the Harbour Hopper circled the Citadel like a carousel ride at the fair.
You can say I fell in love with Halifax quickly. I saw its charm immediately, though I know for others it can take time to uncover and polish this sometimes ungainly little city. Luckily, unlike my relationship with my boyfriend, which didn’t survive the unforgiving demands of architecture school, my love has only deepened for this place. Twelve years later, Rosalynn, now known as Rosa, is a dear friend. Pete, aka Peter Diamond, is an accomplished illustrator in Austria. He is one of many Halifax artists who inspired me to take my habit of drawing all the time seriously. For that, I am grateful.
Emma Fitzgerald is the Hali-famous artist and illustrator known for producing works such as Hand Drawn Halifax, and the newly released Hand Drawn Halifax colouring book, both of which are available for purchase today: http://emmafitzgerald.ca/Hand-Drawn-Halifax