The first object that catches your attention is the Sambro Island Lighthouse lens, which lit the way for mariners as they sailed into Halifax Harbor from 1906 to 1967. The bronze and glass lens was then replaced by an airport-type beacon and brought to the museum.
The first-floor exhibits recount Nova Scotia’s maritime history and that of the Royal Canadian Navy. At the time of my visit, a diorama depicting the Halifax Naval Yard in June 1813 was under construction. When completed, the diorama will display the arrival of the captured USS Chesapeake under escort of the HMS Shannon during the War of 1812. In the gallery, there are several artifacts from the Chesapeake, such as a chest and mess kettle. Throughout the museum are hundreds of other naval artifacts, taken from shipwrecks or given as sailors’ souvenirs.
Also in the first-floor exhibits is an open contact mine, which allows visitors to see its inner workings. Finally, toward the far end of the first floor and facing the water lies the Small Craft Gallery, where visitors can experience up close boats from different periods of Halifax Harbor’s history.