• Ambassatours Gray Line

Let's Go To Georges Island National Historic Site

Updated: Nov 14

Parks Canada invites you to visit Georges Island National Historic Site in the heart of Halifax Harbour, the place the Mi’kmaq called Kjipuktuk or “The Great Harbour.” The island provides scenic views and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich history of Halifax.

Georges Island National Historic Site as seen from above
Georges Island National Historic Site drone photo. Credit: Parks Canada/M.Bayer

Georges Island officially opened to visitors during the summer 2020 and quickly proved to be the hottest ticket in town. In fact, tickets sold so well that the season was extended into the fall months.

The island and its fortifications played a large role as a prison, as an internment camp for Acadians, in the development of Nova Scotia, and in the defence of Canada. The underground complex beneath Fort Charlotte showcases a maze of tunnels which once housed the ammunition for the fort’s powerful guns in bomb-proof security. We suggest you take the guided tour while exploring the island tunnels as it's easy to get lost when venturing through on your own.

Photo of a guided tour in the tunnels on Georges Island National Historic Site.
Tunnels on Georges Island National Historic Site. Photo credit: Davey and Sky (daveyandsky.com)

Georges Island is one of five national historic sites in Halifax which are known collectively as the Halifax Defence Complex. The four other sites include York Redoubt National Historic Site, Fort McNab National Historic Site, Prince of Wales National Historic Site and Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. These and many other forts and batteries were constructed by the British and Canadian militaries. View a map of the sites by visiting this link.

A map that outlines Georges Island points of interest.
Georges Island points of interest map

If you feel a little extra adventurous during your visit, you may choose to take a self-guided walking tour of the main points of interest on the island including the Guncotton Tanks, Parade Square, “The Mi’kmaq” Interpretive Panel & “The Acadians” Interpretive Panel. To help you make the most of your exploration journey, Parks Canada has created a handy map to help you along the way. Please be sure to ask the interpretive staff for more information.

Parks Canada Perfect Picnic Lobster Roll with Kettle Chips and a Georges Island brochure/map.
Georges Island National Historic Site Parks Canada Perfect Picnic. Photo credit: Tom Joseph Scaria (Instagram @itstomjoseph)

While food & beverage items are not for sale on the island, you are more than welcome to bring snacks and drinks to enjoy while there. You can also pre-order a Parks Canada Perfect Picnic which will be ready for you when you arrive to board the ferry - we recommend the Atlantic Lobster Roll! In either case, please take trash and recyclables with you to dispose/recycle when you arrive back at Cable Wharf.

There's so much to discover on Georges Island and for those visiting the island for the first time, you may have important questions about your visit. We've included a list of such questions (and answers to those questions) below (these are also available on www.visitgeorgesisland.ca).

We truly hope you're able to satisfy your curiosity and plan to visit Georges Island National Historic Site!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I book tour tickets?

There are three ways to book ferry tickets to visit Georges Island:

• visit this website

• call Murphy's on the Water at 902-420-1015

• visit one of the Murphy's on the Water kiosk locations on the Halifax waterfront

Please note: you may find tickets are sold out. Please check back for cancellations or plan to visit in 2022.

How much does it cost?

2023 ticket information coming soon.

What if I have a Parks Canada Discovery Pass?

• Enjoy a discount with your Parks Canada Discovery Pass!

• If you book the Discovery Pass Holder Rate, please type your Discovery Pass number in the “notes” area of your reservation and have your pass available to present to staff when you arrive to board the ferry.

Do I have to buy tickets for a specific time/day?

• Advance booking is required to guarantee your space. Secure your reservation by booking a specific day, departure time, and tour.

How much time can I spend on the island?

• The ferry to Georges Island ticket is designed as a flex ticket, allowing you an open-ended return time.

• You must book a departure time from the Cable Wharf, but you can return on any vessel travelling from Georges Island to Cable Wharf. Please check schedule for availability.

Does the ferry operate in all weather?

• Georges Island will be closed when the ferry to Georges Island is cancelled due to heavy rains or unsafe conditions for travel by boat.

• Cancellations will be made by 9 pm the evening before (unless there are exceptional circumstances).

• Before you travel, please confirm the island will be open: check the Ambassatours Gray Line website, or call Parks Canada at 902-426-5080

Are dogs or other pets allowed on board the ferry and on the island?

• Pets or other animals are not permitted on board the ferry or on the island.

• Trained service and guide dogs are permitted.

Can private boats dock at Georges Island?

• Private boats may dock with complimentary daytime berthing during Parks Canada hours of operation only, subject to availability. Parks Canada admission fees apply to visitors arriving by private boat, canoe, or kayak.

• Signage at the wharf indicates designated areas.

• Daytime berthing is available through Develop Nova Scotia's marine program.

• Overnight berthing is not permitted.

• Marina Inquiries: Marina Office at marina@developns.ca or 902-229-2628

Is there anything available for sale on the island (such as food & drink)?

• There are no concession or retail outlets on the island.

• Please bring food and water (as required – see list below for other suggestions of what to bring).

• Some food, water, and other goods will be available for purchase onboard the vessel.

What should I bring to the island?

• Dress for the weather as visits are rain or shine and the experience is almost entirely outdoors:

• windproof and waterproof clothing, umbrella and rain boots in case of rain

• sturdy footwear (such as sneakers, hiking boots, etc.)

• sunscreen

• hat
• water
• food (as required)
• hand sanitizer

How do I properly dispose of trash & recycling?

• Please pack in and pack out and leave no trash or recycling on the island.

Are there washrooms facilities?

• All of the vessels that will be used for this excursion have washrooms

• There are compost toilets available on Georges Island.

Can I pre-order a boxed-lunch?

• Call Cable Wharf Kitchen & Patio at 902-420-1015 to pre-order boxed-lunches.

What is your smoking and alcohol policy?

• Smoking, vaping, and alcohol of any kind are forbidden on Georges Island.

• Smoking and vaping of any kind are forbidden on all vessels.

Georges Island National Historic Site as seen from the air
Georges Island National Historic Site

Sources: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ns/georges; visitgeorgesisland.ca

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