Tuesday, May 12, 2009

794th Post - Things That Don't Make Sense in Halifax, Part Two

Post 777 of this blog inaugurated this occasional feature: Things In Halifax That Just Don't Make Sense (TIHTJDMS). These are things that may appear to be quaint or interesting, but if you spend any time thinking about them, they just don't make any sense.

Today, I will discuss this bar/restaurant, The Press Gang. I have never eaten there. The restaurant is a little above my pay grade, unless taking someone there would result in a healthy dividend, if you catch my drift.

I am sure that the quality of the food there is very high. I visited their website this evening, and it looks very nice inside. The menu prices are designed to keep riff raff away, so I stay away. For a while there, and perhaps even now, it was a trendy place to eat. Harrison Ford has eaten there. Judy Dench has been there. Other celebrities in town to do movies have been there too.

I want to comment on the name of the place.

The Press Gang.

What is a press gang?

Take a look at the second picture I took during my lunch hour. See those guys holding a club? Not very friendly-looking, are they?

A press gang back in old Halifax was a bunch of guys who would go around the city and club unsuspecting men over the head, or intoxicate them to the point of unconsciousness, before carrying them to a ship and tossing them in the hold. These guys would wake up out to sea and be forced, "pressed", or "impressed", into service. Refusal to work as hard as they were supposed to would probably result in a fatal swim.

This is not a chapter of Halifax history we should be proud of. Aware of, yes. Our history should be known by all. I have dozens of Halifax history books, and plenty of other history books about other parts of the province as well. I'm always seeking more. But we should not romanticize this stuff. These were not the "good old" days. It was a shameful part of our history.

I don't understand why a restaurant, especially an upscale one I can't afford to eat at, would want to name itself after this part of our history. What's next? A nice restaurant named "Titanic Survivors"? "Swiss Air Flight 111 Bistro"? "The Halifax ExplosINN"?

Like I said: The Press Gang just doesn't make sense.

Next in this occasional feature: Something that used to look really nice and clear, but not so much now.


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