Halifax: The biggest small town you’ll ever live in

They say the world has six degrees of separation, but this city has only one.

click to enlarge MOLLIE CRONIN

It happens to all of us sooner or later: After a few years of living in HRM, you realize everyone knows everyone and this city of 400,000 starts to feel awfully small.

(Small-town-Halifax syndrome extends to journalism as well, so this is the requisite disclaimer that I’m previously acquainted with some of the following interview subjects.)

For Emily Roberts, it started about five years after she moved to Halifax. One of her best friends had recently started dating a new guy, and although she hadn’t met him yet, she’d only heard good stories.

Roberts, originally from Truro, had come to Halifax for university. She was excited about the potential the city held and felt like it was an opportunity to get away from the small town she grew up in.

“No matter where you’re going, as long as you’re not in that small town, it feels like it’s going to be a change,” Roberts says.

But when she finally met her friend’s mystery man, she had the unfortunate realization that she not only knew him from high school, he’d actually bullied her.

“Of course it meant nothing to him,” she says. “But I have held onto that my entire life, since the moment it happened.”

The friend, who Roberts met through mutual friends about three years ago, still doesn’t know.

“I haven’t had the guts to tell her yet,” she says. “I tried to not bring it up and to get over it as best as I could, but it’s hard to me to see my friend now because she spends so much time with him.”

Julianne Steeves had been living in Halifax for about four years when she and her close friend almost ended up double-dating the same guy.

She’d met him on Tinder. He seemed nice, friendly and played in a local band. The day before their date, her friend started telling Steeves all about the date she’d been on that same week.

“She was showing me pictures of this guy she went on a date with,” Steeves says. “As she was telling me about it, I looked at the pictures and was like, ‘Oh no, I’m scheduled to go on a date with this same guy.’”

The friends decided to lean into the coincidence.

“She thought it was funny,” says Steeves. “I did eventually go on a date with him. It didn’t go anywhere really. I think we played Super Mario once.”

Although the romance with Halifax band-guy didn’t work out for either of them, they did go to a couple of his shows.

“We got a shoutout from the Seahorse stage,” says Steeves.

Ryan Floyd didn’t get any band shoutouts, but he did experience a rare case of bedroom deja vu. It’s a symptom of the city’s small, interconnected queer community.

“All the gays in Halifax know each other,” says Floyd, who moved here from New Brunswick about six years ago. “They’ve dated each other and they all snoop on each other’s business.”

A few summers ago he met someone new and the two hit it off.

“We were chatting online, and he was like, ‘Come on over,’” says Floyd. When he got the address, Floyd recognized it but didn’t think twice. “I was like, well I’ve probably been on this street before,” he says. “But I get to the house and it turns out to be where my ex lived for the whole time we dated.”

Once inside, he realized the new date as actually living in the exact same bedroom. In fact, he was subletting it from Floyd’s ex.

“It was extremely awkward in the moment,” he says. “I will say that the new guy had a much better bed than my ex did. I could actually fit in the bed that the second guy had, because the ex had a twin bed. It was awful.”

Despite the awkwardness, Floyd laughs about it now.

“As it was happening,” he says, “I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a funny story someday.’ And here I am.”

About The Author

Victoria Walton

Victoria has been a full-time reporter with The Coast since April 2020, covering such topics as COVID-19, small business and politics. Originally from the Annapolis Valley, she graduated from the University of King’s College School of Journalism in 2017.

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