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Guided Tour - The Hydrostone

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The Hydrostone neighbourhood is a melting pot of unique shops. Staying true to the pre-Halifax Explosion architecture, the concrete stone draped with vines is sure to make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Take a stroll through this historical area where you can grab an authentic French pastry, sit in the park and get back to your roots.

Down on the "Brooklyn" side of the Hydrostone Market, Gaétan Lang picks up his favourite pair of Bruno Choussignand frames. The metal frames reflect the bright display lights and all of the striking shapes are revealed. This designer is one of four recruits featured in Lang Optometry & Eyewear's spring and summer collections.

After seven years in business at this location, Lang has experienced a fashion upgrade. The new designers that are exclusive to Lang's are showcasing a refreshing '80s comeback style with a twist. The frames are handcrafted and made with love.

Selling is a second nature to Gaétan. He caters each unique set of frames to match your personality. He creates a look for you—shaping and measuring to ensure your satisfaction, and to help you step out of your comfort zone. Your odds of running into someone with the same glasses as you are slim to none, if you shop at Lang's. Lang Optometry & Eyewear, 5550 Kaye Street

Next door to Lang's, we have the newly renovated Assante Hydrostone. The wealth management company has been firmly rooted in the Hydrostone since 2010. Recently expanded, with an additional 26,000 square feet and a street-level reception area, Assante Hydrostone is even more accessible to their clients. 

Their holistic approach to wealth planning examines a client's investment goals, retirement and estate plans, and more. The full-service company creates a complete financial plan to carry their clients through to retirement, and their diverse team works together to achieve their clients' goals.

A proud supporter of many local charities, including Feed Nova Scotia and the Children's Wish Foundation, Assante Hydrostone also sponsors the neighbourhood's annual tree-lighting ceremony, a highlight of the holiday season. Assante Hydrostone is a true cornerstone of the community.  Assante Hydrostone, 5548 Kaye Street

If you need a real north end connoisseur, Edie Hancock is both your friend and your realtor. She has been in real estate for more than 30 years, and has been building relationships from the beginning of her career. Most of her clients consist of travellers, artists and those who love good food and wine.

Edie enjoys meeting like-minded home buyers and showing them why she, herself, lives and thrives in the Hydrostone area.

Now that the construction in downtown Halifax has commercialized a lot of that area, the north end is easier to commute to work from. There is a strong element of safety, and a solid sense of property values in the area. Long-established homes, large trees and unique shopping and dining makes this neighbourhood something special, and really brings the community together. Let Edie show you the wonders of this part of Halifax! Edie Hancock, 800-616-9944

How can you tell the fake stuff from "the real McCoy?" One sip, that's all it takes. When you walk into Liquid Gold Tasting Bar & All Things Olive, it'll hit you. The aroma coming from olive oil is one that you didn't know existed.

Two things will happen when you try the real McCoy: First, you'll be stunned at the flavour and mouthfeel. You'll notice the character and the sparkle. Next, you'll be angry with yourself for cooking with the fake one, and you didn't even know it.

It's all about the education and experience when you walk through Liquid Gold's doors. You'll learn about health and everyday food that tastes better than you'd expect. Then you'll turn to the person next to you, and share a recipe that you just invented with the cinnamon pear balsamic and lime oil mix. Nothing else would have brought you together, and yet conversation sparks. That's what happens at Liquid Gold. They extend the olive oil branch of the artisan tree. Liquid Gold Tasting Bar & All Things Olive, 5525 Young Street

Going up the stairs at 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery, you wouldn't expect the bright and open space ahead. The colours pop from the ocean blue oil paintings on the left, and straight ahead you have four more rooms to explore. Whether you're visiting the Hydrostone as a local, or as the average traveller with ties to Nova Scotia, you'll be tempted to buy a work of art.

The gallery is non-intimidating and has a jack-of-all-traits feel, boasting a little piece of art for everyone. With the average price being $600, it is easy for a first-time art buyer to take the bait. But be careful—once you buy one of these original works, it's a slippery slope. Many of the pieces sell online before they even arrive in studio.

The gallery features local artists but doesn't limit to the province. Before 14 Bells opened this year, there had been no large gallery space in the north end, and with the abundance of local talent, it was about time. 14 Bells Fine Art Gallery, 5523 Young Street

Bonjour! Tu parles francais? Super. You don't speak French? No problem. Alliance Française Halifax has you covered. Though the employees immediately greet you in French, they won't judge you for looking confused. You come here to learn and engage in conversation, even if you make a mistake.

Alliance Française Halifax blends into this cultural bit of the city, and has for 20 years. The centre hosts classes of 10 students, in rooms where the windows let in the sweet aroma of the bakery next door. If that doesn't help you learn, what will?

The centre has four missions: To teach French as a second language, to provide resources in multiple versions of the language, to be an examination centre for proficiency tests and to host cultural events. You are welcome to converse over some wine and cheese, or come to a movie screening and listen to the French language. Tout le monde est bienvenue. Alliance Française Halifax, 5509 Young Street

At home, you can peek over your mom's shoulder while she's cooking. At Mother's Pizza, you don't have to resist the urge. Their open concept kitchen invites you right in because when you're here, you're with family—well, it's more like visiting that one wacky uncle. Tyson Wachter and his band of "Capricorns" bring a goofy, comfortable, and mystical pizza experience to the Hydrostone. (No, not the Julia Roberts film.)

When he's not trying to be photographed in a wizard costume, Tyson Wachter is specializing in pizza science. Having studied under a northern Italian cook, he picked up a raw, tangy plum-tomato sauce recipe that he pairs with a flavourful sourdough crust that the staff has been raising and feeding. Most of the staff has been with the company since opening, and have watched customers grow with them. The pizza ingredients, like the restaurant interior itself, are locally sourced and handmade. Feeling homesick? Mother's Pizza has the cure. Mother's Pizza, 5710 Young Street

Once you've rolled out of dinner at Mother's Pizza, flop onto the most comfortable futon you've ever sat on. The Futon Store brings in high-quality, modern furniture that is mostly made in Canada, and you won't be able to turn it down.

 In its brand-new building, you have two floors to choose from. (Your eyes won't be able to stop moving.) With 1,000 fabrics and prints to choose from, you can spend hours debating which panel matches best with your home decor. To make redesigning easier, the boutique even has bar stools, bedroom furniture, dining room tables and chairs. It may be called The "Futon" Store, but it's so much more than that.

There is complete freedom in what you do or how you can design your futon. Gone are the days where you need to work hard at matching the mattress with the frame and the cover—The Futon Store does it for you. The sky is the limit, and they probably have that design too. The Futon Store, 5730 Young Street

To wind up our tour, head back to Hydrostone Park. While you're sitting in the park, maybe sipping on some coffee, take a peek over towards Kaye Street and see the bright mustard doors of the townhouses at the new St. Joseph's Square development. You may have just found your new home.

The unique building design incorporates various historical elements from St. Joseph's Catholic Church, including three stained glass windows featured on the building's monument wall. The development consists of 106 designer rental suites and 6,000 square feet of commercial space designed and developed by Dexel Architecture and Dexel Developments.

The designers used some of the Hydrostone architectural design standards for inspiration while creating the townhouses and commercial space, to allow the building to appropriately blend within the Hydrostone community.

Residents of St. Joseph's Square enjoy plenty of amenities including a resident lounge, outdoor green space and fitness centre. Living in St. Joseph's Square is ideal for urbanites seeking a smaller, neighbourhood feel. Here, within an exceptional community, you'll find not only an apartment—you'll feel right at home.

St. Joseph's Square, 5450 Kaye Street

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