** Note: we have updated the title and some details of this article to reflect the new name of the Peace and Friendship Park ***

Good service is when the head chef comes out to ask you if you enjoyed the buffet and then assists you with your coat when it’s time to leave; when the pot of tea you ordered is served properly, with boiling hot water and the tea bag inside the pot (not in a paper envelope, sitting on your saucer), or when the maître d discovers it’s your husband’s special day, and discreetly enquires as to whether the birthday boy would like a special piece of birthday cake to follow his bacon and eggs.

Good service is when the waitress, noticing that you’ve got your hands full with young kids, thoughtfully moves the coffee cups and glasses away from danger, and throughout the meal, dutifully clears food, empty cereal boxes and half-eaten sugar packages from the table just as fast as the little monkeys can make a mess.

Cornwallis Park Playground

The train-themed playground at Cornwallis Park/photo: Helen Earley

Although Elements on Hollis is well-known in Halifax for their elaborate Sunday afternoon brunch, we prefer to turn up at breakfast-time, when for nearly half the price of the brunch, you can get a full hot and cold buffet breakfast, with all the things kids like to eat: eggs, sausages, cereal, muffins, smoothies and waffles. At Elements, children aged 5-12 eat half price, and kids under five eat free, so in fact, it’s only slightly more expensive than a morning out at Jim’s or the Esquire, along the Bedford Highway – our usual haunts.

This Sunday, after the special birthday breakfast, we took the kids to the VIA Rail train station, which is located about 30 seconds away, on the other side of the Westin Nova Scotian Hotel. (If you have a child under 2 years old, they are going to love the ramp that connects these two buildings.) It was virtually empty, so we peered out at the train and had an impromptu treasure hunt (“who can be the first to find a clock? who can be the first to find a ship?”) before heading across the street to a revamped train-themed playground in Cornwallis Park.

Edward Cornwallis Park Statue Halifax

Edward Cornwallis: a controversial figure/Photo: Helen Earley

Away from the hustle and bustle of the nearby Seaport Market, in the shadow of that controversial statue. In the same year that he founded Halifax, Cornwallis also ordered a ‘scalping proclamation’ with a bounty for anyone who murdered a Mi’kmaq person. (Update:  the statue has now been removed)

The small playground offers a pretty good city experience with climbing frames, a tunnel and two slides: a wide, classic metal slide and a gentle spiral. New this spring, several park benches designed as train carriages sit along a faux-track, perfect kids to leap across, or for parents to sit on.

Across the road is the Barrington Street Atlantic Superstore. I considered dashing in for a few essentials while hubby watched the kids play, but I was having such a nice time just sitting on those benches, that I resisted the urge to buy milk and toilet paper.

After a fantastic breakfast, and a lovely time at the playground, I didn’t want to ruin the perfect Sunday morning.

Playground Cornwallis Park Halifax

Inside the train-themed playground at Cornwallis Park/Photo: Helen Earley