Halifax man plans to wheel up the city's hardest hills

A Halifax man is climbing some of the city's toughest hills using his wheelchair, in the hopes of raising awareness of the difficulty of wheeling around the city.

Brian George is tackling Halifax's 12 steepest or longest uphill streets to raise money for charity

Brian George hopes to raise money for spina bifida research, plus awareness about those who use a wheelchair to access downtown public spaces and businesses. (Brett Ruskin / CBC)

A Halifax man plans to climb 12 of the city's longest and steepest hills to raise money for charity.

That would be a commendable accomplishment for anyone. But Brian George is doing it in a wheelchair.

"I'd like to think I'm a pretty strong guy," George said. "But it is definitely difficult."

Tuesday afternoon, he tackled George Street and Carmichael Street, two streets that connect the Halifax ferry terminal with the base of Citadel Hill near the town clock.

George has a tattoo on his forearm of a wheelchair symbol grasping a ninja sword. (His social media handle is "Wheelchair Ninja.")

As he pushed the wheels, his flexed forearm shifted the sword back and forth as if taunting the steep hill. 

He made it to the top well under his goal of 30 minutes. This fifth successful climb takes him near the halfway point on his topographical tour of the city.

List of hills George plans to climb:

  • Macdonald Bridge
  • Prince Street
  • Salter Street
  • Duke Street
  • Cowie Hill Road
  • Torrington Drive
  • Pioneer Avenue
  • Carmichael Street/George Street
  • Mount Edward Road
  • Glenwood Avenue
  • Larry Uteck Boulevard
  • Citadel Hill (both entrances)

George says the tour started as a personal challenge to see if he could do it, but it's grown into something more.

'Some areas could definitely be improved'

George says he wants to raise money for the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Nova Scotia. He was born with spina bifida, a condition in which the vertebrae, spinal cord, or both fail to develop properly in the fetus.

Brian George wheels up the steepest sections backwards. (Brett Ruskin / CBC)

In addition to research funding, George also wants to raise awareness.

"The hills are challenging, but it's more so about the buildings themselves," he said. "Getting into them, getting into washrooms. It's an old city. There are some areas that I feel could definitely be improved upon with very little construction."

He will end his tour of the city with a journey along the entirety of Barrington Street — a route that stretches nearly the whole length of the Halifax peninsula.

He is also challenging Mayor Mike Savage to join him (either in a wheelchair or on foot) to experience some of the difficulties in navigating the city in a wheelchair. 

About the Author

Brett Ruskin


Brett Ruskin is a reporter and videojournalist covering everything from local breaking news to national issues. He's based in Halifax.