HALIFAX -- Despite being over 1,500 kilometres away, many Maritimers were closely following events in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday’s U.S. presidential inauguration swearing in Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States was must-see TV for many Maritimers.

In Halifax, the inauguration was a happy distraction over the lunch hour at a popular downtown restaurant.

Mike Doiron says the Trump-era didn’t represent the real spirit of our neighbours to the South.

“I’m glad this over,” said Doiron. “I think it’s time to turn the page, and I know we’ll see more positive things coming from the new President that now we will be taking that position.”

Hope was a theme of the day for Americans living in the Maritimes, especially card carrying democrats.

“The Trump administration was really chaotic,” says Rachel Brickner, Chair of the Atlantic chapter of Democrats Abroad. “I think the most important thing is a return to stable governance.”

Whether it is ex-pat Americans now living in Canada, or Maritimers on the streets, nearly everyone seems to think that the inauguration of President Joe Biden marks a change of historic proportions.

“Oh I think it’s wonderful, it’s certainly a new start for America, and it certainly puts my mind at rest,” said one resident of Sydney, N.S.

“Four years is a long time, but it’s good to have him and it’s a change,” added another Sydney resident. “I think Biden will build relations with other countries, as compared to Trump.”

“It’s a good sign of things to come for us,” adds Brock Maskow, a server at a Halifax restaurant. “Seeing that there’s a peaceful transfer of power is a hopeful sign.”

Rhonda Britton, an American pastor at Halifax’s New Horizons Baptist Church, is optimistic that the Biden-Harris team is just what America needs.

“Some sense of this is who a President is,” says Britton. “This is what a President does right? You don’t sow discord and unrest, you try to calm and bring together.”

A change of the guard in the world’s most powerful country, while the rest of the planet watched with vested interests of their own.

“The last four years, it’s just been chaos,” adds Walter Doue, a Cape Bretoner who lived in Texas for decades.

Doue says he watched Wednesday’s inauguration with the most hope he’s had in years for a country he still loves, but currently feels is, in his words, tarnished.

“Truly I hope that the temperament calms down in the U.S., I would love to go back and visit.”

The U.S. Consulate General in Halifax released a statement on Wednesday, saying it looks forward to ‘strengthening and promoting the relationship between the two countries”.

“It’s the end of a very chaotic and difficult presidency, certainly for many Americans, and I think certainly for Canada,” says David Johnson, a political scientist at Cape Breton University.

Johnson says it’s a chance for improved cross-border relations not only when it comes to trade and economics, health care, and the environment, but perhaps most important of all, seeing the end of the Coronavirus pandemic.

“We want to get that border back open with the United States, and that is contingent on both us and the Americans getting COVID-19 under control,” says Johnson.

On Wednesday, Biden’s administration confirmed that the President’s first call to a foreign leader will be to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this Friday.

Johnson expects one of the topics of discussion to be the recent cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Doue says that in his opinion, Donald Trump goes down as the worst president in U.S. history. But he says another step needs to happen before he gets high hopes for change.

“I think the first thing that has to start is some healing,” says Doue. “There has to be some healing in the United States.

A historic inauguration that had many Maritimers tuned in to what was happening south of the border, with hope for better relations with our nearest neighbours going forward.