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Halifax, Nova Scotia
Metropolitan area
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Nickname(s): Warden of the North
RFBailey/Halifax2 is located in Nova Scotia
Location of Halifax, Nova Scotia
Coordinates: 44°38′55″N 63°34′31″W / 44.64861°N 63.57528°W / 44.64861; -63.57528
Country Canada
Province Nova Scotia
Municipality Halifax Regional Municipality
Founded 1749
Incorporated City 1842
Disincorporated to Community of the Halifax Regional Municipality April 1,1996
 • Metropolitan area 97.23 km2 (37.54 sq mi)
Highest elevation 119 m (390 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2006)
 • Metro 282,924
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
 • Summer (DST) ADT (UTC-3)
Canadian Postal code B3H to B3S
Area code(s) 902

Halifax (pronounced English pronunciation: /ˈhælɨfæks/) is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. With a population in the urban area of 282,924 in 2006[4]), it is the most populous urban area in Atlantic Canada.

The first permanent European settlement in the area was the establishment of the Town of Halifax in 1749, founded by the British government under the direction of the Board of Trade and Plantations under the command of Governor Edward Cornwallis in 1749[5]. Other towns and villages were settled throughout the region in the decades that followed. After a protracted struggle between residents and the Governor, the City of Halifax was incorporated in 1841.

In 1996 the provincial government amalgamated all municipal governments within Halifax County to create the Halifax Regional Municipality, a regional municipality comprising approximately 200 individual neighbourhoods and communities (place-names) for civic addressing grouped into 18 planning areas for zoning purposes. The former City of Halifax now forms the communities of Halifax Peninsula and Mainland Halifax. As a consequence, the term "Halifax" is used in a number of different ways. Usually, it refers to the former city or to the broader Halifax urban area, but is also sometimes used to describe the whole Halifax Regional Municipality.

Halifax is a major economic centre in eastern Canada with a large concentration of government services and private sector companies. Major employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, various levels of government, and the Port of Halifax. Halifax's urban area grew considerably during and after the World War II era and more recently since the discovery of oil and gas of Nova Scotia's Atlantic Coast in the late 1970s.

Unlike most capital cities, Halifax's status as the capital of Nova Scotia, and thus the seat of the provincial Crown, has never been granted or confirmed officially, by statute or in written form. Its position as the capital has formed through constitutional convention and usage, making its position as de facto capital a part of Nova Scotia's unwritten conventions of common law.

Residents of Halifax are referred to as 'Haligonians'.


Halifax is located at the western end of the Halifax Regional Municipality, on Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast.

The municipality measures approximately 165 kilometres (102.5 mi) in length between its eastern and western-most extremities, with the northern boundary usually being between 50-60 kilometres (30-37 mi) inland. It occupies an area of 5,577 square kilometres (2,353 sq mi)[1], covering approximately 10% of Nova Scotia, comparable to the entire province of Prince Edward Island. The coastline is heavily indented, accounting for its length of approximately 400 kilometres (250 mi).

The Halifax Urban Area is centred around Halifax Harbour, one of the largest inlets of that coastline. The original settlements of Halifax occupied a small stretch of land inside a palisade at the foot of Citadel Hill on the Halifax Peninsula, a sub-peninsula of the much larger Chebucto Peninsula that extends into the western side of the Harbour.

Directly across the harbour from the Halifax Peninsula is Dartmouth, and the two are linked by two suspension bridges, the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge and A. Murray MacKay Bridge. The downtown areas of Halifax and Dartmouth, which have been designated as Nova Scotia's Capital District, constitute the central business district.

The suburban area stretches beyond Mainland Halifax to the west, Cole Harbour to the east, and Bedford, Sackville and Windsor Junction to the north[2] The municipal government considers all of the urban, suburban and rural commutershed to be a part of the Halifax urban area.[citation needed]

With a poplulation of 282,924 in 2006[3], the Halifax urban area (including Dartmouth, Bedford, and other suburban areas) constitutes the most populous urban area on Canada's Atlantic coast, and the second largest coastal population centre in the country, after Vancouver, British Columbia.


Halifax's climate is heavily influenced by its location on Nova Scotia's Atlantic coast. The weather is usually milder or cooler than that of central Canada, with the temperature remaining (with occasional notable exceptions) between about -15°C and 35°C (5°F to 95°F) inland but the coast can be milder in the winter and cooler in the summer with the maritime influence.


Map of Town of Halifax, 1750

The Mi'kmaq called the area Jipugtug (anglicized as "Chebucto"), which means "the biggest harbour" in reference to present-day Halifax Harbour. There is evidence that bands would spend the summer on the shores of the Bedford Basin, moving to points inland before the harsh Atlantic winter set in. Examples of Mikmaq habitation and burial sites have been found throughout Halifax, from Point Pleasant Park to the north and south mainland.

Acadian period[edit]

Chebucto did not have a sizable permanent Acadian settlement, the closest being the settlements of Minas (later Windsor) and Pizquid. French warships and fishing vessels, requiring shelter and a place to draw water, certainly visited the harbour. The territory, which included much of the present-day Maritimes and Gaspé Peninsula, passed from French to English and even Scottish hands several times. In the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, Acadia was relinquished to England, however the boundaries of the ceasefire were imprecise, leaving England with what is today peninsular Nova Scotia, and France with control of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The colonial capital chosen was Annapolis Royal. In 1717, France began a 20-year effort to build a large fortified seaport at Louisbourg on present-day Cape Breton Island which was intended as a naval base for protecting the entrance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and extensive fishing grounds on the Grand Banks.

In 1745, Fortress Louisbourg fell to a New England-led force. In 1746 Admiral Jean-Batiste, De Roye de la Rochefoucauld, Duc d'Enville, was dispatched by the King of France in command of a French Armada of 65 ships. He was dispatched to undermine the English position in the new world, specifically at Louisbourg, Annapolis Royal, and most likely the eastern seaboard of the Thirteen Colonies.

The fleet was to meet in Chebucto (Halifax Harbour) on British-held peninsular Nova Scotia after crossing the Atlantic, take water and proceed to Louisbourg. Unfortunately, two major storms kept the fleet at sea for over three months. Poor water and spoiled food further weakened the exhausted fleet, resulting in the death of at least 2,500 men, including Duc d'Anville himself, by the time it arrived at Chebucto. After a series of calamities the fleet returned to France, its mission unfulfilled. 1016 men were left behind, buried along the western shore of the Bedford Basin. The ghost of Duc d'Anville is said to haunt George's Island, his original burial place, to this day.

English settlement[edit]

Between the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 and 1749, no serious attempts were made by Great Britain to colonize Nova Scotia, aside from its presence at Annapolis Royal and infrequent sea and land patrols. The peninsula was dominated by Acadian residents and the need for a permanent settlement and British military presence on the central Atlantic coast of peninsular Nova Scotia was recognized, but it took the negotiated return of Fortress Louisbourg to France in 1748 to prod Britain into action. British General Edward Cornwallis was dispatched by the Lords of Trade and Plantations to establish a city at Chebucto, on behalf of and at the expense of the Crown. Cornwallis sailed in command of 13 transports, a sloop of war, 1,176 settlers and their families.

Halifax was founded on June 21, 1749 below a glacial drumlin that would later be named Citadel Hill. The outpost was named in honour of George Montague-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax, who was the President of the British Board of Trade. Halifax was ideal for a military base, as it has what is claimed to be the second largest natural harbour in the world (this is contested by many locations - see largest harbours), and could be well protected with batteries at McNab's Island, the North West Arm, Point Pleasant, George's Island and York Redoubt. In its early years, Citadel Hill was used as a command and observation post, prior to changes in artillery which could range out into the harbour.

The town proved its worth as a military base in the Seven Years War as a counter to the French fortress Louisbourg in Cape Breton. Halifax provided the base for the capture of Louisbourg in 1758 and operated as a major naval base for the remainder of the war. The Sambro Island Lighthouse was constructed at the harbour entrance in 1758. A permanent Naval Yard was established in 1759. For much of this period in the early 1700s, Nova Scotia was considered a frontier posting for the British military, given the proximity to the border with French territory and potential for conflict; the local environment was also very inhospitable and many early settlers were ill-suited for the colony's virgin wilderness on the shores of Halifax Harbour. The original settlers, who were often discharged soldiers and sailors, left the colony for established cities such as New York and Boston or the lush plantations of the Virginias and Carolinas. However, the new city did attract New England merchants exploiting the near-by fisheries and English merchants such as Joshua Maugher who profitted greatly from both British miliary contracts and smuggling with the French at Louisbourg. The military threat to Nova Scotia was removed following British victory over France in the Seven Years War.

With the addition of remaining territories of the colony of Acadia, the enlarged British colony of Nova Scotia was mostly depopulated, following the deportation of Acadian residents. In addition, Britain was unwilling to allow its residents to emigrate, this being at the dawn of their Industrial Revolution, thus Nova Scotia invited settlement by "foreign Protestants". The region, including its new capital of Halifax, saw a modest immigration boom comprising Germans, Dutch, New Englanders, residents of Martinique and many other areas. In addition to the surnames of many present-day residents of Halifax who are descended from these settlers, an enduring name in the city is the "Dutch Village Road", which led from the "Dutch Village", located in Fairview.

The American Revolution and after[edit]

Halifax's fortunes waxed and waned with the military needs of the Empire. While it had quickly become the largest Royal Navy base on the Atlantic coast and had hosted large numbers of British army regulars, the complete destruction of Louisbourg in 1760 removed the threat of French attack. Crown interest in Halifax was reduced, and most importantly, New England turned its eyes west, to the French territory now available due to the defeat of Montcalm at the Plains of Abraham. By the mid 1770s the town was feeling its first of many peacetime slumps.

The American Revolutionary War was not at first uppermost in the minds of most residents of Halifax. The government did not have enough money to pay for oil for the Sambro lighthouse. The militia was unable to maintain a guard, and was disbanded. Provisions were so scarce during the winter of 1775 that Quebec had to send flour to feed the town. While Halifax was remote from the troubles in the rest of the American colonies, martial law was declared in November 1775 to combat lawlessness.

New Government House - 1819

On March 30, 1776, General William Howe arrived, having been driven from Boston by rebel forces. He brought with him 200 officers, 3000 men, and over 4,000 loyalist refugees, and demanded housing and provisions for all. This was merely the beginning of Halifax's role in the war. Throughout the conflict, and for a considerable time afterwards, thousands more refugees, often 'in a destitute and helpless condition'2 had arrived in Halifax or other ports in Nova Scotia. This would peak with the evacuation of New York, and continue until well after the formal conclusion of war in 1783. At the instigation of the newly-arrived Loyalists who desired greater local control, Britain subdivided Nova Scotia in 1784 with the creation of the colonies of New Brunswick and Cape Breton Island; this had the effect of considerably diluting Halifax's presence over the region.

During the American Revolution, Halifax became the staging point of many attacks on rebel-controlled areas in the Thirteen Colonies, and was the city to which British forces from Boston and New York were sent after the over-running of those cities. After the War, tens of thousands of United Empire Loyalists from the American Colonies flooded Halifax, and many of their descendants still reside in the city today.

Halifax was now the bastion of British strength on the East Coast of North America. Local merchants also took advantage of the exclusion of American trade to the British colonies in the Caribbean, beginning a long trade relationship with the West Indies. However, the most significant growth began with the beginning of what would become known as the Napoleonic Wars. By 1794, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, was sent to take command of Nova Scotia. Many of the city's forts were designed by him, and he left an indelible mark on the city in the form of many public buildings of Georgian architecture, and a dignified British feel to the city itself. It was during this time that Halifax truly became a city. Many landmarks and institutions were built during his tenure, from the Town Clock on Citadel Hill to St. George's Round Church, fortifications in the Halifax Defence Complex were built up, businesses established, and the population boomed.

Though the Duke left in 1800, the city continued to experience considerable investment throughout the Napoleonic Wars and War of 1812. Although Halifax was never attacked during the war of 1812, due to the overwhelming military presence in the city, many Naval battles occurred just outside the harbour. Most dramatic was the victory of the Halifax-based British frigate HMS Shannon which captured the American frigate USS Chesapeake and brought her to Halifax as prize. As well, an invasion force which attacked Washington in 1813, and burned the Capitol and White House was sent from Halifax. Early in the War, an expedition under Lord Dalhousie left Halifax to capture the Area of Castine, Maine, which they held for the entirety of the war. The revenues which were taken from this invasion were used after the war to found Dalhousie University which is today Halifax's largest university. The city also thrived in the War of 1812 on the large numbers of captured American ships and cargoes captured by the British navy and provincial privateers.

Saint Mary's University was founded in 1802, originally as an elementary school. Saint Mary's was upgraded to a college following the establishment of Dalhousie in 1818; both were initially located in the downtown central business district before relocating to the then-outskirts of the city in the south end near the Northwest Arm. Separated by only few minutes walking distance, the two schools now enjoy a friendly rivalry.

Present day government landmarks such as Government House, built to house the governor, and Province House, built to house the House of Assembly, were both built during the city's boom during this wartime period.

In the peace after 1815, the city suffered an economic malaise for a few years, aggravated by the move of the Royal Naval yard to Bermuda in 1818. However the economy recovered in the next decade led by a very successful local merchant class. Powerful local entrepreneurs included steamship pioneer Samuel Cunard and the banker Enos Collins. During the 1800s Halifax became the birthplace of two of Canada's largest banks; local financial institutions included the Halifax Banking Company, Union Bank of Halifax, People's Bank of Halifax, Bank of Nova Scotia, and the Merchants' Bank of Halifax, making the city one of the most important financial centres in colonial British North America and later Canada until the beginning of the 20th century. This position was somewhat rivalled by neighbouring Saint John, New Brunswick where that city's Princess Street laid claim to being the "Wall Street of Canada" during the city's economic hey-day in the mid-19th century.

Having played a key role to maintain and expand British power in North America and elsewhere during the 18th century, Halifax played less dramatic roles in the consolidation of the British Empire during the 19th century. The harbour's defences were successively refortified with the latest artillery defences throughout the century to provide a secure base for British Empire forces. Nova Scotian and Maritimers were recruited through Halifax for the Crimean War. The city boomed during the American Civil War, mostly by supplying the wartime economy of the North but also by offering refuge and supplies to Confederate blockade runners. The port also saw Canada's first overseas military deployment as a nation to aid the British Empire during the Second Boer War.

Incorporation, responsible government, railways and Confederation[edit]

Map of Halifax, 1894.
Halifax City Council, 1903

Later considered a great Nova Scotian leader, and the father of responsible government in British North America, it was the cause of self government for the city of Halifax that began the political career of Joseph Howe and would subsequently lead to this form of accountability being brought to colonial affairs for the colony of Nova Scotia. After election to the House of Assembly as leader of the Liberal party, one of his first acts was the incorporation of the City of Halifax in 1842, followed by the direct election of civic politicians by Haligonians.

Halifax became a hotbed of political activism as the winds of responsible government swept British North America during the 1840s, following the rebellions against oligarchies in the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada. The first instance of responsible government in the British Empire was achieved by the colony of Nova Scotia in January-February 1848 through the efforts of Howe. The leaders of the fight for responsible or self-government later took up the Anti-Confederation fight, the movement that from 1868 to 1875 tried to take Nova Scotia out of Confederation.

During the 1850s, Howe was a heavy promoter of railway technology, having been a key instigator in the founding of the Nova Scotia Railway, which ran from Richmond in the city's north end to the Minas Basin at Windsor and to Truro and on to Pictou on the Northumberland Strait. In the 1870s Halifax became linked by rail to Moncton and Saint John through the Intercolonial Railway and on into Quebec and New England, not to mention numerous rural areas in Nova Scotia.

The American Civil War again saw much activity and prosperity in Halifax. Merchants in the city made huge profits selling supplies and arms to both sides of the conflict (see for example Alexander Keith, Jr.), and Confederate ships often called on the port to take on supplies, and make repairs. One such ship, the Tallahassee, became a legend in Halifax as it made a daring escape from Federal frigates heading to Halifax to capture it.

After the American Civil War, the five colonies which made up British North America, Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, held meetings to consider Uniting into a single country. This was due to a threat of annexation and invasion from the United States. Canadian Confederation became a reality in 1867, but received much resistance from the merchant classes of Halifax, and from many prominent Halifax politicians due to the fact that both Halifax and Nova Scotia were at the time very wealthy, held trading ties with Boston and New York which would be damaged, and did not see the need for the Colony to give up it's comparative independence. After confederation Halifax retained its British military garrison until British troops were replaced by the Canadian army in 1906. The British Royal Navy remained until 1910 when the newly created Canadian Navy took over the Naval Dockyard.

World War I[edit]

It was during World War I that Halifax would truly come into its own as a world class port and naval facility. The strategic location of the port with its protective waters of Bedford Basin sheltered convoys from German U-boat attack prior to heading into the open Atlantic Ocean. Halifax's railway connections with the Intercolonial Railway of Canada and its port facilities became vital to the British war effort during the First World War as Canada's industrial centres churned out material for the Western Front. In 1914, Halifax began playing a major role in the First World War, both as the departure point for Canadian Soldiers heading overseas, and as an assembly point for all convoys (a responsibility which would be placed on the city again during WW2).

Halifax Explosion[edit]

Downtown Halifax, 1920

The war was seen as a blessing for the city's economy, but in 1917 a French munitions ship, the Mont Blanc, collided with a Norwegian relief ship, the Imo. The collision sparked a fire on the munitions ship which was filled with 2,300 tons of wet and dry picric acid (used for making lyddite for artillery shells), 200 tons of trinitrotoluene (TNT), 10 tons of gun cotton, with drums of Bezol (High Octane fuel) stacked on her deck. On December 6, 1917, at 9:05 am the munitions ship exploded in what was the largest man-made explosion before the first testing of an atomic bomb, and is still one of the largest non-nuclear man-made explosions. Items from the exploding ship landed five kilometers away. The Halifax Explosion decimated the city's north end, killing roughly 2,000 inhabitants, injuring 9,000, and leaving tens of thousands homeless and without shelter.

The following day a blizzard hit the city, crippling recovery efforts. Immediate help rushed in from the rest of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. In the following week more relief from other parts of North America arrived and donations were sent from around the world. The most celebrated effort came from the Boston Red Cross and the Massachusetts Public Safety Committee; as an enduring thank-you, for the past 30 years the province of Nova Scotia has donated the annual Christmas tree lit on the Boston Common.

Between the Wars[edit]

The city's economy slumped after the war, although reconstruction from the Halifax Explosion brought new housing and infrastructure as well as the establishment of the Halifax Shipyard. However, a tremendous drop in worldwide shipping following the war as well as the failure of regional industries in the 1920s brought hard-times to the city, further aggravated by the Great Depression in 1929. One bright spot was the completion of Ocean Terminals in the city's south end, a large modern complex to trans-ship freight and passengers from steamships to railways.

World War II[edit]

Halifax played an even bigger role in the Allied naval war effort of World War II. The only theatre of War to be commanded by a Canadian was the North Western Atlantic, commanded by the Admiral in Halifax. Halifax became a lifeline for preserving Britain during the Nazi onslaught of the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic, the supplies helping to offset a threatened amphibious invasion by Germany. Many convoys assembled in Bedford Basin to deliver supplies to troops in Europe. The city's railway links fed large numbers of troopships building up Allied armies in Europe. The harbour became an essential base for Canadian, British and other Allied warships. Very much a front-line city, civilians lived with the fears of possible German raids or another accidental ammunition explosion. Well defended, the city was never attacked although some merchant ships and two small naval vessels were sunk at the outer approaches to the harbour. However, the sounds and sometimes the flames of these distant attacks fed wartime rumours, some of which linger to the present day of imaginary tales of German U-Boats entering Halifax Harbour. The city's housing, retail and public transit infrastructure, small and neglected after 20 years of prewar economic stagnation was severely stressed. Severe housing and recreational problems simmered all through the war and culminated in a large-scale riot by military personnel on VE Day in 1945.


After World War Two, Halifax did not experience the postwar economic malaise it had so often experienced after previous wars. This was partially due to the Cold War which required continued spending on a modern Canadian Navy. However, the city also benefitted from a more diverse economy and postwar growth in government services and education. The 1960s-1990s saw less suburban sprawl than in many comparable Canadian cities in the areas surrounding Halifax. This was partly as a result of local geographies and topography (Halifax is extremely hilly with exposed granite not conducive to construction), a weaker regional and local economy, and a smaller population base than, for example, central Canada or New England. There were also deliberate local government policies to limit not only suburban growth but also put some controls on growth in the central business district to address concerns from heritage advocates.

The late 1960s was a period of significant change and expansion of the city when surrounding areas of Halifax County were amalgamated into Halifax: Rockingham, Clayton Park, Fairview, Armdale, and Spryfield were all added in 1969.

Halifax suffered the effects of short-sighted urban renewal plans in the 1960s and 70s with the loss of much of its heritage architecture and community fabric in large downtown developments such as the Scotia Square mall and office towers. However, a citizens protest movement limited further destructive plans such as a waterfront freeway which opened the way for a popular and successful revitalized waterfront. Selective height limits were also achieved to protect the views from Citadel Hill. However, municipal heritage protection has remained weak with only pockets of heritage buildings surviving in the downtown and constant pressure from developers for further demolition.

Another casualty during this period of expansion and urban renewal was the Black community of Africville which was demolished and its residents displaced to clear land for industrial use as well as for the A. Murray MacKay Bridge. The repercussions continue to this day and a 2001 United Nations report has called for reparations be paid to the community's former residents.

Restrictions on development were relaxed somewhat during the 1990s, resulting in some suburban sprawl off the peninsula. Today the community of Halifax is more compact than most Canadian urban areas although expanses of suburban growth have occurred in neighbouring Dartmouth, Bedford and Sackville. One development in the late 1990s was the Bayers Lake Business Park, where warehouse style retailers were permitted to build in a suburban industrial park west of Rockingham. This has become an important yet controversial centre of commerce for the city and the province as it used public infrastructure to subsidize multi-national retail chains and draw business from local downtown business. Much of this short-sighted subsidy was due to competition between Halifax, Bedford and Dartmouth to host these giant retail chains and this controversy helped lead the province to force amagamation as a way to end wasteful municipal rivalries. In the past few years, urban housing sprawl has even reached these industrial/retail parks as new blasting techniques permitted construction on the granite wilderness around the city. What was once a business park surrounded by forest and a highway on one side has become a large suburb with numerous new apartment buildings and condominiums. Some of this growth has been spurred by offshore oil and natural gas economic acitivity but much has been due to a population shift from rural Nova Scotian communities to the Halifax urban area. The new amalgamated city has attempted to manage this growth with a new master development plan.

Local government[edit]

During the 1990s, Halifax like many other Canadian cities, amalgamated with its suburbs under a single municipal government. The provincial government had sought to reduce the number of municipal governments throughout the province as a cost-saving measure and created a task force in 1992 to pursue this rationalization.

In 1995, an Act to Incorporate the Halifax Regional Municipality received Royal Assent in the provincial legislature and the Halifax Regional Municipality, or "HRM" (as it is commonly called) was created on April 1, 1996. HRM is an amalgamation of all municipal governments in Halifax County, these being the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth, town of Bedford, and Municipality of the County of Halifax. Sable Island, being part of Halifax County, is also jurisdictionally part of HRM, despite being located 180 km offshore.

Although cities in other provinces affected by amalgamation retained their original names, the new municipality is often referred by its full name or the initials "HRM" especially in the media and by residents of areas outside of the former City of Halifax. However, the communities outside of the former City of Halifax still retained their original placenames to avoid confusion with duplicate street names for civic addressing, media reference, emergency, postal and other services along with Halifax.


Halifax from the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge.

The urban area of Halifax is a major cultural centre within the Atlantic provinces. The municipality's urban core also benefits from a large population of post-secondary students who strongly influence the local cultural scene. Halifax has a number of art galleries, theatres and museums, as well as most of the region's national-quality sports and entertainment facilities. The municipality is home to many performance venues, namely the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, the Neptune Theatre, and The Music Room. Halifax also is the home to many of the regions major cultural attractions, such as Symphony Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, and the Neptune Theatre.

The region is noted for the strength of its music scene and nightlife, especially in the central urban core. See List of musical groups from Halifax, Nova Scotia for a partial list.

Halifax plays host to a wide variety of festivals that take place throughout the year, including: The Atlantic Film Festival, The Halifax Busker Festival, Greekfest, Gay Pride week, The Atlantic Jazz Festival, The Multicultural Festival, periodic Tall Ship events, and Shakespeare by the Sea, to name a few. Many of these celebrations have become world renowned over the past several years.

Halifax has also become a significant film-production centre, with many American and Canadian filmmakers using the streetscapes, often to stand in for other cities that are more expensive to work in. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has its Atlantic Canada production centres (radio and television) based in Halifax, and quite a number of radio and television programs are made in the region for national broadcast.

In general, Halifax is considered by many to be the cultural heart of the Maritime Provinces. The area has been able to maintain many of its maritime traditions, while opening itself to its ever-more multicultural population. The culture of Halifax and of Nova Scotia in general has and continues to be strongly influenced by the sea. There is a strong military presence in Halifax due to large naval and army bases in and around the municipality.


Halifax is home to a number of outdoor recreational opportunities, including numerous ocean and lake beaches, as well as rural and urban parks. The municipality has a host of organised community intramural sports, as well as varsity and intramural sports offered by public schools and post-secondary institutions and has extensive facilities.

The region is home to several professional and semi-professional sport franchises, such as the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, as well as a newly-announced Halifax Rainmen of the American Basketball Association (see also Sports teams in the Halifax Regional Municipality).

The region has also hosted several major sporting events, including the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championship, 2003 Nokia Brier, the 2004 Women's World Ice Hockey Championships, and the 2007 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship. From 1984 to 2007 , the region had been home to the CIS Men's Basketball Championship, however the tournament will be moved to Ottawa, Ontario starting in 2008.

In 2006, Halifax was selected as Canada's bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but withdrew from the international competition in advance of the November 9, 2007 selection date on March 8.

The municipality was selected as the host community for the 2011 Canada Winter Games in February 2007.


Halifax is the Maritimes' centre for broadcast and print media. CBC, CTV and Global Television all have regional television hubs in the municipality. CBC Radio has a major regional studio and there are also regional hubs for Rogers Radio and various private broadcast franchises, as well as a regional bureau for the Canadian Press/Broadcast News. Halifax has two rival daily newspapers, the broadsheet Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the tabloid Halifax Daily News. The latter also publishes several neighbourhood versions of its daily content such as the Sackville Weekly News, or the West End Weekly News. In addition, an alternative arts weekly, The Coast, is available. Frank Magazine provides the region with a weekly satirical and gossip magazine.

Argyle Street


Halifax is served by many modes of transportation.

Halifax Harbour is a major Canadian port used by numerous shipping lines, as well as the navy and coast guard and hosts a public ferry service connecting the urban core. The Halifax Port Authority's various shipping terminals constitute the eastern terminus of Canadian National Railway's transcontinental network. VIA Rail Canada provides overnight passenger rail service six days a week to Montreal with its train the Ocean.

Halifax Stanfield International Airport serves Halifax and most of the province, providing scheduled flights to domestic and international destinations. CFB Shearwater, an air force base, is located in the urban core on the eastern side of Halifax Harbour but is presently being decommissioned for fixed-wing aircraft.

The urban core is linked by the Angus L. Macdonald and A. Murray MacKay suspension bridges, as well as a network of 100-series highways which function as expressways. The Armdale traffic circle is a notorious choke point for vehicle movement in the western part of the urban core, especially at rush hour.

The urban core of Halifax is served by Metro Transit, which operates standard bus routes, bus-rapid transit routes, as well as the pedestrian-only harbour ferries. Established in 1752 , the municipality's ferry service is the oldest continuously running salt water ferry service in North America. [6]

Buildings and structures[edit]

Buildings in Downtown Halifax.

Halifax's urban core has a high proportion of historic buildings, however, municipal heritage laws do not prevent but only delay demolition and the municipality has no protected heritage districts. Preservationists and heritage advocacy organisations have attempted to prevent the demolition of the pockets of heritage buildings which survived urban renewal and high-rise development. Such groups have been criticised by development advocates for stunting the centralisation of urban growth and for stopping buildings from being built on empty land to preserve views from Citadel Hill.

Buildings of particular interest in the downtown core include:

The architecture of Halifax's south end is renowned for its Victorian houses. Dalhousie University's campus is often featured in films and documentaries. Dartmouth also has its share of historic neighbourhoods.

The urban core is home to several blocks of typical North American high-rise office buildings, however the waterfront of the Halifax Peninsula is governed by height restrictions which prevent buildings from obstructing certain sight line between Citadel Hill and Halifax Harbour and Georges Island. This has resulted in some modern high rises being built at unusual angles or locations.

Halifax as seen from Dartmouth

Major parks[edit]

Point Pleasant Park, a popular forested seaside park on peninsular Halifax.

Neighbourhoods at Amalgamation[edit]

Halifax skyline at night

Colloquial neighbourhood names[edit]

Official neighbourhood names[edit]

Historic neighbourhood names[edit]

Halifax "firsts" and other records[edit]


  • ^Note 1 : Thomas Raddall, Warden of the North.
  • ^Note 2 : Chapter 3: Dr. Thomas B. Akins, History of Halifax City, p. 85.


External links[edit]