North End & North Street

Building Communities

Overview

In 1917, Halifax was a divided city, shaped by racial segregation, class distinctions, and differences in religious affiliations. 100 years later, how much has changed? In this part of the city, the work of repairing, uniting and building communities continues.

The route is a suggestion, but feel free to wander and explore. You may contribute your own photos, videos and comments along the way.

Stay safe in the debris field.

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Ground Zero

1 0 A 1917 Map
1 0 B Blast Cloud
1 0 C Assembly Hall
In the decades since the explosion, the Graving Dock and Shipyard businesses grew, and now they are both part of the Irving empire. The Irving Shipyard is where Canada’s east coast Navy procurement program is centred; Arctic patrol vessels are being assembled here now. They will play an important role in the Canadian Arctic, as climate change frees up the waterways, and resources, that are now locked in ice.

Ground Zero, where the SS Mont-Blanc exploded, is next to where Pier 6 stood at the foot of Richmond Street. This location is now within the Halifax Shipyard, Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

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Welcome to the Debris Field

Here, we are as close as we can get to Ground Zero. Welcome to the Debris Field

00 Africville Walk Dec 7 1917
These four women are walking from Africville towards downtown Halifax, in the days following the explosion. But who are they? What were their names? The Africville Museum would like to know more about them and their connection to Africville. You can let us know if you have any information. Image courtesy of Toronto Archives, William James Collection.
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Fleet Club

The Fleet Club is a social venue for sailors in the junior ranks in the Navy. Halifax has a long history as a garrison town and navy port. Providing opportunities for sailors to socialize is part of life here during wartime and in peace. The Halifax Explosion took the lives of many sailors and soldiers who were here in the city, and those who survived helped with the rescue and recovery efforts. The new Fleet Club at this location is a reminder of the ongoing presence of the military in our city.

9 2 1 Fleet Club 1
9 2 2 Fleet Club 2
9 2 3 Fleet Club
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Admiralty House

Just up the hill from the harbour is the Naval Museum of Halifax, in what was known as Admiralty House. It was used as a hospital during WW1, and sustained serious damage during the Halifax Explosion. Fragments from the Mont-Blanc crashed through the north east corner of the roof, and were found years later, embedded in the rafters.

Admiralty House 3
Admiralty House 1
Admiralty House 2
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Niobe Anchor

The HMCS Niobe was the first ship in the Royal Canadian Navy and was tied up here on the harbourfront when the explosion happened. The anchor chain snapped in the blast, and the anchor was lost until excavations took place in October 2014. A fragment of the rusted surface of the anchor is being exhibited by NiS+TS at the NS Archives, December 2017. https://archives.novascotia.ca/chase-gallery

A CBC story about the lost anchor can be found at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/hmcs-niobe-anchor-damaged-in-halifax-explosion-found-1.2806106’

Niobe Rust 1
Niobe Rust 2
7 13 3  Niobe Anchor 1
Niobe Anchor 2
7 13 5  Niobe Anchor 3
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Halifax Train Station

Africville3 13And2 11 Train Station
The main Halifax train station at the time of the explosion was located closer to the waterfront, not far from where the footing of the bridge is now, near Valour Way. The blast of the explosion caused the glass roof of the station to smash and collapse onto the platforms and waiting areas below. Image courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives, Photo Drawer - Places - Halifax - Explosion, 1917 - Postcards. Negative: N-822
9 5 2 Halifax Train Station 2017
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City Speaks in Drums

Shauntay Grant is a poet and spoken word artist who grew up in the Halifax area. She is also a great observer of contemporary urban life. In this audio excerpt, she shares some of her work about the city today. https://shauntaygrant.com/spoken-word-music.

Artist Susan Tooke has captured the spirit of the local community in her images here and on the next POI. You can see more work by both in their book, City Speaks in Drums, available from Nimbus Publishing.

Audio
9 6 Shauntay City Speaks Audio
9 6 A Young Child Runs Stick
9 6 B Bounce
Images by Susan Tooke: www.susantooke.com
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North Street

North Street is often regarded as the boundary between the ‘North End’ and the ‘South End’ of Halifax. It is also marked by the ramp to the Angus L. Macdonald bridge, which did not exist at the time of the Halifax Explosion. Artist Susan Tooke has captured the spirit of the local community in her images here and on the previous point of interest. For more, see her website: www.susantooke.com

9 7 A Illustration Joes Market
9 7 B Im Gonna Catch You
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Gentrification

The North End of Halifax has grown significantly in the last 100 years. Some of the houses that survived the Halifax Explosion have been gentrified in the past few decades. Many artists live on these streets, which are close to a number of new small galleries, boutiques, coffee shops and restaurants.

9 8 A Hermes 01
9 8 B Hermes 02
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Ligouré House

Dr. C.C. Ligoure was the only Black doctor in Halifax at the time of the explosion. He was born in Trinidad, then lived in Brooklyn, and came to Canada after completing his medical training at Queen’s University. During his time in Halifax, he also served as Publisher and Editor of the Atlantic Advocate. Dartmouth artist and playwright David Woods is writing a play, “Extraordinary Acts”, about Ligoure’s experiences at the time of the explosion, and his contributions to the relief efforts. It will be premiered in 2018. The detail from the Atlantic Advocate gives Ligoure’s address at the time of the Explosion. Images courtesy of Nova Scotia Archives and Google maps.

9 9 1  Ligoure House
9 9 2 Ligoure House
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Blackbook Collective

This is the home of the Blackbook Collective, urban artists who have created outdoor murals in Mulgrave Park and many other locations in Halifax’s North End. They have collaborated with NiS+TS for a large Explosion-themed indoor mural at the Dalhousie Art Gallery, on exhibition October-December 2017.

9 10 1  Blackbook Workshop 1 Sideways
9 10 2 Aerial Detail
The Blackbook Collective shop on Charles Street is located on the one-mile radius mark from Ground Zero of the Halifax Explosion. The damage that the blast caused in this neighbourhood can be seen in this detail from a 1921 aerial map
9 10 3 Blackbook
9 10 5 Blackbook
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Morris House

The Morris House was built for Charles Morris, the first surveyor of Halifax, in 1764. It was originally located on Hollis Street near Morris, as seen in this photograph from a ‘Saving the Morris House’ social media site.

9 11 1 Morris House
9 11 2 Morris House
Threatened with demolition, and following a grassroots fundraising effort, the house was relocated to this corner on Creighton and Charles Streets several years ago
9 11 3 Morris House
The grassroots campaign included an artist's’ parade. Photo courtesy Jen MacLatchy.
9 11 4 Morris House
The Morris House was the centrepiece of an art installation for the 2013 Nocturne Art at Night Festival. Photo courtesy Riley Smith.
9 11 5 Morris House Now
Morris House is currently being restored and will serve as a residence for youth.
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School for the Deaf

There is a historic plaque near the sidewalk here, marking the location of the School for the Deaf at the time of the explosion. The stories of the children and staff at the School have not been known until now. A new documentary film about the Deaf Experience of the Explosion premiered at the Atlantic International Film Festival (FIN) and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in September, 2017. You can see the trailer for the film at https://vimeo.com/227107297

9 12 School For Deaf
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Halifax North Memorial Public Library

The Halifax North Memorial Public Library was built with funds from the Halifax Relief Commission, and opened in 1966. As part of this commemoration project, an outdoor public sculpture was commissioned. The expressionistic steel and wood sculpture, made by Quebec artist Jordi Bonet, incorporated a fragment from the Mont-Blanc. The piece deteriorated over time, and was taken down by the city in 2004 (and replaced by a new, unrelated work, called 'North is Freedom', in 2011). The fragment from the Mont-Blanc that was part of Bonet’s sculpture is now in the collection of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

9 14 1 Library Sculpture
9 14 5 M2008 5 1
9 14 4 North End Library
The new sculpture, called ‘North is Freedom’, includes a detail from a ‘Pass for the Devastated Area’, issued just after the explosion.
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Hope Blooms

Hope Blooms is a social enterprise where local youth grow herbs and vegetables, then transform them into delicious salad dressings sold in grocery stores. Proceeds go towards post-secondary scholarships.

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Portia White Court

"Contralto opera singer Portia White entered Dalhousie University in 1929, and from the early 1930s taught in Africville, a small seaside community in Halifax.... She won a scholarship to continue her musical training at the Halifax Conservatory of Music in 1939 with noted Italian baritone Ernesto Vinci." From Wikipedia, 2017

9 15 1 Portia White
9 15 2 Portia White

More Drifts

Towards Pier 6

Ground Zero: the site of the explosion

View Drift

Africville

Catastrophe & Resilience

View Drift