Monthly Archives: October 2014

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The Harsh Halifax History of the Corner of Robie & South


The corner of Robie and South Street is now the well-known location of the IWK Children’s Hospital. Haligonians are so familiar with this site they rarely pay much attention to the building as they drive by. Wind back the clock to almost exactly 132 years ago to this week, and you would have a hard time ignoring this site.

Poors' Asylym

This creepy structure looks like opposite of the IWK Children’s Hospital in about every possible way.

This eye sore is what was left of the Poors’ Asylum just days after a tragic fire in November of 1882.Thirty-one people were killed in this fire.

It was originally built in 1868-1869 and lasted 14 years as the second largest building in Nova Scotia. After the fire, a new Poor Asylum was build almost immediately, and was functioning by 1886.

New Poor Asylum

Just like new! Fire? What fire?

The new Poor Asylum had ‘inmates’ employed to work on revenue generating activities. This helped off-set expenses and brought “a sense of contribution” for the incarcerated citizens. In the photo above, you can see concrete sewer blocks produced by inmates in 1899. The new Poor Asylum lasted significantly longer than its predecessor, and wasn’t demolished until 1972!

Next time you take a stroll by the corner of Robie & South, take a second look to think what this area once represented.



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The Halifax Explosion was the biggest man-made blast (before nukes)

It happened on the morning of December 6, 1917 and killed nearly 2,000 people.

The Halifax Explosion happened when the fully-loaded SS Mont-Blanc collided with the SS Imo in the Halifax Harbour, right between where the two bridges are today.

A desolate view of the harbour, after the ships collided

A desolate view of the harbour, after the two ships collided

Just about everything within a half-mile radius of the explosion was totally destroyed, and a resulting tsunami washed away an entire Mi’kmaq community at Tuft’s Cove.

A big blast

The Mont-Blanc’s 90mm gun was launched into the air and landed near Albro Lake Rd. in Dartmouth, while her anchor was found on the other side of the harbour near the Armdale Rotary.

The blast was heard and felt by people in Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island, and was an absolute tragedy to say the least.

A piece of history discovered 

Just last week, a massive 2000-lb. anchor was found at the bottom of the harbour after being buried underwater for nearly 100 years. The anchor belonged to HMCS Niobe, which had been damaged in the 1917 explosion.

Click here to watch the Halifax Explosion Heritage Minute


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The Seahorse was the first tavern in Halifax to open after prohibition

The Seahorse has been in the news lately as its owner prepares to move the decades-old tavern into its new north-end location, but how much do you really know about the dingy, awesome basement bar we’ve all come to know and love over the years?

Let us enlighten you on a few fun facts:

Any of your remember when the Seahorse looked like this?

Any of you remember when the Seahorse looked like this?

The Seahorse opened in 1948 — that’s 66 years ago! At that time, they charged a mere 25-30 cents a pint (I wonder if they were sloshing around a prehistoric version of Horsepower back then?)

Oh, and get this: the Seahorse was Halifax’s first bar to open its doors after prohibition ended in Nova Scotia (an eight-year dry spell that came to a close in 1929).

The day they opened, 50 people had come in to drink by 10:20 a.m. (I’m sure it was 5 o’clock somewhere) and they couldn’t keep the beer cold because it was selling out so fast.

You might want to grab a pint at the Argyle St. pub before its doors are closed up for good!




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The Chronicle Herald: Large and in Charge




The Chronicle Herald not only has the highest circulation in Atlantic Canada, it is the largest independently owned newspaper company in Canada.

The paper was founded in 1874 as The Morning Herald, and only 800 copies of the first issue were produced. There were five other daily newspapers in a city of only 30,000, but the Herald stole the hearts of Nova Scotians by identifying with the causes of average citizens – the miners, farmers, and fishermen.

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The Carleton is really, really old

That great little bar on the corner of Prince and Argyle that you frequent on Saturday nights? Yeah, that’s in the oldest still-standing building in the city — aside from a couple houses of the holy — built 254 years ago.

If those walls could talk...

If those walls could talk…

 The old stone structure got its beginning as the massive home of “Father of the Province,” Richard Bulkeley, then was turned into a hotel, and has since been renovated to its present-day apartment complex/restaurant status.

Something cool to ponder next time you’re strolling by!

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Oldest lighthouse in North America? Yup — that’s ours.

Another one of our early tweets is a Halifact that’s very fitting for our historical, coastal city.

The Sambro Island Lighthouse (just off the coast from Crystal Crescent Beach) is the oldest lighthouse not only in Canada, but in all of North America.

Wow -- such old, much historical.

Wow — such old, much historical.


The old beacon was built in on the rocky shore of Sambro Island during the Seven Years’ War in 1758.

The massive lighthouse lens that was used for a long time until the 1960s is now on display at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (which, is a must-go if you like our region’s coastal history).

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There are thousands of people buried on the grounds of the Spring Garden Rd. library

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Our first tweet (posted July 4), is one of the most fascinating — and shocking — Halifacts out there.

The Spring Garden Road Memorial Library was built on the grounds of a “poor house” (a makeshift residency for all sorts of “outcasts” — widows, orphans, criminals and disabled people, to name a few).

Pretty crazy, right?

The people who lived there, when they died, were buried in the yard surrounding the home, not being deemed fit for burial at St. Paul’s Cemetery across the street,  now known as the Old Burying Ground.

It’s not known now many people were buried on the library grounds, but it’s most definitely in the thousands (not hundreds, like our tweet mentioned).

Careful you don’t step on too many unmarked graves next time you’re taking the shortcut to Grafton Street!