The 60s Halifax Thinks Big

Many Haligonians have recently been calling for the removal of the Highway to Nowhere – the Cogswell Interchange. Many know why it was built, however few probably understand the thinking that led to Harbour Drive being considered.

A few years ago the Canadian Centre for Architecture ran an exhibit called “The 60s Montreal Thinks Big“. The exhibit looked at several large projects built in Montreal in the 1960s, including expressways, office developments, suburban malls and slum clearance, and tied these projects to surrounding social and political environments.

Using the exhibit as a model, it provides an excellent framework for exploring several major Halifax projects of the same time period, including Harbour Drive (of which only the Cogswell Interchange was built), the law courts, Scotia Square, and Africville.
We will begin the series with the origins of 20th century planning theory, and then trace its development to the post war period, via the people and policies that led to the specific examples we wish to examine.

By doing this in a series format, we can tell a better narrative of the period then we can in a single post, since the background covers multiple examples. Each post can stand alone; however the entire narrative is best understood if read from the beginning.


  1. Introduction to 20th Century Planning Practices
  2. 1945 Master Plans for Halifax and Dartmouth
  3. The National Housing Act and Central Mortgage and Housing
  4. Gordon Stephenson and the 1957 Redevelopment Study of Halifax

 Effects of the 1957 Master Plan

The Expropriations of Africville
Uniacke Square

Central Redevelopment Area:
1. Re-Homing the Displaced: Mulgrave Park
2. The Land is Cleared, Now What?
3. Centennial Square
4. Scotia Square

Civic Improvement

The Waterfront Expressway – Harbour Drive
The Centennial Project – Part 1 (its not a Pool)
The Centennial Project – Part 2Relocating City Field
The Science Museum
The New Police and Fire Headquarters
The Law Courts

Modernization Elsewhere
Halifax Shopping Center
Modernity and Air Travel – The Halifax International Air Terminal building
The Ultra Modern Office – The Canada Permanent Building

  • note unlinked posts are in the works, and not yet published.


About the author


BuiltHalifax delves into architectural history and theory with a local slant. Produced by Peter Ziobrowski, it is the sister project to