The Halifax Archives Photo Collection

Recently the Halifax Archives made a vast collection of photos available from the ’50s and ’60s.

The CBC reports:

“Building inspectors were told to find the buildings that didn’t meet code. They’d then submit their reports to the committee on works, who would evaluate the reports and hold public hearings for any buildings slated for demolition. The buildings would then be torn down within a period of 30 days to six months — at the owner’s expense.

“It was clear as you read through the committee on works minutes, it was clear that they too were struggling with the ethics of some of what they were doing because they were displacing low-income families, and most of these families didn’t have an alternative low-income rental option,” said [archivist Sharon] Murray.”

This dump of photos is a visual demonstration of many of the the topics I have written about here. In the post- war period, the city was felt to be run down, it was antiquated and not modern. Council at the time felt the need for civic improvement. Slums were considered to be unhealthy, they were sources of blight, of crime and disease, and needed to be eliminated for the good of the city.

One of the goals of this blog is to help people understand how Halifax got to where we are now.  Several posts were written to document this urban history of Halifax, and describe the time and the thinking of the era. Introduction to 20th Century Planning Practices examines the conditions of cities since the Industrial revolution, and where the ideas of unhealthy cities came from. Many of these ideas came to Canada in the inter-war years, but could only be implemented in the post-war period.

The 1945 Master Plan for Halifax and Dartmouth was the first document to attempt to set a direction for the future. The federal government had a big role to play thanks to Central Mortgage and Housing, and the 1956 amendments to The National Housing Act, which served to enable change. The first actionable plan, and the enabler for the destruction showcased by the photos, is Gordon Stephenson and the 1957 Redevelopment Study of Halifax.

The ’60s were a period of massive urban renewal, not just in Halifax, but in cities across Canada, and in the US. The results of this renewal, and some of the other transformative civic projects are documented in our series The ‘60s Halifax Thinks Big.


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