A while back I introduced you to a swell little late 1880s illustrated souvenir booklet entitled Halifax Album. What you saw last time were buildings and views that still exist. Now we’ll look at buildings that are no longer around. These images are interesting for a couple of reasons : they show buildings that would be memorable to visitors at the time or that Haligonians were proud of; almost all of these buildings have been gone for a very long time; most buildings were relatively modern when the booklet was published (constructed in the previous 10 or 20 years).
The Halifax Album appears to be directed at visitors travelling by train – it was published by the Canada Railway News Co. of Montreal, so we’ll start at the station. The train station was below Barrington more or less under the MacDonald Bridge. It was badly damaged in the Explosion but was about to be replaced by the present station so didn’t get repaired. Visitors would of course need a place to stay and the best was the Halifax Hotel. It is the only full page illustration in the Album. Wonder how that happened? Located on Hollis Street it was where the Raulston Building is today. In 1871 the hotel advertised that “horse cars pass the hotel every ten minutes during the day.” There’s one now in the picture. They also had a hotel coach that was “in attendance on the arrival of all trains and passenger steamships.” And if you needed some money the Bank of Nova Scotia was nearby on Upper Water St. For entertainment the Academy of Music was at the foot of Spring Garden Road and seated 1500 people. The late lamented Capital Theatre replaced it only to be demolished for the much despised Maritime Centre. Is that the secret Masonic handshake? You’ll be welcomed at the Masonic Hall on the corner of Salter and Granville. There was a huge event when it opened in 1877; the dedication ceremony included over 1000 Masons from all parts of the province marching “with bands playing and banners streaming.” The tower was a wonderful way to celebrate a corner. Maybe the YMCA is more your thing. It was just down the street at the corner of Granville and Prince, built about 1873. The Y was demolished for Eaton’s department store that is now a Provincial Government building with no curb appeal because Government Services appears not to care too much about the downtown.. The Grand Parade was at an interesting stage. For years it was an eyesore with collapsing walls and rotting wooden railings. Here it is fixed up with a new cast iron balustrade but the old Dalhousie College building is still at the north end. That building was demolished for the present City Hall. This illustration helps date the Album to the 1887/88 period. The folks in the foreground are standing in a short street that ran between Barrington and Argyle in front of St Pauls. There was parking perpendicular to the curb and we often found a place in the 70s – well positioned for the Jury Room. The street was lost in the major renovation of the Grand Parade about 1985(?). Perhaps the best municipal building at that moment was the Italianate style fire hall, just below the Town Clock on Brunswick St. (If you climbed the hose tower you would sort of have the same view as Kula Partners have today.) To show that Halifax was a progressive Victorian city there are illustrations of the schools for blind and deaf children. The school for the blind was torn down fairly recently (it is the only one of these buildings around in my life time) and was at the end of Victoria Park, the present day site of the inspiring VG parking lot. The deaf school was on Gottingen beyond Uniacke Square. So what do you think of our little souvenir? Interesting that there are none of the older buildings like the Legislature or Government House. The Town Clock only shows up in the distance in a street view. And no view from the Citadel. If you had to do an equivalent album of buildings of the last 20 years that were important to the city what would you choose?
Maybe I’ll try that sometime.