Brunswick Street: Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Recently I posted  photos I took over the last 50 years from Citadel Hill.  Like me, folks have  been drawing pictures  and later photographing views from the hill since the the earliest days of the founding of Halifax.  As a consequence, the visual record of buildings on Brunswick Street is the best in the city. I particularly enjoy studying how some of the more humble structures changed over time. Join the fun and watch how three wooden buildings  just north of Carmichael Street (George Street) change over a 100 year period.

This photo is probably from the mid 1880s (you can see Dalhousie College still on the Grand Parade). Doesn’t the city look olde tyme and run down? The building on the right housed a well known mineral water/soda pop company. The buildings to the left probably had workplaces on the ground floors and living quarters above. I particularly like the tall chimney and shutters on the middle building and the steep pitched roof with tiny dormers on its neighbour.


In the next photo City Hall is visible  so it was taken after 1890. The buildings on the left have been spruced up a little and the centre one has lost the window shutters, which makes it look much less quaint. I don’t know John K. Bent’s business (both he and Nash made a big thing of their street numbers).


Now we jump ahead to about 1970 and some photos I took. The two on the left have had their gable roofs removed, an alteration which happened often in Halifax.  The buildings on either end have had drastic changes in their fenestration (a useful word if you don’t know it already – think windows). Fun to realize the chimney on the centre building is extra tall to extend above a now absent roof.


By 1976 all the buildings have been “improved” again  with a new roof, some picture windows and siding and paint. There were a number of government-sponsored home improvement programs in this period and I wonder if we are seeing the results.

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Are you surprised at how the  character of these buildings kept changing ? When you walk around town look closely at our oldest buildings and you will often realize that a roof line has changed or the fenestration has been altered. And when you make these little discoveries you will feel the warm glow of satisfaction.

Of course the whole block  we’ve been looking at was rebooted in 1976 and today the site of our three buildings looks like this – the southwest corner of the Scotia Bank Centre.



  • And because we are overstocked, here are a couple more photos I took of the buildings, including a tricycle-riding  policeman giving a ticket. The pictures are a few years apart. How many changes can you spot?

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About the author

Stephen Archibald

It’s Stephen Archibald doing the noticing. I’m a huge fan of Nova Scotia’s material culture and cultural landscapes. Twitter (@Cove17 ) made me realize I could share what attracted my attention (perfect for my very short attention) and I’m gratified when folks enjoy my content. Pleased to meet you on the internet.