The Gates of Halifax

Gates and gateways are powerful symbols in our culture. Think of the gated community, gateway drugs, the pearly gates, or the Atlantic Gateway Project. Well, maybe not the latter but you get the idea. Gates are also attractive structures, and it is surprising how many nice old ones we have around Halifax when you start looking.

I’ve blogged before about our most iconic gates, those to the Public Gardens. Perhaps next in renown are the so called Golden Gates to Point Pleasant Park. They were made by Starr Manufacturing of Dartmouth (famous for their skates), a gift to the Park from Sir William Young (Young Avenue) in 1886.


It would be grand to see them reinstalled on the park side of the street with the gates closed the way we do at the Public Gardens.


Remember that iron gates need to be painted but they do not have to be painted black.

I think the gates to Province House can be closed to physically bar demonstrators. At the very least Commissionaires tell protesters they are not allowed through the gates, because we will not let our politicians be intimidated. Nice long winter shadows.

NS Legislature gate

A gate post topped with a stone ball is a very good look. Here is another example at the Carlyle on Coburg Road.  (Matches the lamp post because proper.)


We value gates so sometimes they are preserved when the  building they guarded is demolished, as was the case with the Carlyle. The condos replaced the cozy looking house of Clara Dennis (of the newspaper family).  Here are the posts in their original context.

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Public Archives of Nova Scotia

At St Mary’s University they retain 1820s gateposts for the Gorsebrook estate, once one of the grandest homes in Halifax. Is that an acorn?


Another South End gate that has lost its mansion is the entrance to Oaklands, the Cunard Estate. That’s the picturesque gate house in the background.


It’s nice to see some Gothic style for a change. My Twitter buddy Andrew reminds you to look for names and initials scratched into the soft sandstone.


There is a beautiful relationship between Admiralty House and its gates. Stop on Gottingen Street sometime and admire how the gates frame the view. The person gate to the right is particularly charming.


Further down the street is a forlorn gate that has lost its reason.


Old photos show the gate was intended to lead through the western block of the Wellington Barracks to the giant parade square beyond. Kinda grand, don’t you think?  Feels just a bit like the Horse Guards Barracks in London.

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Public Archives of Nova Scotia

The award for strangest gate posts goes to this asymmetric set at the entrance  to Fleming Park. A couple of years ago these were taken down completely and then rebuilt, and moved further apart I suspect. We don’t have much in this self-consciously rustic Arts and Crafts style so I like them a lot.


The grandest gates to a private house in Halifax were on Hollis Street near Morris. The gates themselves are in the Nova Scotia Museum collection but the extraordinary cast iron posts have been lost. A prosperous merchant named John Young installed the gates, perhaps in the 1860s. And because Halifax doesn’t change, he was forever after known as Gates Young.


Nova Scotia Museum

What really spurred me to do this post now was the fine weather we have been having. On a Sunday drive I finally stopped to take a photograph of these robust gate posts on Jubilee  Road. Don’t we love that low winter light and the lengthening days.


The gates are associated with an old estate called Rosebank, hence the carving on the sandstone posts.


And finally gates that I have a slight association with. In the late 1970s I was on the team planning the Maritime Museum. The old ferry terminal was going to be removed, including iron gates that dated to a time before the bridges were built when there was a car ferry. I promoted the idea of reinstalling the gates on the Museum site.


Public Archives of Nova Scotia

So the old ferry gates just moved a few wharves to the south and now grace the harbour side entrance to the museum.



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.