A Landscape of Cars

There has been lots of excitement over the Steele Auto Group’s plans to demolish a whole bunch of buildings to enlarge the parking lots for Colonial Honda on Robie Street. It feels like the perfect strategy to get folks engaged in the Centre Plan discussions. And I’ve found it useful to hear talk about where car dealerships should be appropriately located.

This afternoon I was at the VW dealer to to get snow tires taken off (VW lied to us so they gave us $500 to spend on service). I decided to stroll down Kempt Road to sample some of the landscape of free and unfettered auto sales. I had no great insights but it was interesting to be on foot in a land of wheels. Here are some snapshots.

My first thought was, what an odd mixture of chaotic and goofy: Kempt Road runs through the middle of this scene but one side of the street blends into the other. And what’s with the giant traffic light on the roof of O’Regans. Lots of wires too.


I guess I’m from Mars cause giant cool mouse was a mystery too. I am a fan of flapping tinsel.


Last Chance struck me as an odd call to action. But these guys are pros so it must work.


One thing that was clear: car dealerships can fill the space available.


This image of Steele as top predator amused me.


The slick Jaguar was counterbalanced with these Steele desert island palm trees that I cannot interpret.


At one point I realized I had entered a carefully swept and raked landscape with blooming tulips, pruned shrubs and a line of street trees. A grass bank and fence screened the site from view.



I walked up a side street so I could peer in, and discovered Ocean Construction’s tidy concrete plant. Their landscaping really expressed their Built on Quality tag line.


I walked back along Massachusetts Avenue (which Robie Street turns into – who knew). Imagine my enchantment to come upon a recently-painted red rail, almost like something you might find in a Japanese garden. Its authenticity left me feeling strangely encouraged.



  • Summer tires are more fun than snow tires.
  • A couple of totally gratuitous suggestions:

In Mexico there are often long stretches of car-related businesses on the outskirts of communities. These shops are all covered with huge signs that I can’t imagine anybody reads but I’m fond of the affect. I think our car dealers may be too timid; shout a little louder, guys. image0-006

The 1984 Louisiana Worlds Fair in New Orleans is remembered for the Wonder Wall designed by architect Charles Moore. It was an exuberant concoction that has been described as a stationary Mardi Gras parade.


From the Internet

I won’t stop for one giant mouse in sunglasses but 20 giant mice in sunglasses, spouting fire, might attract my attention.

(Charles Moore worked on a concept plan for the Dalhousie Campus in the 1990s.)


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.