Another Short Walk

The other day I was in town from the cove, for the first time in the new year. The weather was mild after the bitterly cold spell, and I realized that just being out in the streets with my fellow citizens was making me feel irrationally happy.

Turning on to Queen Street, there was the Library, newly framed by the Doyle Block complex. The delicious dullness of the view made me stop and step into the street to snap a photo. This may be the best view of new Halifax.

The columns of the School of Architecture had responded to the weather by sprouting a film of white frost. Required a closer look.

It was instructive to see the Spring Garden Road face of the Doyle Block. I’m pleased that it is not clad with ten different materials, like so any other buildings these days. Maybe I’m just old fashioned.

And what about the quality of the project? As folks like to say, it all depends on what happens at street level.

If you need a reminder of what the block used to look like, here ‘s a collage from an old blog. Probably ten different cladding materials here, but there were five buildings.

As I walked up Brunswick to claim up my new glasses, I stopped and admired how comfortably the Nova Scotia Folklore Centre and Steve-O-Reno’s greet the street. Great models for their giant neighbour. They have had time to settle into their surroundings; our favourite coffee shop has been there for over 20 years, and the Folklore Centre for over twice that long.


  • Here’s a collective project for 2018, let’s all write letters to downtown banks that have blank curbside windows (that would be all of them). They bestow dreariness on so many featureless blocks. The BMO at the corner of Spring Garden and Birmingham is an excellent candidate for some animation.

It was pointed out to me that “sidewalk closed ahead” was a particularly Halifax message but we can do better than that.

Across the street from the BMO, I responded to the “live near the ocean” slogan in the window of Lululemon. Not setting the bar too high but more interesting than a blank window, and I do live near the ocean, which is probably as close as I’m going to get to a Lululemon call to action.

The slogan also reminded me of early Bjork lyrics* and her saxophone foghorns. Too cool! It doesn’t take much to make the street a little more interesting, and to make me happy.

* Earworm alert: I find the Anchor Song loops in my head.

  • Department of Fact Checking: above I said there were probably 10 different materials used on the facades of the old buildings of the Doyle block. Here are 10 I can quickly identify:

1 sandstone
2 metal siding
3 glass
4 brick
5 wood
6 limestone
7 granite
8 asphalt singles
9 concrete
10 plastic


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.