A Modernist Landscape Gone Missing

Halifax is not well endowed with modernist landscapes, so it is valuable to pause and enjoy what we have. A favourite of mine is a grove of trees at the large Canada Post operation on Almon Street.

Two rows of small trees are surrounded by concrete curbs topped with pea gravel. The low planters seem to “float” above the paved plaza.

In the leaf-free seasons, the quantity of trees has its own quality, distracting the eye from the long, low, building and an adjacent fenced parking lot.

And on a moist day, the lichens that covered the trunks were plumped up and a striking colour.

So you can imagine my dismay, when I noticed recently that the trees have been removed. Let’s assume there was something wrong with the trees and they are going to be replaced. Soon.

But their absence dramatically demonstrates what a good job the trees were doing to soften an otherwise bleak landscape.


    • The Almon Street side of the Canada Post operation also has a simple yet sophisticated landscape feature. A series of low terraces are like ripples of the building, expanding out into the lawn.

    • Having just visited the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, I understand that a slice in a lawn can have more impact than you’d imagine.

      • The formal and simple landscape at Canada Post was thoughtfully designed and well maintained (assuming the trees are about to be replaced). This often does not happen with modern buildings in these parts. Here’s what I interpret as a well-intentioned mistake. Dalhousie’s Killam Library is an uncompromising block of late 1960s concrete that I like more every year (I started from a “not like at all” position). The landscapes associated with the building have not been well maintained or considered, and mini topiary spirals just look silly.


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.