Old Album, Number One

Come the New Year, do you start to put your affairs in order? Me too!

I’ve been wondering what to blog about and decided to return to what brought me to this sphere in the first place, my little collection of older photos. Organizing these images chronologically has been an ongoing project, and I’ve decided to start posting a selection in the order they were taken. Most of these photos have appeared in earlier posts, but you know how “best of” albums work: all the favourites along with a few never-before-released treasures. Let’s see how this goes.

My earliest photos are from 1964 or 65. The most interesting are a couple from what is now the Historic Properties district, looking like an abandoned bomb site.

These two are scans of tiny photos I developed and printed in a corner of our basement.

So many decades later it is hard to conjure up why particular photos were taken. Generally I was trying for an image that was more artistic than documentary. There was certainly no thought they might be interesting in the future. I was 17, what’s the future?

Every year when the Oval opens for skating, I post this photo of the natural ice in the Egg Pond, also on the Common.

I wish there were more photos like this: construction of an extension to the Dresden Arms, now demolished. In the distance is the massive Park Victoria going up. The boom in tall buildings was still in its early days. I could have been recording old buildings before that transition, but was more interested in the new than the old.

Also I did not take many photos of people. Here is an exception, a crowd waiting for the Natal Day Parade on Spring Garden Road in 1965. A photo of a girl who knows she is being photographed. Neither of us is looking at the parade.

Sort of an accidental shot, looking south on Summer Street, that has aged well. To the left is the Convent of the Sacred Heart, still cloistered behind a tall grey fence and lush foliage. Twenty years later the houses on the right would be hotly defended, before being demolished in 1986 for the Summer Gardens condos.

It is distressing that my only opportunity to experience a modern built environment, that I craved, was the new indoor Halifax Shopping Centre.

I’m still fond of this photo from the top of the shopping centre. It could be used to tell several stories (and lots of space for type).

Out of Town

I did get out of Halifax. In 1965 I had a great summer job on an archaeology survey crew looking for ancient sites like the one that had just been excavated near Debert. I don’t really remember which beautiful river this is.

This was my first trip around the Cabot Trail. It still looks the same.

In Sydney we ventured inside the grand but abandoned Moxham Castle. It burned down the next year, 1966.

Postscript

So there is the first selection of my snapshots. At that time I was just learning to see what was actually in the viewfinder, and still delighted and amazed to capture that image. There was also an aesthetic struggle between celebrating the dreariness of so much of our urban environment. . .

. . .contrasted with the unchanging beauty of the Public Gardens or the natural world.

The Fundy shore. . .

. . .or an exterior walkway on top of the Halifax Shopping Centre. Fifty years later, the shots of the built environment hold more interest. Wonder if that will be true in the future?

To be continued.

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.

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