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Plan of the proposed Halifax WaterWorks



Plan of Proposed Halifax Water Works, 1845

Shortly after Halifax was incorporated in 1841, civic-minded businessmen formed the Halifax Water Company.  The need for a safe, reliable water supply was crucial after many infectious epidemics as well as to supply businesses.  Civil Engineer Charles Fairbanks was hired to survey the lakes around the town and his plans were used by New York engineer John Jarvis to propose the Long Lake-Chain Lakes water supply.

Enlarged view of plan

City of Halifax Engineering & Works plan#W-8-3298

This undated plan was probably finished by Fairbanks in 1845 to accompany the Jarvis report recommending an open canal connecting a dammed Long Lake to Chain Lakes then through pipes to a reservoir on Wind Mill Hill (now Camp Hill) then through a gravity-fed distribution system to fountains and hydrants (all shown in red on the plan).   The  board of the Water Company later determined the Camp Hill reservoir as shown on the plan was not necessary, but this plan shows the beginnings of Halifax's water supply system.

Beyond documenting the proposed water supply system, this plan shows the location of features from 160 years ago that we can no longer see: 

  • the original level of Long Lake, before it was dammed;
  • mills below Chocolate Lake;
  • Freshwater Brook that flowed from the swampy Commons through the pond of the Public Gardens, through what is now Victoria Park and out under the Kissing Bridge to the Harbour;
  • Fort Needham, Fort George and Fort Ogilvie
  • the pond on the Common (the Egg Pond)
  • early routes of Herring Cove Road, St. Margaret's Bay Road and Prospect Road
  • landmarks like MacIntosh Bridge, Keser's Hill, Yeadon

Source:Downstream: an historical reflection of the Halifax water supply system published by the Halifax Water Commission in 1995 to celebrate its 50th anniversary.  Originally the Public Service Commission of Halifax, the Commission took over the water works from the City Works in 1945.  The City took over from the Halifax Water Company in 1861