Featured archival photographs

Screen capture of Halifax Municipal Archives Flickr Album

Curated albums of historical images ~ plus help us identify unknown locations and people!

Browse Halifax Municipal Archives' Flickr Album or scroll down to see a selection of interesting photographs from the Municipal Archives.

Grand Parade, ca. 1900

Black and white photo of group gathering in Grand Parade with City Hall in background.

Grand Parade-always the venue for civic events. HMA CR16-84

This unidentified event must have happened between 1890, when the flagstaff was first raised, and 1905, when a fountain was constructed where the Cenotaph now stands. Contact us if you have any clues to the nature of this event. John & Beatrice Alley photograph, HMA CR16-84.

Curling in Halifax

Black and white team photo showing interior of Club

1920 Dennis Trophy winners, Mayflower Curling Club, [ca. 1920]. HMA CR6-029

This photograph by Commercial Photo Service, Halifax, shows the winning team of the 1920 Dennis Trophy at the Mayflower Curling Club. Donated by Marilyn Moore. HMA CR6-029.

City Market and Police Station

Black and white photo of former City Market and Police Station

Former City Market and Police Station, [ca. 1949]. HMA CR6-007.1

This photograph shows the former City Market and Police Station, ca. 1949. The view from Citadel Hill also looks down Duke Street to show now-demolished buildings just down the hill, on the current Scotia Square site, and ferries crossing the harbour. The Halifax Police Station moved from its cramped quarters in City Hall into the Market Building ca. 1953. Donated by Elizabeth Publicover. HMA CR6-007.1.

Royal Visit, 1959

Black and white photo of Queen Elizabeth II in Dartmouth

Queen Elizabeth II with Dartmouth Deputy Mayor Hollis, 1959. HMA 101-2L-1.5

HRH Queen Elizabeth II with Dartmouth Deputy Mayor Creed Hollis on the steps of the "new" Town Hall on Wyse Road, 1959. HMA 101-2L-1.5 (Benjamin Studios, Dartmouth).

HRH Queen Elizabeth II ended her 1959 Cross-Canada tour in Halifax/Dartmouth. Photographer Allen Benjamin noted in a letter to the Municipal Archives that as he was documenting the Royal Visit it was obvious that the Queen was pregnant with her third child (Prince Andrew), but that no public mention was made until she returned home to make the official announcement.

Halifax Municipal Archives has several more photographs of the 1959 Royal Visit in the Dartmouth Clerk's Office records and the Halifax Police Department records.

Dartmouth Police Reserve Badge Donated

An interesting footnote to the Royal Visit photograph is that after the Municipal Archives contacted photographer Allen Benjamin for permission to use this photograph, he sent us the Dartmouth Police Reserve badge he had been issued after the VE Day Riots in 1945.

Dartmouth businessmen were enlisted to protect their property with the approach of Victory in Japan. Benjamin tells the story of how they turned back rioters closing in on the Dartmouth liquor store. The Chronicle Herald reported on this interesting story in the June 21, 2010 issue ("Dartmouth’s force grew after VE-Day riots").

First Female Rural Councillor, 1938

Black and white photo of councillors on steps of County Courthouse

Mary Theresa King and fellow councillors, late 1930s. HMA 312-1F-010

Mary Theresa King, the first female municipal councillor in rural Canada, was elected in 1938. Miss King represented District 27 on County Council until retiring in 1950, then reoffered to serve again in the 1950s and 1960s. In this photograph, Miss King is pictured front and center among her fellow County councillors on the steps of the County Court House on Spring Garden Road, where County Council met, late 1930s. HMA 312-1F-010 (Allen Fraser).

The City of Halifax elected its first female alderman, Catherine Maclean Sullivan in 1934. Mrs. M.T. Sullivan represented Ward 3 until 1940. Historically, aldermen sat on city councils, while town/village/county councils were governed by councillors. Our Women in Municipal Politics lists all the women elected to office in the Halifax region.

Discover these important facts and more about the 1800+ individuals who have been elected to serve on Halifax region's municipal councils from 1841 to the present in the Listings of Elected Officials. This list names all mayors, councillors and aldermen in the municipality/ward/district they represented. You can use it to search for ancestors and relatives, see who represented your district 100 years ago, or find out who all those streets in Burnside are named after.

African Nova Scotian County Councillor - George Diggs

Black and white group photo of County councillors

Halifax County Council, March 1916. HMA 312-1F-001 (cropped from original)

George H. Diggs represented the Preston District (#30) on the Halifax County Council from 1908-1917, and again from 1920-1930. In this 1916 group portrait, he is pictured in the first row, second from the left, or second to the left of Warden Charles E. Smith, seated in the ornate chair. In 1899, the district of Preston elected the first African Nova Scotian to public office, Councillor Thomas Johnson, who continued to serve until Diggs replaced him in 1908.*

George Diggs was the second longest-serving councillor in the Preston area, next to Allan W. Evans (1931-1961), and followed closely by Wayne F. Adams (1979-1994), who went on to become the first African Nova Scotian member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

In the City of Halifax, the first African Nova Scotian alderman was Graham Downey, elected in Ward 3 in 1974.

The Municipal Archives holds many County Council photographs. Unfortunately, we have not yet discovered a photograph of Thomas Johnson, first African Nova Scotian County Councillor.

*According to Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia's page on Municipal Democracy

Halifax Municipal Archives acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through Library and Archives Canada to assist with processing of County of Halifax records.

Queen Elizabeth High School: A Beginning, an End, a Re-Growth

Black and white class photo

First graduating class, Queen Elizabeth High School, 1943. HMA CR15.1

This photograph shows the first Grade 12 class to graduate from Queen Elizabeth High School, 1943. HMA CR15.1 (Climo Photography Studios).

The graduates are listed left to right on the back of the photograph:
Back Row: James Murdoch, Kenneth Gaskin, Charles Barrett, Alan Conrad, Gordon Hubbard, James Gay, George Davis, Leslie Jackson

Second from top row: Peter Howard, Harold Crosby, Philip Moore, Clyde Blakeney, Donald Dakin, Philip Heckman, Harry Poulos, Alfred Gordon, David Roe, Gerald McCarthy, Edward Marriott, Graham Shellnut, Earl Dexter, William Ogilvie, Carl Dexter, Keilor Bentley

Third from top row: Florence Hilton, Sadie Newbury, Florence Melitides, Gwen Barton, Pearl Schwartz, Edith Kline, Marjorie Power, Mary Burgess, Joan Fry, Margaret Mitchell, Shirley Dics, Audrey Shatford, Elsie Harris, Vivian Lusher, Marjorie Langin, Claire Cameron, Goldie Carson, Phyllis Welsman, Edna Hanrahan

Teachers’ Row: Mr. O.F. Fritze, Mr. C.K. Allen, Mr. W.L. Bowers, Miss L.S. Creighton, Mr. L.B. Hannon, Miss J. Henry, Miss M. White, Miss J. Curtis, Mrs. M.H. Fleming, Mr. R.E. Marshall - Principal, Mr. A.W. Cunningham - Vice-Principal, Miss D. Smyth, Miss B. Thomas, Mr. H.R. Fraser, Miss M. Gorham, Miss E. Blois

Second from front row: Alan Timmins, Pete Flynn, Kenneth Dauphinee, Charman Cousins, Alan Fralick, Lloyd Morley, Ralph Peckham, Lewis Bell, Carl Giffin, George Smith, Loris Blofield, Douglas Oakley, George Cox, Kenneth Burn

Front row: Rosemary Allen, Muriel Chisholm, Nita Sederis, Beryl Whalen, Priscilla Jefferson, Sheila Lyttle, Helen Freeman, Florence Rasley, Lois Gilroy, Erma Geddes, Constance Etter, Mary Archer, Betty Thorne, Jean MacDonald, Lynn MacNearney, Eleanor Dawes, Enid Aronoff

QEH Timeline

  • 1942 Students who had gone to the Halifax Academy (Sackville and Brunswick) and Bloomfield High School (Robie and Almon) streamed through the separate Boys and Girls entrances of the new Queen Elizabeth High School at Robie and Bell Rd.
  • 2007 QEH students joined with their neighbours at St. Pat's High School to stream through the shiny new glass doors of Citadel High School on the former Nova Scotia Community College site at Bell, Trollope and Ahern.
  • 2011 Queen Elizabeth High School building demolished to eventually be developed by the Capital District Health Authority, and meantime the site has become Common Roots Urban Farm.

The Municipal Archives has some other QEHS material donated when the school closed.

Halifax Public Libraries holds the QEHS 50th Anniversary booklet: "Queen Elizabeth High School 1943-1993: 50 years!” as well as the "Elizabethan," the school yearbook, 1943-2006. School records are held by the Halifax Regional School Board. The Municipal Archives has the Board of School Commissioners records, which would have considerable material about Queen Elizabeth High School. 

Gottingen Street, ca. 1965

Black and white photo showing shops on a street in winter time

Gottingen Street shopping, [ca. 1965]. HMA 102-39-1-377.2

Where Halifax Shopped - Gottingen Street, ca. 1965. Even through high snowbanks, shoppers came to Gottingen for footwear, clothes, jewellery, etc. Notable Gottingen Street stores included Rubins Men's and Boys' Wear, Macy's Ladies' Wear, the Metropolitan Store, Woolworth's, and Withrow Drugs.

Mic Mac Rotary, 1960s-1990s

Black and white aerial photo of the Mic Mac Rotary.

Atlantic Air Survey aerial photo showing Mic Mac Rotary, 1970s. HMA 101-80C-1-4-H-56

The Mic Mac Rotary was built by the Province of Nova Scotia in the early 1960s to provide a more efficient interchange for Highway 111, Route 318 (Braemar Drive/Waverley Road), and Trunk 7 (Main Street/Prince Albert Road/Graham’s Grove).

The Rotary soon became infamous for its poor traffic flow, causing commuters much frustration and rush-hour rage. The traffic woes of the Rotary were immortalized by local musical duo Bryson-Lysens in their song "Mic Mac Rotary Blues" (Solar Records, 1982). The Mic Mac Rotary also inspired a Scottish country dance! The Rotary was replaced by the "Parclo" partial cloverleaf in the early 1990s.

This Atlantic Air Survey photo from the mid-1970s looks west down Lake Banook towards Halifax Harbour. The Rotary was named after Lake Micmac (bottom right in the image), which was partially in-filled to accommodate it.

The "Mic Mac Rotary Blues" was featured in Halifax Magazine's "50 Things You Don’t Know About Halifax," which the Halifax Municipal Archives helped source (August 2013 issue).

Tourism Halifax photographs

These are some of the more than 1,000 slides that the Municipal Archives processed in 2010 from images taken by Tourism Halifax to promote the City from 1970-1996. The series also includes photographs of special places like the Common, Brewery Market, Visitor Information Centres, and special events such as Mardi Gras, Natal Day, and Buskersfest. These images document how much has changed in Halifax even in the last decades.

Colour photo standing outside City Hall holding a tray of tea.

Teatime in the Grand Parade, Mayor M. Ducharme and Town Crier P. Cox, [ca. 1992]. HMA 102-104-D13

Colour photo of buskers entertaining crowds with schooner in background.

Buskers entertain at Historic Properties, 1980s. HMA 102-104-A4

See more Halifax Tourism photographs (102-104) in our online database.

This project was made possible through the Provincial Archival Development Program offered by Nova Scotia Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

Halifax Loves to Skate Outdoors!

Black and white photo of three happy skaters

Skating outside Historic Properties, 1980s. HMA 102-106-1-8 (Wamboldt-Waterfield Photography Studio)

Outdoor skating has been a favourite pastime in Halifax for many years, dating back to the late 1800s when the Starr Manufacturing Company began producing some of Canada’s first skates in Dartmouth. Municipalities have organized community skating events at the Frog Pond, Lake Banook, Chocolate Lake, and Bedford's Mayor’s Skate at Paper Mill Lake. The City of Halifax even had a small skating area at Historic Properties!

These photographs form part of a large collection of Recreation Department photographs (series 102-106-1) documenting recreation activities and facilities throughout Halifax.

Halifax Municipal Archives gratefully acknowledges Provincial Archival Development Program funding for this project through Nova Scotia Archives and the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

Colour photo of participants enjoying themselves skating

Chocolate Lake Skating Party, [197-?]. HMA 102-106-1-2-3

Pam Collins photographs - Bollard House

Pam Collins (1928-2017) was a founding member of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia and the wife of heritage activist, historian, educator, and writer Louis William Collins. Along with her husband, Pam was heavily involved in Halifax and Nova Scotia heritage communities, advocating for the preservation of heritage buildings in Halifax’s downtown and waterfront.

The Collins’ were a dynamic team; Pam photographed and organized the thousands of slides that Lou used in the many lectures he gave to visitors, schools, and groups. In 2017, the Municipal Archives acquired and processed over 4,000 of Pam’s slides and prints, which document significant architectural features and buildings in HRM as they were in the 1960s to 1980s. They are also an important complement to the Lou Collins fonds, which Pam donated to the Municipal Archives in 2010. 

Collins’ images provide a record of changes to Halifax's built environment, and help preserve small details of the City as she knew it. The main subjects of the photographs are homes and buildings in downtown Halifax, churches, views from Citadel Hill, the waterfront and coastal areas, demolitions or restorations of Halifax buildings, the restoration and opening of Historic Properties, and events and tours attended by herself and Lou. There is also a series of images of locations outside of HRM, as the Collins’ interest in history was far-reaching. Explore listings of Pam Collins’ photographs (CR30K) in our online database.

These images capture Bollard House on the corner of Dresden Row and Sackville Street before and after its restorations in 1964 and 1973. Bollard House, a designated heritage property at the base of Citadel Hill, is believed to have been built in the 1840s. The uniquely shaped house--described as both "triangular" and five sided--was noted as the subject of curiosity and rumour by Lou Collins in his 1975 book In Halifax Town. In the 1960s, the aging house was occupied by the Bollard sisters, whose shipbuilder father had purchased it in the early 1900s. The "spinster sisters" resided there into old age in the 1960s, as the building fell into disrepair. By 1973, Bollard House had been purchased and restored by a local antiques dealer. As of 2013, the home was reported to be undergoing maintenance under a new owner.

Most photographs in this series have not yet been digitized, but researchers may request digital copies from archives@halifax.ca.

Halifax Municipal Archives acknowledges the financial assistance of the Government of Canada and the Canadian Council of Archives to the Young Canada Works at Building Careers in Heritage program, which funded the work of an Archives Intern on this project.


VFE-189-V Pam Collins biographical material 

Lou Collins In Halifax Town, p. 74-75 

Canada's Historic Places Register 

Built Halifax.ca post on Bollard House.