Changes to Street Numbers and Names - Civic Address History

Doorway with civic number 2445

Civic addresses are a key piece of information for researching the history of an area and its residents, particularly as many historical municipal records are organized by civic address. The tools on this page are useful for tracking changes to civic addresses as neighbourhoods developed and City staff adjusted to an increasing need for a logical system of addresses. This guide offers a few tools to help researchers know what addresses were in use over time. It is far from complete, and we will continue to add sources as they are discovered - tell us if you know of any!  

City of Halifax street numbering arrangement

This note from the 1908-1909 City Directory summarizes the layout of Halifax's streets:

The streets of Halifax are numbered from the East or Harbor to the West or NorthWest Arm ; and from the South or Point Pleasant Park to the North to Richmond.  Odd numbers are on the east and north sides of the streets. Even numbers are on the west and south sides of the streets.

City of Halifax changes some street numbers, 1901

The 1901-1902 McAlpine City Directory documents a suite of civic address changes that were made to some Halifax streets. The Street Directory listing for these particular streets includes a column for New and Old numbers.

The Directory gives no explanation for these changes, and a close inspection doesn't reveal any additional clues.  Note that Gottingen Street also has New/Old numbers listed this year but a check in subsequent directories indicates the changes were not made.

City of Halifax - more changes to street numbers

City Directories will list civic address changes when applicable within the Street Directory section. The Street Directory listing often includes a column for New and Old numbers.

  • 1909-1910 - civic address changes to Robie Street. (p. 689 of 1909-1910 Directory).
  • 1912-1913 - civic address changes to South Street(p. 778-779 of 1912-1913 Directory).
  • 1949 - civic address changes to Gottingen Street. (no digitized copy - see 1949 Directory).

Halifax Changes to 4-digit Civic Numbers, 1958-1965

Black and white image showing a butler holding a tray of numbers with text “A New Number for You!”

Public renumbering notice from City of Halifax Works Dept., 1964. Courtesy of Civic Addressing.

In 1958, the former City of Halifax adopted the grid-based 4-digit civic numbering schema that still exists on the Halifax Peninsula. Street renumbering had previously been done in an ad hoc manner, resulting in awkward civic numbering for new developments. The new grid system imposed a geographic logic to civic numbers that was popular in many North American cities at the time.

The Commissioner on Works distributed a detailed explanation of the new system to all city households. Street Renumbering Procedures show how staff implemented the new system.

The renumbering was phased in over the next few years, as every house was assigned a new number by the end of 1965. See the Street Renumbering Progress Reports, to know exactly when a particular street was renumbered.

Need to find an old civic address?

The City of Halifax Former Civic Address Cross-Reference  is a basic tool to convert a current 4-digit civic address to the pre-1960 former civic numbers and vice versa. Many historical resources, like property assessment records, building inspection permits, and photographs are organized by civic number, so researchers need to know what the contemporary number was. Please be aware that not all civic addresses are represented in this tool; it is based on an old card catalogue of notifications that were mailed out by the City of Halifax at the time of the change over, and somehow not all addresses were included.

Thank you to the Municipality's Civic Addressing unit for compiling and sharing this tool.

Plan of peninsular Halifax showing the new building renumbering system with the civic address delineated in red.

New renumbering plan, 1964, from City of Halifax Works Dept. Courtesy of Civic Addressing.

Cross References for New and Old Street Names up to 1981

Probably created as a quick reference tool for City staff, these lists cross reference new street names with their former names. Unfortunately the lists do not give any dates for or explanation of these changes, but further research into City records could likely trace that information.

These listings were in an Engineering and Works Department subject file, 102-39B.1247.  

The Municipal Archives is often asked about the origins or history of street names.  That research is not as easy as you'd hope, as explained in our How Streets Get Their Names blog.

Civic Addresses in Dartmouth and the former County of Halifax

Dartmouth civic addresses have not undergone any city-wide changes. The former County of Halifax did not use civic numbers until the 1960s. As suburban development increased, the County Planning and Development Department assigned civic numbers. Their street numbering plans, 1968-1981 (312-84-2) show the new numbers. The rural areas of the County did not have civic addresses assigned until more recent public safety efforts.

Other sources for civic address history:

Stop sign with Falkland and Gottingen street signs