1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Halifax (Nova Scotia)

HALIFAX, a city and port of entry, capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is situated in 44° 59′ N. and 63° 35′ W., on the south-east coast of the province, on a fortified hill, 225 ft. in height, which slopes down to the waters of Chebucto Bay, now known as Halifax Harbour. The harbour, which is open all the year, is about 6 m. long by 1 m. in width, and has excellent anchorage in all parts; to the north a narrow passage connects it with Bedford Basin, 6 m. in length by 4 m., and deep enough for the largest men-of-war. At the harbour mouth lies McNab’s Island, thus forming two entrances; the eastern passage is only employed by small vessels, though in 1862 the Confederate cruiser, “Tallahassee,” slipped through by night, and escaped the northern vessels which were watching off the western entrance. The population in 1901 was 40,832.

The town was originally built of wood, plastered or stuccoed, but though the wooden houses largely remain, the public buildings are of stone. Inferior in natural strength to Quebec alone, the city and its approaches have been fortified till it has become the strongest position in Canada, and one of the strongest in the British Empire. Till 1906 it was garrisoned by British troops, but in that year, with Esquimalt, on the Pacific coast, it was taken over by the Canadian government, an operation necessitating a large increase in the Canadian permanent military force. At the same time, the royal dockyard, containing a dry-dock 610 ft. in length, and the residences in connexion, were also taken over for the use of the department of marine and fisheries. Till 1905 Halifax was the summer station of the British North American squadron. In that year, in consequence of a redistribution of the fleet, the permanent North American squadron was withdrawn; but Halifax is still visited periodically by powerful squadrons of cruisers.

Though, owing to the growth of Sydney and other outports, it no longer monopolizes the foreign trade of the province, Halifax is still a thriving town, and has the largest export trade of the Dominion in fish and fish products, the export of fish alone, in 1904, amounting to over three-fifths that of the entire Dominion. Lumber (chiefly spruce deals) and agricultural products (especially apples) are also exported in large quantities. The chief imports are manufactures from Great Britain and the United States, and sugar, molasses, rum and fruit from the West Indies. Its industrial establishments include foundries, sugar refineries, manufactures of furniture and other articles of wood, a skate factory and rope and cordage works, the produce of which are all exported. It is the Atlantic terminus of the Intercolonial, Canadian Pacific and several provincial railways, and the chief winter port of Canada, numerous steamship lines connecting it with Great Britain, Europe, the West Indies and the United States. The public gardens, covering 14 acres, and Point Pleasant Park, left to a great extent in its natural state, are extremely beautiful. Behind the city is an arm of the sea (known as the North-West Arm), 5 m. in length and 1 m. in breadth, with high, well-wooded shores, and covered in summer with canoes and sailing craft. The educational institutions include a ladies’ college, several convents, a Presbyterian theological college and Dalhousie University, with faculties of arts, law, medicine and science. Established by charter in 1818 by the earl of Dalhousie, then lieutenant governor, and reorganized in 1863, it has since become much the most important seat of learning in the maritime provinces. Other prominent buildings are Government House, the provincial parliament and library, and the Roman Catholic cathedral. St Paul’s church (Anglican) dates from 1750, and though not striking architecturally, is interesting from the memorial tablets and the graves of celebrated Nova Scotians which it contains. The city is the seat of the Anglican bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and of the Roman Catholic bishop of Halifax.

Founded in 1749 by the Hon. Edward Cornwallis as a rival to the French town of Louisburg in Cape Breton, it was named after the 2nd earl of Halifax, president of the board of trade and plantations. In the following year it superseded Annapolis as capital of the province. Its privateers played a prominent part in the war of 1812–15 with the United States, and during the American Civil War it was a favourite base of operations for Confederate blockade-runners. The federation of the North American provinces in 1867 lessened its relative importance, but its merchants have gradually adapted themselves to the altered conditions.