HALIFAX – Halifax has a rich 260 year history. A lot of fascinating stuff has happened here, much of it has even been written down. Here’s a quick selection of some neat books I found on Halifax, and they’re all available through your local public library.
1. Halifax Street Names: An Illustrated Guide, edited by Shelia Mackenzie. Halifax: Formac Publishing Company Limited, 2002. 189 pages.
If you find it at all interesting to know that Robie Street was named after Nova Scotian Judge Simon Bradstreet Robie (1770-1858), or that in the mid 19th century the south end of Brunswick street was known as ‘Knock-’em-down Street” because of the frequent brawls outside of the brothels and taverns on the east side, then this is the book for you. Halifax Street Names provides the reader with the histories of some of Halifax’s over 5000 streets. The book also has a number of cool photos of Halifax over the years. Halifax Street Names is sure to bring a little added appreciation to your daily dog walks and bike rides.
2. Historic South End Halifax, by Peter McGuigan. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2007. 174 pages.
The structure of this book is somewhat similar to that of Halifax Street Names, except instead of just street names, author Peter McGuigan offers engaging histories of the South End’s most interesting people and places. Starting in 1750, the book takes the reader through upper class suburbs, immigrant communities of the 19th century, and the construction of the railway and ocean terminal, among other things. Chalk full of excellent pictures and stories, Historic South End Halifax is another great pick.
3. Historic North End Halifax, by Paul A. Erickson. Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 2004. 171 pages.
This book looks pretty much the same as Historic South End Halifax, but, much like the North End, the structure and approach is somewhat different. While Erickson does take the time to highlight specific people and places, he also attempts to give the reader cohesive narratives on a number of historical themes. In this book you’ll find interesting accounts of the Halifax Explosion and subsequent rebuilding, “The Saga of Africville,” and post-war urban renewal. Definitely a good choice for those interested in the physical and social structures that have made up the North End through the years.
4. Halifax: The First 250 years, By Judith Fingard, Hanet Guildford and David Sutherland. Halifax: Formac Publishing Company Limited, 1999. 189 pages.
If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m a big fan of illustrated history books — Halifax: the First 250 Years is no exception. This book is basically structured like your standard university text book, offering a pretty comprehensive account of the history of Halifax. Chapter 8 is all about the post-war urban renewal period, so probably especially interesting to those city-buffs out there.