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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Wright Ave: Infill housing at its best

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HALIFAX – Wright Ave is the kind of place that makes Atlantic Canadian cities so great.

An almost entirely hidden street in downtown Halifax, many people walk by it all the time and never even know it’s there — a laneway-looking road leading off Morris Street full of family-sized semi-detached houses.

Backing onto Fort Massey Cemetery, the houses seem as if they were all built at once. Their uniform shape and cladding, big wooden decks and similar paint jobs seem to point to the fact that some developer likely spotted this unused bit of land right smack in downtown Halifax and decided to throw up some houses.

Yet, many smaller details along the street seem to say that they weren’t just thrown up, but that a substantial amount of thought was given to the streetscape and overall design of the neighbourhood. For instance, brick pathways are laid into the asphalt sidewalk wherever there is a front door — a little touch that gives the street a really personal feel. There are also plenty of trees squeezed into the limited sidewalk space, a green reminder of the density of the site.

The entrance to Wright Ave, under the shadow of Fenwick Tower.

Examples of infill housing are few and far between in Atlantic Canada, since the densities of most cities just don’t call for it. Yet this row of houses is a great example of the value of thinking off the grid when it comes to new development in downtown Halifax, providing a family-friendly and aesthetically appealing alternative to condos.

We would do well to enliven other orphaned spaces around town with a similar eye to reuniting them with the urban fabric of the city.

photos by Jake Schabas



  1. Hi Jake,

    I understand from a friend who knows the history of the area that the housing on Wright Ave. were built by a local manufacturer/developer for his employees. The developer back in the day wanted to ensure his employees had affordable housing, which was difficult to come by back in the day (and still is).

    The story may be apocryphal at this point, but what resonates in it is a certain element of community planning.

    If you like I can get you in touch with my friend who’s in the know.


  2. Michael,

    You are right – The street is named after that developer George Wright (his house is located at the corner of Inglis St and Young Ave., the Women’s COuncil building).

    He built a number of buildings on Barrington, ironically the Wright Building being one. He died in 1912 on the Titanic and left his house to the Women’s Council in his will.

    I love this street.