Halifax, NS, Canada

In 1749, the British founded Halifax on a peninsula near the eastern edge of North America. This position was a gateway for European ships to enter today’s Atlantic Canada. Since then, the capital of Nova Scotia has grown to about 400,000 residents. Yet it is compact and very walkable. See why Halifax has become an enjoyable destination among foreign visitors and other Canadians while also a popular port of call for cruise ships.

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1 Old Town Clock in Halifax, Canada

Welcome to Halifax, the capital city of Nova Scotia, Canada. This travel guide introduces you to the highlights in downtown and then along the waterfront. A great place to start your walking tour is at the Old Town Clock on Citadel Hill. This landmark was commissioned by Prince Edward, the son of King George III, while he was stationed in Halifax as the Commander-in-Chief of North America. Apparently, the Duke of Kent and Strathearn had grown intolerant of soldiers’ excuses for being tardy. Garrison Clock was built in 1803. The young man is re-enacting a mid-1800s soldier from the Royal Artillery at the Halifax Citadel.

1766 Brunswick St, Halifax, NS B3J 3Y3, Canada

2 History of Halifax Citadel in Halifax, Canada

The unquestioned hallmark of the city is the Halifax Citadel. The first fort was commissioned in 1749 by British officer Edward Cornwallis. He was the founder of Halifax while the Governor of Nova Scotia. A replacement was constructed in 1776 in response to the American Revolutionary War. It lasted until the end of the century when a third citadel was finished in 1800. The present-day Halifax Citadel took 28 years to construct (from 1828 until 1856). The star-shaped fort remained in service through the end of World War II. This soldier at the entrance is dressed as a member of the 78th Highland Regiment. They served here from 1869 to 1871. There is a changing of the sentry every hour.

5425 Sackville St, Halifax, NS B3J 3Y3, Canada

3 Self-guided Tour of Halifax Citadel in Halifax, Canada

After paying a modest admission fee, you are on your own to explore the Halifax Citadel. There is lots to see at this National Historic Site of Canada. Among the most noteworthy are the Army Museum, a barracks, garrison cells, the Cavalier Building, a school room, a 15 minute film about defending the harbor and plenty of old artillery. You can also dress up as a soldier and fire a rifle similar to those used in the 19th century.

5425 Sackville St, Halifax, NS B3J 3Y3, Canada

4 Noon Gun at Halifax Citadel in Halifax, Canada

A crowd-pleasing event at the Halifax Citadel is the Noon Gun. Young men dressed in period uniforms assemble on a curtainwall facing the harbor. They follow protocol for preparing a replica of an 1809 cannon while a gathering crowd of tourists are told about each step. Then the fuse is lit. Some people plug their ears while others ready their cameras. Everyone flinches when the gun roars in a cloud of smoke.

5425 Sackville St, Halifax, NS B3J 3Y3, Canada

5 Former Power House in Halifax, Canada

Richard Power was born in Lismore, Ireland. He arrived in Halifax in 1864 with limited gardener experience yet eager to succeed. In 1872, Power was hired to expand the Halifax Common into an elaborate urban park. During his 45 year tenure, he was the horticulturist mastermind behind the Halifax Public Gardens. This residence for the garden superintendent was given a Queen Anne Revival design by architect James Dumaresq. Richard Power lived here from 1903 when it was finished until his death in 1934. Today, it is the Power House Youth Centre.

1606 Bell Rd, Halifax, NS B3H 2Z3, Canada

6 Griffin’s Pond at Public Gardens in Halifax, Canada

Halifax is justifiably proud to showcase the oldest Victorian garden in North America. Tranquil and picturesque only begin to describe the Halifax Public Gardens established in 1867. The 18 acre, manicured landscape is aglow with blooming flowers in spring and summer plus ablaze with foliage in the autumn. A favorite feature of waterfowl and locals is Griffin’s Pond. Floating in the peaceful water is a replica of the RMS Titanic. The model ship is a memorial to the 121 victims of the Titanic buried in Fairview Cemetery in Halifax.

5769 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, NS B3H, Canada

7 Boer War Memorial Fountain at Public Gardens in Halifax, Canada

The Halifax Public Gardens is adorned by fountains and statuary. This cast-iron rifleman from the Royal Canadian Dragoons was affixed atop the Boer War Memorial Fountain in 1903, one year after the South African War ended. You will also enjoy seeing the Victoria Jubilee Fountain. It was created in 1897 to help celebrate Victoria’s 60 anniversary as queen of the United Kingdom. Among the statues in the park are Ceres (fertility goddess), Flora (flower goddess), and Diana (woodlands goddess).

5769 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, NS B3H, Canada

8 Bandstand at Public Gardens in Halifax, Canada

Since 1887, the physical and social epicenter of Halifax Public Gardens is the elegant wooden bandstand created by Henry Busch. This is the site of outdoor summer concerts on Sunday afternoons. Encircling the bandstand are 32 flowerbeds in geometric shapes. Something different is always blooming from May through October at this National Historic Site of Canada.

5769 Spring Garden Road, Halifax, NS B3H, Canada

9 Spring Garden Road in Halifax, Canada

The southern edge of the Halifax Public Gardens runs along Spring Garden Road. As you walk east, you enter Halifax’s main shopping district. You will first encounter Park Lane Mall and then numerous boutique retailers. Take time to also explore the intersecting streets. Just before reaching Barrington Street, you can admire several city landmarks. Getting hungry along the way? Choose from several pubs, fast-food chains or street-food carts. If your credit card needs more of a workout, visit other meccas for shopaholics at Halifax Shopping Centre (200 stores), Scotia Square Mall or Mic Mac Mall.

5421 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, NS B3J 1G1, Canada

10 Dalhousie University on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, Canada

Dalhousie University has three campuses in Halifax to serve 20,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. The institution was founded in 1818 by General George Ramsay, 9th Earl of Dalhousie, while he was the Governor of Nova Scotia. The Ralph M. Medjuck Building – built in 1908 – houses the school’s Faculty of Architecture and Planning.

5410 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, NS B3J 1B6, Canada

11 Spring Garden Road Memorial Library in Halifax, Canada

The Citizens’ Free Library was established in Halifax in 1864. Both the collection and housing were small, even after it moved into a wing of City Hall in 1890. Soon after World War II, plans developed to create the city’s first municipal library. The name became the Halifax Memorial Library as a remembrance to servicemen who died in battle. This building in Grafton Park was the main branch until 2014. In that year, the new Halifax Central Library opened at Spring Garden Road and Queen Street. The Halifax Public Libraries now has 14 branches with a collection of one million items.

5440 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, NS B3J 1E9, Canada

12 Winston Churchill Statue on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, Canada

The bronze Winston Churchill statue in front of the Halifax Memorial Library is ten feet tall. This grandeur reflects his significant contributions while the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the mid-20th century yet inflates his actual height of 5’6”. Sculptor Oscar Nemon patterned his work after a photo of Churchill during a secret visit to Halifax in 1943.

Spring Garden Rd & Grafton Street, Halifax, NS B3J 1E9, Canada

Horse-drawn Trolley on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, Canada

A fun and informative alternative to walking around Halifax is aboard the Horse-drawn Trolley. This excursion for cruise ship passengers is operated by Hatfield Farm. The tour lasts a couple of hours. Another option is to sightsee in a double-decker hop-on hop-off bus offered by Big Pink. The round-trip circuit takes about 90 minutes.

13 Halifax Court House on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, Canada

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia heard cases in the Halifax Court House for a century, from 1860 until 1960. In 1971, the primary tenant became the Nova Scotia Provincial Court. The Italian Renaissance design of the brown stone façade was the work of architect William Thomas. Especially noteworthy are Tuscan columns above the prominent high-reliefs shaped as lion medallions and facial keystones. Halifax Court House was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1969.

5250 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, NS B3J 1E7, Canada

14 St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica on Spring Garden Road in Halifax, Canada

The 189 foot granite spire of St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is the unquestioned pinnacle of Spring Garden Road and the tallest in North America. The first Roman Catholic church – then named St. Peter’s – was built from wood in 1784 after Irish Catholics were granted freedom of religion. It was replaced with another in 1820 and then the current Gothic Revival structure in 1899. Pope Pius XII declared St. Mary’s to be a basilica in 1950. Over the altar is a magnificent stained-glass window of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven. Interestingly, none of the windows are original. They were all blown out during the Halifax Explosion of 1917.

5221 Spring Garden Rd, Halifax, NS B3J 1Z3, Canada

15 Argyle Street in Halifax, Canada

Behind St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica is the start of Argyle Street. Although only four blocks long, it is packed with places of interest. These include restaurants, pubs, nightlife, entertainment options and the Grand Parade, a central city plaza. The street dates back to British colonists in 1749. The namesake is Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll. He was a famous Scottish politician and nobleman who lived from 1682 until 1761.

1580 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 1H5, Canada

16 Neptune Theatre on Argyle Street in Halifax, Canada

This location on Argyle Street began in 1915 as a vaudeville house called the Strand Theatre. Then it became the Garrick Repertory Theatre in 1928. Since 1963, this has been home to the Neptune Theatre, Atlanta Canada’s biggest professional theater company. The performing arts venue stages a mix of classic and contemporary plays, musicals and comedies. Fountain Hall is named after Margaret and David Fountain, two major theater benefactors.

1593 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 2B2, Canada

17 Rogers Square in Halifax, Canada

Nova Centre is a large complex of office high-rises (BMO Tower and South Tower), the Halifax Convention Centre, The Residence Inn by Marriott plus retailers. In 2019, Rogers Square was opened. The pedestrian walkway extends Grafton Street through the center of the property. The covered space is intended to hold concerts, community events and sports-related festivities. The promenade is named after Rogers Communications, a major media company serving eastern and central Canada.

1626 Grafton St, Halifax, NS B3J 2C4, Canada

18 Halifax Convention Centre on Argyle Street in Halifax, Canada

Although Halifax is a modest-size city – population 400,000 – it boasts of a world-class convention center since opening in 2017. The two-block long facility is part of the Nova Centre commercial and retail complex. Inside is about one million square feet of space allocated across a ballroom and several exhibition halls and meeting rooms.

1650 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 0E6, Canada

19 Scotiabank Centre on Argyle Street in Halifax, Canada

Canadians love their sports. Fans in Halifax enjoy cheering for their favorite players in Scotiabank Centre. The stadium was built in 1978. It is home to several hockey, lacrosse and basketball teams representing Nova Scotia and Halifax. The arena has also hosted numerous championship playoff games. In addition, Scotiabank Centre has been the stage for concerts performed by a who’s who of entertainers. Scotiabank is the marketing name for the Bank of Nova Scotia. Canada’s third largest bank was founded in Halifax in 1832.

1800 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 2V9, Canada

20 St. Paul’s Church on Argyle Street in Halifax, Canada

The Town of Halifax was founded in 1749 based on a proclamation by King George II. The earliest British colonists settled around a 1.5 acre, rectangular space known as Grand Parade. Their first activities were building homes and St. Paul’s Church. The simple Georgian design was drafted by James Gibbs. This is the oldest surviving Anglican church in Canada. Inside of the National Historic Site of Canada are crypts and memorials of war heroes, governors, chief justices and prominent citizens dating back to 1781.

1749 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 3K4, Canada

21 Britannia Statue on Cenotaph on Argyle Street in Halifax, Canada

In the middle of Grand Parade is the 30 foot tall Cenotaph crafted in granite. The memorial was erected in 1929 as a tribute to Canadians who died in World War I. Since then, the years of conflict during World War II and the Korean War have been added. The most striking feature is a bronze sculpture of Britannia created by John Massey Rhind. Britannia has symbolized the United Kingdom since the second century. In this context, she represents the Motherhood of Nova Scotia. Britannia is portrayed holding a shield emblazoned with Halifax’s coat of arms. On the left is a fisherman, on the right is a sailor and in the middle is a kingfisher representing industry. The Latin motto means Wealth from the Sea.

1770 Barrington St, Halifax, NS B3J 3K4, Canada

22 Halifax City Hall on Argyle Street in Halifax, Canada

Halifax City Hall has anchored the north end of Grand Parade since 1890. This is the meeting place and offices for the sixteen member Halifax Regional Council plus the mayor. The distinguished clock tower stands seven stories. The north-side clock is fixed at 9:04. This was the moment on December 6, 1917, when two ships collided in the harbor. The Halifax Explosion devastated the city and claimed the lives of about 2,000 people. The 20 foot high arch in the foreground is the Fallen Peace Officers’ Memorial.

1841 Argyle St, Halifax, NS B3J 3A5, Canada

23 Octopus, Fish and Heron Mural in Halifax, Canada

There are several wonderful murals around Halifax. Few compare to this untitled vibrant street art by Jason Botkin. The painting portrays an octopus entangled with a fish and blue heron. Not sure of the meaning but it sure grabs your attention. Montreal-based Jason Botkin is a co-founder of EN MASSE, a community of 250 artists dedicated to creating fine arts on city walls.

1729 Barrington St, Halifax, NS B3J 2A4, Canada

24 Province House in Halifax, Canada

Halifax is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia. Its legislative building opened in 1819, making it the oldest in Canada. The façade of Province House displays a Palladian design. This style was popular in England for grand buildings during the Georgian Era (1714-1837). In addition to Nova Scotia Legislature meetings, the structure has also been home to the supreme court, the scene of governor inaugurations and the venue for welcoming visiting royalty and dignitaries.

1726 Hollis St, Halifax, NS B3J 2Y3, Canada

25 South African War Memorial in Halifax, Canada

Adjacent to the Province House is this statue of a soldier holding a rifle above his head. It is the South African War Memorial. Over 7,000 Canadian servicepeople participated in the battles (also called the Boer War) between 1899 and 1902. 267 were killed and another 250 were wounded. George Albert, then the Prince of Wales and future George V, officiated over the dedication ceremonies. The statue was created by Hamilton MacCarthy. The granite building in the background was the Bank of Commerce from 1906 until 1977. The Neoclassical structure designed by Albert Kahn became the Pacifico Dance Club in 2020.

1726 Hollis St, Halifax, NS B3J 2Y3, Canada

26 Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, Canada

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia occupies two adjacent heritage buildings across from the Province House. Between them is Ondaatje Court. This plaza serves as the entrance to AGNS. Since the museum was founded in 1908, the collection has swelled to over 18,000 pieces. This makes it the largest art museum in Atlantic Canada. Most of the works are by artists from the province and across Canada yet some international names are featured. Perhaps most interesting is the art by Maud Lewis. She was a popular 20th century folk artist from Nova Scotia. Her tiny house is also exhibited.

1723 Hollis St, Halifax, NS B3J 1V9, Canada

27 Historic Properties at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

No visit to Halifax is complete without a stroll along the waterfront. This area used to be the city’s commercial harbor. It has been transformed into attractions along the two mile Halifax Boardwalk. A good place to start if you just left the Nova Scotia Art Museum is the Historic Properties. This three-block area is filled with warehouses used by privateers during the War of 1812. Most have been converted into boutique shops and restaurants. The following nine photos show places of interest as you walk south until you reach the cruise ship terminal at Pavilion 22. If you are disembarking, you can follow this walking guide of the waterfront in reverse order.

1869 Upper Water St, Halifax, NS B3J 1S9, Canada

28 Halifax Ferry Terminal at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

For a real adventure, ride on the world’s oldest saltwater ferry. The service between Halifax and Dartmouth began in 1752. Dartmouth was a separate city before merging with Halifax in 1996. The City of Lakes has about 65,000 people. It is located across The Narrows northeast of Halifax Harbor. Halifax Transit has a fleet of five vessels. Each is named after an important person from Halifax. This ship is Craig Blake in memory of a Navy officer who was killed in Afghanistan while defusing a bomb.

5072 George St, Halifax, NS B3J 1M4, Canada

29 Theodore Too Tugboat at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

Theodore Tugboat was a children’s TV program produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). The series aired from 1993 until 2001. The show featured the adventures and life lessons of six tugboats working in the Big Harbour. The main star was Theodore. Now is your chance to relive your memories of the show. Hop aboard Theodore Too at Cable Wharf for a sightseeing tour while listening to music from the show.

1751 Lower Water Street, Halifax, NS B3J 1S5, Canada

30 Dockyard Clock at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

You will notice this baby-blue tower with a clock and weather vane along the Halifax Boardwalk. But you might consider it unimportant and keep walking. Stop and take a second look. This is Canada’s oldest working clock. Dockyard Clock was manufactured in London in 1767. In 1772, it was placed inside a domed cupola. In 1996, this heritage timepiece was gifted to the city by the Royal Navy and installed here. The placement marks the spot where the first British settlers arrived in 1749.

5072 George St, Halifax, NS B3J 1M4, Canada

31 Maritime Museum of the Atlantic at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

A major attraction along the Halifax Waterfront is the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. The collection of over 30,000 items includes model ships, vintage photos and seafaring artifacts. The most fascinating exhibits feature the sinking of the Titanic (1912), the Halifax Explosion (1917) and treasures recovered from shipwrecks in Nova Scotia. Docked along the wharf are retired Royal Canadian Navy ships. Don’t miss exploring Canada’s oldest maritime museum.

1675 Lower Water St, Halifax, NS B3J 1S3, Canada

32 Amphibious Sightseeing Ride at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

Prefer not to walk through Halifax? Then consider seeing the sites for an hour aboard an amphibious vehicle. Harbour Hopper Tours offers a unique way to explore the highlights of downtown. Then splash into the water for a ride around Halifax Harbour. Throughout your journey, a knowledgeable host provides commentary filled with facts, interesting stories and humor. Audio is available in several languages.

5050 Salter St, Halifax, NS B3J 1T3, Canada

33 The Emigrant Sculpture at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

In 2013, the Halifax Port Authority commissioned a bronze work by Armando Barbon to celebrate Canada’s diverse cultural heritage. The Emigrant Sculpture shows a man leaving his home town with a single piece of luggage. The bas-relief portrays the family he left behind.

1215 Marginal Rd, Halifax, NS B3J 3S8, Canada

34 Samuel Cunard Statue at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

Samuel Cunard was born in Halifax in 1787. Chief among his career successes was shipping. He began with mail delivery. This evolved into steamship building – first for a local ferry company and eventually into transatlantic vessels. In 1840, he founded the British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company. Overtime, this became the Cunard Line. Among his credits were the building of the Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) and acquiring the White Star Line (owner of Titanic). Cunard’s former company is now part of Carnival Cruises. This ten foot bronze sculpture was created by Peter Bustin. It is appropriately placed along the wharfs where Cunard’s fleet of ships once docked.

1215 Marginal Rd, Halifax, NS B3H 4P8, Canada

35 Seaport Farmers’ Market at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

You are now standing in front of another first for North America: the oldest farmers’ market. This iconic marketplace was established in 1750, one year after the city was founded. In 2010, the merchants moved into this new building at Halifax Seaport. Inside of the Seaport Farmers’ Market are over 250 vendors. They sell everything imaginable from fresh fruits and vegetables, to meat and fish plus crafts, clothes, jewelry and specialty items. The place bustles with activity every day except Mondays.

1209 Marginal Rd, Halifax, NS B3H 4P8, Canada

36 Canadian Museum of Immigration at Waterfront in Halifax, Canada

Canada is a melting pot of nations. From 1815 through 1850, the Great Migration of Canada saw an influx of over 800,000 people chiefly from the British Isles. More Europeans followed during the late 19th and 20th centuries. In recent decades, citizens from Asia, the Middle East and the United States have entered the country. From 1928 until 1971, over one million immigrants arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax. What better location to build the Canadian Museum of Immigration? The exhibits tell the stories of traveling to Canada by ship, arriving in a foreign land and the contributions immigrants have made to the country. There are plenty of interactive displays to delight children. There is also plenty of information to educate their parents.

1055 Marginal Rd, Halifax, NS B3H 4P7, Canada

37 Lighthouse on Georges Island in Halifax, Canada

Within eyesight of the Halifax Seaport, and directly across from the cruise ship terminal at Pavilion 22, is Georges Island. The British built a fort here in 1750 at the outbreak of the Father Le Loutre’s War. The clash pitted Great Britain against the Miꞌkmaq (First Nations people) and Acadians (from a New France colony). This site was also used to contain prisoners of war. In 1798, Prince Edward (the future father of Queen Victoria) built Fort Charlotte (named for his mother). A subsequent one was constructed during the American Civil War. The citadel remained in service through WWII. The islet has had several names. The current one – Georges Island – is a tribute to George II, the King of Great Britain from 1727 until 1760. Unfortunately, Georges Island is not open to tourism. This 57 foot concrete lighthouse dates from 1917. The original one was installed in 1876.

Georges Island Rd, Halifax, NS B3K 5M7, Canada