Pride in Your Shared Neighbourhood
The South End of Halifax is a diverse neighbourhood that offers great opportunities for fun and entertainment and comfortable living to all who reside in it. While many of us realize what a wonderful neighbourhood it is, we do not really know the history behind it. For as long as Halifax has been a city, the South End has been a place of important sites, and an area that gave honour to those who helped Nova Scotia become what it is today.
Robie Street is named for the Nova Scotian politician and judge, Simon Bradstreet Robie. It was the street where many of the finest gardens and nurseries could be found. It gradually shifted to the area where many educational and healthcare institutions were located. Many of these institutions have stood the test of time and are still found on Robie Street.
There is some debate as to which memberof the Inglis family, Inglis Street is named for. Some say it was Charles Inglis who arrived in Halifax in 1787 and became the first Anglican bishop. Others say it was actually name for his grandson, John. John was a major general in the British Army and Knight Commander of the Bath. Whichever member of the family the street is named for, it represents a family who played a large part in forming all of Canada as we know it.
The South End also has the honour of being home to the beautiful Public Gardens. They are one of the finest and oldest Victorian Gardens on the entire continent. They were established in 1836 by the Nova Scotia Horticultural Society, and bought by the city in 1874 for $15,000. Inside the gardens there is a bandstand which is now a popular spot for pictures of important events ranging from weddings to proms. The bandstand was built in 1887 to honour Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee. The impressive cast iron gates which stand at the entrance to the garden were erected in 1890.
At the other end of the South End is the equally impressive Point Pleasant Park. At one time the place where the sea batteries were located, Point Pleasant is now a park that blends our history with beautiful nature. One part of this history is the Purcell’s Cove ferry. In 1853, Joseph Purcell started a service using sail to take those on the western shore of the Arm to the park. He also transported troops and carried the Royal Mail. The family continued on the business until 1971 when the service finally closed. You will still find a marker to the family in the park.
Leading to Point Pleasant Park is Tower Road. In the 1790’s it was a rough and rural road, which troops used to march to and from the sea batteries at the park. It is now home to residential housing which mixes the Victorian era with the modern. Perhaps the most prominent structure on Tower Road was the Tower Road School. It was first built in 1874, and then rebuilt in brick in 1912. Although there was no gymnasium until 1955, the school had many well-known students. They included Hugh MacLellan, a novelist, and Rich Little, a comedian. All though no longer the recognizable public school, this structure is still well known today as the Tower Road campus of the private Halifax Grammar School.
One of the most well known streets in the South End is Spring Garden Road. A mixture of shops, entertainment and restaurants, it is also home to large parts of Halifax’s history. Halifax’s first sufficient library came in 1951, when the Halifax Memorial Library opened just off of Spring Garden. Another important, and also still functioning structure, is the County Courthouse.It was designed by C.P. Thomas and completed in 1859. Additional wings were added as the city grew.
As the South End has always been a place for educational institutions, it is no surprise that Saint Mary’s eventually found its home here. Saint Mary’s University was initially located on Grafton Street, but got its first real campus in 1868 when it moved to North Street. The campus we know as Saint Mary’s was once a golf course. In 1951, the present day campus opened, on what used to be a golf course.
There is much more to the South End of Halifax than first meets the eye. Take the time to find out more about this great neighbourhood we all get to share.