Nova Scotia Archives

Built Heritage Resource Guide

Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed

Built heritage is a tangible but fragile resource, constantly under assault from owner neglect, inclement weather, the costs of upkeep and maintenance, insufficient public interest or support, urban renewal, property development, fires, floods, disasters and other sundry acts of God. Nova Scotia has escaped none of these threats and catastrophes — no major community in the province, for example, has avoided at least one devastating fire responsible for obliterating entire town blocks or neighbourhoods.

The built heritage of Halifax, the capital city, has been shaped, scarred or otherwise eroded by three noteworthy events over the last century. On 6 December 1917, the Richmond district in the city's north end was completely flattened and destroyed. Over a square mile of homes, businesses, schools, churches and factories, valued at an estimated $35,000,000, was obliterated in a moment, the result of an horrific mid-harbour collision between a munitions ship — the Mont Blanc — and a Belgian Relief vessel, the Imo. To further explore the Halifax Harbour Explosion and the 'new' built heritage created in its aftermath, visit the 'Vision of Regeneration' area of our Website.

During the 1960s 'urban renewal' arrived in Halifax, leaving a legacy of ambiguous outcomes. In 1962, civic officials decided to eliminate the long-established community of Africville, located on the northern tip of the urban peninsula, and distribute its residents elsewhere in the city. Relocation began in 1964; demolition was largely complete by the end of 1967; and in January 1970 the last homestead was razed.

Today, the land on which Africville once stood remains symbolically empty — a national historic site forming part of Seaview Memorial Park, named for the community's also-demolished United Baptist Church. 'Gone but Never Forgotten: Bob Brook's Photographic Portrait of Africville in the 1960s' explores the vernacular architecture and vibrant way of life that shaped this community and its residents in the days before its disappearance.

Similarly, many streets, residences and long-established businesses in Halifax's downtown core were destroyed in the name of urban development during construction of Scotia Square and the Cogswell Street Interchange in the late 1960s. It was the threatened loss of significant heritage structures to the traffic-flow improvements promised by the latter which finally rallied local citizens to action — without enlightened conservancy, the city's remaining built-heritage treasures might soon disappear forever.

This Built Heritage Resource Guide is unusually rich in the information given in the Note Areas accompanying most images. So... when you scan down the pages, be sure to click on the thumbnails so that you can enlarge and explore the images, plus read the extra details provided beneath each.

 scan 200803093
Windsor, NS, After the Fire of 17 October, 1897 
Date: 17 October 1897
Photographer: A.L. Hardy
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Photo Collection: Places: Windsor: Fires

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Fire
 scan 200803094
General View of Windsor, NS, after the Fire of 17 October, 1897 
Date: 19 October 1897
Photographer: J.W. Livingston
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Photo Collection: Places: Windsor: Fires

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Fire
Notman Studio scan 200714431
King Edward Hotel, Halifax, After the Fire 
Date: 30 December 1911
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Notman Studio Nova Scotia Archives no. 20564

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Fire
Halifax Civil Emergency Corps scan 200803095
"Fire Which Destroyed W.D. Piercey's Home on Dutch Village Rd." 
Date: 10 December 1943
Reference no.: Halifax Civil Emergency Corps Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1995-188 no. 46

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Fire
Buckley family scan 687
"Masonic Building Burning, Guysborough, NS" 
Date: 13 July 1933
Photographer: William H. Buckley
Reference no.: Buckley family Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1985-386 no. 389

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Fire
E.A. Bollinger scan 200803092
"Halifax Fire Department Fighting a Fire on Argyle St., Halifax, with a Canadian National Express Truck Assisting." 
Date: 1941
Photographer: E.A. Bollinger
Reference no.: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1941 no. 246A

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Fire
Halifax Civil Emergency Corps scan 200803096
Labour Temple Fire, North Park Street, Halifax 
Date: 2 January 1945
Reference no.: Halifax Civil Emergency Corps Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1995-188 no. 91

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Fire
Roland H. Sherwood scan 200803091
Damage to St. James Church, Pictou, After Hurricane Edna 
Date: 1954
Reference no.: Roland H. Sherwood Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1996-127 subseries 2 no. 230

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Hurricane
Helen Creighton scan 38
Hartlan Ghost House, South East Passage 
Date: [ca. 1928]
Photographer: Helen Creighton
Reference no.: Helen Creighton Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-178 no. 307

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Neglect
Clara Dennis scan 200803090
"Giant McAskill's House, St. Ann's" 
Date: 1930s
Photographer: Clara Dennis
Reference no.: Clara Dennis Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1981-541 no. 409

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Neglect
Clara Dennis scan 200801528
"Old Major House, Cap La Ronde, Isle Madame" 
Photographer: Clara Dennis
Reference no.: Clara Dennis Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1981-541 no. 263

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Neglect
Clara Dennis scan 200800522
"Mary Little Lamb Mat House on Tancook" 
Photographer: Clara Dennis
Reference no.: Clara Dennis Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1981-541 no. 513

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Neglect
 scan 200803102
Aerial View Showing Central Business District from the Harbour to Citadel Hill 
Date: ca. 1935
Photographer: Nova Scotia Bureau of Information
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives Photo Collection: Places: Halifax: Air View

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Redevelopment
E.A. Bollinger scan 200803097
"Shack Ordered Torn Down by the Board of Health" 
Date: 1941
Photographer: E.A. Bollinger
Reference no.: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1975-305 1941 no. 462-I

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Redevelopment
Edward J. Kelly scan 200803098
Corner of Jacob Street and Brunswick  
Photographer: Castle Studios
Reference no.: Edward J. Kelly Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1985-417 no. 3

Topic: Disasters and Loss ~ When Built Heritage is Destroyed / Redevelopment
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