Nova Scotia Archives

Halifax and Its People / 1749-1999

Entertainment and Social Events

Halifax's reputation as a community which encourages and loves band music dates from the eighteenth century, when the British forces posted to the Garrison City brought their regimental bands and provided stirring music for both troops and civilians. Lieutenant William Dyott, 4th Regiment of Foot, arrived in Halifax in 1787 and noted in his diary, "There is a square in town called the Grand Parade, where the troops in garrison parade every evening during the summer; and where all the belles and beaux of the place promenade, and the bands remain to play as long as they walk."

Singing, dancing and music were taught and enjoyed in Halifax from the beginning of the community. Henry Meriton offered dancing lessons to both men and women in 1752, and nine years later, Jacob Althaus advertised that he would teach gentlemen to play sundry musical instruments. The Nova-Scotia Gazette, 22 February 1785, carried the first newspaper reference to a concert — an event held in the Golden Ball, a local coffee house. Concerts and operas were subsequently performed in the British Tavern, Noonan's Tavern, Mrs. Sutherland's Coffee House, the British Coffee House, the Golden Ball, the Grand Theatre and the Theatre Royal.

Mrs. Anna Kearney, describing the evening of 10 August 1795, when she attended the comedy Ways and Means and the burletta [a comic opera or musical farce] Midas, confided to her diary that "Sir John [Wentworth, the Lieutenant Governor] sent his carriage to conduct me to the Theatre — The Coachman much in liquor & drove so extremely fast that I was near fainting with fear when we got to the Door & trembled from Head to Foot [.] Mrs. George sat also in Sir Johns Box — The Play (which was Ways & means) went off tolerably well with the Scenery pretty & some of the male Voices in Midas extremely fine". Mrs. Kearney's ride home was uneventful, the coachman apparently by then being sober!

Late nineteenth-century activities, actively captured by the invention of the camera, reflected typical pursuits and interests of the time: balls and dances, art exhibitions, concerts, plays and lectures, boating and other water-related activities, and family, Sunday School and group picnics to popular local destinations such as the North West Arm, Bedford Basin, McNabs Island, Cow Bay and the Rocking Stone in Spryfield. Another local novelty was the skating rink at the Exhibition Building on Tower Road, officially opened in 1880. Ice carnivals were held there regularly, attracting upwards of 3000 spectators to watch hundreds of costumed skaters.

Some things never change. Halifax celebrated its bicentenary in 1949, and The Standard (Montreal) of 16 July commented that "Like a tired but happy old lady playing hostess at the biggest party of her life, Halifax laid out the welcome mat June 21 for a summer-long whirl of parades, fun-making and pageantry to mark the city's 200th birthday".


Results 1 to 14 of 14 from your search: Entertainment and Social Events


"Fancy-dress Ball given by Gen. Sir Patrick L. MacDougall, K.C.M.G., Commmander of H.M. Forces, at 'Maplewood', Northwest Arm, Halifax, N.S., sometime between 1878 & 1883, composite photo by W. Notman, Hfx."
Date: between 1878 and 1883
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Notman Studio Nova Scotia Archives  OS no. 45760

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Amateur Theatre Cast of Pirates of Penzance, ca. 1885
Date: ca. 1885
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Notman Studio Nova Scotia Archives  no. 65615

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"Carnival, Old Exhibition Rink, Feb. 1899"
Date: February 1899
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Captain Ferdinand James Odevaine Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1992-306 no. 15

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"Mum [Frances Gwendolyn (née Francklyn) Castens] in her Noah's Ark costume, worn when skating", 189-?
Date: 1890s
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Mary K. Sterling Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1995-122 no. 1

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"Hesslein & Anderson", ca. 1885
Date: ca. 1885
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Notman Studio Nova Scotia Archives  no. 93576

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Missionary Loan Exhibition, Halifax, January 1903
Date: January 1903
Photographer: Notman Studio
Reference no.: Notman Studio Nova Scotia Archives  no. 10578

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Boating on the North West Arm in front of the Waegwoltic Club, Halifax, ca. 1910
Date: ca. 1910
Photographer: Harry O. Dodge (Gauvin & Gentzel)
Reference no.: H.O. Dodge Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-73 no. 3

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"Scene from Evangeline (movie) 1913, garden of Billman Residence, 'Melvillewood', Armdale, later called 17 Herring Cove Rd."
Date: 1913
Reference no.: James Billman Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1981-295 no. 1

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"The Commercial Club Luncheon, 1925, given by Moir's Ltd., on the old Bedford Road, now part of Moir's Ltd."
Date: 1925
Photographer: Climo
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1987-72 no. 11

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Canadian Actor Austin Willis and Dick Fry Perform from the CHNS Studio, Lord Nelson Hotel, Halifax, 1928
Date: [1928]
Reference no.: CHNS Radio Studio Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1992-396 no. 6

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"Gay 'Senoritas' to dance tonight", April 1931
Date: April 1931
Photographer: J. C. M. Hayward
Reference no.: Commercial Club of Halifax Nova Scotia Archives  MG 20 vol. 78

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Minstrels of '31 Programme, Commercial Club of Halifax
Date: 1931
Reference no.: Commercial Club of Halifax Nova Scotia Archives  MG 20 vol. 78

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Letter from R E. Inglis, Ticket Committee, to Members of the Commercial Club of Halifax, 12 March 1931, Requesting Them to Sell Tickets
Date: 12 March 1931
Reference no.: Commercial Club of Halifax Nova Scotia Archives  MG 20 vo. 78

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Olympic Gardens Dance Hall, Hunter Street, Halifax, ca. 1948
Date: ca. 1948
Reference no.: Blair Beed Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1984-342 no. E.1

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