Nova Scotia Archives

Halifax and Its People / 1749-1999

Transportation and Communication

In July 1750, the early settlers of Halifax were ordered to clear the streets in front of their respective lots. However, as T.B. Akins noted in his History of Halifax City, as late as 1780 the main thoroughfares were still in rough condition, while less-travelled streets were impassable to carriages, due to protruding tree stumps and rocks. Between 1820 and 1824, street commissioners were appointed for the city and they began gradually to macadamize ('pave') the streets.

William D. O'Brien's horse-car railway commenced operations along Water Street, from Richmond in the north to the site of the present-day Ocean Terminals in the south, in 1866. Over the following thirty years horse-car service improved, with larger vehicles and extended routes. Improvements came again in 1896, when the Halifax Electric Tramway Company introduced the first electric tram-cars over one-and-a-half miles of track on Barrington Street. This service soon extended to all parts of the city.

The 'keep-to-the-right' rule of the road was introduced to Nova Scotia in 1923 — and necessitated an immediate change in the location of the door and the driver in all Birney tram-cars then operating in the city. The army nicknamed this particular and distinctive vehicle model the 'Mustard Can', while the navy referred to them as the 'Banana Fleet'. Prior to World War II, some 58 Birney tram-cars carried an average of nine million passengers per year in Halifax. However, this number skyrocketed to more than 31 million passengers annually during the war. Twenty-three additional trams were purchased from all over North America, but during the bicentenary year, 1949, a new electric trolley-coach service was commenced, resulting in the nostalgic 'retirement' of the old and familiar Birney cars.

Ferry service has been continuous across Halifax Harbour since 1752. After at least three earlier attempts to span the water with some sort of structure, two permanent bridges now link the two largest communities within the Halifax Regional Municipality — the Angus L. Macdonald (1955) and the A. Murray MacKay (1970). Until this century, travel through Halifax County was primarily by stagecoach over rough roads, or by sailing vessel or coastal steamer. By the turn of the century, the Halifax and South-Western Railway (the 'Hellish Slow and Wobbly') linked the city with South Shore communities, and in 1916 another rail-line officially opened between Dartmouth and Upper Musquodoboit. The opening of an airport on Chebucto Road in 1931 signalled that the city was ready to encourage commercial aviation, and the present-day Halifax International Airport officially opened in 1960.


Results 1 to 9 of 9 from your search: Transportation and Communication


"Ferry Wharf, Dartmouth, N.S., with Ferry SS Chebucto in the dock, also Ticket Office & Waiting Room (in centre) & Ferry Co's office at left; about 1885, looking SSW. Photo. by Dr. G.L. Sinclair"
Date: ca. 1885
Photographer: G.L. Sinclair
Reference no.: G.L. Sinclair Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1992-319 no. 3

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"Dartmouth Ferry Steamer Mic-Mac at wharf of Mt. Hope Insane Asylum, Dartmouth, N.S., with a picnic party, about 1885. The Mic-Mac was the third steamer of the Dartmouth Ferry & was built by Alex. Lyle at Dartmouth in 1844. Photo by Dr. Geo. L. Sinclair, view looking NW."
Date: ca. 1885
Photographer: G.L. Sinclair
Reference no.: G.L. Sinclair Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1992-319 no. 4

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"Manager James Adams and most of conductors, drivers, etc., with two open (summer) Horse Cars, Halifax Street Railway Co., Halifax, N.S., in front of the Company's Car Barn, S.E. corner of Campbell's Road & Hanover St., Richmond, Halifax, N.S.", ca. 1894
Date: ca. 1894
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives  Photo Drawer - Transportation & Communication - Street cars - Horse drawn, ca. 1894

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Sewer and Water Trenches, Burton's Hill, Portland Street, Dartmouth, Looking East, ca. 1900
Date: ca. 1900
Photographer: W.L. Bishop
Reference no.: W.L. Bishop Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1983-240 no. 27

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Laying Double Track for Halifax Electric Tramway, possibly Quinpool Road, Halifax, between 1906 and 1912
Date: between 1906 and 1912
Photographer: Cox Brothers, Co.
Reference no.: Nelson Amiro Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1986-132

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Steamer Dufferin at the Government Wharf, Port Dufferin, with Smiley & Company's Lobster Crates awaiting Transport to Halifax, ca. 1910
Date: ca. 1910
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives  Mines & Resources 321627 (courtesy National Archives of Canada PA-020753)

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First Bus Operated by the Eastern Shore Bus Co-op, ca. 1939
Date: ca. 1939
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives  Photo Drawer - Transportation & Communication - Buses - Eastern Shore Bus Co-op

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Photographer, with a Camera and Tripod, Photographing a Decorated Birney Streetcar, Marking the End of Tram-Car Service in the Main Part of Halifax, 26 March 1949
Date: 26 March 1949
Reference no.: Nova Scotia Archives  Photo Drawer - Transportation and Communication - Street Cars - Birney Street Car, 1949

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"Motorcade inaugurating service on Halifax-Dartmouth [Angus L. Macdonald] Bridge, April, 1955"
Date: April 1955
Photographer: Nova Scotia Information Service
Reference no.: N.S. Light & Power Nova Scotia Archives  MG 9 vol. 227 p. 48

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