About The North End

It’s not just Halifax. It’s the north end. Defined by a strong sense of community, intrigue, and history, Halifax’s north end is for dreamers. From the tell-tale row houses to secret urban gardens, canopies of trees, roving cats, cyclists, and neighbours perched on stoops, the north end piques curiosity. It’s where strangers seem familiar. The north end is rooted in DIY, multiculturalism and community-minded living. It’s a place where culture, diversity and creativity thrive. People aren’t just welcomed; they are embraced.

Art is a way of life – it’s posted on telephone poles and displayed in windows. People gather in backyards, street corners and kitchens. Like George Elliot Clarke’s words engraved on the sculpture outside the library describe: “North is freedom –Uptown, down-home: Each book a drum; Each life a poem.”


Halifax’s historical North End
Halifax’s northern tip is renowned for perseverance. Founded upon glacial deposits and ironstone, the north end was once Halifax’s economic hub. At one point, Gottingen Street was busier than Spring Garden Road. In 1917, the Halifax Explosion changed everything. In the wake of devastation, residents suffered poverty, crime, and segregation. After losing their homes, churches and businesses, the north end population slowly rebuilt itself. Presently, the north end is in the midst of a renaissance. Locals draw from the north end’s deep soul, fierce spirit and historical diversity. The palette of saltbox houses, urban and community gardens, independent businesses and eclectic arts scene has become home to a wonderfully cosmopolitan mix of people , giving the area a special vibrance and character.

The North End of Halifax – A brief History

The North End of Halifax has seen a series of very significant changes – more than any other area of the City since the founding of Halifax in 1749.

-The area was initially heavily forested . As the pressure for land increased, it was cleared, initially for the summer estates of wealthy citizens and a few houses of workers who were already working in the naval dockyard.

-The estates were slowly joined by a series of farms developed by European Workers who had been encouraged to come to the City in order to provide labour for the construction required in building the City and also to provide labour for the naval dockyard.

-The naval dockyard (British until 1906 Canadian thereafter) and its supported naval operations, have provided employment and indirectly encouraged development in the North End in bursts almost literally of feast and famine over the past 250 years.

-By the 1860’s, the estates had been largely sold off for housing development and for use by various civic and military functions, while a manufacturing base was beginning to fill significant portions of the area.

-For the first decades after the passing of the implanting of the ”National Policy” in 1879, the North End experienced an industrial boom. These policies introduced by the newly formed Confederation of Canada,looked as though they could replace the slow attrition of the Maritime shipping industry that was in decline resulting from the ending of the age of sail.  A whole range of, at times, relatively huge industrial activities were established and prospered. The Nova Scotia Cotton Company, later Dominion Textiles, employed 300 people.

-The coming of the Dominion Railroad later in the 1880’s changed this. The initial investors and purchasers from Quebec and Ontario, changed when it became obvious that the bigger markets were going to be located in central Canada and that most of the goods could be produced more profitably there.

-Industrial production continued at a slowly reducing rate but probably buoyed by some war related production until the massive explosion of December 6th 1917, reduced much of the North End to firewood and rubble.

-A slow rebuilding followed the explosion. Certainly significant international support followed the explosion ,which saw the Hydrostone development built and completed very early in the 1920’s, but much of the area remained undeveloped until the boom of the 1939-45 war years.

-The 1950’s and 60’s saw a further decline in the area when a combination of the impact of ill-planned development impacting on the area, and poorly considered government programs ,saw a disruption of previous employment and living patterns.

-A  period of further neglect followed until a combination of appealingly low property values compared with other City areas, together with the resilience and tenacity of the residents, brought about a groing commitment to the refurbishing and preservation of the remaining stock of older and historic homes.

-Another cycle appears now be beginning for the North End resulting from a massive $30 billion shipbuilding contract awarded to the Halifax Shipyards, located right below the North End Area. The slate of work is expected to last for the next 27 years.  Again the North End is being called upon to house the workers and to supply the labour.

The Board Of Directors

Ezra Edelstein (Chair) – Eco Green Homes
Andrew Feenstra (Vice-Chair) – Cyclesmith
Andrew Murphy (Treasurer) – Glubes Lofts
Kathleen Healy (Secretary) – The Nook on Gottingen
Laurie Stephenson (Past-Chair) – Starboard Wealth Planners
Rachel Knox – Agricola St. Brasserie
Ditta Kasdan – Dee Dee’s Icecream
Rod Wilson – NECHC
Sobaz Benjamin – iMOVE
Constance McInnes – RIO
Frank Evans – Smith’s Bakery
Fred Connors – FRED.