Category Archives: history

From the Archives – Port William NS.

Port Williams today is home to a number of Breweries, Distilleries and wineries. As you cross the Bridge over the Cornwallis river, On your Right, is a run down dock. That dock was once heavily used, and as the photos below show ships simply sat on the bottom when the tide was out.

The practice evidently had a long history, as an earlier postcard shows smaller Sailing vessels sitting on the bottom earlier.

Sambro Light

The need for a landfall lighthouse for Halifax was apparent early on, and in 1752 a lottery was formed to fund the construction. It failed to raise the necessary funds, and the first act passed by the first legislature in 1758 was a tax on ships to fund the light. The Nova Scotia Archives recently released a number of documents and photos related to the Light, including the Tax Records for the lighthouse funding.

Landfall lighthouses are tall structures, designed so that the light can be seen at a great distance, to point ships to a harbour. The light is octagonal in shape, and constructed of masonry, covered with wooden shingles due to early moisture issues.the Sambro Island Light is visible for 24 Nautical miles (44km)

(Above) Sambro Island Light as built, An additional 22′ of height was added in 1906 to increase the lights Range.

(above) the Heightening of the Sambro Light. Photos from the Department of Transportation Albums at the Nova Scotia Archives. (below) the completed tower. the Red White the stripes were added in 1908.

The Sambro Light is the oldest Lighthouse in North America and the Caribbean. Louisburg’s lighthouse was originally built in 1733, but was destroyed by the British during the Siege of Louisburg. Boston Light location dates to 1716, but the original was destroyed in 1776 by the British, during the revolutionary war. The current light was rebuilt on the foundations of the original light in 1783.

November 11th.

100 years on, Vimy Ridge is almost idealic. the trees are mature the grassy rolling landscape hides the the knowledge that 100 years ago this was mud, and each roll is a shell crater, so close together they  merge. Up on the ridge, you can walk through the trenches – the German lines so close you could yell at them.

The fence warns of live munitions. the surrounding countryside has been plowed over and returned to agriculture. Shells and other explosives are to this day still dug up accidentally by locals. its one thing to hear the stories. its something else to walk the grounds, and see for yourself.

 

 

The Rail Cut and Ocean Terminals

The Ocean Terminals were built in the south end of the city, close to the mouth of the harbour, and were meant to be new, modern and larger port facilities for Halifax. It was quite the civil engineering feat. The project was for the construction of what we know today as Piers 20-28, the railway cut, and port facilities, and the South end Stion and hotel Complex.

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callfortenders Halifax for a while dominated as Canada’s East Coast port, but poor railway access made it too distant; and antiquated methods, unprofitable. In 1910, improvements were made to Pier 2 at the deep water terminus in the north end, however it was constrained by space available to it. Wharves, private residences and businesses had encroached, and there was no longer space for railway expansion. In 1912, the Dominion Government decided to proceed with the Ocean Terminals project.

Though expected to be much larger, the initial project called for the construction of the passenger terminal, interconnected with the rail terminal, as well as Pier A, and the breakwater. The requirements were for 45′ depth.

 

 

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The construction contract was held by Foley Bros, Welsh, Stewart & Fauquier. James Macgregor was the Superintending Engineer, responsible for design and construction for the Canadian Government.

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Though Halifax is known for having a deep natural channel, the piers were located close to shore; in places, in as little as 10 feet of water, and so required substantial dredging.  250,000 cubic yards of material was removed to ensure the required 45′ depth was met. As well, stable foundations would be required for the piers.  The area would be drilled, charges set, and then the rock excavated. Most of the rock was excavated by the Canadian government’s 12yd dipper dredge “Cynthia”, though deeper areas were done with a Marion Dragline scraper on a barge fitted with an orange peel bucket. This crane was intended to be used for block placement, but proved versatile.

ot3 ot4
The pier was to be constructed from 3647 sixty-ton Concrete blocks would then be stacked to form the pier face, and then after placement filled with sand rocks and concrete. The area within would then be filled. The blocks were 31′ wide, 22’long and 4’tall. They were cast on site, and stored until they were required to be placed. Though this method was not new, it was to date the largest construction using this method.

ot1A concrete batch plant was setup on site, and the blocks were produced using a forming system. Most of the blocks were identical, so they could be easily mass produced.

ot2

The blocks were cast on site and stored until needed. When they were required, a 100ton crane would pick up the block, take it to the end of the pier and lower it into place. the blocks were cast with keys to ensure they aligned properly when placed. blocklaywallsec

The breakwater was constructed with rock removed from the railcut. Loads of rock would be pushed out on railcars to the end of the breakwater, then across a plate girder bridge, and onto a barge. They would then be dumped. The barge was kept level in the tides by adjusting ballast. As the pier extended,  the barge would be moved further along until the required 1500′ was constructed.
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Once the piers were built, additional Facilities could be constructed. Pier A featured a sizeable freight shed. Due to the Ongoing war, the initial shed was constructed from timber. due to the need for it, and available materials.STR27902a.001.aa.cs

Along with the Improved Piers, Improved rail facilities were constructed as part of the Project. It took the railway from Three Mile House at Fairview, around behind the city to the south end to serve the new ocean terminals and railway station. It also included construction of the Bedford Basin Yard. The cut is approximately 6 miles long and, as built, double track to the terminal where it expands to 4 tracks.

Construction was the responsibility of Cook Construction Co & Wheaton Bros. They were tasked with excavating the 2.5 million cubic yards of material that needed to be removed for the cut. It was mostly rock. In the south end, material was used to make up the breakwater. At the north end, excavated material was used to build the Rockingham yard, located in front of St Vincents College. (Now Mount St Vincent University.) Three Mile House itself was demolished in 1918.
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Initially there were problems drilling the rock, due to the seams running through it, however electric Cyclone type well drills proved to be successful. Drilling occurred in advance of the shovel operations, holes were capped to await blasting, and each blast was done to a maximum depth of 30′, across the width of the cut in 100-200′ long sections.

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Two Bucyrus 100 ton shovels were used, as well as two Bucyrus 70 ton shovels, and 2 Marion 60 ton shovels. Rocks too large to be loaded were broken up with drills located on the shovels. Similar equipment to this was also used to dig the Panama Canal. Both Marion and Bucyrus were Ohio-based companies, and Marion was eventually acquired by Bucyrus. Bucyrus became part of Caterpillar in 2011, and forms the base of their mining equipment division.
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STR27973a.001.aa.csThough the rail cut avoided the major population in Halifax,  it had a major impact on the grand estates in the south and west ends of the peninsula. Properties needed to be expropriated, and many houses were demolished, included Samuel Cunard’s Oaklands estate. The expropriations caused many large lots to be subdivided and eventually led to the expansion of middle class Halifax into these areas.

During construction, roads were interrupted and temporary bridges put in place (left), before the grand concrete arch bridges could be constructed, the most visible of these being Young Avenue at the mouth of the rail cut. The example under construction below is believed to be Mumford Road.

 

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The Rockingham yard under construction. The 2 tracks in the foreground are the mainline, and the train is dumping fill.

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the Transit Sheds of Piers 20-22 were constructed in the Early 20’s. The Contract Record of March 24 1920 reported that Sheds 21 and 22 had the steelwork erected in 6 weeks with use of a Traveling Derrick by the Dominion Bridge Company. the Steel work was manufactured in the US, however wartime shortages delayed construction.

 

the Grain handling facilities were intended from the beginning, and the elevator was installed by  1926.
 Built in 1928, the train station and Hotel Nova Scotian were the final pieces of the port improvement project.

railway

The images above are aerial views from 1931,  and are from The Richard McCully Aerial Photograph Collection at the NS Archives. The current train station replaced a temporary one built in 1918 to coincide with the opening of the railcut and ocean terminals. The temporary station was required as the Intercolonial Railway Station at the foot of North Street had been destroyed in the Halifax Explosion of 1917, and can be seen in front of the train shed.

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The Station and Hotel were designed by John Smith Archibald   in association with John Schofield. Archibald owned his own practice, whereas Schofield worked for the Railway. The two did a number of commissions for CN Railways, including expanding the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. Archibald had a wide and Varied career, designed numerous homes, schools, hospitals and hotels, and also has the distinction of having designed the Montreal Forum.

The Halifax railway complex also included Cornwallis Park, which opened in 1931. Archibald was a proponent of the City beautiful movement, which sought to impose order in cities to reduce crime and poverty. The particular architectural style of the movement borrowed mainly from the contemporary Beaux-Arts and neoclassical styles, which emphasized the necessity of order, dignity, and harmony. you can note, that in the photos the central axis of the park is aligned with the main entry of the Nova Scotian Hotel. the Now controversial statue of Cornwallis was also installed by the railway – the park lands were water sold to the city of Halifax.

The Railway  Station, was constructed with a modern steel frame, truss joists, with brick & stone facing Exterior. It cost  $571,939.19  to build. The  Hotel featured 168 rooms when built, and is also of steel construction. It’s construction cost was  $1,658,456 – both in 1928 dollars.

The Station also included a direct connection to Pier 21 to Facilitate movement of people from ships to train. the final images bellow from 1934 show the extent of the completed project.

 

Note: A version of this post Previously appeared on my other blog Builthalifax

Clues to RCN Pilot missing since 1958 uncovered by Hurricane Irma

This story was just to amazing not to Post. In 1958, RCN Lt. William Troy’s Banshee aircraft fell out of formation and crashed after departing Mayport Naval Air Station in fog. All that was ever found was a nose wheel and helmet.

it now looks like hurricane Irma washed up his coat and parachute rigging on a Florida beach.

 

I found the story From this: http://www.kansascity.com/news/nation-world/national/article176884046.html

QE II launched 50 years ago

Yesterday marked the 50 year anniversary of the launching of the Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth II. Her final voyage and stop in Halifax Happened in the fall of 2008.

The last notes say that the ship is laid up in Port Rashid, with her lifeboats and davits removed. Managed by V ships, she has a captain and small crew.

Dartmouth Ferry “Governor Cornwallis”


Natural Resources has a site that explores some of the features of Halifax Harbour. One of those features is the wreck of the Ferry Governor Cornwallis.

The ferry was built by Dartmouth shipbuilder Hugh D. Weagle for $93,551 and opened to the public December 6, 1942. It was the first Diesel Powered ferry used in Halifax Harbour. The ships log book showed many mechanical problems, and on December 22, 1944 a fire was discovered in the ceiling of the engine room. passengers were let off in Dartmouth, and the ferry was towed and beached on Georges island to Burn. She sunk, and slid into deep water. It was concluded that the fire was caused by poor installation of the heating furnace’s smoke pipe.

You can clearly see the wreck off the south west corner of Georges Island. NRCan Also offers the Side Scan image below.

Veteran Ships of the Second World War.

HMCS Sackville – Flower Class Corvette

267 flower class corvettes were built over the course of the war. Small and Cheap, they were based on an existing whaler design. There are two distinct groups of vessels in this class: the original Flower-class, 225 vessels ordered during the 1939 and 1940 building programmes; and the modified Flower-class, which followed with a further 69 vessels ordered from 1940 onward. The modified Flowers were slightly larger and somewhat better armed. Many improvements were made to the ships as they served, and there are many differences in appearance between the ships.

Sackville was converted to a fisheries research ship in 1952, and remained in that role until 1982. Of Note, HMCS Louisburg and HMCS Lachute served in the Dominican Republic navy until 1979, when they were wrecked by a hurricane.

HMCS Sackville Photo Gallery

 

HMAS Diamantia – River Class Frigate.

The River class was a class of 151 frigates launched between 1941 and 1944 for use as anti-submarine convoy escorts in the North Atlantic. The majority served with the Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). Canada originally ordered the construction of 33 frigates in October 1941.[1][2] The design was too big for the shipyards on the Great Lakes so all the frigates built in Canada were built in dockyards along the west coast or along the St. Lawrence River.[2] In all, Canada ordered the construction of 70 frigates.

Designed to improve on the Flower Class, the River Class features more space, a second engine, improved range and better weapon sytems over the Flower Class.

HMAS Diamantia was one of 12 frigates built for the RAN. After the war she was converted to a survey vessel, and remained in that role untill 1980.

HMAS Photo Gallery

HMCS Haida – Tribal Class Destroyer

the Canadian Tribals were built in 1936, and were the most modern warships in the RCN.Fast and well armed, they served in the second world war and Korea, lasting well into the 1960’s. HMCS Haida was converted to a museum in Toronto, and later taken under care by Parks Canada and moved to Hamilton.

HMCS Haida Photo Gallery

Constructing the Halifax Ocean Terminals.

Recently there have been Suggestions that the Halifax Ocean Terminals Move to the Dartmouth shore, where the refinery currently is. This is problematic, as the tank farm and moorings are still in use by Imperial Oil for their terminal operation, and Irving has recently rebuilt its facilities to gain independence from the shared facilities it was using with imperial oil.

With that said, its worth a look at the construction of the Ocean Terminals.

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The Ocean Terminals were built in the south end of the city, close to the mouth of the harbour, and were meant to be new, modern and larger port facilities for Halifax. It was quite the civil engineering feat. The project was for the construction of what we know today as Piers 20-28, the railway cut, and port facilities.

ot_plan

callfortenders Halifax for a while dominated as Canada’s East Coast port, but poor railway access made it too distant; and antiquated methods, unprofitable. In 1910, improvements were made to Pier 2 at the deep water terminus in the north end, however it was constrained by space available to it. Wharves, private residences and businesses had encroached, and there was no longer space for railway expansion. In 1912, the Dominion Government decided to proceed with the Ocean Terminals project.

Though expected to be much larger, the initial project called for the construction of the passenger terminal, interconnected with the rail terminal, as well as Pier A, and the breakwater. The requirements were for 45′ depth.

 

 

e010963454-v8

The construction contract was held by Foley Bros, Welsh, Stewart & Fauquier. James Macgregor was the Superintending Engineer, responsible for design and construction for the Canadian Government.

STR27931a.001.aa.cs

Though Halifax is known for having a deep natural channel, the piers were located close to shore; in places, in as little as 10 feet of water, and so required substantial dredging.  250,000 cubic yards of material was removed to ensure the required 45′ depth was met. As well, stable foundations would be required for the piers.  The area would be drilled, charges set, and then the rock excavated. Most of the rock was excavated by the Canadian government’s 12yd dipper dredge “Cynthia”, though deeper areas were done with a Marion Dragline scraper on a barge fitted with an orange peel bucket. This crane was intended to be used for block placement, but proved versatile.

ot3 ot4
The pier was to be constructed from 3647 sixty-ton Concrete blocks would then be stacked to form the pier face, and then after placement filled with sand rocks and concrete. The area within would then be filled. The blocks were 31′ wide, 22’long and 4’tall. They were cast on site, and stored until they were required to be placed. Though this method was not new, it was to date the largest construction using this method. the Recent Pier 9D was also constructed with a similar method.

ot1A concrete batch plant was setup on site, and the blocks were produced using a forming system. Most of the blocks were identical, so they could be easily mass produced.

ot2

The blocks were cast on site and stored until needed. When they were required, a 100ton crane would pick up the block, take it to the end of the pier and lower it into place. the blocks were cast with keys to ensure they aligned properly when placed. blocklaywallsec

The breakwater was constructed with rock removed from the railcut. Loads of rock would be pushed out on railcars to the end of the breakwater, then across a plate girder bridge, and onto a barge. They would then be dumped. The barge was kept level in the tides by adjusting ballast. As the pier extended,  the barge would be moved further along until the required 1500′ was constructed.
STR27926a.001.aa.csOnce the piers were built, additional Facilities could be constructed. Pier A featured a sizeable freight shed, and the Terminal Shed at pier 21 was completed for handling passengers.

hot1920shed2122jimchristiearchiveorg1

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The Shed above was constructed on Pier A.

Pier A-1, with Births 30-34 was constructed in the 60’s

Pier B, which now houses Piers 36-39, and is now part of Halterm was constructed in the 30’s
Halterm itself Births 41 and 42, opened in 1970. It occupies birth 40 on Pier B.