Halifax Waterfront Project, Nova Scotia

Restoration Proposal & Specifications - 1972


PDF of the document "Restoration Proposal & Specifications" follows after the text.

From the founding of Halifax in 1749 until at least World War I, the portion of the Halifax waterfront designated for restoration was associated with men and events prominent in the commercial and civic life of the city. Aldermen and mayors, legislators and councillors, consuls and a member of parliament have all had business offices there. Merchants and shipping men of international connection and repute have centred their firms there. The owners of the more northerly wharf have consistently been men of extensive commercial interests and high repute. Those of the more southerly wharf have been men, in addition, of great wealth and significant influence.

Moreover, activities on the wharfs have been associated with many aspects of the city's development. The SHANNON'S storied capture of the American frigate CHESAPEAKE, whose stores and provisions were auctioned on Collins' wharf, stimulated the town's new confidence derived from prosperous trading during the Napoleonic wars. l The sailing of the first Nova Scotian ship to India from Clark's wharf in 1825 denoted expansion of the province's shipping to the Seven Seas, the basis of its mid-19th century prosperity.2 The Nova Scotian-built DAYSPRING, moored at Collins' wharf in 1863 before departing for Australia and the New Hebrides, symbolized the province's strong religious heritage.3 By the late 19th century carts and wagons, horses and men lined Water Street daily to carry their goods to and from the pioneering steamers run by Pickford & Black to the West Indies. (Fig. 38) From sail making and shipbuilding to lobster packing, lumber importation, and the voluminous dry goods and grocery trade which flourished or failed according to economic fluctuations, the wharfs have known the many long, and sometimes short, term interests of the Halifax commercial community.

The wharfs have, furthermore, many legendary associations. From privateering to rum-running, they have reflected proximity to the sea and the town's strategic location. The mid-19th century owner of the southern wharf was himself a man of whom many stories have been told. Reputedly by influence of the Lieutenant-Governor of the day and in the interest of the province, Enos Collins was seated at the conservative but influential Council Board and married to the daughter of the future Chief Justice and niece of the Bishop of Nova Scotia during the 1820's. With one of the several Nova Scotian fortunes acquired from patriotic privateering during the Napoleonic Wars, he invested in commercial enterprises and transacted in property for more than half a century until, when he died in 1872, he was believed to be the wealthiest man in British North America.

The southern wharf -whether Brymer's in the late 18th century, Collins' in the early and mid-19th century, or Pickford & Black's in the late 19th and 20th century- was always one of the most important on the Halifax waterfront. Though not apparently the most significant of the town, it was the focus for the central areas of the waterfront, of which the Plant wharf on the south and Cunard's wharf on the north were the contrasting foci. It was in many respects atypical wharf of the town, differing from others primarily in its volume of trade and its solidity of construction. Fancifully considered to have been constructed of stone brought from the French fortress at Louisbourg, the buildings about to be restored remain a tribute to the foresight, wealth, and influence of their 19th century creators.

While some individual warehouses remain standing in Halifax, the Waterfront project buildings are the last complex of the typical nineteen century warehouses to survive in the City. There are seven buildings in the complex - Privateers' Warehouse 1816, Collins' Bank and Warehouse, Pickford & Black Office and Warehouse and Wooden Storehouse 1830, Red Store 1831, Simon"rsl854, Carpenters' Shop 1904. The buildings which were erected over a period of ninety years between the second decade of nineteenth century and the early years of the .twentieth century have served numerous functions and owners. The buildings have changed names over the years, and have survived extensive renovations, fires, and even explosions.

In 1962 and 1963 at the request of the Maritime Museum in
Halifax, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada studied reports on some of the buildings in the Waterfront area. They were the buildings which the Museum wanted to occupy after being obliged to vacate the Halifax Citadel. At its October 1963 meeting the Monuments Board considered these buildings of National Historic importance and desired "to see representative specimens preserved by the minister offering the co-operation of the Federal Government to the City and Province". The Board further recommended "the department communicate with the Provincial and City authorities, inquiring of their plans for urban development in the area". It was learned upon inquiry that the City had been planning a “Harbour Drive” or "Port Way" which would affect the harbour area where the historic buildings are located, demolishing whole blocks, including almost all the historic buildings considered by the Board.

In January, 1964 the City recognized the need to preserve part of the complex and acquired two of the buildings – the Privateer1s and the Wooden Storehouse. In August 1964, however, it was learned that the City had advised the Maritime Museum that it would not be possible to obtain the old buildings and to submit a proposal for a new building to be erected on the adjacent Ordnance Yard Property. At the same time the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia presented a brief by Mr. Louis Collins to the Development Committee of the Halifax City Council and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs which protested the loss of the buildings in the Complex. In November 1964, the City intended to proceed with the Harbour Drive. In September 1965, the City Council formed an "advisory committee for the Preservation of Historic Buildings" to see that the historic heritage would not unnecessarily be sacrificed in the redevelopment program. The committee requested from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs a new survey. The Department, having made two studies declined to carry out a third, however, it announced that it was ready to bear half the costs of the restoration and undertake operation and maintenance.

In 1968, the Heritage Trust and the "Committee of Concern" requested that the new driveway avoid damaging the historical building:; including Collins', Simon 's, and Pickford & Black Buildings. Total estimated cost for restoration was 1 to 2 million dollars. The Halifax firm Keith Graham and Associates conducted a feasibility study on the buildings. It discussed the historical and architectural assessments, the rehabilitation and restoration possibilities, and cost estimates both for renovation and requisition of 1,125,000 dollars which to be shared by the Department.

In January 1969, a copy of the Keith Graham Study was forwarded to the Mayor. In April a Feasibility Study by the Civic Advisory Committee for Preservation of Historic Buildings recommended the preservation of the historic buildings. The Waterfront complex was the subject of a complete review by the Halifax City Council meeting as a Committee on April 1969. The Committee proposed that the historic buildings specified in the Keith Graham Report be retained, preserved, and re-used on their existing site, however, the implementation of this policy was dependent upon financial participation by private enterprise. In addition, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs was to prepare the call for proposals. If no satisfactory response was received after six months from the issue of the Call for Proposals, uses of the land other than preservation were to be considered.

In June 1969, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recommended that the entire complex is of national historical and architectural significance. The Board also announced that while it is likely that any development program will proceed on a phased basis, the integrity of the complex would have to be guaranteed. Significant changes in levels of City streets or buildings would invalidate their national significance. Also proposal to use fill on the harbour side of the complex to develop additional land area would similarly negate their value. As a result in July 1969 City Council of Halifax approved a rescission of the resolution about-grade and line - Margison Plan - Harbour Drive - Courthouse to Cogswell Street interchange.

In March 1971 the Chairman of the Waterfront Buildings
Committee of the Landmarks Commission, the Chairman of the Commission, and the Chief Restoration Architect of the Federal Department met to determine details of the Department's section of the Call for Proposal, most important of which was the Department's detailed restoration specification. The Department also introduced as a condition of their participation, an offer to conduct a detailed as found survey. These drawings would subsequently serve as working drawings for the developer at the Department's expense. These services were to be provided after a successful Proposal had been selected by the City.

In May 1971, the Call for Proposals was prepared by the Waterfront Buildings Committee of Halifax Landmark Commission and was issued on behalf of the City of Halifax by the Halifax Landmarks Commission.

The report contained:

  1. Historical, physical and planning information for the area, site, and the buildings.
  2. Development and requirements sought in the preservation of the complex.
  3. Philosophy, financing, and cost estimates.

In September 1971, the Halifax Landmark Commission received proposals from - A. Steven and Fiske Construction Company Limited, and B. Harbour side (1850) Halifax Limited. The Halifax Landmark Commission recommended the Steven & Fiske proposal to the City Council. The Department asked for certain changes in the proposals before being fully accepted, and that the quality and quantity of restoration activities would be controlled by the Department instead of the developer.

The Restoration Proposal and Specification report in hand was prepared by the Restoration Services Division in July 1972.

This report contains the philosophy of the project, a discussion of the source material used in the preparation of the work, an architectural analysis of the site and each of the structures, and a restoration proposal for the treatment of the site and each of the buildings.

The purpose of the philosophy developed for the project was:

  • To recapture the nineteenth century traditional atmosphere of the Waterfront buildings which will be restored to different periods of nineteenth and early twentieth century,
  • To preserve as much of the historic fabric in each building as possible,
  • To have the restored parts in the historic buildings compatible and sympathetic to the original,
  • To have the new buildings, to be added to the complex, compatible to the old structures.

The source material consists of:

  • Summary Recording and photo reports of the present state.
  • historical report on the site, the structures, and the building materials,
  • an architectural analysis of the site and each of the structures, and
  • an appendix of the Material Sample Analysis.

The Architectural Analysis synthesized all the sources of information to approach the restoration proposal. The final section in the individual report is the restoration proposal and specifications, the main objects of the report.

Different approaches have been discussed and recommended as a restoration proposal. In each of the buildings. It is chosen according to the amount of information available and the physical condition of the building.

The specification drawings give detailed information for the restoration of the exterior fabric of the buildings, certain interior details, and the historical structural systems.

"Restoration Proposal & Specifications" Report

[click] Introduction and philosophy
[click] The restoration site
[click] Historical illustrations of the structures
[click] The structures: Pickford & Black Building
[click] The structures: Carpenters' Shop
[click] The structures: Collins' Band and Warehouse
[click] The structures: Red Stores
[click] The structures: Simons' Building
[click] The structures: Privateer's Warehouse
[click] The structures: Wooden Storehouse
[click] Appendices



Waterfront buildings, Halifax, NS - 2005





Halifax Harbour Site - 1869


Collins building, 1900


Pickford & Black Building - 1895


Simons Building 1909


Site - 1972