Halifax Harbour

Cambridge Battery | Chain Battery | Fort Charlotte | Fort Chebucto | Duke of Clarence Tower
Fort Clarence | Connaught Battery | Fort Coote | Cornwallis Fort | Dartmouth Blockhouse
Devil's Battery | Duke of York Tower | Fort Duncan | Eastern Battery | Fieldings Battery
Flagstaff Battery | Fort George (1) | Fort George (2) | Georges Island Fort | Grand Battery
Greenbank Battery | Fort Grenadier | Halifax Citadel | Herring Cove Fort | Horsemans Fort
Fort Hugonin | Fort Ives | Lower Battery | Fort Luttrell | McAlpine's Blockhouse
McLean's Battery | Fort McNab | Fort Massey | Maugher's Blockhouse | Middle Battery
Middle Blockhouse | Narrows Battery | Naval Dockyard Defences | Fort Needham
Nelson Barracks | North Battery | North Blockhouse | Northwest Arm Battery
Fort Ogilvie (2) | Point Pleasant Battery | Practice Battery | Prince of Wales Tower
Principal Battery | Fort Sackville | Sandwich Point Battery | Sherbrooke Tower
South Battery (1) | South Battery (2) | South Battery (3) | South Blockhouse
Spion Kop Battery | Strawberry Hill Battery | York Redoubt | York Shore Battery
Wellington Barracks

Nova Scotia Mainland - page 1 | Cape Breton Island - page 3

Last Update: 21/MARCH/2010
Compiled by Pete Payette - 2010 American Forts Network

Fort Sackville
(1749 - 1750), Bedford
A palisaded earthwork with four bastions, with a small blockhouse, protecting the overland route from Cobequid. The garrison was transferred to Fort Edward in Windsor. Artifacts of the post are on display at the nearby Joseph Scott Manor House (built after 1767) located at 15 Fort Sackville Road. Operated by the Fort Sackville Foundation.

Dartmouth Blockhouse
(1750), Dartmouth
An early fortified settlement, with palisaded earthworks. It was later abandoned. Located at the point overlooking Dartmouth Cove.

Peninsular Blockhouses
(1750 - 1760), Halifax
Three small blockhouses built to protect the western land approach to the city. Known as South Blockhouse, Middle Blockhouse, and North Blockhouse (at present-day Fairview Cemetery). They were connected by the Peninsular Road, and each had a triangular palisaded ditch. These were the first blockhouses to be built in the Halifax area. The North Blockhouse was still extant and shown on a 1817 survey map.

McAlpine's Blockhouse
(1808 - 1815 ?), Halifax
A pentagonal earthwork battery with a pentagonal blockhouse, erected near the Edward's Valley Inn (operated by a man named McAlpine) on McAlpine's Hill to protect the old Windsor / Bedford Road. It was the last of 14 blockhouses ever built in Halifax.

Herring Cove Fort ?
(unknown dates), Herring Cove
The partial remains of a fort of some type supposedly still exist, located off of Village Road overlooking the water.
(info courtesy of A.H. Gladwin)


Colonial Defences of Halifax

Halifax Citadel (National Historic Site)
(Halifax Citadel Regimental Association)
(1828 - 1956), Halifax FORT WIKI
Also known as Fort George (2), this is the fourth fort on this site. The first fort was built in 1749 when the city was founded. The three-story octagonal Citadel Blockhouse was here from 1776 - 1789, covering a 14-gun battery. The current structure is a large star-shaped stone fortress - one of the largest in North America. It took 28 years to build. It was occupied by the British military until 1905. Canadian forces used it during both World Wars. This was the headquarters for all of the city's harbour defences. The fort has been restored. Located in Cavalier Barracks is the Army Museum. See also Southeast Salient (1830) from Canadian Register of Historic Places. Halifax was a major British naval base during the American Revolution and the War of 1812. The military governed the city until 1841.
PHOTOS from Urban Exploration Resource

Halifax City Wall and Batteries
(1749 - unknown), Halifax
The original settlement was surrounded by double-palisaded pentangle, with bastions and barracks at each angle, including Fort Grenadier, Fort Luttrell, Cornwallis Fort, and Horsemans Fort, with the South Battery (1), Middle Battery, and North Battery along the waterfront. There was another unnamed fort between Fort Luttrell and Cornwallis Fort, below the then yet-to-be built Citadel.

The Nova Scotia colonial government tried to establish here (at Eastern Battery) in 1760 a centralized trade post or factory, under military control, to regulate the region's fur trade.

Wellington Barracks
(1799 - 1905/present), Halifax FORT WIKI
The main garrison area for the Halifax Citadel and the other harbour defences, located adjacent to the Citadel grounds. Located in Royal Artillery Park is the Commanding Officer's Quarters (1804), the Married Officers' Quarters (1901), Officers' Mess (1814), the Warrant Officers' Quarters (1903), and the Cambridge Military Library (1885). Located on Barrington Street is the Wellington House (1860). The post was taken over by the Royal Canadian Navy in 1905 upon the departure of the British Army from Nova Scotia. Renamed Nelson Barracks. Later renamed HMCS Stadacona during WWII. The post presently contains the Canadian Forces Naval Engineering School (with facilities at Herring Cove/York Redoubt), the Canadian Forces Naval Operations School, the base hospital, the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre, and various messes. HMCS Stadacona is also home to the headquarters of Canadian Forces Land Force Atlantic Area, and also the Maritime Command Museum located in the Admiralty House (1815) (renamed the Naval Museum of Halifax in 2013). See also Canadian Register of Historic Places (entry #2)

Royal Dockyard Defences
(1762, 1775), Halifax
Three detached bastions forming a crown work, surrounded by palisades and a ditch, were built in 1775. Two blockhouses were built outside the north and south walls of the perimeter. A single blockhouse, Maugher's Blockhouse, was the only defence of the Naval Dockyard reported in 1762.

Fort Coote
(1776 - 1780's), Halifax
A blockhouse and three-gun earthwork built on Pedley's Hill to protect the Royal Naval Dockyard and also to cover Fort Needham.

Fort Needham (Park)
(1776 - 1917), Halifax
A small pentagonal earthwork with two guns and barracks for 50 men, built as a defence for the Royal Naval Dockyard. It was rebuilt in 1807, with four 12-pounder guns, over the site of the original fort. A blockhouse was built in 1808. It was destroyed by 1820. The Narrows Battery was erected just northeast in 1807, at the Narrows, with a small blockhouse behind it.
Site located at the Fort Needham Memorial Bell Tower and Cemetery on Union Street. The barracks here were completely destroyed on December 6, 1917 in "The Halifax Explosion", the largest man-made explosion in the pre-nuclear age. A French ammunition ship collided with a Norwegian freighter, and the resulting shockwave of the explosion shattered windows at least 50 miles away, killing over 1900 people instantly, with another 9000 people injured. 325 acres were completely leveled.

Grand Battery
(1762 ?, 1775 - unknown), Halifax
A large system of defences, including Barbette Battery (1), South Battery (2), McLean's Battery, and Principal Battery. Located between Fort Massey and the harbour.

Fort Massey
(Fort Massey Cemetery)
(1776 - unknown), Halifax
A square earthen redoubt, with a blockhouse, barracks, and a magazine, was built between 1776 and 1778 on what was then known as Windmill Hill, presently at Queen and South Streets. It was to command the deep hollow formed by Freshwater Brook, which was a blind spot to the Citadel's guns, and also to cover Greenbank and Grand Batteries. The 17-gun earthwork fort was enlarged in 1782 to be 320 feet long and 170 feet wide, with two semi-circular works connected by a redan on each side. No remains. Fort Massey Cemetery, maintained by Veterans Affairs Canada, is all that remains today from the original post.
(info provided by Bolling Smith, of the Coast Defense Study Group)

Greenbank Battery
(1762 ?, 1775 - unknown), Halifax
Located below Fort Massey, between the Grand Battery and Fort Ogilvie.

Fort Clarence
(1798 - 1910's ?), Dartmouth FORT WIKI
Located directly across the harbour from Georges Island. The latest fort (built 1864-68) was built atop the ruins of Duke of Clarence Martello Tower, which was demolished in 1877. The basement of the former tower was used as a magazine after 1889. The Imperial Oil Company acquired the site in 1929 and demolished what remained of the fort by 1942. Some ruins were discovered in 2007 during a refinery expansion. A marker is located at the refinery's main office.

Fort Duncan
(unknown), Dartmouth
A blockhouse/battery located directly across from the Royal Naval Dockyard. Site now under the MacDonald Bridge approaches.


COAST ARTILLERY DEFENCES, HALIFAX HARBOUR
Harbor Defence of Halifax - FORT WIKI

Prince of Wales Martello Tower (National Historic Site)
(Point Pleasant Park)
(1796 - 1866), Halifax
A restored (1978) Martello tower - the first of its type built in North America. Built to protect the earlier shore batteries nearby (built in 1792) from a land attack. They were Northwest Arm Battery (aka Barbette Battery (2) or Flagstaff Battery), and Point Pleasant Battery (aka Breastwork Battery or Fieldings Battery). These batteries may have been built as early as 1762. Chain Rock Battery (1792) originally protected a boom strung across the Northwest Arm to the King's Quarry. The Martello tower was used until about 1866, when the grounds were offered to the city as a park.
PHOTOS from Urban Exploration Resource

Also located within the present-day Point Pleasant Park:
Cambridge Battery (1862 - 1918) was originally built for muzzle-loading guns. Armed with two 6-inch breech-loading guns during WWI. Dismantled in 1918, the two guns were sent to Sydney, Cape Breton Island.
Fort Ogilvie (2) (1862 - 1942), also originally built for muzzle-loading guns. Rebuilt around 1900 with modern guns. During WWI the fort was armed with two 6-inch BL guns. Two 4.7-inch guns were emplaced from 1939 - 1942. Most of the original 1860's-era fort is buried under the present lawn and mounds.
In 1900 the Point Pleasant Battery was rebuilt and rearmed with two 12-pounder quick-firing guns. Public access to the ruins are now restricted for safety reasons.

Connaught Battery
(1912 - 1920 ?), Halifax
A WWI battery with three 4.7-inch quick-firing guns. Located at Fergusons Cove, north of York Redoubt.
PHOTOS from Urban Exploration Resource

York Redoubt (National Historic Site)
(1793 - 1956), Sleepy Cove
A blockhouse was built here in 1794 to guard against a landward attack against the eight-gun redoubt. The Duke of York Martello Tower was built in 1798 to replace it. The redoubts were rebuilt in the late 1860's to hold eight gun positions. See also the Main Magazine (1869) and the Artillery Stores Building (1870) from the Canadian Register of Historic Places. Nearby is the South Battery (3) (1904) and the ruins of the Fortress Observation Post (1904). The Fire Command Post and Plotting Room was built in 1942. The harbour minefields were controlled from the York Redoubt in WWII.

In 1939 the York Shore Battery (to 1945) was built on the shore below the old redoubt, with two 12-pounder guns transferred from Fort Ives, later replaced with two 6-pounder duplex guns. A 4.7-inch gun battery was located by the anti-submarine net anchorage. Three searchlight emplacements (1940) are located on the wooded hillside just above the gun emplacements. The entire complex is now part of the National Park.

Sandwich Point Battery
(1894 - 1943), near Herring Cove
Located south of York Redoubt. In WWI armed with two 9.2-inch breech-loading guns, and two 6-inch breech-loading guns. The two 6-inch guns remained for WWII service. After the Boer War in South Africa (1899-1902), the battery became known as the Spion Kop Battery, after a battlefield there where Canadian soldiers fought. Public access restricted, Canadian DND property.

Practice Battery (1910's) was located just north of here, near the Spion Kop observation station (1904, 1942).

Fort Chebucto
(1943 - 1945), near Duncan Cove
Three 6-inch MK24 guns on MK5 mounts were located here at Chebucto Head. The gun emplacememnts still remain, as well as the Battery Observation Post, now all built over by private residences.
PHOTOS from Urban Exploration Resource

Located near the Chebucto Head Lighthouse was the "Outer RDF" fire-control radar station (now ruins). The present lighthouse (fourth) here was built in 1967. The 1928 lighthouse (second) was demolished in 1940 to make way for the gun battery. The third lighthouse was built in 1941 about one-half mile north, but the keeper's house was destroyed by fire in May 2004. The Lower Harbour Naval Signal Station was located nearby at Camperdown, near Portuguese Cove.

Devil's Battery
(History of Hartlen Point Golf Club)
(1941 - 1956), South East Passage
Three 9.2-inch guns (one was transferred from Fort McNab in 1942) were located here on Hartlan Point, overlooking Devil's Island, as well as a 40mm AA battery. The guns were dismantled in 1954. Located on the present CFB Shearwater military base golf course.

The Halifax Fortress Observation Post was located nearby on Flandrum Hill (recently destroyed). The "Inner RDF" fire-control radar station was located northeast of here at Osborne Head. A decoy dummy battery was also located at Osborne Head.

Fort McNab (National Historic Site)
(1889 - 1959), McNabs Island
Located on the lower half of McNabs Island. Originally armed with one 10-inch gun. During WWI the fort was armed with one 9.2-inch and two 6-inch guns, the 10-inch gun having been relocated to York Redoubt. During WWII the fort was armed only with the two 6-inch guns. The 9.2-inch gun was transferred to Devil's Battery in 1942, and a radar building was later built atop the empty gun emplacement. The original 10-inch gun was recently relocated back to its original emplacement here by Parks Canada, as well as a 6-inch MK VII gun on a MK II mount that had been displayed at Fort Ogilvie (2). See also Canadian Register of Historic Places entries for Gun Emplacement #1, Gun Emplacement #2, and Gun Emplacement #3. The Casemates Building (1890) is located within the embankment of the central mound. The Battery Command Post (1940) is located on the highest hill within the park. The Oil Stores and Artificers' Shop (1906) is located at the edge of the main roadway that encircles the inner works within Fort McNab. Searchlight Emplacement #15 (1940) is located just south of the fort.
PHOTOS from Urban Exploration Resource

Located nearby at Mauger's Beach on McNab's Cove is the site of Sherbrooke Martello Tower (1814 - 1828) (four guns). The lower level of the tower became the base of a lighthouse in 1828. It was demolished in 1944, foundation ruins remain under the present lighthouse. Strawberry Hill Battery (1939 - 1945/56) (two 12-pounder guns and a 4.7-inch gun by the anti-submarine net anchorage) is located between Fort McNab and the Sherbrooke Tower site.
See also Friends of McNabs Island Society

Fort Hugonin
(McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park)
(1899 - 1940/1993), McNabs Island
Located below Fort Ives, near Hugonin Point. Armed with three 12-pounder quick-firing guns in WWI. In 1939 two 12-pounders were transferred from Practice Battery, but were then transferred again in 1940 to Strawberry Hill Battery. From about 1950 or so, until 1993, the post was used as a SOSUS site by the Royal Canadian Navy. It is not usually open to the public except for special guided tours.

Fort Ives
(McNabs and Lawlor Islands Provincial Park)
(1865 - 1942), McNabs Island
Located at the northern end of McNabs Island at Ives Point. Several 9-inch and 10-inch muzzle-loading guns from the 1860's are still displayed here. In 1890 several 6-pounder quick-firing guns were added, and in 1900 two 12-pounder quick-firing and two 6-inch breech-loading guns were added. The 12-pounders were transferred to York Shore Battery in 1939. The Mines Observation Post still remains through the brush near the shore.
PHOTOS from Urban Exploration Resource

Fort Charlotte
(Georges Island National Historic Site - Parks Canada)
(Canadian Register of Historic Places)
(1815 - 1960), Georges Island
A Martello tower was in the center of this stone fort. It was torn down in 1877 after the fort was rebuilt between 1864 and 1870. See also South Caponiers (1866), North Caponiers (1830), the Lower Battery (1868), and the Main Magazine and Tunnel complex (1865) from the Canadian Register of Historic Places. In WWI the fort was armed with two 4.7-inch quick-firing guns. Sometime after WWI the fort primarily became a mine depot until closed in 1960. Georges Island became part of the National Park system in 1965. Former buildings still extant include the Artillery Stores Building (1873), the Field Forge Storage Building (1873), the Guardhouse/Fire Engine House (1900 ?), the Carpenter's Shop (1885), Laboratory (1885), Guardroom/Prisoners' Quarters (1866), and the Married Officers' Quarters (1901). At the present time the island is closed to the general public, pending restoration and tourist development.
PHOTOS from Urban Exploration Resource

First located here in 1750 was Fort George (1), an earthworks fort. It was modified in 1795 to a star-shaped fort with a blockhouse in the center, known as Georges Island Fort.

NOTES: During World War II anti-aircraft guns in the greater Halifax area included twelve 3.7-inch gun sites, and 16 40mm gun sites. There were 12 searchlight positions. Two minefields and an anti-submarine net protected the harbour, with magnetic indicator loops also in use.
World War I guns in relocatable positions: two 60-pounder BL guns (transferred to Kingston, Jamaica in 1919); three 4.7-inch guns on movable mountings; and four 12-pounder BL MK1 guns.


Special thanks to Robert D. Zink of the Coast Defense Study Group for providing info on the Coast Artillery Defences of Halifax Harbour.

Nova Scotia Mainland - page 1 | Cape Breton Island - page 3

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