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Main Page > City of Promise > 1917: City of Promise

1917: City of Promise

Halifax in 1917 was joining the twentieth century. World War I had pulled it into a swirl of newcomers, new ideas and military and business demands. As the eastern border of a new country, the city wasn't just booming: it was changing, in some ways so quickly that it had to struggle to keep up.

One of those changes was the harbour, the heart of the city and its reason for being. It had never been so busy. An awkward trio of three groups: civilians, the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy held various responsibilities for harbour management.

There were bound to be holes in the net.

Halifax was founded by the British military, as a fortress against French interests in the Maritimes. Since 1749 it had thrived in times of war.

By 1917, three years of war in Europe had made Halifax a boom town. With a population of about 50,000, it was the largest in Atlantic Canada. It prided itself on keeping up with all the latest developments of the new century.

Across the harbour in Dartmouth, the pre-war town of 6,500 had grown too. Three ferries were hard pressed to keep up with traffic between the two communities.

On both sides of the harbour, business and industry were booming as factories, foundries and mills met the demands of a wartime economy.

Modern transportation and communications, schools and universities were all part of daily life. Halifax Fire Department had just taken delivery of its first motorized fire truck.

But everything in Halifax revolved around the harbour, the reason for the city's existence.

Did You Know

Halifax - Dartmouth Bridges: Present day Halifax and Dartmouth are connected by two bridges. The Angus fl. McDonald Bridge, opened in 1955 and the A. Murray MacKay Bridge, opened in 1970.
Learn more facts about these bridges from the Halifax Dartmouth Bridge Commission.

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