Nova Scotia

Archaeologists looking at new library site

As work is set to begin on the site of the new Halifax library, archaeological crews are coming in to evaluate the area.

As work is set to begin on the site of the new Halifax library, archaeological crews are coming in to evaluate the area.

The city has hired the Cultural Resources Management Group to do the archaeological work.

"When you're working in the historic area of downtown Halifax or Dartmouth, it's the kind of thing [archaeological work] that should be happening in just about every property," said Bruce Stewart, the president of the company.

The asphalt has to be carefully and slowly pulled back to look for artifacts.

The first property on the site was known as the Governor's Garden or Governor's Farm, early in Halifax history.

"The property was subdivided in the 1770s, and there were a couple of lots that were developed along Queen Street and more along Morris [Street] but one of particular interest is one along that falls right along the corner of Queen and Spring Garden Road," said Stewart.

The site was purchased by the Duke of Kent. Bellevue House was constructed in 1801. The house was a residence of the Chief of Commandment of the British military.

When the British pulled out in the early 20th century, the site was used for other various purposes before the most recent building was torn down in 1955.

Stewart's expectations are that they're going to find glass, pottery or even features of prior buildings, outbuildings, privies and wells.

He hopes they'll be able to distinguish one period from another—not just by the nature of the artifacts they find — but also because there was a change in the orientation of the first and second buildings on the site.

Following the findings, there will be a thorough documentation of everything found.

The work is under permit by the heritage division of the provincial legislation of Special Places Protection Act.

Under the act, no one can carry out activities anywhere in the province, including underwater, that may disturb fossils or artifacts without an approved Heritage Research Permit.

"They are allowing time for the detailed work to be done. We're talking a month to two months worth of work. It's a big property," said Stewart.

Stewart said where the old Halifax Infirmary was located, the construction of the hospital dug deep into the ground into bedrock, below any important deposits. He said in those areas, there's no archaeological significance left.

They are responsible to analyze the artifacts then prepare for storage and conservation and some degree of reconstruction.

Ultimately, findings will be turned over to the Nova Scotia Museum.

Spring Garden Road projects

The library project is just one project of many under way along Spring Garden Road in the coming months.

A new bank is about to go up at Birmingham and Spring Garden Road.

Condos will be built on top of Pete's Frootique on Dresden Row and the old Dairy Queen is about to be turned into an Eastlink Retail store.

As for this site, the $55 million library will be under construction for the next three years.

Construction should begin in June and the library is expected to be complete in 2014.