Nova Scotia

Cornwallis Park rejuvenation re-sparks statue debate

Cornwallis Park in Halifax is being rejuvenated, but the conversation about fixing up a city park has reopened debate about the man for whom it is named.

Coun. Waye Mason looking to fix 'tired' Halifax public space

Edward Cornwallis's statue was erected in the 1930s. (CBC)

Cornwallis Park in Halifax is being rejuvenated, but the conversation about fixing up the city park has reopened debate about the man for whom it is named.

Waye Mason, the councillor for peninsula-south-downtown, is hosting a public meeting Wednesday evening to talk about sprucing up the park, which is outside the train and bus stations.

"There's a lot of 30-year-old asphalt paths in there and there's a mixed bag of four or five different types of park benches. The park is tired. It hasn't seen a lot of investment in a really long time,” he said.

Some of the benches are a bit retro. (Anjuli Patil/CBC)

The park also has a statue of Edward Cornwallis, the British military leader who founded Halifax in 1749. He issued the so-called scalping proclamation the same year, in which he offered a cash bounty to anyone who killed a Mi’kmaq person.

'Rename Cornwallis Park'

That side of his historic role led to a second meeting the same evening.

Holly Lobsinger organized a Rename Cornwallis Park gathering in the park for Wednesday evening. There's also a Facebook page.

"I think it's really important that we don't erase history and that we keep Cornwallis in our history. I think we're more focused on making sure that history is not honoured, because it is a violent and terrible history," she said.

“Mi’kmaq people have brought up a lot of concerns about his honouring here so we want to elevate those concerns and continue debate around this issue.”

The plaque on the statue notes Cornwallis's role in founding the city, but does not mention Mi’kmaq people.

The statue, which was erected in the 1930s, is a frequent target of vandals. In 2011, Cornwallis Junior High was renamed Halifax Central Junior High.

Cornwallis Park hasn't been updated in many years. (CBC)

While Mason is more focused on getting a new swing set than dealing with Cornwallis’s legacy, he says the call to rename the park will be on the agenda.

“The idea is how do we want to use the park? How do we fill it with people? It seems to be a really family friendly park, so we'd like to talk about what we want to see in there for programming and permanent infrastructure.”

That meeting starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Westin Hotel. The Rename Cornwallis Park meeting starts at 6 p.m. in Cornwallis Park. 


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