Nova Scotia

Going... going... Bidding war heats up for iconic Dartmouth sign

It greeted thousands of people over the course of three decades, now a piece of Dartmouth memorabilia is drawing dozens of online bids after Halifax Regional Municipality decided to auction it off for charity.

28-year-old sign from the Alderney ferry terminal being auctioned for charity

The sign has already been removed from the Alderney Gate Pedway. More than 100 people have placed bids to buy it from the city. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

It greeted countless people over the course of three decades — and now a piece of Dartmouth memorabilia is going up for auction. 

The "Welcome to Dartmouth" sign has called the Alderney Gate pedway home for 28 years, a focal point for those getting off the ferry.

But the sign's years of service are over, after the city ordered a replacement as part of the modernization of the pedway. The Halifax Regional Municipality has decided to put the sign up for sale in an online auction, with all proceeds going to charity.

"Since it has been around for so long, and is so well-recognized, it was determined there may be outside interest in acquiring it," wrote Brynn Langille, a city spokesperson, in an e-mail.

It seems many are nostalgic for Dartmouth's greeting sign. More than 100 bids have been placed during the auction's first week. The price tag has now topped $1,000.

The old sign greeted thousands of people over three decades. The city says a new sign will go in its place. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

The sale came as a shock to Gloria McCluskey, Dartmouth's former mayor who continues to be the community's biggest advocate.

She says there's no reason why the iconic sign couldn't have gone back up after the renovations of the pedway were completed.

"This one is a lovely old sign! Why would they have to replace it? Why would we have to spend more money?" McCluskey said.

"It seems to me that they're trying to take anything that's related to Dartmouth. They'll probably put up a 'Welcome to Halifax' sign now. I wouldn't be surprised."

McCluskey says signs like this are a piece of the community's history.

"It's just very disappointing. That's why we started Destination Dartmouth, to try to keep our identity."

The sign is 30" by 30" and lights up. (Halifax Regional Municipality)

Despite McCluskey's fears, Councillor Sam Austin points out the replacement sign is bigger and in a prominent location, right as passengers get off the ferry.

The proceeds of the auction are also going to a local charity, the Feeding Others of Dartmouth Society which is often referred to as Margaret's House.

The charity cooks 3,000 meals a month for those in need.

"Downtown Dartmouth is growing and it's important to remember that the benefits of growth aren't always equally spread," Austin said.

"I'm glad that staff have saved the iconic welcome sign, and that the proceeds will go back into Downtown Dartmouth."

Councillor Sam Austin snapped this shot of the new, larger greeting sign being installed. (Submitted by Sam Austin)

Everyone will have to wait another week before they find out who will be victorious in the bidding war for the sign. The auction ends on March 29.

McCluskey hopes whoever takes it home will find a way to install it in a prominent position in Dartmouth.


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