Nova Scotia

Halifax town clock hard to read, says architect

Some people believe the historic Halifax town clock on Citadel Hill is too hard to read.

Some people believe the historic Halifax town clock on Citadel Hill is too hard to read.

That's because the copper-coloured hands and Roman numerals tend to blend into the dark blue of the clock face, especially on overcast days.

The clock has been keeping time on Citadel Hill since 1803.

Reading the clock used to be easier, when the face was white and the hands and numerals were black.

In the early 1990s, Parks Canada painted the clock face blue, its original colour.

Halifax architect Terry Smith-Lamothe walks by the clock every day and he said historical accuracy is great but the clock can be hard to read at a distance.

"When you're on the street down by the harbour or whatever and you look up at the clock, the hands disappear," said Smith-Lamothe.

Tourist Todd Bever of New York said maybe if the hands were painted, or even the ends of the hands were a brighter colour, he'd have had an easier time reading it.

Frank Smith from Cole Harbour agrees.

"The contrast between the colours, the gold and dark blue is just hard to see through. Probably a black and white, or red maybe in there, red would be better with a blue background," said Smith.

"I think it's absolutely beautiful. I really like it. I can read it pretty well," said Margie Younger, a visitor from Oshawa, Ontario.

"I hear the noon gun, and that's all I need. As a landmark, I think it's important, but as a time-keeping piece, I don't think it's all that important," said Smith.

In his world travels, Smith-Lamothe has taken shots of other blue-faced clocks in London, New York, Paris and he said all have brighter hands and numerals.

"I mean I don't think it has to be done tomorrow but the next time (it's painted)  I think we should fix this. The townspeople of Halifax should be able to read their own town clock easily. Just like the people in Europe."

Parks Canada is open to the idea.

"If there are improvements to be made in terms of the contrast between the colours of the face of the clock and the hands and the numerals then we are happy to investigate those," said Carla Wheaton, cultural resource manager of Parks Canada.

Changing the colour of those hands is certainly going to take time.

Park Canada figures the current paint job will last another five years.