Heritage Walk - Oakland Dock and Northwest Arm Ferries

This web page is a supplement to the interpretive panel at the corner of Oakland Road and Beaufort Avenue. It lists the sources of panel content and provides source materials where available. It also provides additional background resources and covers additional themes where applicable. If you have any corrections or additions, please email: greenway_hfx@yahoo.com.

Sources for Interpretive Panel Content

  • The story of the origin of the Oakland Road dock is told by Murray B. Hodgins in his Dalhousie Masters’ thesis: “A City Transformed ?: Urban Development and the Role of Canadian Railway Policy in Halifax, Nova Scotia 1900-1920” (KILLAM DAL-MSS HIST. H689 1992 – see “Chapter Two: The Gradual Awakening of Civic Consciousness"

  • Iris Shea and Allan Marryatt of the Mainland South Heritage Society were invaluable in providing photos and information on ferry operations.

More Photos of Ferries Provided by Mainland South Heritage Society Archives

Newspaper Clippings - Leonard Kitz Campaign to Save Oakland Dock

The Mi’kmaq on the Northwest Arm

The Mi’kmaq and Point Pleasant Park (Amtoukati): An historical essay in progress by: Don (Byrd) Awalt recounts the historical presence of the Mi’kmaq on the Northwest Arm:

"The Mi’kmaq celebrated the ‘Spring Feast’ seven days after the first new moon in May. During the ministry of the Abbe Thury (between 1684 and 1699), this became a major Christian event with the Mi’kmaq and was renamed the Feast of St. Aspinquid of Agamenticus. Throughout the years, the feasts were held at various locations along the Northwest Arm, ranging from Point Pleasant Park to Horse Shoe Island."

This map and this Chapter 5 of the Point Pleasant Park Development Plan (see page 19, 21, 48, 49, 59 of pdf document for references to Mi’kmaq cultural heritage) locate important sites in local Mi’kmaq history.

The Arm Bridge Proposals

The first proposal for a bridge across the Northwest Arm was in the City of Halifax 1945 Master Plan.

This section of the summary map at the end of the plan document shows a bridge across the Arm from the bottom of South Street.

Several years before Beaufort Avenue was created, the map shows an extended Connaught Avenue instead. Not only does the proposed boulevarded street run along today's Beaufort Avenue, but it sweeps from one end of the peninsula to the other. Three sections are highlighted:

  1. Jubilee Road to South Street, through the top of Conrose Park to Coburg Road, and along the east side of the rail cut where Armbrae Academy and First Baptist Church are today, to a traffic circle at South Street.

  2. From the south end of today's Beaufort Avenue at Roxton Road/Marlborough Woods along the east side of the rail cut to the end of Robie Street, joining with the ends of Greenwood Avenue and Marlborough Avenue on the way.

  3. From Robie Street to a traffic circle at Tower Road along the north side of the rail cut, where the Oaks and the Bower heritage properties are located. The boulevarded street would have continued along today's Southwood Drive to Young Avenue and beyond to join with the south end of McLean Street.

This birds-eye view from the Master Plan shows Connaught Avenue leading to a suspension bridge spanning the Arm.

In the 1960s and 1970s, a number of additional studies proposed an Arm bridge at the end of Robie Street. One even proposed Oakland Road - a location readiy rejected because of the historical and recreational importance of the Dingle and Fleming Park. The long life and eventual death of the bridge idea is chronicled in the following paper:

Hugh Millward and Eric Keuper, "Access to the Halifax Peninsula: Locational Decisions in the Context of Metropolitan Planning", in Douglas Day, ed., Geographical Perspectives on the Maritime Provinces, Halifax 1988

Thanks to all who contributed to the Halifax Urban Greenway Heritage Walk project:

  • Leonard Preyra for his initial suggestion and ongoing encouragement thereafter
  • The Northwest Arm Heritage Association for its letter of support for HUGA’s funding application to government
  • Garry Shutlak at Nova Scotia Archives for his assistance in locating resource materials and for his review of panels content
  • Rob, Peter and Leonard of Terra Marine Environmental Ltd. for the retrieval and placement of the stones forming the bases for the panel installations
  • Claudia Mannion for the Halifax Urban Greenway Heritage Walk logo.
  • Adam and Jenna at Eyecandy Signs for the design and production of the interpretive panels
  • Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage for its funding of 75 percent of project costs
  • The Halifax Regional Trails Association for the awarding of the remaining 25 percent of project costs from its HRM capital allocation

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