Halifax’s northern tip is renowned for perseverance. Founded upon glacial deposits and ironstone, the north end was once Halifax’s economic hub. At one point, Gottingen Street was busier than Spring Garden Road. In 1917, the Halifax Explosion changed everything. In the wake of devastation, residents suffered poverty, crime, and segregation. After losing their homes, churches and businesses, the north end population slowly rebuilt itself. Presently, the north end is in the midst of a renaissance. Locals draw from the north end’s deep soul, fierce spirit and historical diversity. The palette of saltbox houses, urban and community gardens, independent businesses and eclectic arts scene has become home to a wonderfully cosmopolitan mix of people , giving the area a special vibrance and character.

Gottingen Street 1955


The North End of Halifax has seen a series of very significant changes – more than any other area of the City since the founding of Halifax in 1749.

  • Situated on the unceded territory of the Mi'kmaq First Nation, the North End was settled in the 1700's by German farmers. Gottingen Street celebrated it's 250th Anniversary in 2014. You can still experience a piece of this early history by visiting The Little Dutch ("Deutsch") Church on Brunswick Street. Notable features onsite are the burying ground and the mass grave beneath the church. 

  • As the pressure for land increased, the North End became home to summer estates of wealthy citizens and a few houses for workers who were already working in the naval dockyard.

  • The estates were slowly joined by a series of farms developed by European Workers who had been encouraged to come to the City in order to provide labour for the construction required in building the City and also to provide labour for the naval dockyard.

  • The naval dockyard (British until 1906 Canadian thereafter) and its supported naval operations, have provided employment and indirectly encouraged development in the North End in bursts almost literally of feast and famine over the past 250 years.

  • By the 1860’s, the estates had been largely sold off for housing development and for use by various civic and military functions, while a manufacturing base was beginning to fill significant portions of the area.

  • For the first decades after the passing of the implanting of the ”National Policy” in 1879, the North End experienced an industrial boom. These policies introduced by the newly formed Confederation of Canada,looked as though they could replace the slow attrition of the Maritime shipping industry that was in decline resulting from the ending of the age of sail.  A whole range of, at times, relatively huge industrial activities were established and prospered. The Nova Scotia Cotton Company, later Dominion Textiles, employed 300 people.

  • The coming of the Dominion Railroad later in the 1880’s changed this. The initial investors and purchasers from Quebec and Ontario, changed when it became obvious that the bigger markets were going to be located in central Canada and that most of the goods could be produced more profitably there.

  • Industrial production continued at a slowly reducing rate but probably buoyed by some war related production until the massive explosion of December 6th 1917, reduced much of the North End to firewood and rubble.

  • A slow rebuilding followed the explosion. Certainly significant international support followed the explosion ,which saw the Hydrostone development built and completed very early in the 1920’s, but much of the area remained undeveloped until the boom of the 1939-45 war years.

  • The 1950’s and 60’s saw a further decline in the area when a combination of the impact of ill-planned development impacting on the area, and poorly considered government programs ,saw a disruption of previous employment and living patterns.

  • A period of further neglect followed until a combination of appealingly low property values compared with other City areas, together with the resilience and tenacity of the residents, brought about a groing commitment to the refurbishing and preservation of the remaining stock of older and historic homes.

  • Another cycle appears now be beginning for the North End resulting from a massive $30 billion shipbuilding contract awarded to the Halifax Shipyards, located right below the North End Area. The slate of work is expected to last for the next 27 years.  Again the North End is being called upon to house the workers and to supply the labour.

For information on Halifax's North End community's history please visit our on-line app. You can also find more information on this blog.

Gottingen Street 1955

Gottingen Street 1955

Gottingen Street 1955

Gottingen Street 1955