Description of Historic Place
The Gun Emplacement, Magazine and Crew Shelter 1, located within Fort McNab National Historic Site of Canada, faces the water overlooking the Halifax Harbour. The structure consists of a raised concrete gun platform, and a subterranean complex containing a multi-chambered concrete magazine and gun-crew shelter. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Gun Emplacement Magazine and Crew Shelter 1, is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Gun Emplacement, Magazine and Crew Shelter 1, as an integral part of Fort McNab, is associated with the defence of maritime Canada between 1888 and 1960. Established as a key component of the fortifications defending Halifax harbour and the Imperial naval station, Fort McNab served as a heavy artillery coastal defence installation from 1906 until 1945. Gun Emplacement No.1 was one of the principal gun positions in the fort and was used for coastal artillery training during the Cold War period. Successive modernizations of the emplacement illustrate the technological evolution of coastal defence artillery.
The Gun Emplacement, Magazine and Crew Shelter 1, and the accompanying magazine and crew shelter is a good example of a specialized coastal defence structure that is purely utilitarian in design. It was modified over time to meet changing functional requirements. The gun platform is of standard design for breech loading coastal artillery guns of the period. The underground magazine was constructed to meet late-19th century standards for the safe and efficient storage and handling of shells and explosives.
The Gun Emplacement, Magazine and Crew Shelter 1 is one of three aligned gun emplacements at Fort McNab and reinforces the military character at Fort McNab.
Ian Doull, Fort McNab, Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 96-096; Gun Emplacement No.1, Right Flank (includes Magazine No.1 and Crew Shelter No.1) Fort McNab, Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Heritage Character Statement 96-096.
The character-defining elements of the Gun Emplacement, Magazine and Crew Shelter 1 should be respected.
Its functional defensive design, its good quality materials and craftsmanship such as:
- the low profile, reinforced, partly subterranean, concrete structure of utilitarian design;
- the physical relationship, and irregular footprint created by its three components: the above ground gun platform, the underground magazine and the underground crew shelter;
- the gun platform, consisting of a dais to accommodate the gun mounting, with an issuing hatch with metal cover at the rear, a larger issuing aperture on the south side of the platform, and several shell and cartridge recesses;
- the underground magazine, consisting of an entryway flanked by concrete wing walls, a concrete stairway, a segregated lamp room, explosives and shell stores chambers and lamp recesses in all rooms and corridors;
- remaining magazine fixtures, including parts of the 1903-1906 hoists, a sliding metal fire door, visible elements of the 1948-9 oil heating system, and various wall brackets and shelves;
- the crew shelter, consisting of one small, underground, vaulted concrete room.
The manner in which the Gun Emplacement, Magazine and Crew Shelter 1 reinforces the present military character of the Fort McNab National Historic Site of Canada and is a familiar landmark as evidenced by:
- its scale, materials and military appearance that are compatible with the other structures within the complex;
- its heavy artillery capabilities necessary for the protection of the coast and fort;
- its strategic location within the fort used for coastal protection.