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S.S. Acadia National Historic Site of Canada

1675 Lower Water Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1976/11/06

General view of S.S. Acadia National Historic Site of Canada, showing its dockside location, 2006.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2006.
General view
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Other Name(s)

S.S. Acadia National Historic Site of Canada
S.S. Acadia
S.S. Acadia

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/06/18

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The S.S. Acadia National Historic Site of Canada is a steel, purpose-built hydrographic vessel currently berthed at a wharf in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. Launched in 1913, she is a steam-powered ship with two masts, one funnel and a single propeller. She has a riveted hull and features a straight bow and a rounded counter stern. The official recognition refers the vessel at the time of designation in 1976.

Heritage Value

The S.S. Acadia was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1976 because:
- for over half a century ACADIA played a leading role in the charting of the Hudson Bay and Strait, the Labrador Coast, and the Gulf of the St. Lawrence, and pioneered oceanography in Canadian waters.

Launched in 1913 to begin charting the sea route along the Hudson Bay’s west coast, the S.S. Acadia was specifically designed for hydrographic service in northern waters, and represented a departure in construction and design from contemporary hydrographic vessels. Known as the “workhorse of the Canadian Hydrographic Service,” the S.S. Acadia would go on to chart the port of Churchill, the coast of Nova Scotia, including a tidal investigation of the Bay of Fundy, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and would complete her career by charting the waters surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador after it joined Confederation in 1949. By charting safe passageways for shipping in these often-treacherous waters, she contributed to the economic development of the regions in which she was engaged. Retired in 1969, the S.S. Acadia had been a leader in Canadian oceanography, carrying throughout her career the most modern navigation and survey equipment available. She is currently part of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1976.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- its dockside location;
- the original massing, scale and proportions, surface material, colour, hull configuration, and interior and exterior elements, including:
- the strong steel construction, the thick 2.18 cm (7/8”) strengthened iron armour plating, and the heavier than normal framing;
- the surviving operational components of the vessel’s fabric, including the hull, superstructure, propulsion and auxiliary systems, external elements including the smoke stack, the mast and the wheelhouse;
- the single hull, with its length of 51.8 metres, beam of 10.2 metres, and draught of 6.4 metres, and the displacement of 846 tons;
- the straight bow and the rounded stern;
- the interior layout, features and finish including the mahogany and oak panelling and fine brasswork that are found in the quarters of the hydrogaphic staff and officers;
- the single propeller, and the rudder positioned under the stern;
- the propulsion machinery consisting of a main triple expansion steam reciprocating engine of 1715 shaft horsepower, and two coal-fired Scotch marine boilers.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1913/01/01 to 1969/01/01
1913/05/01 to 1913/05/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life

Function - Category and Type




Health and Research
Research Facility

Architect / Designer

R.L. Newman


Swan, Hunter, and Wigham Richardson Ltd.

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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