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Historic Waterfront Buildings

1865-85 Upper Water Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1981/10/27

Historic Waterfront Buildings, view of the east side, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
East Side
Carpenter's Shop, north elevation, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
North entrance
Red Store, north elevation, 2004; Heritage Division, NS Dept of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
North entrance

Other Name(s)

Historic Waterfront Buildings
Historic Properties

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1800/01/01 to 1875/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/09/01

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Historic Waterfront Buildings is a group of stone and wooden warehouses on the Halifax, NS, waterfront. The circa 1800-1875 buildings have been rehabilitated to serve a variety of commercial purposes including offices, shops and restaurants. The heritage designation refers to these two-and-three-storey rectangular buildings and the land they occupy.

Heritage Value

The Historic Waterfront Buildings are valued for playing an important civic and commercial role since the early beginnings of settlement in Halifax and stand as representative of the great days of sail. The seven, warehouse-type buildings constructed between circa 1800-1875, were built for individual merchants as well as trading and shipping companies. Enos Collins (1774-1871) was a successful privateer and banker associated with several of these buildings especially Collins Bank and Privateers' Warehouse, probably the oldest building now standing on the Halifax waterfront. The buildings have an attached waterfront lot which was busy with merchant ships and wharves during the areas hey-day.

The number of buildings, their considerable size and durable materials speak of the mercantile wealth that supported Halifax society during the 19th century. The heritage value also resides in their tight grouping, functionally driven designs and relatively heavy and unadorned construction materials and techniques. The construction of the buildings proceeded through the 19th century in an ad hoc process of construction, alteration and addition as needs dictated. The rehabilitation of the buildings in 1972-73 returned their exteriors to an approximation of their appearance circa 1900, while developing their interiors for new commercial uses and sanitizing their immediate surroundings.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minute 1962

Character-Defining Elements

The key character-defining elements of the Halifax Waterfront Buildings include:

-elements related to the relationship between the buildings, waterfront and surrounding area including: the spatial relationship of the buildings to each other to the harbour, and to the street; open and undeveloped spaces between the buildings; and simple, rectangular massing with minimal exterior detailing;
-elements related to the fluid functional interior designs historically intended to evolve with changing needs of use or tenants;
-all elements associated with the evolution of Collins Bank and Simon's Warehouse from two buildings into one rectangular, three-and-a-half storey massing under a hipped roof with large "hoistway" dormers vertically aligned with large "loading" openings on the elevations; regularly placed windows, timber and random-coursed ironstone construction of Collins Bank portion and the timber and granite construction of the Simon's Warehouse portion, with sandstone quoins, lintels, and belt-courses, interior brick fire walls;
-all elements of the Pickford & Black Building in its rectangular four-and-a-half massing under hipped roof with large "hoistway" dormers vertically aligned with large "loading" openings on the elevations, timber and rough ironstone construction with sandstone quoins, lintels and belt-courses, the two-storey glass storefront on the Water Street corner, interior brick fire wallls;
-all elements of the Old Red Store in its timber frame and wood construction, rectangular, three-and-a-half-storey massing, verticle alignment of large "loading" openings flanked by smaller windows with high ratio of solid wall surface to openings;
-all elements of the Privateers' Warehouse in its rectangular three-and-a-half storey massing under gable roof, timber frame and split-faced random-coursed ashlar ironstone construction with dressed sandstone quoins and lintels, small window apertures, and loading doors on the ground floor;
-all elements of the Wooden Storehouse/Loft in its rectangular three-and-a-half-storey massing under a pitched roof, heavy timber frame construction, classically inspired detailing such as returned eaves and balanced fenestration;
-all elements of the Carpenter's Shop in its rectangular two-storey, flat roofed massing, heavy timber frame construction and legible pattern of alternating windows and doors.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Commerce / Commercial Services


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

"Landmarks of the City of Halifax." Halifax Landmarks Commission, 1971. HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 6960 Mumford Road B3L 4P1.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

General view

Halifax Waterfront Buildings National Historic Site of Canada

The Halifax Waterfront Buildings NHSC comprises a group of former stone and wooden warehouses on the waterfront that have been rehabilitated to serve a variety of commercial…


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