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Counterscarp Gallery

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/03/28

General view of the Counterscarp Gallery, showing the cut granite framed vertical musketry loopholes, the vertical musketry loopholes with a one-piece flat lintel and the cut-granite quoins, 1995.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, Rhona Goodspeed, 1995.
Side view
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Other Name(s)

Counterscarp Gallery
Counterscarp Gallery and Countermines
Galerie de la contrescarpe et des contremines

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1829/01/01 to 1832/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/05/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Located in the Defence Complex of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada, the Counterscarp Gallery’s only visible external wall is that of the counterscarp which completely surrounds the fortress. The wall is about eighteen feet high, except at the main entrance to the Citadel. Here the upper part of the counterscarp opens to the roadway, which is flanked by two stone walls projecting from the counterscarp wall and marking the entrance to the fortress. Due to the star-shaped trace of the Citadel, the wall is broken into shorter sections which usually meet at pointed angles,except opposite the salients of the ravelins and the Redan, where they are curved. The wall is pierced by loopholes for its entire length. Eight entrances, set about one meter above the floor of the ditch, are located opposite the salients and the demi-bastions. The top of the counterscarp is coped. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Counterscarp Gallery is a Classified Federal Heritage Building
because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Counterscarp Gallery, is an excellent illustration directly associated with the active defence of the Imperial naval station in the period of mutual suspicion and hostility between Great Britain and the United States following the War of 1812. The completion of the Gallery and Countermines in 1849 was part of a major upgrade of the Halifax defences advocated by the Smythe Report of 1825 and largely accomplished between 1838 and 1862. The employment generated by this project and the money poured into the local economy gave a great boost to the economic and social life of Halifax.

Architectural Value
The Counterscarp Gallery is an excellent example of specialized military defence structures displaying the prototypical characteristics of a bastioned masonry fortress component designed for musketry defence and the placing and firing of explosives during a siege. Its value resides in its functional design the structure’s roof construction, the counterscarp walls with their projected beveled granite copings and vertical musketry loopholes. Internally, features characterizing the function of the Gallery and Countermines t-shaped plan and narrow and low tunnels, are the wall construction and brick barrel vaulting.

Environmental Value
As an integral and complementary component of the main body of work, the Counterscarp Gallery has a strong, reinforcing influence on the military character of the Halifax Citadel. Encircling the Citadel, it is located on the opposite side of the ditch from the components of the main ramparts, the Redan, the demi-bastions, the salients and the West Curtain. Of similar scale, materials and design, the gallery strengthens the presence of these other components and its interior provides the only entrances to the countermines.

Sources: Rhona Goodspeed, and Edgar Tumak. The Citadel Vols.1+ 2, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 95-001; The Citadel: Counterscarp Gallery, Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax Citadel, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement 95-001.

Character-Defining Elements

The character defining elements of the Counterscarp Gallery should be respected.

Its specialized military defence structure, construction methods, materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
-the roof, a 1’6” thick brick arch, a wedge shape of rubble masonry sloping down from the top of the counterscarp to the top of the rear wall, covered with tiling laid in cement and a thick earth cover;
-its irregularly coursed roughly squared and hammer-faced ironstone counterscarp wall and its counterscarp wall of rock faced chisel drafted granite ashlar, both sections with a projecting beveled granite coping;
-the cut granite framed vertical musketry loopholes, the vertical musketry loopholes with a one-piece flat lintel and the cut-granite quoins;
-the internal, long unbroken gallery walls of irregularly coursed ironstone rubble and
continuous segmented profile brick barrel vault;
-the inter-connected oblong compartments, irregularly coursed roughly squared ironstone walls and the transverse segmental profile barrel brick vaults;
-the countermines t-shape plan and narrow and low tunnels.

The manner in which the Counterscarp Gallery reinforces the military character and setting of the Halifax Citadel Defence Complex.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1838/01/01 to 1849/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Architect / Designer

Lieuteneant-Colonel Richard Boteler


Lieutenant-Colonel Rice Jones

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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