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Royal Bank Building

5509 - 5513 Young Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3K, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1982/06/01

Rear and side elevations, Royal Bank Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Side/Rear Elevations
Side elevation, Royal Bank Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2005.; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Side Elevation
Royal Bank Building, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2004.; HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 2004.
Front Elevation

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1920/01/01 to 1920/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/08/19

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Royal Bank Building is a two-and-a-half storey Hydrostone structure on the corner of Young Street and Novalea Drive in the North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia. This area of the city is considered one of the best examples of a well-balanced streetscape and is known for its unique hydrostone building materials. The heritage designation applies to the building and the land it occupies.

Heritage Value

The Royal Bank Building is valued for its association with the 1917 Halifax Explosion, the rebuilding program that followed, and for its unique Hydrostone architecture.

On December 6, 1917 two ships collided in the section known as the Narrows of the Halifax Harbour. One of the ships was carrying explosives and the resulting blast devastated much of the North End of Halifax and flattened wooden buildings on both sides of the Narrows. Those buildings that were not destroyed by the force of the explosion were destroyed by fires caused by overturned stoves. The explosion killed 1,600 people and wounded 9,000. The explosion also caused roughly thirty-five million dollars damage. The rebuilding of the North End included one of the first planned housing projects in Canada and the most ambitious utilization of concrete blocks undertaken at that time.

Planned by Thomas Adams and designed by George Ross, the Royal Bank Building is part of a neighbourhood, known as the Hystrone, which is a unique architectural district reflective of the stylish English Garden City design. Hydrostone was chosen as the building material as it is stronger than wood, and more fire resistant. The block that the bank sits on is split by a service road at the rear of the buildings and the unit faces a narrow one way street. A large beautiful treed green space separates this block from the next. This street was awarded the 1995 Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia Built Heritage Award in the commercial category. Since its 1920 construction, this street has been designated a commercial district of the Hydrostone area. It continues today to host a number of businesses that service the immediate North End neighbourhood of Halifax and function as a unique destination that appeals to a the greater metropolitan area and tourists alike. Most of the appeal is generated through the attention to detail of the original architectural style.

Architecturally, the Royal Bank Building is valued for its construction material, design and style. Hydrostone is named after the trade name of the hollow concrete block made in Eastern Passage, NS. Hydrostone was used as the primary building material. Locally the Hydrostone architectural style has come to mean buildings that are part of the planned neighbourhood that are made of hydrostone made to look like wood and plaster with a Tudor or English Cottage style. It compliments the Halifax Relief Commission Building at the other end of the street; both buildings anchor the commercial section of the neighbourhood.

Source: HRM Heritage Property File: 5509 - 5513 Young Street, Royal Bank Building, found at HRM Planning and Development Services, Heritage Property Program, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Royal Bank Building relate to its Hydrostone style and include:

- hydrostone building materials;
- Tudor style façade on second floor;
- two dormers on front and rear roof, one on either side roof;
- two-and-a-half storey;
- hipped roof;
- four eight-over-eight windows on second floor Young Street facade;
- entablature above storefront window.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1917/01/01 to 1917/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building


Commerce / Commercial Services
Bank or Stock Exchange

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

HRM Planning and Development Services, 6960 Mumford Road, Halifax, NS B3L 4P1

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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