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Defensive Casemates 51 and 52

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/03/28

Exterior photo; Rhona Goodspeed, Historical Services Branch, 1995.
Exterior photo
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Other Name(s)

Defensive Casemates 51 and 52
Defensive Casemates 51-52
Casemates défensives 51-52

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1828/01/01 to 1832/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/04/12

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Casemates 51 and 52, located in the Southwest Demi-Bastion, are an integral part of Halifax Citadel, the star-shaped fort on the crest of Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax. Built into the thick rampart wall of the fortification, the escarp side of each Casemate simply displays a splayed gun port flanked by loopholes. Similar in design, both are plain vaulted bombproof structures of rectangular plan and feature a high masonry front/retaining wall pierced by window, door and ventilation openings. The designation is confined to the footprint of the buildings.

Heritage Value

Casemates 51 and 52 are a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of their historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
Casemates 51 and 52 are strongly associated with the defence of the British Imperial naval station of Halifax against potential military incursions by the United States following the War of 1812. The upgrade of the Halifax defences and the resulting economic benefits had a significant impact on the community of Halifax.

Architectural Value:
Casemates 51 and 52 are good examples of specialized, reinforced defensive military structures integral to a permanent mid-19th century bastioned masonry fortification. Their defensive characteristics are exemplified by their partial underground construction, and other protective features. Designed to satisfy specific functional requirements for the accommodation of smoothbore ordnance and related storage within a restricted space, these functional buildings exhibit very good craftsmanship and materials with its use of large, well-dressed granite blocks.

Environmental Value
Casemates 51 and 52 reinforce the present military character of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site setting and are well known to staff and visitors within the Citadel.

Rhona Goodspeed with the assistance of Edgar Tumak, Consultant, The Citadel, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Volume One, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 95-001.

Casemates 51 and 52, Southwest Demi-Bastion, Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia Heritage Character Statement 95-001.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Casemates 51 and 52 should be respected, for example:

The functional design and good quality materials, for example:

-The low profile of the structure, the casemate chimneys protruding through the parapet, the parapet surrounding the deep open stairwell that provides access to the casemates via a dressed granite stair contained within an ironstone lined areaway;
-The front exterior or retaining wall constructed of coursed hammer-faced ironstone with a projecting cut-sandstone coping, the arrangement of openings in each bay comprising a single door flanked by windows for Casement no.51, and three windows for Casement 52, and ventilation openings for both;
-The exterior rear wall that blends in completely with and forms part of the escarp wall, each casemate having its own splayed gun port with three checks in the east jamb flanked by loopholes;
-The squared ironstone stone walls, brick vaults, of the plain interior chamber with a slight angle in the floor plan to the east side, the gun platform below the gun port, the internal opening through the party wall, the fireplaces and lamp recesses;
-The extensive use of chiselled granite for the stairs and the trimming of openings;
-The earth covered, bombproof roof forming the terreplein.

The manner in which Casemates 51 and 52 reinforce the present military character of the setting within Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and are a familiar landmark within the fort, as evidenced by:

-The specialized military design and materials that maintain a visual and physical relationship to the rampart/escarp wall, the terreplein and harmonize with the other buildings in the fortress;
-Their visibility to visitors and to staff within the Citadel.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Military Defence Installation

Architect / Designer




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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