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Main Magazine, Building 611

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/03/28

General view of an entrance to the Main Magazine, Building 611, 1995.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, I. Doull, 1995.
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1869/01/01 to 1870/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/04/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Main Magazine, Building 611 located at the Halifax Defence Complex consists of an earth covered brick chamber. The only visible components are single and double entrances set within brick arches and stone walls. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Main Magazine, Building 611 is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Main Magazine, Building 611 is closely associated with the national theme of the coastal defence of Canada in particular the defence of the Imperial naval station during the period of heightened tension following the Trent Affair of 1861. It is also associated with the change in armament technology represented by the appearance of the rifled muzzle-loading gun.

Architectural Value
The Main Magazine, Building 611 is a good example of a specialized military defence structure with very good functional design. It was constructed specifically for the bomb-proof storage and handling of gunpowder used in the making of rifled muzzle-loading ammunition and incorporated the latest design innovations for ventilation, waterproofing and security under fire. The fortification engineers responsible for the Main Magazine achieved a remarkably successful design as evidenced in the column-free magazine chamber space, which they easily spanned with a segmental profile brick vault.

Environmental Value
The Main Magazine, Building 611 reinforces the present character of its military defence setting and is familiar within the Halifax Defence Complex.

Sources: Ian Doull, York Redoubt, Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 95-001; Main Magazine, York Redoubt, Halifax Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Heritage Character Statement, 95-001.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements of the Main Magazine, Building 611 should be respected.

Its specialized military defence construction and functional design, for example:
-the single brick vaulted chamber covered by a concrete slab and banked with earth;
-the bomb-proof passage roofs consisting of semi-circular profile brick vaults of 3 rings, a layer of concrete and a thick earth cover;
-the angular form of the earth cover and the secure placement of the entrances in the land side elevation of the cover;
-the architectural treatment of the two entrances including brick semi-circular rowlock arched doors, with brick jamb trim set in an irregular coursed ironstone rubble wall with sloped wing walls marked by bull header brick wall coping and cut-stone skew corbels;
-the four brick-lined ventiliation shafts, projecting from the ridge and fitted with cowl covers;
-the bomb-proof walls with a full brick lining, air space and concrete with loose stones packed against the outside.

The manner in which the Main Magazine reinforces the character of its defensive military setting and is a familiar building within the area, as evidenced by:
-its specialized military design and distinctive appearance which makes an important contribution to and harmonizes with the other defence structures at the Halifax Defence Complex;
-its two visible entrance passages, which contribute to the familiarity of the structure within the Defence Complex.




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 Support

Architect / Designer

Royal Engineers under the command of Major General Hastings Doyle



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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