HALIFAX: A VISUAL LEGACY
by William D. Naftel
Formac Publishing Company, 2015
For enterprises such as this [Halifax: A Visual Legacy], the internet has become a valuable resource as more and more institutions have put valuable and obscure collections on line. Most of the photographs in this book and many more besides can be found there by a diligent and inquisitive individual willing to put in the time.
In the process of researching these photographs, time became meaningless. The whole span of a community’s history over a century and a half was spread beneath my gaze. In the final collection, time travel is a reality as the photographs transport you back and forth through the decades at will.
Sometimes the visible changes from then and now are dramatic. Lower Water Street is totally unrecognizable today, as it is now a sleek, upscale Bishop’s Landing. The happy coexistence of freighters, schooners and casual fishermen in the Ocean Terminals remains a memory of the 1950s, as the area today is a fortified enclave after 9/11 security concerns. Sometimes, however, a scene remains surprisingly recognizable today, like Barrington at Spring Garden, or the community of Bedford.
With the arrival of public transportation, recreational opportunities for families expanded outside of their neighbourhoods, like Horseshoe Island, while public education opened doors for boys and girls.
Progress and industrialization arrived with fanfare, like the opening of the Graving Dock in 1889. But under the pressure of the 1917 explosion, two World Wars, and lingering economic depression, they began to deteriorate.
Not before the 1950’s did we see the twentieth century begin to arrive, such as with the Inauguration of Angus L. Macdonald Bridge in 1955. And as the changes continued, we watched the old city disappear.
But if you don’t like what you see, why not just turn the pages back to a better time and place.