Our Port

History

The Wonders of Halifax

Halifax, situated on the second largest natural harbour in the world, is a modern port city teeming with culture and heritage. Life here revolves around the sea. Follow in the footsteps of princes, privateers and press gangs as you stroll through our safe, walkable downtown experiencing over 250 years of Halifax history. Discover the impressive array of museums, galleries, historic sites, fine restaurants, colourful gardens and lively nightlife. A year-round tourism destination, Halifax offers an abundance of entertainment options – from 15 annual key festivals, to local cuisine and wine to outdoor adventures along our rugged seacoast. An urban metropolis with small-town charm and the pristine beauty of nature – Halifax.

Learn more at www.destinationhalifax.com

For over 250 years the Port of Halifax has remained a cornerstone of economic activity for the city, the region and the province as a whole. The Port's strategic location made Halifax an ideal Gateway into North America for settlers and shippers and a perfect vantage point for military operations. The following is a collection of highlights and achievements in the Port's history.


1700s

1749

Colonel Edward Cornwallis arrives from England to found Halifax. Over 2,500 settlers follow.

1752

Halifax begins North America's first salt water ferry service.

1758

Halifax opens North America's first naval dockyard.

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1800s

1818

Halifax becomes a 'free port' and allows foreign ships to move cargo in and out.

1836

Samuel Cunard, founder of Cunard Lines, starts a steamboat ferry service between Halifax and Dartmouth.

1837

Halifax opens North America's first yacht club, The Royal Halifax Yacht Club.

1840

Cunard Line's Britannia completes the firm's first transatlantic voyage to provide mail service between Britain and North America.

1841

The City of Halifax becomes incorporated.

1872

Intercolonial Railway opens in Halifax connecting the city to the rest of North America.

1873

Dartmouth becomes the first town in Nova Scotia to incorporate.

1880

Intercontinental opens Deep Water Terminus, a dock complex that can house 12 steamers simultaneously.

1882

A grain elevator is constructed at the end of Upper Water Street.

1886

The Halifax Drydock opens.

1889

The Halifax Graving Dock Company opens the largest drydock facility on the Atlantic Seaboard.

1895

The grain elevator and part of Deep Water Ocean Terminus are destroyed by fire.

1898

Imperial Oil begins operation in Dartmouth.

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1900s

1912

Halifax deploys a rescue mission after the sinking of the Titanic. 190 bodies are brought back to Halifax with many being buried here.

1917

Two munitions ships, the Mont Blanc and the Imo, collide in Halifax Harbour causing the world's largest man-made explosion before the nuclear age. The blast kills 2,000 people, injures 9,000 others and destroys 325 acres of land.

1922

The Royal Halifax Yacht Club becomes the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.

1928

Pier 21 opens as a gateway to Canada for over 1million immigrants. The Halifax Harbour Commission is established to oversee terminal construction.

1955

The Angus L. MacDonald Bridge opens.
Pier A-1 opens.

1961

Dartmouth becomes incorporated as a city.

1962

The Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) opens.

1969

Dart, Halifax's first container line, begins service at Pier B.

1970

The Halifax International Container Terminal officially opens and becomes the first common-user container terminal in Canada.
The A. Murray MacKay Bridge opens.

1971

Pier 21 closes.

1981

The Fairview Cove Container Terminal opens.

1982

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic opens.

1984

The Halifax Port Corporation is established.
Halifax hosts the World's Tall Ships for the first time.

1986

Fairview Cove Container Terminal expands.

1987

Pier 29 is redeveloped into a common user terminal with a Ro/Ro ramp.

1988

Pier C is expended to accommodate two vessels simultaneously.

1991

CN initiates double stack rail service to the Port of Halifax.

1992

CN announces coast to coast double stack rail service.

1993

CN opens Intermodal Terminal for domestic traffic.

1994

The Halifax Port Corporation and South end Terminal construct Marine Terminal Entrance.

1995

Halifax hosts Canada's third annual G7 summit.
CN initiates double stack service between Halifax and the U.S. Midwest.

1997

Redevelopment of Pier A at Ocean Terminals.
Halifax establishes sister ports in Goteborg and Amsterdam.

1998

Ocean Terminals named 'National Historic Civil Engineering Site'
Halifax is the first Port on North Americas Eastern Seaboard to receive a post-Panamax container vessel.

1999

Canada Marine Act established changing the Halifax Port Corporation into the Halifax Port Authority.
Halifax celebrates 30 years of containerized cargo operations.
Official opening of the Pier 21 Museum and Cruise Pavilion.

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2000s

2000

Halifax hosts the World's Tall Ships for the second time.
Halterm Terminals installs post-Panamax cranes.

2002

Fairview Cove Container Terminals installs post-Panamax cranes.

2004

Halifax hosts World's Tall Ships for the third time.

2005

Halifax hosts the 7th Annual Canada-New England Cruise Symposium.
Fairview Cove Container Terminal deepened berths to 55 feet - offering the deepest container berths on the eastern seaboard of North America.

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