Halifax Common

Halifax Common

The Halifax Common is a Canadian urban park in Nova Scotia's Halifax Regional Municipality in the community of Halifax. It is Canada's oldest urban park. It consists of the North Common and Central common.


The Halifax Commons was originally a lightly forested swampy area which formed the source of Freshwater Brook which flowed into Halifax Harbour near the site of today's Pier 21. The Commons was created by surveyors following the settling of Halifax in 1749. The Halifax Commons were created to serve three purposes. The first was to provide pasturage for horses and livestock, both by the military garrison and the citizens of Halifax. The second was to create a large area in which regiments stationed and in transit through Halifax could set up camps. The third and final reason was to provide clear fields of fire for the garrison of the Halifax Citadel, so that invading forces would have no cover in the event of an assault on the fort.

Originally, the Halifax Commons stretched from Cunard Street, the current northern boundary of the North Common, south to the southern edge of the Saint Mary's University campus, with its eastern boundary at North Park, Ahern, Bell Road, and South Park, and Robie Street in to the west. During the 1800s, the city expanded in all directions, and some of this development encroached on the Commons. Residential development spread up Spring Garden Road, cutting the Commons in half. In addition, civic institutions were established on the Commons, in keeping with its use as a public space. The Commons became home to the Public Gardens, Camp Hill Cemetery and Camp Hill Hospital, Saint Mary's University, Dalhousie University, the Civic, Victoria General, IWK and Grace hospitals, Citadel High School, Gorsebrook Junior, and Inglis Street schools, as well as other parks, play sets, ball diamonds and fountains.


The North Common contains several soft ball diamonds, and a large fountain near the centre. It is larger than the Central Common, and is much more empty and open, making it suitable for organized sporting and recreation events. A public washroom was recently built on Cunard St.

The Central Common has more large fields, tennis courts, a soccer field, an outdoor city-owned swimming pool, skateboarding facilities, and a smaller fountain.

Playgrounds were recently replaced on the Central Common, because of concerns due to toxicity levels in the soil beneath the playground [ [http://www.environmentaldefence.ca/reports/arsenic/news/20030115-2.htm "Halifax Commons playground toxic: report"] (January 15, 2003)] . Arsenic from playground wood that had been treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA, which has since been discontinued in playground use in Halifax) had leached from the playground wood, into the soil.

Near the Cogswell street side of the Commons is The Halifax Pavilion. The Pavilion is an all ages venue that showcases many different genres of music.


The Halifax Common is centrally located on the Halifax peninsula, about a 5-minute walk to and from Downtown Halifax.

The square-shaped North Common is bordered by Cunard Street to the north, North Park street to the east, Cogswell street to the south, and Robie Street to the west. The Central Common is triangle shaped and is bordered by Cogswell Street to the north, Bell Road to the south-west, and Trollope Street to the south-east.


*In 1983, Prince Charles and Princess Diana were greeted by a large crowd on the Common during a visit to Halifax.

*In 1984, 80,000 faithful attended a service by Pope John Paul II at the Commons.

*On September 23, 2006, The Rolling Stones played on the Common as part of their A Bigger Bang Tour. It was the largest concert the city has ever undertaken, and a test-run for more concerts in the future. The opening acts were rapper Kanye West, Alice Cooper, and Canadian band Sloan. The concert sparked debate around usage of the park (a public space) and about direct taxpayer expense and subsidy. With an attendance of around 50 000, however, the event was considered a success, and is being followed this August 30 by Country Rocks 2008 featuring Keith Urban.

ee also

* List of parks in the Halifax Regional Municipality
* The Halifax Pavilion


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