Halifax – Old South Suburb

Barrington and Hollis Streets

As I was walking in this neighborhood, I felt immersed back in time and I continued taking pictures of distinct houses, enough to hold back the group.  Back to the end of the 18th century and for a full century, slightly outside of the commercial trading area, it was the perfect place for business owners, bankers, founders, wealthy professionals and government members to settle into their housing. These sturdy houses were made solid and withstood time, fire and climate conditions.

Halifax and the province do have a classification of historical houses but naming the property by its owner’s name does not reveal enough. Indicating the year of the construction is interesting.   Not all buildings are registered but, registered or not, it might catch your eyes architecturally.

I do recommend taking time to walk on the streets of Hollis and Barrington as well as Morris and Bishop. You can combine this walk with the waterfront at the seaport section. Starting at the Via Rail Train Station you can make a loop since the station is at the end of both Hollis and Barrington streets. Look at the street signs; part of the area is referred to as “historic Irishtown”. Halifax did have waves of Irish immigrants that influenced the personality of the city.

One construction element frequently seen around town is the stone masonry work at the corner of the walls and around the windows, which are sometimes in a different stone color tone for contrast.

The Via Rail station is a good place to start. The Peace and Friendship Park in front is close to the seaport and waterfront harbourwalk.  Via Rail Station and the hotel next door are located where Barrington Street meets Hollis Street.

5185 South Street at the corner of Barrington: Farquhar home (1878). This yellow Victorian house was smaller but later transformed into a hotel/apartment building: the Elmwood. James Farquhar was seven when he moved to Sable Island. At a young age, he developed his ability with water waste, shipwrecks and whale skeletons that he transformed. It became a successful business. He purchased the property in 1896, expanded it and converted it into a hotel.  A lot of past tenants have funny stories about this place that was not that perfect.

Barrington Street

1222 Barrington: Henry House

1230-1234 Barrington: Gerrard Lodge was built in 1865. The large building for the merchant, James Scott, was later subdivided. Honorable Charles J. Townshend purchased it in 1889. He was Chief of Justice of the province’s Supreme Court before working for the Canadian parliament. It changed hands again and the northern part was a hotel between 1948 and 1964.

1253 Barrington: Blaiklock Block: The five red brick adjacent buildings, built in 1864, on Barrington Street, are detached residences for merchants, cabinet makers, shipping industries and government members.

1264-1266 Barrington: Waverly Hotel is no longer a hotel but was for 30 years starting in 1876. It was originally constructed as the residence of Edward Chipman in 1865.

1349-1353 Barrington: Renner-Carney House built in 1891. Mr Thomas Renner was a liquor merchant and owner of the Union Hotel. Mr Carney was a West India merchant and consul for Haiti.

1359 Barrington: Stoddard House built in 1828 was originally the St. Matthew’s Church. The Stoddard family lived in this construction from 1931 to 1980 and the author Lucy Maud Montgomery resided as a student at this place and influenced the writing of one of Anne of Green Gable’s passages in the novel “Anne of the Island”. It is located at the corner of Bishop Street, a good place to transit to Hollis Street if you want to do a loop in this area.

Morris Street

5184-86 Morris: Halliburton House, built in 1810 for Sir Brenton Halliburton, a judge at the Supreme Court.

Notice the row of houses on Morris Street (corner Hollis). The shoulder-to-shoulder residences are very similar and with only a few peculiarities. One of the premiers of the province lived in one of the units. At the time, housing arranged in a row was uncommon. Originally built in 1858, the basement was meant for servant quarters.

Hollis Street

1475 Hollis: Keith Hall was built in 1863 for Alexander Keith, the famous brew master, and sits just behind its brewery with a special passage between the buildings.

1472 Hollis: Black-Binney House built in 1819 is a National Historic Site of Canada for its finest style at the time of construction. It was built for John Black, a merchant and politician.  Other residents occupied the residence including the Premier of Nova Scotia, Honourable James Boyle Uniacke from 1848 to 1854.

1459 Hollis: Benjamin Weir House built in 1863 was a businessman and a shipyard owner.

1346-1352 Hollis Street, Pryor Terrace was built in 1816-1817 for a West India Merchant, John Pryor, along with three brick houses for his oldest daughters. 1346 is also known as William DeBlois House.

1335 Hollis: Rupert George House 1835, was built for a provincial secretary who lived at 1335 Hollis Street. It was purchased by John. P. Mott who manufactured the first chocolates in Canada.

1328-1332 Hollis Street: It is where you will find the oldest residence in the Old South Suburb area. Built before the turn of the 18th Century, it is named after its first occupant and owner Alexander McLean.   

1325 Hollis Street: Allison-Young House is another typical Halifax house with dominant quoins built in 1841.   

1240-46 Hollis Street: The 1826 Forman-Uniacke house was built for James Forman, a founder of the Bank of Nova Scotia.

You will at this point be next to the Via Rail station, your starting point.