Chebucto Road: A walk through Halifax’s past, present, and future

Chebucto Road has a timeless quality. At a little over 2 kilometres, it’s a fairly short walk, but the street cuts smoothly through a lot of history and shows how the city is changing. Research after the fact proved it to be a fitting choice for a walk. The name “Chebucto” is the anglicized version of the original Mi’kmaq name for the present-day city and surrounding area prior to European contact.

Chebucto Road starts with a rather challenging traffic configuration. Since it starts in the middle of another street, you actually turn right to travel straight through the intersection. It’s very confusing and more than a little harrowing, especially when you’re new around here. Eventually, you get used to the feeling of driving straight into traffic. It’s a Halifax thing.

Among the heritage homes, working class neighbourhoods, and historic churches, there is a symbol of our evolution and changing culture, a brand-new mosque, the Ummah Masjid and Community Centre.

The facility opened in 2011 with money raised entirely from the community, and is both a centre for the faithful and community centre for the surrounding area. I really loved the architecture of the mosques I saw in Morocco (and former mosques in Spain), so, for me, this is a really interesting addition to the city and I’d love to be invited inside for a visit. Hint.

Stained glass window at Canadian Conservatory of Performing Arts.

Heading into the more residential part of the street, there’s a secret park in plain sight at the corner of Dublin Street. Extensive Googling revealed it’s actually called the Nick Meagher Community Park (usually pronounced “mar” in these parts) after a city councillor who served the area for 33 years, but the plaque with the identifying details was stolen about eight months ago. It used to be called the Dublin Street Parkette, which is adorable. Bigger than a lawn, smaller than a park, I totally want a parkette of my own.

Taking in the view at Nick Meagher Community Park (formerly parkette).

The next few blocks are fairly commercial, with an excellent European deli, a great French fry shop, an awesome spot to get clothing alterations, and the best-named place to get your hair cut that I’ve seen in these parts.

The next park, between Connaught Avenue and Mumford Road, is called Saunders Park these days. Until 1942, however, it was the Halifax Civic Airport, replaced during the Second World War by an airfield on the other side of town. It’s named after Donald Saunders, long-time manager of the airport, when it wasn’t in the middle of city.

Saunders Park today

Next to six lanes of traffic, the park is a nice refuge. The real treat is the sculpture commemorating the former airport.

Saunders Park sculpture

I had never noticed it before, but one of the buildings across the street from the park has retained its old-timey street signage, long-retired everywhere else in the city.

Down the road from Saunders Park is a part of the city that was mostly farmland a little more than a century ago, depicted by a mural on one of the small stores in the area.

Compare and contrast

Chebucto Road terminates at the Armdale Roundabout, another one of Halifax’s interesting traffic navigation experiences. Until a few years ago, it was better known as the Armdale Rotary and had its own “made in Halifax – first and only in the world” rules for navigation. The ultimate in Canadian politeness, the “you go then I go” system would chagrin locals and visitors alike. These days, however, it follows the roundabout rules that are used everywhere else in the world.

This end of city is fairly close to my house, so I wander around the roundabout and the Northwest Arm, one of the bodies of water surrounding Halifax, fairly often. When I have the time, I stop at a fantastic restaurant, The Armview, one of Halifax’s oldest surviving restaurants which, in recent years, has been completely renovated and now serves diner-style fare updated with a staggering selection of excellent fresh, local meats, cheeses, and other food products.

Lots of people still call it The Rotary, and we’re dealing with that.

Chebucto Road is not an obvious choice for an urban hike, but it’s a great way to see where our city came from and where it’s going. On the day of my walk, I finished up with a bit of lunch, taking in the view of the breezy seas right in front of me.

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Under the current signage on the corner of Chebucto and Quinn is a pair of fantastic hand painted Coca-Cola signs that say Tony’s Corner

    Also much love for the Heiwa Market on the corner of Chebucto and Philip I can not express how wonderful the female owner is is, she is the essence of service that all small business should be.

    • Agree! The slower I wandered, the more I discovered I love about the street. The meal I had at the Armview and the end was the capper on a great day!

  2. WOW. As a long time resident of what is now 6144 Chebucto Road, my memories take me back to VE day, the 1949 explosion and more. My grandmother remembered well watching St. Mathias Church, literally move on it’s foundation when the explosion of the ammunition ship occurred. Again, when the Magazine explosion occurred, we were all herded to the commons for shelter (?) – no shelter there. Also what was Chebucto Rd. School, which I and my siblings attended, was well known as a temporary morgue for the victims. My Mother also attended that school when the first explosion happened, she was allowed to stay home that day, (homework not complete) and ALL around her seat in that class, were killed …….. VE day reminds me that we were not allowed off of the steps at the front of the house. When an adult, I recall a city policeman, on horse, directing traffic at the corner. A vehicle came too close to the hind leg of the horse, the fender catching his (the horses) hind leg. The horse was killed, (shot) right there, on the street …. I also recall when the lumber yard on Cunard St., went up in flame (Piercies ?). watching from the kitchen window which overlooks the convenience store now, my Father was in his glory, mistakenly thinking it was the Olympic Gardens (dance hall) which was on fire …….. sorry Dad …. so many memories, both good & bad ………

Comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s