Signal Masts and Flags at the Halifax Citadel
Towering above the South East Salient of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site are two replica masts that represent the masts historically used as signalling systems before the advent of electronic telecommunications. Parks Canada dresses (flies different flags and symbols) the replica masts as part of its interpretive program.
Commercial Signal Mast
The tallest mast, also known as the commercial mast, was used to inform the public (especially local merchants) of commercial marine traffic in the harbour and approaches. Company flags combined with pennants and signal discs indicated the number of ships in the harbour along with information regarding the ships’ nationality, direction, and port of departure. This information would give local citizens time to prepare for the impending arrivals. Local citizens would know what these combination of flags meant as codes were printed in local almanacs and newspapers. Standing 117 feet above the ramparts of the fort, the commercial mast was highly visible throughout the surrounding area.
Military Telegraph Mast
The shorter mast adjacent to the commercial mast was used for military communications. Used in conjunction with other masts around Halifax harbour, the military telegraph mast at the Citadel used flags and discs to transmit coded sensitive and restricted military messages. This mast stood 78 feet above the ramparts of the fort.
In addition to the flags on the signal masts, there are two other prominent flags flown at the Citadel. The Canadian flag is flown on the official mast at the front entrance of the Citadel and the historical garrison flag (the Union Jack) is flown on a mast located in the south-west demi-bastion of the fort.