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Halifax Citadel National Historic Site of Canada

The third Citadel

When Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, arrived in Halifax in 1794 as commander-in-chief of British forces in Nova Scotia, Britain and France were at war. Though the fighting took place a world away, there was reason to believe the French might attack this strategic British naval base. Yet Halifax’s defences were in poor shape, so Edward began a campaign to strengthen them and build new fortifications. This effort included a third Halifax Citadel named for Edward’s father, King George III.

The first hilltop citadel

Image of oil painting depicting the third Citadel Third Citadel, 1800
© Parks Canada/K. E. Grant

Though plans for the new Halifax Citadel were approved in 1795, a shortage of men and material meant work did not really get underway until 1796. By then, the old fortress had been levelled and the hill cut down by 15 feet.

It took four years to complete the new fort, the first one to be set directly atop the hill. Similar in size and shape to the existing Citadel, it was smaller than its predecessor. Made primarily of earth and timber, there were just three major buildings within its walls: a barracks, a provision store and a powder magazine.

Much like the first and second Citadels, this third fort never saw battle. Many repairs were made to it over the years, including patchwork during the War of 1812, but it was in ruins by 1825. And planning soon began for a fourth, more permanent fort.