Prince of Wales Tower National Historic Site of Canada

History

The forts and batteries erected around Point Pleasant Park were primarily intended to prevent enemy ships from getting into the Halifax Harbour or into the North West Arm, which runs behind the west side of the city.

In 1792, the threat of an immediate French attack alerted the British military in Halifax to the possibility of a landing in the harbour and, that summer, batteries were built on the point. For the next thirty years, the Point Pleasant forts formed the first line of the Halifax Harbour defences.

In 1796-97, Edward, Duke of Kent, ordered construction of a Martello tower to be built on high ground behind the point, a location capable of defending the point batteries. The Prince of Wales Tower, named after Edward's eldest brother, is a squat, round structure built of stone, almost three times as wide as it is high. The original construction allowed for six mounted guns on the roof and four guns on the second storey. The second storey was intended for barrack use and the ground floor for storage. Several modifications were made over the next seventy years. Although the tower ceased to be important for military purposes in the late 19th century, some of the other forts on the point continued to be used by the military until the close of the Second World War.

An important side effect of the military interest in Point Pleasant was the preservation of the large tract of land owned by the crown. In 1866, the military offered the park to the city on a 999-year lease for an annual rent of one shilling. Point Pleasant Park is now used for a variety of recreational purposes. The 200-year-old Prince of Wales Tower stands as a silent reminder of earlier days.