Memorial Tower National Historic Site of Canada

Halifax, Nova Scotia
General view of the Memorial Tower from the south, showing the quality of the ironstone base and granite top, 2007. © Halifax Regional Municipality \ Region Municipal de Halifax 2007
General view
© Halifax Regional Municipality \ Region Municipal de Halifax 2007
Panoramic view of the Memorial Tower emphasizing its prominent location on a rise of land in Sir Sandford Fleming Park, overlooking downtown Halifax, 2007. © Halifax Regional Municipality \ Region Municipal de Halifax 2007Detail view of the Memorial Tower's four large Palladian windows, 2007. © Halifax Regional Municipality \ Region Municipal de Halifax 2007General view of the Memorial Tower from the south, showing the quality of the ironstone base and granite top, 2007. © Halifax Regional Municipality \ Region Municipal de Halifax 2007
Address : Parkhill Road, Dean, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute: Historic Sites and Monuments Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. H-4)
Designation Date: 2008-12-24
Dates:
  • 1910 to 1912 (Construction)
  • 1908 to 1908 (Significant)
  • 1914 to 1914 (Significant)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Dumaresq and Cobb  (Architect)
  • S.M. Brookfield Ltd.  (Builder)
  • Albert Brucejoy  (Builder)
Other Name(s):
  • Memorial Tower  (Designation Name)
  • The Dingle Tower  (Other Name)
  • Halifax Memorial Tower  (Other Name)
Research Report Number: 2008-039

Plaque(s)


Built between 1908 and 1912 at the suggestion of Sir Sandford Fleming, this tower commemorates the 150th anniversary of the first representative government in Canada. From the High Victorian character of its massive rusticated shaft to the Edwardian Classicism of its more delicate superstructure, the tower's architecture was meant to remind future generations of Canada's burgeoning independence, but also of past and continued ties to Britain. The Memorial Tower's prominent location is reflective of an era when British imperialism was considered an integral part of Canadian nationalism.

Description of Historic Place

Memorial Tower National Historic Site of Canada is dramatically located on a rise of land in Sir Sandford Fleming Park overlooking downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. Standing 34 metres in height, the imposing tower is approached by a large staircase and is flanked by two large bronze lions. The base of the tower is constructed of rough grey ironstone while the upper storey is of grey granite and features Palladian windows. Official recognition refers to the area of the peninsula on which the Memorial Tower is located.

Heritage Value

Memorial Tower was designated a national historic site of Canada in 2008 because: built at the inspiration of Sir Sandford Fleming for the twin purposes of commemorating the achievement of representative government in the colony of Nova Scotia 150 years earlier and celebrating Canada’s relationship within the British Empire, it reflects a transitional moment on the eve of the First World War, when the country was on the cusp of a change towards more independence; it is a rare structure whose design neatly mirrors its commemorative intent by means of the transitional qualities of its architecture, from the High Victorian character of its massive rusticated shaft to the later Edwardian Classicism reflected in the tower’s more delicate classical superstructure; and, its prominent site speaks forcefully to Halifax’s special relationship with the British Empire.

The Memorial Tower was built in 1908 to commemorate the adoption of representative government in Nova Scotia (1758), the first British colony to do so. The monolithic base of the tower and the Palladian windows of the upper storey illustrate the use of High Victorian and Edwardian Classical styles respectively, and gives the tower its unique appearance. This combination of design styles captures this transitional moment in the meaning of Canadian nationalism as it moved toward a more independent relationship with the British Empire prior to the First World War.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 2008.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements contributing to the heritage value of the Memorial Tower include: its prominent location on a rise of land in Sir Sandford Fleming Park, overlooking downtown Halifax; the tall, square massing of the slightly tapered tower set on a well-defined base and topped by a shallow pyramidal roof clad in copper, and the roofs broad overhang with dentilled eaves; the stone construction that incorporates both rough grey ironstone and smooth grey granite; the tower’s harmonious tri-partite proportions that are well-defined by its projecting base and the strong projecting stringcourse set below the upper storey; the elements of High Victorian design such as the solid rusticated shaft of the tower; the elements of Edwardian classicism, including the four large Palladian windows and the smooth exterior surfaces on the upper storey; the two large bronze lions set on granite plinths that flank the entrance to the tower; the monumental flight of steps that lead from the bottom of the rise of land to the base of the tower; the design and configuration of the metal staircase set within the body of the tower that allows access to the viewing platform on the tenth floor.