Halifax , formally the Halifax Regional Municipality(HRM), is the capital of the province of Nova Scotia, Canada. The metropolitan area had a population of 390,096 in 2011 with 297,943 in the urban area. Formed by the 1996 amalgamation of Halifax County, the municipality is divided into 18 community planning areas, which are, in turn, divided into over 200 named communities and neighbourhoods, such as the former cities of Dartmouth and Halifax proper.
Halifax is considered a global city and is a major economic centre in eastern Canada with a large concentration of government services and private sector companies. Major employers and economic generators include the Department of National Defence, Dalhousie University, the Halifax Shipyard, various levels of government, and the Port of Halifax.Agriculture, fishing, mining, forestry and natural gas extraction are major resource industries found in the rural areas of the municipality. Halifax was ranked by MoneySense magazine as the fourth best place to live in Canada for 2012, placed first on a list of "large cities by quality of life" and placed second in a list of "large cities of the future", both conducted by fDi Magazine for North and South American cities.
The first permanent European settlement in the region was on theHalifax Peninsula. The establishment of the Town of Halifax, named after the British Earl of Halifax, in 1749 led to the colonial capital being transferred from Annapolis Royal.
The establishment of Halifax marked the beginning of Father Le Loutre's War. The war began when Edward Cornwallis arrived to establish Halifax with 13 transports and a sloop of war on June 21, 1749. By unilaterally establishing Halifax the British were violating earlier treaties with the Mi'kmaq (1726), which were signed after Father Rale's War. Cornwallis brought along 1,176 settlers and their families. To guard against Mi'kmaq, Acadian, and French attacks on the new Protestant settlements, British fortifications were erected in Halifax (Citadel Hill) (1749), Bedford (Fort Sackville) (1749), Dartmouth (1750), and Lawrencetown (1754), all areas within the modern-day Regional Municipality. St. Margaret's Bay was first settled by French-speaking Foreign Protestants at French Village, Nova Scotia who migrated from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia during the American Revolution.
December 1917 saw one of the greatest disasters in Canadian history, when the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship carrying munitions, collided with the Belgian Relief vessel SS Imo in "The Narrows" between upper Halifax Harbour and Bedford Basin. The resulting explosion, the Halifax Explosion, devastated the Richmond District of Halifax, killing approximately 2,000 people and injuring nearly 9,000 others. The blast was the largest artificial explosionbefore the development of nuclear weapons.
In 1996 the provincial government amalgamated all municipal governments within Halifax County to create the Halifax Regional Municipality, a regional municipality comprising approximately 200 individual identified communities. The municipal boundary thus now includes all of Halifax County except for several First Nation reserves.
Since amalgamation, the region has officially been known as the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM), although "Halifax" has remained in common usage for brevity. On April 15, 2014, the HRM regional council approved the implementation of a new branding campaign for the region developed by the local firm Revolve Marketing. In particular, the campaign would see the region referred to in promotional materials as simply "Halifax" — although "Halifax Regional Municipality" would remain the region's official name. The proposed rebranding was met with mixed reaction from residents, some of whom felt that the change would alienate other communities in the municipality through a perception that the marketing scheme would focus onMetropolitan Halifax only, while others expressed relief that the longer formal name would no longer be primary. Mayor Mike Savage defended the decision, saying that "I'm a Westphal guy, I'm a Dartmouth man, but Halifax is my city, we’re all part of Halifax. Why does that matter? Because when I go and travel on behalf of this municipality, there isn’t a person out there who really cares what HRM means."
Metropolitan Halifax is a term used to roughly describe the urban concentration surrounding Halifax Harbour, and includes the Halifax Peninsula, the core of Dartmouth, and the Bedford-Sackville areas. It is the Statistics Canada "population centre" of Halifax (2011 pop: 297,943). The dense urban core is centred on the Halifax Peninsula and the area of Dartmouth inside of the Circumferential Highway. The suburban area stretches into areas know asMainland Halifax to the west, Cole Harbour to the east, and Bedford, Lower Sackville and Windsor Junction areas to the north.
This urban area is the most populous urban area on Canada's Atlantic coast, and the second largest coastal population centre in the country, after Vancouver, British Columbia. Halifax currently accounts for 40% of Nova Scotia's population, and 15% of that of Atlantic Canada.
Halifax's urban core is home to a number of regional landmark buildings and retains some significant historic buildings. The downtown's mid level office towers are overlooked by the fortress of Citadel Hill with its iconic Halifax Town Clock.
The architecture of Halifax's South End is renowned for its grand Victorian houses while the West End and North End, Halifaxhave many blocks of well preserved wooden residential houses with notable features such as the "Halifax Porch". Dalhousie University's campus is often featured in films and documentaries. Dartmouth also has its share of historic neighbourhoods.
The urban core is home to several blocks of typical North American high-rise office buildings, however segments of the downtown are governed by height restrictions which prevent buildings from obstructing certain sight lines between Citadel Hill and Halifax Harbour. This has resulted in some modern high rises being built at unusual angles or locations.
The municipality of Halifax is centred on the urban core and surrounded by areas of decreasing density the farther the community is from the core. Rural areas lie to the east, west and north of this urban core. Certain rural communities on the urban fringe function as suburban or exurban areas, with the majority of those residents working in the urban core. Farther away, rural communities in the municipality function much as any resource-based area in Nova Scotia, being sparsely populated, with their local economies developing around four major resource industries: agriculture, fishing, mining and forestry. It should be noted that the tourism industry is beginning to change how some rural communities in Halifax function, particularly in coastal areas such as Hubbards, Peggys Cove andLawrencetown.
The north eastern area centred on Sheet Harbour and the Musquodoboit Valley is completely rural, with more in common with adjacent rural areas of neighbouring counties.
The urban area of Halifax is a major cultural centre within the Atlantic provinces. The municipality's urban core also benefits from a large population of post-secondary students who strongly influence the local cultural scene. Halifax has a number of art galleries, theatres and museums, as well as most of the region's national-quality sports and entertainment facilities. The municipality is home to many performance venues, namely the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium, the Neptune Theatre, and The Music Room. Halifax is also the home to many of the region's major cultural attractions, such as Halifax Pop Explosion,Symphony Nova Scotia, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, The Khyber, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and the Neptune Theatre. The region is noted for the strength of its music scene and nightlife, especially in the central urban core. See List of musical groups from Halifax, Nova Scotia for a partial list.
Halifax hosts a wide variety of festivals that take place throughout the year, including: The Atlantic Film Festival, The Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, The Halifax Busker Festival, Greekfest, The Atlantic Jazz Festival, The Multicultural Festival, The largest Canada Day celebration east of Ottawa, Natal Day, periodic Tall Ship events, and Shakespeare by the Sea, to name a few. Many of these celebrations have become world renowned over the past several years.
Halifax has also become a significant film-production centre, with many American and Canadian filmmakers using the streetscapes, often to stand in for other cities that are more expensive to work in. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has its Atlantic Canada production centres (radio and television) based in Halifax, and quite a number of radio and television programs are made in the region for national broadcast.
The new Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road is nearing completion, has received accolades for its architecture and has been described as a new cultural locus, offering many community facilities including a 300-seat auditorium.
Halifax is considered by many to be the cultural centre of the Maritimes. The municipality has been able to maintain many of its maritime and military traditions, while opening itself to a growing multicultural population.
Halifax's tourism industry showcases Nova Scotia's culture, scenery and coastline. The area has many museums reflecting its ethnic heritage, including the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia. Others museums tell the story of its working history, such as the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and is home to the only National Museum in the Atlantic provinces, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. It is also home to several internationally renowned events such as the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, the Atlantic Film Festival and the Atlantic Fringe Festival. Halifax has numerous National Historic Sites, the most notable being Citadel Hill (Fort George) in Halifax.
The iconic Peggys Cove is internationally recognized and receives 600,000 plus visitors a year.
Cruise ships visit the province frequently. In 2013, the Port of Halifax welcomed 134 vessel calls with 252,121 passengers.
Unlike most municipalities with a sizable metropolitan area, the Halifax Regional Municipality's suburbs have been completely incorporated into the "central" municipality, often by referendum. For example, the community of Spryfield, in the Mainland South area, voted to amalgamate with Halifax in 1968. The most recent amalgamation, which brought the entirety of Halifax County into the Municipality, has created a situation where a large "rural commutershed" area encompasses almost half the municipality's landmass.
The Halifax Regional Municipality has a well-developed network of public and private schools, providing instruction from grade primary to grade twelve; 137 public schools are administered by the Halifax Regional School Board, while six public schools are administered by the Conseil scolaire acadien provincial. The city's fourteen private schools are operated independently.
The municipality is also home to the following post-secondary educational institutions: Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's University, Mount Saint Vincent University, the Halifax campus of Université Sainte-Anne, University of King's College, Atlantic School of Theology, NSCAD University, Nova Scotia Community College, and the Centre for Arts and Technology. The presence of so many university and college students contributes to a vibrant youth culture in the region, as well as making it a major centre for university education in eastern Canada.