Halifax was founded in 1749 as Chebucto and was then renamed for the earl of Halifax, then president of the Board of Trade and Plantations. It was intended originally to be a British naval stronghold comparable to that of France at Louisburg. It served as a naval base for the expedition against Louisburg in 1758, against the American colonies in the American Revolution, and against the United States in the War of 1812. The Halifax Gazette, founded in 1752 and now the official Nova Scotia Royal Gazette, was the first newspaper in Canada.
The first transatlantic steamship service, from Halifax to Great Britain, began in 1840. During both world wars the port was an important naval and air base, convoy terminal, and embarkation center; it also was an entry port for immigrants. In 1917 a French munitions vessel carrying explosives was rammed in the harbor by a Belgian relief vessel, causing an explosion that killed about 1,800 people, injured about 9,000 more (one-fifth of the population), and destroyed the northern part of the city. In 1996 the adjoining municipalities of Halifax, Dartmouth, Bedford, and Halifax co. were combined to form the regional municipality of Halifax.
Places of interest include the Citadel fortress (1856); Province House (1818); St. Paul's Church, the oldest (1750) Anglican church in Canada; the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic; Pier 21, an immigration museum; and Point Pleasant Park. Educational institutions include Dalhousie Univ. (1818), the Univ. of Kings College, Mount St. Vincent Univ., St. Mary's Univ., and technical and art schools.
See S. H. Prince, Catastrophe and Social Change (1920, repr. 1968); T. H. Raddall, Halifax: Warden of the North (rev. ed. 1971); J. Payzant, Halifax: Cornerstone of Canada (1985).
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