“Look Around You”

I have lived in Halifax for just about two years.

In the beginning, I found the new space disorienting. While I had visited the city many times before, navigating between bars and restaurants did not prepare me for actually living here. I acclimatized, as people do, and started to see the city in a comfortable new light. However, I do worry that, in this comfort, I have started to ignore the fascinating elements of built Halifax and its communities. And it seems there are plenty.

Earlier this week, I took the opportunity to go for a hike. It’s not something I do often, but I plan on changing that. In part, because of this:

Whalesback, Duncan's Cove

A friend remarked that it looked “Lex Luthoran” and I couldn’t agree more. Based on my limited research, it seems like this mansion is well known. It being at the head of a popular trail, that does not surprise me. But it is new to me and there is nothing I like more than discovering hilarious and bombastic architecture. It helps when the experience includes crashing waves, granite rock climbing and the best WWII era fort in the region.

In addition:

Whether you’re exploring at home or abroad, I can’t recommend these two blogs enough.

“Spacing Atlantic examines the state of public spaces, transit, cycling, city hall, community development, urban design, green spaces, infrastructure, public art and countless other themes that continue to play a role in shaping our cities.” Spacing Atlantic

Scouting NY details the day-to-day explorations of a location scout working in New York City and surrounding areas.

13 thoughts on ““Look Around You”

  1. Way to get out and explore some trails, Frances! I love hiking so much. It’s a shame it’s been so rainy and wet lately… So, what’s with that mansion anyways? Does the Halifax Baron live there?

  2. We were lucky it was just overcast on Sunday. I think we should make it a regular thing, if you and Paul are interested.

    The mansion is a WWII look out tower turned private residence. It’s now for sale and apparently a helicopter pad is being built. I’m no realtor, but you should see the posting for yourself.


    There were a few other architectural highlights (mostly in the Whalesback area), but the rest were oversized and pretty boring. It’s a shame. They distract from the gorgeous landscape.

  3. Okay, let’s forget about this silly blog, and start putting all of our efforts into raising enough money to BUY THAT HOUSE! I can’t imagine it’ll be that hard to save up 5 and a half mill, especially what with the economy being the way it is, and us being hard-working as we are. I’ll get the cigars and the notoriously expensive alcohol in advance, just so we’ll be prepared for the fast-approaching housewarming party.

  4. Paying keen attention to the built environment lets you know your city better, and I really believe that good buildings/development encourages more time spent outdoors and active. There is a tonne of debate about how much the built environment really means to health and wellness, but I am talking more intuitively about my greater enjoyment walking around beautiful places. Not everything could or should be a villain’s lair or a ship house in a park (http://houseofanais.onsugar.com/inspirational-ship-shaped-house-Canada-15748211), so we’ve got to keep our eyes peeled for interesting textures, forms, colours, and materials. Checking out all the renovations on Maynard Street provides endless scope for the imagination. That walk is never a chore.

  5. I thought the mansion on Duncan’s Cove was ridiculous at first. Finding out that it is a repurposed lookout tower really changed my perspective. However it was executed, there was real intention behind it’s design, which I appreciate.

    I was looking through old Spacing posts and they highlighted Jane’s Walk (volunteer coordinated tours of local areas based on the writings of planner/activist/theorist Jane Jacobs). Some have just happened in Halifax, but they go on all over and be organized by anyone at anytime.


    Gill, you could probably speak more to the official debate surrounding activity and built environment. I agree with you otherwise. Very simply, it is refreshing to explore spaces of interest.

  6. Thinking about my favourite places in the city, they usually end up being the places that have the most trees. Bell Road, for example, is one of my favourite places to wander outside. But the trees are not the only great things about Bell Road…

    I really just think there needs to be more oversized sculptures of animals around the city. I bet we could fit a pile of them on our new mansion lookout tower.

  7. Oh Public Art,
    You have such great potential to be interesting and relevant. Instead, you are dolphins and lighthouses. Why you gotta play me this way?

  8. On the topic of interesting and historic places, we drove out to Debert on Saturday for an art show that was going on inside a cold war era bunker. It’s called the Diefenbunker! It’s like an underground maze, with two levels of seemingly endless dark corridors with endless doors. It was all open to explore with some random new age art in select rooms. You could say it was bombastic, but only because it was built to withstand bombs.

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