I have been searching through the provincial archives to find documents of the wilderness that used to be here, and of the animals who would have shared the city. This early sketch of Halifax is particularly telling; it shows several blocks of houses protected by a fort, and flanked by the forest.
Of particular note:
- The trees are huge — they tower over the buildings.
- There seem to be several flocks of birds in this image— are they seagulls? Crows? Passenger pigeons? Hawks? It’s hard to know… they seem to be coming from the dense woods. One can imagine the sounds they would make. This could also be an indication of abundant wildlife
- Note the many branches left behind— they are sometimes larger than the tents. The forest was apparently cleared quickly.
- The fort walls seem to protect the young city from the forest— although there are still gaps in the walls that would have allowed animals to frequent the new streets.
- Sailors arriving in the early days would sometimes row back to their ships at night, to sleep away from the imposing woods and the creatures who lived there.
A fleeting moment in the history of Halifax, in which the city stood beside a great wilderness and citizens shared their home with wildlife.