Halifax, city (1991 pop. 114,455), provincial capital, S central N.S., Canada, on the Atlantic Ocean. It is the largest city in the Maritime Provinces and is one of Canada's principal ice-free Atlantic ports. Halifax is the eastern terminus of Canada's two great railroad systems and of its transcontinental highway. Its many industries include commercial fishing, fish processing, shipbuilding, oil refining, and the manufacture of automobiles, electronics, clothing, and furniture. It is the home port of the Canadian Atlantic fleet and the headquarters of its eastern army.
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.
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).