Civic addresses are a key piece of information for researching the history of an area and its residents, particularly as many historical municipal records are organized by civic address. The tools on this page are useful for tracking changes to civic addresses as neighbourhoods developed and City staff adjusted to an increasing need for a logical system of addresses. This guide offers a few tools to help researchers know what addresses were in use over time. It is far from complete, and we will continue to add sources as they are discovered - tell us if you know of any!
City of Halifax street numbering arrangement
This note from the 1908-1909 City Directory summarizes the layout of Halifax's streets:
The 1901-1902 McAlpine City Directory documents a suite of civic address changes that were made to some Halifax streets. The Street Directory listing for these particular streets includes a column for New and Old numbers.
The Directory gives no explanation for these changes, and a close inspection doesn't reveal any additional clues. Note that Gottingen Street also has New/Old numbers listed this year but a check in subsequent directories indicates the changes were not made.
The 1909-1910 City Directory documents civic address changes to Robie Street. The Street Directory listing includes a column for New and Old numbers (go to p. 689 of Directory).
In 1958, the former City of Halifax adopted the grid-based 4-digit civic numbering schema that still exists on the Halifax Peninsula. Street renumbering had previously been done in an ad hoc manner, resulting in awkward civic numbering for new developments. The new grid system imposed a geographic logic to civic numbers that was popular in many North American cities at the time.
The renumbering was phased in over the next few years, as every house was assigned a new number by the end of 1965. See the Street Renumbering Progress Reports, to know exactly when a particular street was renumbered.
The City of Halifax Former Civic Address Cross-Reference is a basic tool to convert a current 4-digit civic address to the pre-1960 former civic numbers and vice versa. Many historical resources, like property assessment records, building inspection permits, and photographs are organized by civic number, so researchers need to know what the contemporary number was. Please be aware that not all civic addresses are represented in this tool; it is based on an old card catalogue of notifications that were mailed out by the City of Halifax at the time of the change over, and somehow not all addresses were included.
Thank you to the Municipality's Civic Addressing unit for compiling and sharing this tool.
Probably created as a quick reference tool for City staff, these lists cross reference new street names with their former names. Unfortunately the lists do not give any dates for or explanation of these changes, but further research into City records could likely trace that information.
- Changes to street names on the Halifax Peninsula - alphabetical by Previous Name
- Changes to street names on the Halifax Peninsula - alphabetical by New Name
- Changes to street names in the Area Annexed from Halifax County in 1969 - alphabetical by New Name
- Changes to street names in the Area Annexed from Halifax County in 1969 - alphabetical by Former Name
- Street names on the Halifax Peninsula that no longer existed, as of 1981
These listings were in an Engineering and Works Department subject file, 102-39B.1247.
The Municipal Archives is often asked about the origins or history of street names. That research is not as easy as you'd hope, as explained in our How Streets Get Their Names blog.
Dartmouth civic addresses have not undergone any city-wide changes. The former County of Halifax did not use civic numbers until the 1960s. As suburban development increased, the County Planning and Development Department assigned civic numbers. Their street numbering plans, 1968-1981 (312-84-2) show the new numbers. The rural areas of the County did not have civic addresses assigned until more recent public safety efforts.
- McAlpine's Halifax City Directories and Might's Halifax-Dartmouth City Directories besides listing people and businesses, the street directories included in these volumes list what was at every address on every street and which ward it is in. You can also figure out geographically where a particular civic number is as the listing for each street is divided by cross street and direction.
- Halifax street names: an illustrated guide (971.6225 .M 2002) edited by Shelagh Mackenzie with Scott Robson
- Halifax street names (CR30D.43) - Lou Collins research file, 1988
- History of Halifax Streets (Names) (102-5-1-79) - City Clerk's Office file, 1970
- History of Dartmouth Street Names - available at the Dartmouth Heritage Museum