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How the Halifax community is celebrating its 150th anniversary

Culture

Halifax has seen its fair share of celebrations in recent years, with an assortment of events on the city’s annual parade route, the parade itself, the citywide Nova Scotia Day celebrations, and even the newly inaugurated Halifax City Hall.

But this year’s celebration, which officially kicks off on March 20, is the most extensive of the celebrations. 

In a city where more than a thousand houses are still occupied and some of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the province are still struggling with the effects of the devastating Hurricane Irene, this year, the celebrations are focused on a building that was once a lighthouse and now houses a private school.

It is the oldest building in the city, and was built in 1874 to house a private boarding school for boys.

In the 1920s, it was the home of a doctor, and in 1939, the school relocated to a home for boys, where it was transformed into a lighthouse, home to the Nova Scotia Division of Military History. 

The school was shuttered in 1963, and the building has remained in the hands of the Nova Scotians since.

But in 2012, the building was sold for $2.6 million to the city of Halifax. 

Halifax Mayor Lisa Helps was the first to announce plans for the celebration, and said it was one of the citys biggest priorities to celebrate the city as a whole, as well as the historic lighthouse.

“There are so many things that we have to celebrate here, and so many people who have contributed to Halifax in the past, including those who are still here today, but I want to also acknowledge the people who did come in the years that we didn’t have a city, we had a lighthouse,” Helps said.

“And so that was the one thing that really made Halifax special, the lighthouse and the private boarding schools, and we’re proud to be able to celebrate that together.” 

The Halifax City Council voted in February to move forward with the celebration on April 16.

The parade will be held on the Main Street Mall and will begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday. 

There will be a public viewing of the lighthouse building on Sunday, along with an event at the Halifax Convention Centre, with the unveiling of the new Halifax City hall, on Monday. 

A special memorial plaque will be unveiled at the end of the parade on Monday afternoon, marking the building’s 150th birthday. 

“The Halifax people, who have made so much of this city and of our history, have contributed so much to this celebration, so we want to take the opportunity to thank them for all the things they’ve done here in Halifax,” Helms said. 

Helps said the celebration will take place as part of the Halifax City Pride festival, which runs on the second weekend in May.

She also said it will be open to all city residents, regardless of age. 

For more information, visit the official website of the City of Halifax and visit the celebration website.

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