The Grand Parade is an historic military parade square dating from the founding of Halifax in 1749. At the north end of the Grand Parade is the Halifax City Hall, at the south end is St. Pauls Church. In the middle of Grand Parade is the cenotaph built originally to commemorate the soldiers who served in World War I, the first contingent of British settlers in Halifax arrived in June 1749 and completed 300 houses by October 1749. Moses Harris, a settler skilled in draughting, published the plan for Halifax in 1749. It comprised a grid made up of oblong, rectangular city blocks with the Grand Parade at the centre of the town. The plan stipulated a church at one end of the square, however, the north end remained vacant. Shortly after arriving in Halifax, Governor Cornwallis ordered framing from Boston for the construction of a church, the cornerstone for the church was laid on 13 June 1750. It was named St. Pauls in 1759 when a parish of that name was established, the building was modeled off Marybone Chapel in London. In 1794 Prince Edward arrived in Halifax to command the military in Nova Scotia and he set about improving the military facilities around the city, and had the Grand Parade leveled to improve its usefulness. As Barrington Street slopes down toward the north of Grand Parade, the retaining wall is tall enough to accommodate inhabitable space underneath the square, with frontage on Barrington. This space originally accommodated ice houses for Mrs. Jane Donaldson, the original building of Dalhousie College opened at the north end of the Grand Parade in 1821. It was a Georgian four storey building separated from the square by a dry moat to allow light to the lower floors, as the 19th century progressed the Grand Parade deteriorated. Dalhousie claimed to lack the funds to upkeep the space while the city claimed it could not take responsibility for the square without undisputed ownership of it. Meanwhile, city offices and council chambers were located at premises on Water Street described at the time as a porous, disreputable looking. In 1872 the council asked E. H, Keating, the city engineer, to investigate ways to improve the Grand Parade. Keating suggested building a new city hall at the end of the site. Public opinion preferred the Dalhousie site, at the end of the square. In the end, Dalhousie agreed to relocated to the citys South End, at this time Mayor James MacIntosh suggested renaming the square after Queen Victoria as the name Grand Parade bore connotations to a condition of decay
Grand Parade viewed from City Hall
Dalhousie Square. A winter scene depicting men and women in their sleighs in front of Dalhousie College, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1851.