in Halifax, history

The Hidden Tunnels of Halifax

I first learned about the tunnels under the city where I live from a friend a few years ago. He worked at the Halifax Club and told me about one tunnel that originates there. Over the years I heard stories about them, spotted articles about the passages and have been fascinated by the mystery surrounding the tunnels that officially don’t exist.

In September of last year, Veronica Simmonds published “Halifax’s hidden tunnels” in Halifax Magazine. The piece documents an exploration of the tunnel under the Halifax Club, a history of media coverage about the tunnels and other accounts from descendents tunnels’ builders who have knowledge of their construction.

There are tunnels in downtown Halifax.

Beneath the streets, houses and businesses we see everyday, there are hidden passageways and unseen corridors. Though their existence is often denied they’re there.

“Elderly or older visitors over the years have told myself and others that when they were kids there was a tunnel they could go into in the Citadel that would take them right down to the waterfront.” He says. “The army’s official line was that it was a drain or a sewer, but some testing was done on the floor of the tunnel and there was never any sewage passing through it. Plus, there was no sewer up here—the latrines were emptied by hand.”

Thompson’s interest in the city’s tunnels doesn’t stop at the Citadel, though. In his research he’s come across mentions of a tunnel leading from the legislature to the Joseph Howe building (which the province officially denies), and he’s spent quite a bit of time thinking about the logistics underlying the rumoured tunnel to Georges Island.

Another article, “Frozen in Time: Halifax’s Secret Tunnels“, was published in January by Dorian Geiger. The article covers some of the same ground as the earlier one, but offers a more detailed description of the mundane use of the tunnel at the Halifax Club.

“It’s a service entrance from the sidewalk into the back of the building where the kitchen was and supplies were taken,” explains Skinner.

“A guy would come along with the coal, the carrots, the onions, the beef and all the rest and they’d drop it down through the sidewalk and men would come and take it along the hallway into the kitchen.”

Halifax has a long military history, so it wouldn’t be surprising if there were tunnels that were kept secret and used to move from the harbour to the Citadel and through other strategic locations. That businesses used tunnels as well seems reasonable. Hopefully the story behind this bit of Halifax’s past can be fleshed out over time, but what we know so far suggests an intriguing piece of Halifax’s legacy has been obscured by time and secrecy.

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