When you think of towns, cities and neighbourhoods located on the East Coast you often imagine cute fishing villages, beautiful farming communities, rustic homes, historic architecture and hip urban city streets. However not far from the bustling city of Halifax sits a ghost town, known as Shannon Park that has been left abandoned for more than a decade.
Shannon Park is a former military community on the Eastern Shore of Halifax Harbour. It was built in the 1950s to fix a housing shortage for navy personnel and their families during the Second World War. It had over 421 apartment units, paved roads, schools, churches, an arena, multi-purpose centre, and sport fields.
With defence cutbacks reducing the number of personnel serving in the navy and expanded housing available on the civilian market, the last family moved out in 2004 leaving Shannon Park vacated ever since. Now, the apartment blocks sit empty with shattered windows, rusted playgrounds, and buildings covered in graffiti.
Last year The Canada Lands Company bought 33 hectares of the land, including the buildings on the site for redevelopment. Another 4 hectares was transferred to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. The Millbrook band has an outstanding land claim on a portion known as Turtle Cove. Mi’kmaq people settled here and made the area their home until it was destroyed in the 1917 Halifax Explosion.
Crews have been on site since February 2016 to raze about 40 buildings and tear up roads and infrastructure to get ready for a massive redevelopment. Already, some apartment blocks have been flattened as they make room for future plans. The redeveloped Shannon Park could feature high-rises, quiet residential streets, commercial space, an urban centre, 17 acres of green space, and an extensive trail system.
It should be an interesting process to see happen, but we’re thinking it will be a positive and exciting change for the city of Halifax & Dartmouth. We’re glad we had the opportunity to explore Shannon Park and get a sense of what it once was.
We want to add that it’s important to remember to respect any areas you plan on exploring. Everything should be left as is, where is. Many abandoned places come with rich history so treating these sites with respect honors both the people affected by the sites and the history of the sites themselves.
Photos & words by Nicole