The Deep Water Terminus


in 1872 the Intercolonial Railway reached Halifax connecting the city to the rest of North America. After becoming established, the railway began construction of a Port complex in June 1877. The contract for the work was awarded to Mr. James G Kennedy, contractor at a price of $174,000. the new terminal was designed to house 12 steamers simultaneously.

the original Pier 2 (right) and Pier 3 (left) Note the covered conveyors for the Grain Elevator.

The Intercolonial would go on to open the Deep Water Terminus, as the dock complex would become known in 1880.

The Grain Elevator in 1901

A grain elevator was constructed in 1882 at the end of Upper Water Street, and portions of pier 2 are destroyed by fire, in what is believed to have been a case of Arson.

Pier 3 from 1898 on theleft, Old Pier2 in the center, and the new pier 2 on the right
Pier 3 in 1905

The ICR go on to rebuild Pier 2, next to the 1898 pier 2, which now had the transit shed removed. The construction beginning in September of 1911 and was finally finished in early 1915. Engineer A.F. Dyer and superintendent of contracting A.A. MacDonald oversaw the rebuild project, which was done entirely in Concrete.

pier 2 in 1925

the new pier was constructed from concrete piles and piers, with poured floors and ceilings. the upper floors would serve as the immigration offices. Trains could enter the lower level of the transit shed directly.

transit sheds were of vital importance to shipping pre-containerization. Products to be ship would be hand unloaded from trucks and trains and stored in the transit sheds until the ship arrived to transport it. Cargo would then be carefully hand packed into the ship, to minimize movement, and maximize capacity – much in the same way one might pack their car trunk for a camping trip.

this is the origin of the tramp steamer. the ship would sail around picking up and discharging  cargoes as it went. Loading could take days or weeks, and in many cases, there was no schedule, so the ship arrived when it arrived.


the New Pier 2 would serve as the main immigration shed, and see many soldiers off to war. the Building was severely damaged in the 1917 Halifax explosion, but continued serving as the immigration point at a reduced capacity until pier 21 opened in 1928. the transit shed was then converted to a warehouse, which again caught fire and burned in September 1933, but managed to be repaired and refurbished in just 5 months.

In 1952, a new Pier 3 opened to replace the original 1892 Pier 3. the New pier featured 2 transit sheds,  measuring 725×90′


the navy took over the terminal for the second world war, and eventually completed a land swap to own it outright in the late 60’s. Pier 2 was eventually rebuilt by the navy, and is now known as Navy “B” (or November Bravo), and located next to the Casino. Pier 3 is still in use in its 1952 configuration as Navy “C” or November Charlie.

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