Prince of Wales Tower National Historic Site

Site history

The forts and batteries erected around Point Pleasant Park were primarily intended to prevent enemy ships from getting into the Halifax Harbour or into the North West Arm, which runs behind the west side of the city.

In 1792, the threat of an immediate French attack alerted the British military in Halifax to the possibility of a landing in the harbour and, that summer, batteries were built on the point. For the next thirty years, the Point Pleasant forts formed the first line of the Halifax Harbour defences.

In 1796-97, Edward, Duke of Kent, ordered construction of a Martello tower to be built on high ground behind the point, a location capable of defending the point batteries.

The Prince of Wales Tower, named after Edward's eldest brother, is a squat, round structure built of stone, almost three times as wide as it is high.

The original construction allowed for six mounted guns on the roof and four guns on the second storey. The second storey was intended for barrack use and the ground floor for storage.

Several modifications were made over the next seventy years.

Although the tower ceased to be important for military purposes in the late 19th century, some of the other forts on the point continued to be used by the military until the close of the Second World War.

An important side effect of the military interest in Point Pleasant was the preservation of the large tract of land owned by the crown. In 1866, the military offered the park to the city on a 999-year lease for an annual rent of one shilling.

Point Pleasant Park is now used for a variety of recreational purposes.

The 200-year-old Prince of Wales Tower stands as a silent reminder of earlier days.


Significance of the Halifax Defence Complex

In 1965, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recognized the importance of Halifax as one of four principal overseas naval stations of the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries and that the Halifax Defence System or Complex includes a complete conspectus of shore defences of the 18th century to the Second World War.

The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada further recommended the commemoration of representative examples of a complete range of shore defences as national historic sites, specifically naming Georges Island and Fort McNab, along with the previously designated York Redoubt (1962), Prince of Wales Tower (1943) and the Halifax Citadel (1935). All five sites of the Halifax Defence Complex were transferred from the Department of National Defence to Parks Canada upon their decommissioning as sites of military importance, between 1936 and 1964.

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