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Halifax Public Gardens before Hurricane Juan

The ornate wrought iron gates were originally purchased in Scotland and once stood in the middle of the east side. A public skating rink, built in 1859 and the first in Canada, was removed for their installation. In 1907, the Gardens' wooden fence was replaced with the iron one we see today and the gates were moved to their present location in the southeast corner. The gates bear the city's coat of arms and an historical Public Gardens crest. They have become a signature feature of the Gardens.

The history of the Halifax Public Gardens begins in 1836 with the foundation of the Nova Scotia Horticultural Society. The Society's aims were to promote an interest in botany and proper horticultural technique while at the same time providing a delightful retreat for the people of the city.

Griffin's Pond, the largest body of water in the Gardens, was named after a young Irish man who was hanged for murder on the east side of the pond in the 1830s. In 1878-9, superintendent Richard Power implemented a plan to give the pond a more attractive, natural shape by removing the walls surrounding the water and sloping and sodding the banks. The island in the pond was enlarged during these alterations, and the ornamental house that once stood there has been replaced by a miniature lighthouse.

The bandstand, which is both ornamental and practical, is the heart of the Gardens. Situated in the middle of an open, sunny section of what was once the original Horticultural Society garden, it is the focus of social events as well as a favourite informal meeting place. In 1887, in honour of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, German born Henry Busch was selected to design the ornate wooden structure. The gingerbread decoration, painted in bright red, green, yellow and white, cheerfully echoes the exuberant colours and orderly geometry of the surrounding flower beds. Although extensive restoration over the years has brought about the replacement of the wooden roof with one of fiberglass, the original design remains little changed except for the removal of some decorative details.