Halifax Harbour Ferry

The Halifax Harbour Ferry is a great way to see the city

The Halifax - Dartmouth Ferry is the earliest saltwater ferryboat in North America, and the 2nd oldest on the planet (after the Mersey Ferry connecting Liverpool and Birkenhead). Today the service is run by Halifax Transit and links Downtown Halifax with 2 areas, Alderney Landing and Woodside, in Dartmouth, NS.

The first ferry service in the area was put in place by the founder of Halifax Edward Cornwallis, who used the ferryboat service to move raw materials and people from a sawmill situated on the Dartmouth side of the harbour. Throughout this time there was no official service and it was not until 1752, after a council conference, that the first ferryboat charter was issued to John Connor This started the official ferryboat service in between Halifax and Dartmouth. At this time guidelines mentioned that the boats would be ranged from sunrise till sundown through weekdays with a fare of 3 cent. In these early stages there was no schedule. Clients would merely stroll down to the pier and be taken across as needed. Connor operated the ferryboat for only one year and after his departure the operation of the ferry changed hands twice more before 1786.

Halifax Harbour Ferry

The first true ferryboat to be utilized in the harbour was not up until 1816 the Sherbrooke categorized as a Horseboat being powered by (in Sherbrooke's case) 9 horses walking in a circular movement in the centre of the ferry powering the central paddle. This ferryboat was believed to be a big improvement to the previous service due to its speed and ability to transfer more individuals and freight from either side of the harbour. This ferryboat operated in the harbour until 1830 when the first steam ferryboat, the Sir Charles Ogle, went into service. The continuing ferry service stayed the only effective way of crossing the harbour up until 1955, when the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge was first opened.

The present generation of the ferryboat system was executed by the former City of Dartmouth as part of major revitalization tasks carried out in both Dartmouth and Halifax in the 1970s. All five ferryboats presently in service were designed by Bedford-based company, E.Y.E. Marine Consultants. In 1994, the City of Dartmouth transferred control of the ferryboat system to Metro Transit, later called Halifax Transit.

Today Halifax Transit preserves and operates the ferryboat service by offering two passenger ferry paths, one linking downtown Halifax with Alderney Landing in Dartmouth (which operates day-to-day) and the other connecting downtown Halifax with Woodside (Monday through Friday just). The harbour ferryboats are used by over 3,000 commuters daily. Both routes operate utilizing two vessels each on a fifteen-minute schedule throughout peak hours, and using one vessel each on a thirty-minute schedule off-peak.

If you’re planning a trip on the Halifax Harbour Ferry, there are a few resources that can help you make the most of your visit. The Nova Scotia Visitor Information Centre is a great place to start. They have six locations throughout the province, including one in Halifax, where you can drop in for information on Nova Scotia’s travel experiences. Their friendly and knowledgeable travel counsellors and tourism ambassadors can help you plan your trip and make the most of your time in Halifax.

Another useful resource is the Tourism Nova Scotia website. Here you can find information on visitor centres, travel guides, and top attractions and experiences throughout the province.