Halifax (N.S.). Poor Asylum

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Halifax (N.S.). Poor Asylum

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The origins of Halifax’s Poor Asylum can be traced back to 1752 when a building on what is now Spring Garden Road became used as a workhouse to care for the city’s unemployed and criminal. In 1758 a bill passed to establish an asylum specifically for the poor. It was completed by 1759 but quickly came to house, in addition to the poor, senior citizens, orphaned children, mental patients, sailors, and medical patients. In 1867 the city and province cooperated to build another dedicated facility to house the poor and indigent of Halifax. The new Poor Asylum opened in 1869 and was located between Morris, Robie, and South Streets. Destroyed by fire in 1882, another building was constructed on the site of the former institution by 1886. The asylum’s name was changed to the City Home in 1907. Referred to as the Poor House, the Poor Asylum, and sometimes the Poors’ Asylum, the institution’s function was to accommodate, support, and relieve the city’s poor. During its years of operation the asylum saw a number of management changes. Known bodies to have managed the institution include the Commissioners of the Poor Asylum (ca. 1851-1866); Commissioners of the Hospital and Poors’ Asylum (ca. 1866-1878); and the Charities’ Committee (ca. 1878-1940). Records of this body are entered under the last name used by the body during the records' creation, and/or accumulation and use. For records of the Poor Asylum see also the later heading City Home.


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Committee Appointed by the Halifax City Council to Survey the City Home, “Survey of Halifax City Home,” TD, 20 January 1951, City of Halifax Fonds, City Home records Series, Miscellaneous Board and Committee Records, Halifax Regional Municipality Archives, Dartmouth, NS, 1-11.

Gordon Douglas Pollock, "The Halifax Poor House Fire: Public Accountability in Late Nineteenth Century Nova Scotia," HRM Archives, Dartmouth, NS, 3.

Beamish Murdoch, The Charter and Ordinances of the City of Halifax, (Halifax, NS: 1851), 53.

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