The Halifax Defence Complex

The Halifax Defence Complex consists of five national historic sites placed along the shores of the Halifax Harbour: The Halifax Citadel, Georges Island, Fort McNab, Prince of Wales Tower, and York Redoubt. These forts were crucial overseas naval stations for the British Empire that guarded the Harbour from the 18th century to the Second World War.

The Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, being at the heart of Halifax, is the hub for the defence system. Today, this historic fort offers a fascinating window into our colonial past. Spend time exploring the Halifax Citadel’s grounds and meticulously recreated period rooms, including the barracks, tailor shop and school. Even join the 78th Highlanders in their 1869 period uniforms for the day and see if you are up for the job of keeping Halifax safe from enemy attack. Heft a soldier’s knapsack in the barracks, stand in awe as the Royal Artillery command the firing of the noon gun, and ask a soldier what garrison life in the Halifax Citadel was really like.

In the mouth of the harbour sits Fort McNab National Historic Site which acted as a gatekeeper for naval vessels in and out of the harbour. This site is now one for the adventurers as visitors must sail over the harbour waters to visit the island and trek through trails and woods to uncover its history. Georges Island National Historic Site sits just off the waterfront and acted as the last defense to the Halifax Harbour. Georges Island is now open and accessible to visitors. The Prince of Wales Martello Tower sits at the southernmost tip of Halifax and protected the British sea batteries from landward attacks. Visitors can still see the tower and its fortifications as they stroll through Point Pleasant Park and see its ocean shoreline views. The last piece of the Halifax Defence Complex is the York Redoubt National Historic Site which made no mistake in choosing its strategic placement. This site has the best views of the mouth of the Halifax harbour, which makes this site and its upwards trails worth the trip. Ultimately, the Halifax Defence Complex played a crucial role in Canadian history, which is why Haligonians pride these sites and the history they have on display.

For more information on these National Historic Sites visit


Road Map

Halifax, Nova Scotia to McNabs Island, Nova Scotia

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