Gorsebrook Park


 Gorsebrook Park - Celebrating 200 Years of Greenspace

On December 2, Park to Park , joined by Waye Mason, Councillor for District 7 and the Hon Labi Kousoulis , MLA and Minister of Labour and Advanced Education unveiled a commemorative plaque honouring Enos Collins, the original owner of the lands called Gorsebrook Park. 

Enos Collins was an 18th century Nova Scotia privateer, business owner, legislator and resident of Halifax’s South End. At the time of his death he was reputed to be the richest man in Canada and was one of the founders of today's CIBC. His estate "Gorsebrook "extended from Tower Rd. where his home was located (a commemorative sign on the SMU fence by the Homburg Centre indicates the site) to Robie St., Gorsebrook Ave. to South Street.

Over the years, the estate was divided leaving us with Gorsebrook Park, an active-living, neighbourhood park used by all ages all year round.

By taking advantage of a participatory budgeting grant from Councillor Waye Mason , supported by the neighbourhood , Park to Park was able to recognize the importance of neighbourhood greenspaces and the need to protect the lands that have provided enjoyment for generations  "This tribute to Enos Collins and his role in Gorsebrook Park’s history is one step in raising the profile of Gorsebrook Park and recognizing how this old pasture land is now an important green space in our City. Generations of children and adults have enjoyed everything from gardening to soccer, to tobogganing, right here in Gorsebrook  Park.

The commemorative plaque was affixed to a boulder that was found during the excavation of the recent Wellington Street development and moved by Urban Capital and Marco Construction to its current site in the Park.  We felt it was fitting to have the rock come from the location where we waged and lost our first fight for responsible development in our neighbourhood.  So far Urban Capital and Marco Construction have proved themselves good neighbours as the residents  grapple with the ongoing construction noise and inconvenience. 


Gorsebrook Park....Neighbourhood meeting

What to Keep, What to Change?

Hosted by Councillor Waye Mason, a meeting was held at SMU October 28, 2015 to discuss what people liked, disliked or would change about Gorsebrook Park, in the short term and the long term. Apparently there is no Master plan for the Park so Councillor Mason wanted to be sure any changes reflect what the community wants. The meeting opened with a short history of the Park lands titled Hay to Diamonds presented by Park to Park. 

For the most part, the attendees were happy with the park as is, enjoying the informal open structure and the public access to many sporting venues and just as a quiet place to walk and sit.

In the short term possible changes included more signage and benches (already underway through a participatory budgeting grant to Park To Park) better maintenance, more garbage cans (recycle), poop bags, better defined paths, a water fountain for all the thirsty athletes and maybe a few more strategically placed trees to shade the new benches.

Discussion on longer term changes explored the idea of low lights along the walking paths, lights for the tennis courts, washrooms, an expanded community garden at the Inglis street end, painting the rink boards, and even flooding the rink to allow winter hockey. Just like a big backyard rink. People liked the idea of more community involvement, possibly the formation of a friends of the park group, park days etc. 

For the longer term, proposals from sporting groups suggested possible improvements to the tennis courts and ball diamonds, including changing the location of the baseball diamonds and covering the tennis courts for private winter use, while maintaining open access all summer as usual.

Less is more seemed to be the overriding theme, with emphasis on maintaining the current park lands and if opportunities were to arise such as an unwanted school closure, that those lands be added to the park, not developed.  There was no support for more highrise development around the Park. 

If unwanted and inappropriate development continues to be permitted in the area, the idea was floated that developers should contribute to improving recreational/park amenities in the area. This is now required for new suburban development so why not on the penninsula. Something we could bring up during the Centre Plan discussions. 

History of the Park 

For those of you who didn't make it to the meeting, the text of the presentation is included below.

The Beginning

1800’s – early, south end Halifax began to be settled with large estates and land grants

1820’s – Enos Collins took over the estate of John Tremaine and called it Gorsebrook

Who was Enos Collins?

1774-1871 Born in Liverpool, NS 
merchant, legislator, very successful privateer 
a founding partner of the Halifax Banking Company, today’s CIBC 
At  his death, he was estimated to be worth $6,000,000+, a significantly rich man.

As time passed

1894 – estate was split in half with the extension of Inglis St

1900 – northern portion rented to the Gorsebrook Golf Club, a 9 hole 

1922 – Ashburn established and Gorsebrook became a community golf course 

1928 – course expanded to southern section and 18 holes. No trees were to be cut

SMU and the RCAF 

1941 – Cartaret Collins, descendent of Enos died and the sell-off began

1949 – SMU took legal possession of lower half Late in WWII, the RCAF purchased and built RCAF Base Goresbrook northeast portion, the Women’s Air Corps residence

1953 – it expanded to a full air force residence

The Park Changes

Late 40’s, Halifax bought the remaining north lands and divided it into baseball diamonds

1949 – Gorsebrook School built

1952 – St Francis School was built, now called Inglis Street School

1983 – Sir Frederick Fraser School moved from Morris Street to Gorsebrook Park on South Street.

Today's Gorsebrook

A unique space in south end Halifax - 2 baseball diamonds, 3 tennis courts, 1 lacrosse rink, 1 Class A soccer pitch, 42 plot community garden, And tobogganing and skiing in the winter.