The town of Halifax was founded in 1749 as a response to the French Fortress of Louisbourg, two days sail to the Northeast. Though Louisbourg was destroyed in 1763, Halifax remained a vital port, and a major military base, originally for the British, and today, for the Canadian Navy. The Position of Halifax was crucial for the defence of British North America, and for over 150 years, Halifax was the cornerstone of the British presence in North America. As the importance of Halifax grew, so did the response of its nearest neighbour, the United States of America.
As one of the four British Naval Stations on the North Atlantic (the others were located in Great Britain, Bermuda and Gibraltar), Halifax was charged with guarding the British Empire on the High Seas and because of the city's military importance, it was always the best defended port in British North America. Over its history, forts were built, demolished, improved and revised, spreading outwards in a spiraling web centred on the town itself.
Even since I can remember, I have been fascinated with the ruins of the Halifax Harbour Defence Complex, which stretch between Fort Needham, on the north side of Halifax City, to Pennant Point, nine miles to the south. Since 1990, I have been photographing these historic remains, and through these photographs, have come to a better understanding of how I view the ruins, and their relationship to history. A major influence on my images of the forts are the photographs of the Royal Engineers, which are housed at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia.
The history, geology and ecology of the Harbour Islands, on which many of the forts in the Defence Complex are situated, are the concern of the Friends of McNab's Island Society, which has done much great work on these sites' behalf.