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'They don't know what was there': Halifax historian remembers popular harness racing track

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Historian Blair Beed believes many people would be surprised to learn Almon Street in Halifax was once home to a popular harness racing track.

“They don’t know what was there,” said Beed.

A Canada Post office on Almon Street in Halifax is located on a parcel of land that was once home to a harness racing track. (Paul Hollingsworth/CTV Atlantic)

The track was around until the mid-1960s and featured a grandstand that could seat several thousand people. Now, a post office facility is located on the parcel of land.

“It was a really happening place for the whole province,” said Beed.

Harness racing at the property has roots dating back to 1897. The track opened in 1922, and was operational for the next half century.

“I think of a bygone era. Harness racing is still popular in the province,” said Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame president and CEO Bruce Rainnie.

“You had that, and you had Sackville Downs. That was a place where people congregated, and it was in the middle of the city.”

Large crowds used to gather at the horse racing track. (Halifax Municipal Archives)

The Halifax property also housed the exhibition grounds as part of the Halifax Forum complex.

In 1951, Princess Elizabeth, who later became Queen Elizabeth, visited Halifax.

Beed still has the newspaper program and map from the royal visit that included a ceremony at the track.

“She did a car tour around the city, and then for a half hour she went into the stadium grounds,” said Beed. “Everyone could sit there and watch for a half hour as she went around the track.”

Looking back at this chapter in history, Beed has one lingering question.

“I can’t imagine why we got rid of it,” said Beed.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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