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Title: How Did North America’s First Portland Cement Concrete End Up in Halifax Harbour?

Author(s): Sean Monkman

Publication: Web Session

Volume: ws_F18_Monkman.pdf


Appears on pages(s):



Date: 10/15/2018

The development of Portland cement in the 1820s was closely followed by the Royal Engineers of the British military. Although Portland and other cements had initially been deemed inadequate for concrete, by the early 1860s researchers at the Royal Engineers Establishment in Chatham, England, had reconsidered and were recommending to their peers that Portland cement concrete be used in the construction of fortifications. The advice was heeded by the engineers in Nova Scotia who imported several barrels of the cement to Halifax. Across the period of 1862-1865 the cement was used to produce concrete used in gun foundations, escarpment walls, in place of brick arches in galleries, and for expense magazines in three locations around Halifax. While much of the work has been lost or remains hidden, an example of the first Portland cement concrete produced in North America can be seen at Fort Charlotte within the Georges Island National Historic Site in Halifax Harbour.