Nova Scotia Archives

'An East Coast Port': Halifax in Wartime, 1939 - 1945

Entertaining the Troops

World War II brought Royal Navy warships and Armed Merchant Cruisers to Halifax, spilling hundreds of sailors on to the streets in 1940-1941. As Bill Naftel remarks in his article elsewhere on this website, they encountered a city which had become very 'straight-laced' during the 1930s.

Drink was available but under restricted circumstances that gave way to bootlegging and speakeasies. Social conventions of the time also looked down upon informal mingling of the sexes outside of marriage. As a result, there was not a lot for servicemen and war workers to do — so many took to entertaining themselves outdoors, and as they wished. As Naftel observes, street life on payday weekends in wartime Halifax took on a chaotic quality never to be seen again.

Before long, a network of hostels and canteens sprang up throughout the city, catering to servicemen and seamen and providing them with food, drink, a bath, sometimes a bed, and always a friendly ear. There were Merchant Navy Hostels, YMCA Huts, Knights of Columbus Huts, Salvation Army Canteens, IODE Canteens and the North End Service Canteen, as well as dedicated clubs for servicemen from foreign countries such as France and Norway.

The most famous of them all, the Ajax Club, opened in 1940 and welcomed naval ratings and petty officers from all the Allied navies. Monthly attendance was estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 men — until the club was unceremoniously shut down in 1942 as Jay White describes in his background article accompanying this chapter.

Another wartime entertainment initiative, The Halifax Concert Party, was created out of freely-given volunteer talent; show after show was produced throughout the war years for an unending sea of men in uniform. As well, troops and Halifax residents alike were routinely entertained by travelling productions such as The Marcus Show, which brought 'the world's foremost exposition of female loveliness' to town, to relieve the tedium and horror that was otherwise known as war.

Click here for Jay White's 'Untimely Demise: The Curious Case of the Ajax Club'

Results 1 to 15 of 139 from your search: ch5

Pictou Highlanders band and students participating in a quiz sponsored by Farmers - at CHNS studios

Date: 1941

Reference: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives 1975-305 1941 no. 235b

Entertaining the Troops


Audience - CHNS studio

Date: 1941

Reference: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives 1975-305 1941 no. 325

Entertaining the Troops


Tap Dancers Performing in Uncle Mel's Talent Club

Date: 1939

Reference: CHNS Radio Station Nova Scotia Archives 1992-396 no. 32

Entertaining the Troops


Announcer and performers in the CHNS Tobin Street studio with a large audience

Date: 1940

Reference: CHNS Radio Station Nova Scotia Archives 1992-396 no. 29

Entertaining the Troops


Princess Louise Fusiliers Band in CHNS Studio on Tobin Street

Date: 1940

Reference: CHNS Radio Station Nova Scotia Archives 1992-396 no. 36

Entertaining the Troops


Salvation Army Red Shield Hostel and Centre Christmas party for servicemen

Date: 1940

Reference: Evangeline Foord Nova Scotia Archives 1982-580 no. 1

Entertaining the Troops


Salvation Army Red Shield Hostel, Christmas time

Date: 1940

Reference: Evangeline Foord Nova Scotia Archives 1982-580 no. 3

Entertaining the Troops


The Salvation Army, Red Shield Hostel and Centre, 7-11 Argyle Street, Halifax

Date: 1939

Reference: Evangeline Foord Nova Scotia Archives 1982-580 no. 4

Entertaining the Troops


Beryl Backman and Nick O'Neil playing softball

Reference: Roy Gilkie Nova Scotia Archives 1984-538 no. 28

Entertaining the Troops


Flo McDermott and Nick O'Neil playing softball

Reference: Roy Gilkie Nova Scotia Archives 1984-538 no. 29

Entertaining the Troops


RCAF Dartmouth softball game

Reference: J.F. Rogers Nova Scotia Archives 1995-370 no. 27

Entertaining the Troops


Ping pong game at RCAF Station Dartmouth

Reference: J.F. Rogers Nova Scotia Archives 1995-370 no. 30

Entertaining the Troops


Pool game in the Recreational Hall of RCAF Station Dartmouth

Reference: J.F. Rogers Nova Scotia Archives 1995-370 no. 31

Entertaining the Troops


Badminton doubles, YMCA, Barrington Street, Halifax

Date: 1941

Reference: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives 1975-305 1941 no. 199

Entertaining the Troops


Badminton doubles, YMCA, Barrington Street, Halifax

Date: 1941

Reference: E.A. Bollinger Nova Scotia Archives 1975-305 1941 no. 202

Entertaining the Troops



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Nova Scotia Archives — https://archives.novascotia.ca/EastCoastPort/results/

Crown copyright © 2020, Province of Nova Scotia.