(with apologies to Penelope Lively)

When I came to Halifax to be a professor at Dalhousie back in 2010, after being an undergraduate on the campus in 1991-1993, I keenly felt the layered nature of the space. Places rang with multiple meanings and ghosts lurked that I have slowly overwritten or exorcised over the last 14 years.

Much of my academic work is about such multiple meanings of place, as held by different people or as they change over time for one. For instance, an early project after my return to Canada was about the Mactaquac hydroelectric dam and its uncertain future due to construction flaws back in the 1960s. I had grown up on the headpond for that dam, arriving as a child after it was built, so I had never understood what had been lost there. When I returned to the topic as a researcher and looked for the first time at pre-dam aerial photographs, that different layer of experience unfurled for me.

This project allowed me to develop my photography skills as well as play with ways of presenting repeat photography image pairs. I searched the HRM Archives for photographs near where I live—many the result of banal administrative practices like monitoring the condition of the CN Rail bridges—and revisited those to attempt to capture the same perspective. The archival images from the 60s and 70s were overlaid on my photos in Photoshop, using transparency, masks, and the occasional skew to combine them. The final images demonstrate my learning process. The ghosts of these banal daily landscapes introduce old cars, fashions, buildings, young trees and even a monkey, into the modern landscape. Those ghosts persist in my mind as I navigate the modern Halifax today.

Rail overpass near Armdale Rotary (Halifax Municipal Archives image 102-39-1-1280.42, CNR Bridges, Jun. 1968)

Mumford from Chebucto (Halifax Municipal Archives image 102-39-1-1052.4, Mumford and Chebucto, early 1960s?)

Chebucto from Mumford (Halifax Municipal Archives image 102-39-1-1052.2, Mumford and Chebucto, early 1960s?)

Finsbury Market (Halifax Municipal Archives image 102-39-1-667, 6516 Chebucto Rd., Mar. 1972)

Regatta Point from Armdale Yacht Club (Halifax Municipal Archives image CR6-120.3, The Edmonds Grounds from the Armdale Yacht Club, first half of photo)

1122 Tower Rd. (Halifax Municipal Archives image 102-39-1-1280.6 CNR Bridges, June 1968)

Intersection of North and Chebucto, now and sometime maybe in the 60s? (Halifax Municipal Archives image 102-39-1-1276, Chebucto Rd., where it merges with North)