The Halifax Forum is truly a piece of Canadiana, a cultural landmark and a part of the great heritage of Halifax. It has been the home to prizefighters, top music acts, heroes of hockey and stars of the skating world.
Built in 1927, on the ruined grounds of the Provincial Exhibition Building which was destroyed during the infamous Halifax Explosion, the Halifax Forum became the premier meeting place for sports, recreation, commerce and entertainment for decades to come.
The Halifax Forum opened its doors to the public December 26th, 1927 for a public skate on the 1st artificial ice surface East of Montreal. The Forum Complex consisted of this state of the art arena, an Industrial Building, the Cattle Shed, the Grandstand Building , a horse Race Track and its accompanying horse barns. The owner of this complex in 1948 was His Majesty the King George VI and His Majesty the King sold the land and its properties to the City of Halifax in 1948 and HRM is still the owner today.
This picture circa 1945, shows the Provincial Exhibition Grounds. The Forum is top right while everything else is gone. The Grand Stand location is the current Canada Post sorting station.
Many prosperous years followed for the Forum and the city. Centre stage featured Reba MacEntyre, Alabama, Kiss centre ice hosted Guy Lafleur’s first professional goal and centre ring saw Mohammad Ali and Hulk Hogan and the WWF for the 1st time in Nova Scotia.
Forum was home ice for Nova Scotia’s first professional hockey team the Nova Scotia Voyageurs who , as an affiliate team to the Montreal Canadiens, was the first Canadian team to win the Calder Cup in ’72,’76 and ’77. These teams featured coach Al MacNeil, Ken Dryden, Guy Carbonneau, Larry Robinson and Yvonne Lambert just to name a few.
1978, the Forum lost the professional franchise along with many of the larger acts as they moved to the new Halifax Metro Centre.
The 1980’s was a battle for survival as deficits grew and no capital money was available. The future was uncertain. It was during these lean times that the management and Board of the HFCA accepted its new mandate to provide community service and try to generate revenue through many smaller diverse events as opposed to the large productions it hosted over the past 60 years.
Planning for expansion began in 1988 and the new Multi-Purpose Centre was built. This provided a home for Bingo and enabled the Forum to start booking numerous smaller events that could not be accommodated in the ice arenas.
The Annex Arena was replaced with the new Civic Centre in 1995 and both the Forum and the Civic Centre experience nearly full capacity for usage and revenue.
With the Multi-Purpose Centre gaining popularity, its many new events were displacing too many bingo nights creating almost a negative effect. Therefore the existing steel of the old Annex Arena was converted to a state of the art bingo hall and a 4,500 square foot meeting room called the Maritime Hall.
The Halifax Forum Commission is now in very good shape. All five venues contribute positively to the bottom line and the Forum is able to operate with little or no subsidy from the City and its residents. The Forum recently went through many new upgrades and it is poised to stand proudly as a North End icon for many years to come