Community

Map: tracking Halifax’s best messages

Contribute to our map of the best spots for messages in the HRM

The Signal made a Google map to track where messages that can be shared publicly with others could be found in the city.

A number of people contributed their favourite examples of intimate messages.

Let’s see who’s behind these messages.

Harvard Street Chalkboard

Halifax poet Sue Goyette has a chalkboard in front of her house on Harvard Street on which she writes weekly lines of poetry.

Lisa Johnson (left, with backpack) reads a poem on Harvard Street.   Genevieve Nickel

“I intentionally walk on Harvard Street to see what poem is chosen every week,” says Lisa Johnson, a fan of the chalkboard.

Johnson says the poems are usually an affirmation of people’s existence and they inspire her to live thoughtfully.

Last week’s poem was Speech to the Young from Gwendolyn Brooks.   Genevieve Nickel

Bathroom messages

Three of the spots for favourite messages mentioned for the map were in public bathrooms, including The Lion & Bright Café Wine Bar on Agricola Street.

Owner Sean Gallagher says he notices a difference in messages between the women’s and men’s bathrooms.

The Lion & Bright café wine bar women’s bathroom on the left and men’s on the right.   Genevieve Nickel

“There are a lot of positive and sometimes funny messages in the women’s bathroom, but if the men’s bathroom has something written, it’s usually something stupid,” he says.

When Gallagher opened Lion & Bright, he decided on chalk walls over paint walls for the bathroom because “when people get drunk they want to steal or vandalize something; it’s human nature.”

Good Robot Brewing Company is another place whose public bathroom is on the map.

The co-owner of Good Robot, Angus Campbell, says the messages change depending on the event being held at the bar.

Good Robot Brewing Company’s bathroom early in the day.   Genevieve Nickel

“On International Women’s Day, the messages were empowering, and on the U.S. election night, the messages were political and raised concern for the state of the world.”

Victoria Bell, one of Good Robot’s bartenders, cleans the chalkboard every morning. She has a favourite message that someone wrote. It said, “I feel so comfortable here that I almost forgot to close the door.”

Billboards

Michael Kennedy and his father Ken Kennedy, owners of Kennedy’s Autopro on Quinpool Road, have been putting funny quotes on their business billboard for 30 years.

Kennedy Autopro’s billboard on Quinpool Road.   Genevieve Nickel

They get ideas for it from customers, friends and staff.

“We do it to stand out,” says Kennedy Jr.

The person behind the quotes on Halifax Central Junior High’s billboard is vice-principal Jason Flinn.

When he arrived in his new role as vice-principal last September, he says he was told that having a quote on the billboard was high priority for the school. As vice-principal, it is his responsibility to pick a new quote every week.

Halifax Central Junior High’s billboard.   Google street view

“When I pick a quote, I look at the time of the year and try to think of something timely … like African Heritage Month, or a quote from a recent guest speaker,” says Flinn. “I also try to keep it uplifting and something the students would like to hear.”

Alleyways

In the alleyway behind Riot Snack Bar, where they keep the garbage cans, there are personal messages written on the bricks of Riot’s back wall.


Messages on Riot Snack Bar’s alleyway wall.   Genevieve Nickel

Rachel Joy, a server for Riot Snack Bar, says that the messages are from when Garden of Eat-In was still in business at that location.

Garden of Eat-In used the alleyway as a hookah patio, and patrons would write messages there.

“I remember writing messages there myself,” says Joy.

Close up of the messages on the Riot’s Snack Bar alleyway.   Genevieve Nickel

Graffiti

Some of the chosen landmarks feature graffiti as a message form.

Steffan Hoddinott, a student from Dalhousie University, wrote his thesis on Halifax graffiti.  He finds that often graffiti writers use the medium as motivation for a message they want to communicate with others.

Blue baby graffiti on a North Street alleyway wall.   Genevieve Nickel

Hoddinott also points out that, sometimes, graffiti can be used to intimidate others. However, the graffiti landmarks on The Signal’s map are colourful and convey a positive message.

Graffiti in an alleyway on Windsor Street next to Wild Leek Food and Juice Bar.   Genevieve Nickel

If you would like to contribute message landmarks to The Signal’s Google map, please do so!