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Harbour Ferry Service

Halifax Transit ferries operate on two routes between terminals in downtown Halifax, Dartmouth and Woodside. The ferry service is accessible, integrated with the bus and Access-A-Bus services, carries up to 395 passengers, and has adjacent Park & Ride lots.

Visit the Halifax Transit schedules page for up to date ferry schedules.

A History of the Harbour Ferry

The harbour ferry service and its recognizable ferry vessels are a distinctive feature of the historic Halifax Harbour. The five ferries, christened the Viola Desmond, the Craig Blake, the Christopher Stannix, the Halifax III and the Woodside I, constantly criss-cross the second largest harbour in the world and have become one of the modern day icons of our region.

The ferry service also provides an important symbolic link with our community's past and it is the oldest, continuous, salt-water passenger ferry service in North America.

The "Dartmouth ferry" as it was originally known, began operation in 1752 and served as a vital link for the community of Dartmouth, which was settled a year after the larger British Military Garrison was established in Halifax. With vast farmland, woods and freshwater lakes, the Dartmouth settlers provided the Halifax garrison town with food products and ice for the many icehouses, which were used to keep food fresh.

The Dartmouth ferry continued to serve as the only quick way of travelling across the harbour to Halifax until 1955, when the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge was first opened.

Today, the harbour ferry service is part of Halifax's regional transportation system, operated by Halifax Transit and fully integrated with the bus system. The service was taken over by the regional transit system from the former city of Dartmouth in 1994.

Halifax Transit system has the distinction of being one of only two public transit systems in the country to operate passenger ferries. The other is located in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A Few Other Quick Facts about the Ferry Service

  • The original ferry vessel used was a large rowboat with a sail
  • At one time, the ferry was operated using horses to power a wheel
  • Even vehicles were once transported across the harbour by ferry
  • In 1839, the Hon. Samuel Cunard was president of the Steam Boat Company, operators of the ferry service at the time. It was in that same year that Cunard secured his contract with the British Government for conveyance of the mail across the ocean by steam vessel, marking the beginnings of the famous Cunard Steamship Lines.