Fairview Historical Society Articles Archives
Submitted by: Devonna Edwards
The Historical Beginning and Its Continuation!
It all began in 1902 when William Clayton bought 105 acres of land on the Bedford Highway between Fairview and Rockingham, extending up the southern slope of Geizer’s Hill, today known as Main Avenue and Washmill Lake Drive. He built a beautiful summer residence there in 1904 near where Bayview Road and the Bedford Highway are today. He moved in with his wife and his two children Mary Louise and Reginald. Today that area known as Bayview Road is one of the entrance to Clayton Park. When William passed away in 1935, his wife and two children remained living in the house.
CLAYTON & SONS
Mary Clayton and her husband George and their seven children immigrated to Halifax from England in 1863. George died in 1864 and that same year, Mary along with her sons William and Edward opened a clothing business on Argyle Street called “Clayton & Sons Tailors &Clothiers.” The business became so successful that over the years they expanded, bought more property and added more buildings. By 1891 they purchased all the land between Jacob Street and Barrington Street and continued to build having all structures connected with passageways.
They manufactured men’s, youth’s and boy’s clothing, later they got a contract to make uniforms for the armed forces and police. They employed about 500 women who used 150 sewing machines and many cutting machines to create their finished product. In the Halifax Explosion of 1917 the factory was badly damaged but was rebuilt. Years later William’s daughter Louise operated the business, his son Reginald died in world War 11. The business closed in the 1955 and the factory was demolished when Scotia Square complex was built.
In 1959 Louise Clayton who still lived on the property with her children Belle and Reginald, sold part of the land on the Bedford Highway to the Shaw Company (Lloyd E. Shaw Ltd.) who started the first phase of the development of Clayton Park. Most of the houses and apartments were built with a high percentage of brick because the Shaw Company was the largest brick manufacturer in Atlantic Canada.
Russell Smith known as ‘Mister Clayton Park’ was responsible for the development of Clayton Park area. He was the lone employee of Clayton Development which started in 1960. The Clayton Park development began on July 12, 1962 after it received approval from the municipality of the County of Halifax. Clayton Development began with five homes and 140 acres of land. In the years following with Russell’s help, Clayton Development built 800 single family homes, a school and a shopping plaza.
Clayton Park was established as an upper middle class community situated next to Fairview and contained new up-to-date modern style, pricey houses. Clayton Park when first developed became known as a place “where the wealthy people lived.”
Mary Clayton Memorial Park
The park located on Willett Street was at one time known as Willett Street Reserve. It was renamed Mary Clayton Memorial Park in 2013, to honour Mary Clayton who Clayton Park is named after. The park contains a short walking trail in a peaceful wooded area, with benches to rest and an open space for children to play. The Mainland North Trail is connected to the park.
Clayton Park West
Clayton Park West was developed in the 1990s, adjacent to Clayton Park. The Shaw Company started the new community by building a mixture of upscale apartments, condominiums, single and multi- family housing as well as retail facilities. When the Bayer’s Lake Industrial Park changed from industrial to business, it changed its name to Bayer’s Lake Business Park. The Clayton Park West developed at a fast pace and continues to grow today.
In the late 1950s or early 1960s, I remember as a young girl standing on Vimy Avenue where the Centennial Arena is now and looking up the hill towards where Lacewood Drive is today. All I could see is deep forest with a tiny bare surrounding area where tractors and other vehicles were working to clear the forest and I realize now, that was the start of Lacewood Drive, below Dunbrack Street.
In the late 1980s or early 1990s my husband and I drove to a gas station (Irving station today) on the corner of Lacewood Drive and Willett Street. At that time the station was in the middle of the woods on a dead-end street and I remember saying, “Why in the world would they build a station here?” It wasn’t long after that the area exploded into the massive development you see today!
The Water Retaining Area
The area is located on the corner of Lacewood Drive, and Dunbrack Street. It is a large fenced off site where storm-water (water from rain, melted snow and ice) that runs off parking lots, driveways, roofs and other hard surfaces is diverted by ditches, culverts, drains, and pipes into this storm water retention pool. The Retaining Area then lets water out slowly, preventing flooding and property damage to the surrounding areas.
The Marsh is located on Parkland Drive in Clayton Park. It contains two parts, the large Belchers Marsh on the east side of Parkland Drive and the smaller Little Belchers Pond on the west side of Parkland Drive. Both are connected with a riverside trail that crosses Farnham Gate Road and Parkland Drive. The Marsh and Pond are each surrounded by a walking trail and have wildlife, such as ducks, deer, squirrels as well as many bird species. Both are truly gems in the middle of a busy community. Before development in the area, the marsh and pond were surrounded by forest in the wilderness. It was a popular area for hunting and fishing and skating. George Keddy, Laurie Brewster, Jack and Bill Grimes, built a cabin overlooking Belcher’s Marsh before the area was developed. They shared the cabin with family and friends.
Belcher’s Marsh and Belcher’s Pond are named after Andrew Belcher, son of Jonathan Belcher Jr. who was once Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant Governor. Andrew who was born in 1763 and died in 1841, was a successful merchant and politician in Nova Scotia. He owned property, both in the town of Halifax and in the Birch Cove Area.
Today Clayton Park and Clayton Park West areas are home to a broad network of walking trails, parks and recreation facilities. It has continued to develop into a massive housing development, with many schools, a newly renovated library, many retail stores and Bayers Lake Park, which now has a new health facility that just opened in November of 2023, called Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Centre.