A great deal of military history is commemorated within the Halifax Public Gardens, which is the oldest Victorian Garden in North America, founded by the Nova Scotia Horticultural Society in 1836 and recognized as a National Historic Site in 1984.
The most prominent military presence is the memorial fountain erected by the Commissioners of the Public Gardens commemorating “the services of our citizen soldiers in the South African Campaign 1899-1902.” Depicting a soldier of the Canadian Mounted Rifles (later the Royal Canadian Dragoons) atop a bronze fountain replete with dolphins and water nymphs, the memorial was the work of sculptor Hamilton P. McCarthy, who also crafted the Boer War Memorial at Province House, the Samuel de Champlain statue in Ottawa and numerous other monuments throughout Eastern Canada.
A bronze plaque marks the tree planted to commemorate Lieutenant Henry Keating, a Nova Scotian with the Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment, who was killed in Nigeria (British West Africa) in 1898 while serving with the Royal West African Frontier Force. The tree was planted by the teachers and pupils of Morris Street School, Keating’s Halifax alma-mater.
The Gardens’ wrought-iron gates at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street were erected as a tribute to the Halifax Provisional Battalion for its role in the 1885 North-West Rebellion, the patriotism resulting from which is considered by many historians as instrumental in uniting Nova Scotia with the rest of Canada . A plaque commemorating the services of the Battalion, which included companies from the Princess Louise Fusiliers, the 63rd Halifax Rifles and 1st “Halifax” Brigade of Garrison Artillery, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James J. Bremner is affixed to the gates. Also displayed on the gates are two coats of arms of the old City of Halifax, one of the supporters on which is a naval rating, referring to the city’s Royal Navy origins.
Other trees and associated plaques in the Gardens commemorate Canadian Merchant Seamen who served in the Second World War Battle of the Atlantic; the 2010 Centennial of the Royal Canadian Navy; and Lieutenant Charles Carroll Wood DSO, CD, who was the first Canadian killed in the Boer War. There is also a bridge named in honour of Nova Scotian Francis Joseph Fitzgerald, a Boer War veteran and later an Inspector in the Royal North West Mounted Police (later the RCMP), who died leading what came to be known as the Lost Patrol in Yukon Territory in 1911.
The Bandstand, built in 1887 would regularly host concerts by various military bands that were stationed in Halifax.