A large rock is shown on a grey day with trees in the background.
The Rocking Stone in December 2021. Photo: HRM

Council’s heritage committee has made a solid recommendation in favour of heritage registration for a local rock.

The Heritage Advisory Committee met virtually on Wednesday to consider adding Spryfield’s Rocking Stone to the municipal registry of heritage sites.

The stone is an erratic (“a glacially deposited rock differing from the type of rock native to the area in which it rests”) that, as the name suggests, rocks. Or at least it did.

Heritage planner Seamus McGreal wrote in the staff report to the committee that the first documented mention of the stone was almost 200 years ago:

The earliest published description of the Rocking Stone is found in the August 30th, 1823 edition of the Acadian Recorder, in which it is described as a “wonder of nature”, its “rocking is effected by the aid of a short lever, and may be set in motion by a child of twelve years of age”, and “clearly evidences the skill and power of an Almighty hand!”.

(For those interested, Stephen Archibald has a 2019 blog post about the stone here.)

A panting shows a man standing next to a large stone. There are trees painted around the stone, and old-timey writing along the bottom of the painting.
The earliest identified depiction of the Rocking Stone, as painted by Sir George Back, British royal naval officer, Arctic explorer, and painter. HRM/Back, 1836

McGreal told the committee municipal planners went to the site and attempted to rock the stone, but were unable to get it moving. Some members of the community told him it can still be rocked.

The stone is located on municipal property next to HRM’s Kidston Lake Park, named for the farming family that owned the land from the 1800s through to 1958. In November, Coun. Patty Cuttell brought a motion to council asking that the site be considered for heritage registration and addition to the adjacent park.

Cuttell noted that the site was designated a heritage site in the former city charter in 1971, but it lost that protection in 1981 when the province created the Heritage Property Act.

Based on McGreal’s recommendations, the committee scored the site 60 out of a possible 70 points, exceeding the 35-point threshold for a recommendation to council.

McGreal told the committee the site is well intact, and it’s remained a natural wonder for more than 200 years.

“The rock itself is primordial, I guess. I think it gets probably heavy high marks,” said Lois Yorke of the score for age and continuity of use.

The motion will go to regional council as a recommendation to schedule a heritage hearing on the designation.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. I think this is a pretty poor use of council’s time during a housing emergency, but I guess it’s better than being invaded by Russians.