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The Halifax Literary Walking Tour


Grafton Park, 5381 Spring Garden Road

1. Philipe-Ignace François Aubert de Gaspé Jr.

Welcome to Grafton Park, home of the Spring Garden Road Memorial Public Library, a statue of Winston Churchill and Bud the Spud chip truck. Did you know that Grafton Park used to be the site of the 19th century Poorhouse cemetery? Underneath your feet lie Hessian soldiers, pirates, paupers and Canada’s first French-Canadian novelist, Philippe-Ignace-François Aubert de Gaspé Jr.

At the young age of 23, Aubert de Gaspé Jr. wrote his one and only novel, L’Influence d’un livre (1837), a story set in Quebec featuring romance, a quest for gold, and murder. He wrote it while hiding out from the Quebec authorities. Aubert de Gaspé Jr. was wanted for releasing an obnoxious substance in the Quebec Legislature. It was an act of revenge for having been imprisoned a month for defending the truthfulness of his parliamentary reports with a member of the Assembly.

Aubert de Gaspé came to Halifax in 1840 and briefly taught at the Poorhouse, which was located just up the road on Doyle Street. He later accepted a job as parliamentary reporter for the Halifax Morning Post. Unfortunately, he died soon after, on March 7, 1841, of “a sudden illness” and was buried in Grafton Park in an unmarked grave. The Poorhouse cemetery became Grafton park in 1883, for the rent of one peppercorn per year to Queen Victoria.

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