Back in June 2013 I started what I hope will be a series of posts called “Building Blocks” that do a block by block analysis of how streets changed over time. It was modelled off of a blog called Keith York City. You can read the original post HERE.
Since posting this analysis of the western side of the first block of Gottingen from 2-24 (using the old numbering system) I have come across additional information which I think is really cool.
One of the biggest problems I had in studying this section of Gottingen Street is that there are no street scape photos of this end of the street. The only photos I had to use, which you can see in the original post, were often obscured by buildings (mainly the Military Hospital on the Eastern side of the street), or taken from a distance and thus nothing of detail is visible.
Then Casino Taxi (Twitter: @casino_taxi) posted a photo from their own archives which showed some of their cars and drivers standing outside of their first Taxi office located at what was originally 4 Gottingen street. The photo was taken in 1937 and it clearly shows the old houses that were located on what was originally a residential street. Today this site is underneath the Vimy Apartment Building and the adjacent Salvation Army Building which were built in the early 1970s.
Casino Taxi shared a building with Butler Real Estate. The Butler’s would go on to build the Butler Building which occupies the corner of Gottingen and Cogswell in about 1949. There are a few discrepancies between the City Directories and the Fire Insurance Maps that are available for this area of the city. You can see below in the 1914 Fire Insurance Map that 4 Gottingen shared a building with 6 Gottingen
However, in 1951 (see below) after the construction of the Butler Building on the corner you can see that the Taxi Garage has moved to what was 12-14 Gottingen Street in 1914. Suffice to say the building the company was located in and the ones that are show in the photo were in the middle of the block and are today located underneath the large brick buildings of Vimy Apartments.
A little history about Casino Taxi. The company was founded in 1928/29 and appears to have been based out of this location on Gottingen Street til about 1968, nearly 40 years, when it moved to Isleville Street. The company started as a 6 vehicle fleet and has grown over the last 79 years in to one of the city’s most recognizable companies and a fleet of over 350 vehicles.
Casino Taxi’s first owners were Benjamin O. Johnson and Clarence Timothy Johnson. Clarence T. Johnson was born in Hampstead, New Brunswick in 1899 the son of Arthur W. Johnson and Ida M. Short and he died at Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1943. He lived on Allen Street for most of the period he owned Casino Taxi and prior to that was a chauffeur. Benjamin Orland Johnson was the older brother of Clarence T. He was born ca. 1898. He married a local Halifax girl in 1920 named Ruth Purcell who lived in Fairview. Ben was living in Fairview at the time he founded Casino Taxi with his brother where he was working as a teamster for Irving Oil. According to the City Directories it appears that Clarence took over as the sole proprietor of the business in 1932 but Benjamin stayed on in the role of manager.
For people of my generation (born in the 1970s and early 1980s) the commercials that use to run on local TV and the recognizable jingle that was sung throughout the commercials still resonate. The jingle itself is part of the modern culture in Nova Scotia and I have found that no matter where I go around the world you can tell someone is from Halifax when they can sing the whole thing from start to finish. Below are two of those commercials from the 1980s.
NOTE: Please feel free to contribute any materials you think will help make this blog better. I am always looking for more photos, documents and stories.
Sources: I would like to thank Brian Herman (President and Operating Manager of Casino Taxi) for sharing with me and giving me permission to use their photo for this post. All other sources are as follows: Google Earth, Halifax Fire Insurance Maps (NSARM), Halifax City Directories.