The Fairbanks Centre in February 2018. Photo by Linn Atkinson.

The Fairbanks Centre in February 2018. Photo by Linn Atkinson.

Step Back in Time

The Fairbanks Centre, located at the entrance of Shubie Park (54 Locks Road, Dartmouth), is the main interpretive centre for the Shubenacadie Canal Waterway and serves as the headquarters for the Shubenacadie Canal Commission. It features a small museum that is open year-round during regular business hours. Admission is free.

The centrepiece of the Fairbanks Centre is our working model of the locks of the Shubenacadie Canal. This model, which features flowing water and a scale model of a canal steamer, allows a hands-on demonstration of the engineering that made the waterway a reality. Be sure to ask our staff to turn it on when you visit!

Guided tours are available on a seasonal basis. Click here for details.

The Fairbanks Centre also features meeting space which is available for rent by individuals and organizations. The primary space is the Avery Room, named for the steamer that made the first complete trip on the Shubenacadie Canal in 1861. Visit our Meeting Space page for details on the available space and how to book it.

The building is named for the Fairbanks family, which played an integral role in the construction and operation of the Shubenacadie Canal. Charles Rufus Fairbanks, born in Halifax in 1790, was a lawyer, judge, and politician who was appointed as one of the directors of the first Shubenacadie Canal Company in 1826. He was a tireless advocate of the canal project, continuing to seek investment even after construction stalled in 1831. His son, Charles William Fairbanks, would make the dream a reality, renewing the project as chief engineer in 1854 and drafting the plans that would see the Shubenacadie Canal completed in 1861. Later, Charles William Fairbanks’s younger brother, Lewis Piers Fairbanks, bought the canal and became its last owner before it shut down completely.

The lock model at the Fairbanks Centre in action.

The lock model at the Fairbanks Centre in action.