This is Fenwick Place, used as a student residence by
Dalhousie University and at 98 metres (320 feet) in height,
the tallest place in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
And this is me, working on a webcam put on the very top of Fenwick Place by the Chebucto
Community Net back in 2000. Keeping the view from the tallest place
in Halifax going through all the storms and winds is a challenge. Each time
something goes wrong we usually need to fix it on location. Some times, like
July of 2003 when Johnathan Thibodeau took this picture, it is very pleasant
so far above the city.
Other times, like during this brisk fall 2004 sunset, the winds can blow
quite hard and though there is little actual danger with the safety
training and equipment provided by Chebucto, it can feel like the winds
are blowing right through your clothing. Most of the time your connection
with the ground is something you take for granted. When the winds blow on
the top of Fenwick your connection to the ground is very much in the
forefront of your mind. Notice in the background the rubber mat being
lifted by the north wind and my lack of a hat.
Back in 2000, it was decided the best webcam
for the amount of money Chebucto could spend would be a video camera that we would
get a live feed from. We'd then capture still images from the video feed, process them slightly
to add a copyright and time stamp, do some gamma correction then upload them to our main web server.
Originally brought in as a way to celebrate the Tall Ships
2000 visit and help bring in some much needed publicity for
the Chebucto Community Net, the webcam has since covered
the view of Point Pleasant Park and the mouth of Halifax Harbour
as well as Tall Ships 2004. Thousands of people a day check out
the Chebucto Webcam with upwards of 250,000 a day checking in during the
historic first visit of the Queen Mary 2 to Halifax in
In December 2004 the Chebucto Webcam is averaging 29,600 hits a day. Oddly, there is
little interest in advertising on the Chebucto Webcam page, the only page on the
entire Chebucto Community Net website which allows commercial advertising.
Over the course of winter 2003, our webcam was losing focus at night. Part of
the problem seemed to be moisture condensing on the inside of the housing lens.
While there is a heater in the housing and we try to only open the camera in low
humidity weather, we decided to put in some silica gel (the pink package on top of the camera) to soak up any stray moisture
left in the airtight housing. When this didn't work as well as we hoped, we finally figured out
that after four years of staring into the sunrise, the webcam auto iris had finally packed in.
This photo is from the lens replacement trip in spring 2004. Note the battery operated TV to see the camera
view without climbing down from the roof, one of many refinements since installing the webcam.
Notice how everything is carefully piled below the edge of the roof? That is because stray gusts of
wind can spring up at any time and carry off anything not weighted down.
When this December the webcam started showing distorted images, we were receiving
complaints from as far away as Australia and Germany. Fortunately the weather earlier in December
was good enough to allow us to go up to the webcam.
To get to the top of Halifax, you start at the balcony of the 32nd floor of Fenwick Place.
This is the view out the 32nd floor balcony window looking down. The corner of Fenwick
Street and Queen Street is in the top left corner.