About The Five Fishermen Restaurant & Grill
The Five Fishermen Restaurant is housed in a building that was originally constructed as a
schoolhouse in 1817. Across the street is St Paul’s Anglican Church, the oldest building in Halifax, built
in 1750, the year after Halifax was founded.
By the early 1800’s, Halifax was experiencing exciting growth and development, and the need for a
school was far too apparent. The good parishioners of St Paul’s Church of England took on that responsibility
and the school’s doors opened in 1818. Its close proximity enabled the church to keep an eye on
the developing minds of future Haligonians. High on the school’s agenda was an emphasis on religious
obligations and the education of the poor. It would become the first school in Canada to offer a free
education. It is for this reason that the building has the distinction of being the First National School
and is a protected Heritage site. Eventually the building was unable to facilitate the growing needs of
so many young minds, so Dalhousie College across the street took over the responsibility.
The building then changed hands to its new proprietor, Anna Leonowens. Her purpose was to start up
an Art school, thus the Halifax Victorian School of Art was born. Anna was a verbose and overbearing
character well known not just in Halifax, but also in other places in the world. Before coming to Halifax,
Anna was the governess to the children of the King of Siam, an experience she would later write a
book about called “Anna and the King of Siam”. That book would be translated into a Broadway musical,
an Academy Award winning movie and many other versions of “The King and I”. Eventually the art
school moved to a new location and became the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Among the
many distinguished artists on staff was the late Arthur Lismer, of the Group of Seven fame.
It wasn’t long after Anna left the building that it was taken over by the Snow family. Snow and Sons
would enjoy a bustling business running a mortuary. John Snow & Co. Funeral Home would play a
significant part in two of the world’s greatest disasters.
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