Philip Desmond Pacey

October 8, 1941October 20, 2016

PACEY, Philip Desmond of Halifax passed away on Thursday October 20, 2016 in the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.

Born in Brandon, Manitoba on October 8, 1941, he was the first of seven children of the late WC Desmond and Mary (Carson) Pacey. Phil was predeceased by his parents and sister Patricia Bird.

He is survived by his loving wife of 49 years, Elizabeth (Young) Pacey, and siblings Mary Ann Johnson (David), Peter (Kim), Margaret (Gilles), Michael (Karen), Penelope, and many nieces and nephews.

Phil grew up in Fredericton where his father was a faculty member at UNB and his mother an accomplished artist. He graduated from Fredericton High School with the highest matriculation marks in the province then travelled to Montreal for his BSc (Honours) at McGill. Next he completed his PhD under the supervision of John Polanyi at the University of Toronto. After pursuing post doctoral studies in physical chemistry in the UK, he joined the faculty of Dalhousie University where he conducted research and taught chemistry for more than 30 years.

After Phil and Elizabeth moved to Halifax in1971 they became increasingly involved in the struggle to preserve the city’s historic architecture, an activity which Phil pursued full time upon his retirement. He served as Chair of the Municipal Planning Advisory Committee. For Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia, he served as President, Chair of the HRM Committee, and was currently serving as Chair of the Buildings at Risk Committee.

Phil was involved in many heritage projects and issues. He calculated the visual impact of developments in downtown Halifax. He organized the restoration of the steeple of historic Fort Massey Church which included a continent-wide search for the special matching golden-hued bricks. The bricks were discovered and transported from Nebraska. He spearheaded and coordinated the move of historic Morris House through downtown Halifax from its south end neighbourhood to its new north end location. The Georgian house, built in 1764, was especially heavy due to its brick nogging (insulation) so that its dramatic ride up steep streets and along major thoroughfares occurred slowly during two bitterly cold January nights.

Phil was highly respected for his intellect and his generous spirit. He will be remembered by the academic community as an avid researcher and a dedicated and caring teacher. He was a local leader and Canadian icon for those who were committed to preserving architectural heritage and his passion and tireless devotion to the Halifax cityscape will be sorely missed. Phil will be forever remembered by friends, family and especially his wife, Elizabeth for his humour, his honesty and his kind heart.

A funeral and committal service will be held for the family then a public reception will take place at Fort Massey Church (corner of Queen and Tobin, 5303 Tobin Street, Halifax) on November 8th from 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM (remarks at 3:00 PM).

For those who wish, sympathy may be expressed through donations to Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia.


  • Public Reception Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Philip Desmond Pacey

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

Anne Bower

December 23, 2016

Dear Betty
Just learned of Phil's death. Condolences from the two of us with very fond memories of your very fine wedding in Toronto so many years ago.
Anne & Bob Bower

Brenda Sansom

November 11, 2016

Dear Penny, Peter and Families,
We are sad to learn of the passing of your brother. David has already lost his brother and I have four brothers still with me so we can begin to understand your loss and grief. Beautiful memories help to sustain us through these times of grief.
Please accept our sincere sympathy,
David and Brenda Sansom

Leslie McLean

November 8, 2016

Dear Betty, I was deeply saddened to learn of Phil's death. I have such fond memories of you both from Fort Massey and of your grace and tireless efforts in protecting Halifax's heritage properties. His absence will be keenly felt but his legacy will live on in the properties he helped protect and in the many lives he touched. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

David B. Flemming

November 3, 2016

Dear Betty,
Please accept my sincere condolences to you and the family on the occasion of Phil's passing. He will be sorely missed by heritage activists in Nova Scotia and beyond.
Phil's persistent and tireless dedication to the cause of heritage preservation was second to none and was always based on sound research and the need to effectively challenge the public and politicians about the long-term benefits of conserving our built heritage. I learned much from you and Phil over the years and enjoyed our association as members and directors of the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia.

Larry Haiven

November 1, 2016

Betty, we are so upset at learning of Phil's death. It will be a huge loss to the community and to heritage advocates. Our thoughts are with you. Unfortunately, we will be out of the country at the time of the public reception.

Judy and Larry Haiven

Catherine Hennessey

November 1, 2016

Dear Elizabeth I was so sad to read of Philip's passing. Halifax has been so fortunate to have both your commitments to such important causes. You have been an inspiration. A big loss,

November 1, 2016

Dear Betty,

So very sorry to read about Phil's passing. This must be a very hard time for you to lose a beloved one who added so much joy and strength to both your lives.

Please accept our sincerest sympathy for your great loss.


Tony & Liedewij Hawke


October 31, 2016

To the best mentor. Loved working along side of you in the seventies and beyond. Appreciate all you and Betty did for me. If I cannot make the reception I will fondly and forever remember your great influence in my life.- Kim Manthorne

Shiela Watson White

October 31, 2016

Dear Mrs. Pacey,
I was shocked and dismayed to learn of Philip's death at such a young age. I knew Philip when we attended many of the same classes at F'ton High School and considered him a good friend. He was quiet and studious which is why he why he excelled in his studies. When his family attended my father's church, I knew him and when I wrote to him a number of years ago on the death of one of his parents he kindly replied to me. I wish you and all your friends and families my condolences. I will miss the thought of him beside me in Latin class with Helena Carten. Strange what we remember. And there was the time he surprised us all by acting in a shadow play - that was a huge surprise, and a pleasant one. I am truly impressed how well he did in life and for life and so happy for him doing something he loved.What a handsome man he became.
Shiela Watson White,
New Maryland, N.B.
E3C 1C3

John Coxon

October 30, 2016

Dear Betty, I was terribly dismayed to learn of Phil's untimely passing, and like so many others, I extend my deepest sympathy to you at this difficult time. After we retired, I didn't see much of Phil, but I was certainly aware of his ongoing and tireless effort in work with The Heritage Association and with various HRM committees. I was very pleased to see his contributions to our city recognized so warmly in the Chronicle Herald. Over my 31 years in the chemistry department at Dal, I had the highest regard for Phil. He didn't always follow popular thought on this or that issue, but his arguments were consistently well considered and expressed, and he stuck to his position, always calm, never beligerent, never a raised voice. He was a real gentleman, and it was a privilege for me to be counted among his colleagues.

I wish you well, but know that life will be difficult and painful without Phil at your side. Sincere condolences,

John Coxon