Elections of 1847

Newspapers about this time were filled with accounts of political meetings, for this was the year of the Provincial elections. The Liberal candidates in Halifax County were Henry Y. Mott and Joseph Howe. The Conservatives were James F. Gray and William Lawson. (Four other candidates contested Halifax Township.) Mr. Gray was a Halifax lawyer. As a Coroner, he had presided at the Thompson inquest in Dartmouth the previous autumn. Mr. Lawson was a summer resident of Mount Edward and son of a Bank President. (A son of this Conservative candidate, later married Miss Mary Jane Katzman, the writer of our well-known History of Dartmouth.)

During the campaign, there were lively meetings held at Dartmouth and in the suburbs. The Conservative meetings were held at McDonald’s stone store in a large room above the Post Office; and also at James Roue’s, the “billiard table man”. E. H. Lowe generally presided. For this, Mr. Lowe was criticized by the Liberals who protested about his partisanship, since he was Chief Magistrate of Halifax County. They also censured the political activities of Lawrence Hartshorne, then City and County Treasurer.

The Conservatives must have countered with an attack on the loyalty of Henry Mott, who, when a young man, had spent some years in the United States. This is inferred from a lengthy history of the Mott family given by Joseph Howe in a subsequent speech at the schoolhouse in Musquodoboit. Henry Y. Mott is a grandson of old Mr. William Mott, a manufacturer of soap and candles in Halifax. The old man amassed considerable property and was the owner of valuable real estate in Halifax which has now descended to him. Henry Y. Mott’s father was a farmer in Preston where the children were born. Both the father and mother died during Henry’s minority. Afterwards, with the assent of his uncle, the late Henry Yeomans of Halifax, he bound himself to a mechanic and served his apprenticeship. When he had served his time, he paid a visit to his mother’s relatives in Boston—which was all the residence he had in the United States. On his return about 1820, he settled on the old farm at Preston and married. He later lived at Porter’s Lake. Afterwards, he moved to Dartmouth to the property of the late Samuel Prescott, where Henry Y. Mott now carries on brick making, chocolate making, and lime burning.

More interesting information relative to the development of the present no. 7 highway, is gleaned from the accounts of Joseph Howe’s campaign that summer. For instance, in discussing improvements made in that district since he and his Reform Party had entered the House of Assembly; and referring to the £1,000 just voted for the road from Dartmouth, Howe stated: “Beyond Chezzetcook, no vestige of a road or bridge, except a footpath from Musquodoboit to Sheet Harbor, existed prior to 1837. Great improvements will be carried on this summer by which Dartmouth will form the terminus of a line of level road opening the populous settlements of Preston, Porter’s Lake, Chezzetcook and the far-off end will ultimately reach the County line.” Answering a Conservative charge that while Indian Commissioner, he had taken 25% for expense money, Howe said that “scarcely a Sunday passed that he did not go to Dartmouth to teach the Indians out of Dilworth’s Spelling Book, and he had not taken one percent for his trouble”.

There seems to be only one record of a Liberal meeting in Dartmouth, and that took place at Kennedy’s Hotel. Alexander Farquharson was chairman. Addresses were delivered by H. Y. Mott, Andrew Shiels, and Alexander James of Dartmouth; Mr. Robinson of Lawrencetown, and George R. Young and William Stairs of Halifax. (This Hotel was at the Owl Drugstore corner, corner of Portland and King.) At Porter’s Lake, a meeting took place on the farm of George Ormon. George Broom was Chairman, and James Lester Griffin was Secretary. A resolution was moved by James Ormon. Other speakers were Lawrence O’Connor Doyle and H. Y. Mott.

Probably the liveliest meeting of the campaign took place at Musquodoboit where Liberals and Conservatives met on the same platform, and where the great leaders, Howe and Johnston, hurled charges and counter-charges. The badgering, the gibes and the interruptions from the followers of each party, became so frequent that several altercations ensued. In August of 1847, the election was held throughout the Province in a single day—instead of the customary six or seven days. This was an entirely new experience, and did away with a great deal of liquor-dispensing, with the resultant loitering and quarreling around the various polling booths. Howe and Mott were returned for Halifax County, but they had a narrow escape in Dartmouth which gave Howe 111, Mott 110, Gray 106, Lawson 105. This is the first record of a polling booth in Dartmouth. The nearest one to the eastward was located at Preston. They went Conservative.