The first passenger service from Dartmouth’s new railway station, commenced on January 6th, 1886. E. M. Walker sent the first lot of freight. Connection was made at Halifax with inward and outward trains. The skating rink continued to be the centre of winter activity with hockey games, carnivals and skating contests. The Chebuctos, Mutuals and Knockabouts were the leading clubs. At Pictou in March, Henry Crowell of Dartmouth won the five-mile professional skating championship of America by defeating Hugh McCormack of St. John. Crowell’s victory was publicized in American sporting journals. This gave Dartmouth much publicity.
The first move towards procuring women’s suffrage in Nova Scotia was taken by the Town of Dartmouth in 1886 when they got an Act through the Provincial Legislature extending to female ratepayers the right to vote at municipal elections. It was effective the following year. Our 1873 Act of Incorporation stated that the privilege of voting was granted to “every male ratepayer.” In other words, widows and spinsters owning property within the Town had no voice in the election of the Town Council. Evidently it was then an unheard of thing for women to be associated with polling booths. In thus extending the franchise to females, Dartmouth led all other Nova Scotia towns and even the capital City of Halifax.
The 70-year-old Steamboat Company sold out in 1886 to a new concern styled the Halifax and Dartmouth Steam Ferry Company. George E. VanBuskirk was chosen Secretary. Many shareholders of the original Company retained their holdings in the new one.
Dalhousie College Governors who were vacating their building on the Grand Parade at Halifax, were offered a 50-acre site free from taxes, if they would locate the College in Dartmouth.
Dartmouth schools held their first Arbor Day in May, when pupils planted some 30 shade-trees around their school buildings. (Probably the sole survivors are the old trees outside the Service Centre on the location shown in the picture on page 528.)
Local merchants formed a fund, and engaged livery-stable keeper George Turnbull to operate a one-horse watering-cart in order to alleviate the summer dust nuisance on downtown streets.
Premier Fielding’s Liberal government was returned to power at a Provincial election in June, although Dartmouth gave a majority for the Conservatives. Ex-Warden John Y. Payzarit ran for the latter party, and led the poll in our town.
At the Halifax Firemen’s summer tournament, the Dartmouth department had some unique floats in the torchlight procession. Our fire-fighters defeated teams from seven other Maritime centres in the 300-yard hose-reel race, and George Handley captured second place in two sprinting contests. They won $130, which amount helped defray expenses.
The Knockabout Club held their regatta at First Lake in August,with the following results: Single flat race, G. D. Wilson; Four-oared race, Dustan-Fairbanks crew; Canoe race, MacKay and Dustan; Tub race, K. Fairbanks; Keel-boat race, G. D. Wilson and W. J. Forbes; Hurry-scurry, MacKay and Dustan: (H. R. Walker’s diary calls this “the annual regatta”, indicating it was not the first one. Further search should be made for earlier records of regattas.)
John McKay was in the United States and rowing well. In a single-scull race at Boston he defeated all comers, including such crack oarsmen as Plaisted, Ten Eyck, Hosmer, Conley and nine other contestants. (The McKay family then lived at 13 Prince Street.)
The beautiful golden gates, still hanging at the entrance to Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, were manufactured at the Starr Works that year. The gates were the gift of Sir William Young, and the Dartmouth design was the best in a nation-wide competition.
W. H. Greene moved from John Skerry’s old Inn, and erected a stable for 30 horses (shown on page 435), and a four-storey residence and office for his livery, coal, wood and trucking business at the present location of the Metropolitan Stores on Commercial St. H. H. Harrison built a house at the northwest corner of Burton’s Hill.
Dominick Farrell sold for $3,500 his house and land at north east corner of King and Portland Streets to Dr. Thomas Milsom.
The upper Canal bridge was built that year and Ochterloney Street restored to its present shape. The route used for the previous 25 years over Bridge Street was now abandoned.