From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:
Regattas on the harbor were resumed the summer of 1831. In June, the four-mile whaler race was won by four Dartmouth men rowing the “Edward Cunard”. The second boat was the “Pucelle”. Both had been built by Mr. Coleman at Dartmouth. At a second regatta in August, the “Edward Cunard” was defeated by the “Riflemen” rowed by four fishermen from the eastern side of the harbor with Philip Brown, steersman. This whaler was owned by the Volunteer Rifles Dartmouth militia.
The dog days came early that summer. On the first Sunday of July, the heat was intense. On Monday, it was intolerable. Although the thermometer stood at 99 in the shade, there was a difference of 50 degrees between that and the waters of the harbor.
What Dartmouth looked like from the Halifax side is included in the following description by a writer in the “Halifax Monthly Magazine” for May 1831:
The town forms a pretty balanced picture. An abrupt woody hill, unsoftened by any trace of art, rises to the right. To the left, a gentler ascent has brushwood on its front, and spruce and pine alongside the rising outline, but on the summit, some green patches and white farmhouses.
In the center foreground, the brilliant surface of the harbor conducts the eve for a short mile to the sloping banks on which the village lies. Wharves and houses and gardens and pebbly beaches, and abrupt cliffs meet the water; and behind seemingly scattered in pleasing irregularity, the party colored town rises up a gentle ascent.
The churches are easily discerned. The Scotch Church appears dark and grave-looking under the hill to the left. The Catholic Chapel, white and clean as an Old Country parsonage, stands more central; and the English Church between, sends its spire proudly, but not tauntingly, above all.
The eye move along the undulated ground until it rests on a clump of trees and the snug-looking dwelling at the Lower Ferry. Findlay’s is delightfully situated, but no advantage is taken of its beauties. A little bay which terminates in the Mill Cove, sweeps within thirty or forty yards of the House; a soft and verdant hillock rises in the rear, and in front a fresh water stream comes babbling under the trees. A marquee or summer-house should be erected on the summit of the little hill, its side would afford lovely situations for pleasure gardens and rural seats. A shade-walk might conduct to the pebbly beach, along which arbors easily formed, would be a delightful resting place for visitors from the City.
In the autumn of that year, the same writer evidently crossed over in the Old Ferry and made a tour of the town. The ascent from the Cove up King Street and the Hartshorne house on “Poplar Hill’ are described. At that time only Christ Church possessed a steeple. Note also that the recreations of the Canal people included hurley, or ground hockey. This game no doubt was also played by them on our ponds and lakes, as it was perhaps played in the land of their ancestors. Hockey might be as old as Adam.
Findlay’s 40-passenger boat sits gracefully on the water, yet appears, alongside the Indian’s birch canoe, spacious enough for a Boston packet. The tide lies limpid on the ferry slip, and beneath a pellucid flood are exhibited many colored marine plants on its bed, at the very places where it supports the traffic of a populous city. Soon the sonorous conch has ceased sounding, and the boat is out on the calm stream bearing its motley freight to the rural shore opposite.
There sit the Chief Engineer, and the Solicitor of the Canal Company; and there appear a pair of colored lasses from the black settlement at Preston. There is Shiels, the Poet, with his plaid cloak laid beside him, holding rather cold conversation with one of his Lawrencetown neighbors. There are two grayheaded negroes “siring” and “mistering” each other with infinite politeness.
Here are a group of cigar-loving dandies, bent on a game of skittles at Warren’s; and there some half-dozen sunburnt and weather-beaten laborers repairing to the public works. Scattered amid the company, a beautiful sprinkling of ladies appear, passing over to their residences, or only intent on enjoying the benefits of a sail and a walk; while a nearly equal number of less fine females are returning home with sundry household conveniences purchased with the product of their gardens which they conveyed to town early this morning.
An Indian and his Squaw sit silently in the bow of the boat, or only return answers to the ferrymen, who take advantage of the gentle breeze by shipping their oars, and resting their sinewy arms. At last we are ashore.
We commence our walk from Findlay’s snug farmhouse Inn, p. 29 and soon leave the cackling and quacking of its numerous poultry behind. The landscape appears diversified and picturesque with its hills and vales. A few years ago, this bold hill to the right was a wilderness, and the ground at its base a stony swamp. Cultivated fields now sweep over its breezy top and its declivity. A cottage stands on the slope delightfully situated in a little garden. Squashes and watermelons are ripening luxuriantly on the sunny slopes.
We pass along, and again pause as an opening to the left exhibits a lovely situation for a cottage. A rural gorge-formed by a flat which meets the harbor, and a small eminence on each side. The flat in the centre runs imperceptibly into the tide, and the bright sparkling waters seem secluded in a little romantic cove.
The next pause in our tour, shall be on this soft-shaped hill, the property of Lawrence Hartshorne, Esq. And what a noble site might this be for a mansion! Equal doubtless to any other in America. See photo on p. 536
If you look westward, Halifax appears climbing its hill. Northward, the town of Dartmouth is spread before you.
The increase in population which the Canal work produced in Dartmouth, has occasioned a new settlement about a quarter of a mile from the water. This consists of about 40 huts and houses, raised for the greater part, by the laborers employed at the Canal; and called by some “Canal Town”, and by others “Irish Town”, because the majority of persons who own the little buildings are natives of Ireland.
Irish Town affords a curious specimen of the first steps of civilization in a new country. The log houses and little enclosures are very rude, the stumps of the trees which form them stand all around, and in small openings in the brush, scraps of gardens appear.
The settlement also exhibits many primitive features of Irish rural life. On summer evenings, the groups reclining about the doors, show their proper quota of flaxen-haired chubby-cheeked youngsters, while from one or two taverns of the village, the scrapings of a fiddle, the squealings of a bagpipe and the shuffling of feet announce that the labors of the day were not sufficient to bow the everlasting mind, or to prevent zeal for the evening’s exercise and pleasure.
A hurley match, a game at balls or bowls, throwing the sledge, leaping, or a jog, are commonly resorted to, as amusements after the work of the weekday, or the devotions of the Sabbath.
The last houses of Irish Town are within about a stone’s throw of the “Church with the steeple”; and the first houses of Dartmouth are within a stone’s throw at the other side of the Church, so that a junction may be formed, and Irish Town becomes a suburb of its older neighbor.
The town of Dartmouth has a loose scattered appearance and consists of about 100 houses, many of them of respectable dimensions. Besides those, a number of houses are in course of erection, and considerable promise is exhibited of a rapid increase and improvement.
The water lots of Dartmouth are lessened in value by the shelving nature of its shore. The water is shoaly in most places at considerable distance from the beach, which of course renders it unfit as a harbor for vessels of large burden.