From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:
Queen Victoria was crowned on June 28th, and on that day celebrations were held in several centres of Nova Scotia. Crowds thronged to Halifax where the demonstrations started at dawn with salutes of cannon, music of bands and the joyous peal of church bells. The weather was glorious.
All the principal shops were closed and shuttered, bunting billowed in the morning breeze and regal flags fluttered on church towers and other prominent places like Dalhousie College, then on the present location of City Hall.
People in holiday attire kept wending their way to the Common, where there were more parades and reviews of scarlet-coated troops before Governor Campbell and his staff.
On the Parade at noon, groups from Dartmouth joined in a patriotic procession of naval, military and civilian organizations, marching to the stirring music of intermittent bands and pipes through streets lined with hurrahing Haligonians. As each unit rounded the crescent-shaped driveway of Government House, the men halted to receive individual felicitations from His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor.
In the afternoon an immense concourse of people assembled on the green slopes of Citadel “Hill and on the Common, where there was a varied program of amusements and sports. No one went hungry or thirsty. On a massive spit outside the tent of the Irish Society, an entire ox was roasted. Refreshments were served in a large marquee set up by the Coronation Committee. Thomas Medley was chef.
At night there was a gorgeous display of fireworks from the Grand Parade, public and private buildings were illuminated, and a fashionable ball held at Government House.
Our townsfolk, who had probably crossed to Halifax by the hundreds that day, returned home in plenty of time for the Dartmouth celebration because on this side of the harbor the show was then only at the beginning.
As in Halifax, an energetic local committee had solicited subscriptions to defray expenses, and carried out a program most fitting for the occasion. How well they succeeded, may be judged from the fact that nearly 60 years later, elderly folks fondly recalled the memories of Queen Victoria’s coronation night, when they danced until dawn with the gay crowd on the pavilion in Medley’s Tea Gardens.
On the Committee were Dr. DesBrisay, William Hague, Mr. Turner, E. H. Lowe, Allan McDonald, Mr. Foster (probably William), Captain Galt, and Mr. Mcllreith, Secretary.
The Coronation Address commemorating the event was “classically and eloquently spoken” by Robert Jamison, the schoolmaster. The vast throng listened with marked attention throughout, and at the conclusion gave vent to their feelings of loyalty and enthusiasm by uniting with Mr. Jamison in “three times three rousing and rapturous cheers”.
There was also a Coronation song sung, which had been composed especially for the occasion by a Captain Galt. The latter was particularly praised in the newspaper report, as having devoted considerable time and trouble in arranging the program, although a comparative stranger.
Most of the account of the Dartmouth celebration in the “Acadian Recorder” is reprinted here, so that imaginative readers may enjoy vicariously the fun experienced by our ancestors on that June night of 1838. Medley’s Hotel (the present Central Apartments at 59 Queen Street), with its stables, outbuildings and gardens, then occupied the whole of the southern half of Town Block “F”. Down Queen Street to Dundas there ran a slate-rock stone wall in front of a thickly-set curtilage of hawsey trees which continued northerly on Dundas Street, giving that particular block the nickname of “Hawsey Lane”.
The skittle alley stood on the northeast corner of Wentworth and Queen Streets, with its length extending to the present property of the Telephone Company. There were other Inns at the time, like the Mill Bank, the Bush Inn at 63 Ochterloney Street, the Commercial Inn and Skerry’s Inn; but Medley’s had more attractive and spacious surroundings. It was also the stopping-place of the Halifax-Truro stagecoach. The hotel proprietor in 1838 was John Kennedy.
DARTMOUTH AND ITS VICINITY ON THE DAY OF THE CORONATION
The village on this day came forward with a spirit eminently creditable. It not only contributed its numbers to enlarge the line of the procession in Halifax, but in the evening a large party of about 800, from a circuit of 15 miles, gathered in gay groups to welcome the event by a merry dance.
The whole town of Dartmouth including the Anglican Rector, the Magistrates and their families were present. On no occasion do we believe, within the memory of the oldest resident has so large and respectable an assemblage been seen. A more attractive spectacle pf health and beauty has seldom been assembled, and few prettier faces smiled a welcome to our youthful Queen’s reign on that day.
The green area which separates Mr. Kennedy’s Hotel from the ball alley, was enclosed by an extended awning consisting of more than two thousand square yards of canvas, lined on the inside by the flags of all nations which drooped in festoons from the ceiling, and presented the spectacle of a splendid Turkish tent. It was lit by a variety of chandeliers.
The enclosure of the roof of Mr. Kennedy’s Hotel afforded a very pretty coup d’oeil from its windows, of the glad groups as they joined in the joyous dance. All was lighthearted and merry, and the tout ensemble did eminent credit to the zeal and attention of the gentlemen who conducted the scene.
A great abundance and diversity of refreshments were provided in the ball alley. On a high hill in the vicinity, a huge bonfire blazed during the evening.
At 9 o’clock, after the company had witnessed an exhibition of fireworks in front of Mr. Kennedy’s gardens, the gay dance and quadrille were persevered in until the gray streaks of dawn in the eastern sky, announced that the Coronation was yesterday.
There was a census taken in 1838 giving the names of heads of families in Dartmouth Township which then extended into the suburbs of Tufts’ Cove, Port Wallace, PortoBello area, Woodlawn and Imperoyal districts. The number of males who were heads of families totaled 195. The number of males under 6 was 118. Number of females under 6 was 139. Number of males under 14 Was 128. Number of females under 14 was 136. Number of females above 14 was 371. Males above 14 not heads of families, 163. The total number in the settlement was 1,246. This included 76 people of color.