From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:
At this stage of our story, we turn to the columns of the Dartmouth “Atlantic Weekly” to give readers a first-hand account of life in Dartmouth in the 1830s, as written by an old resident in April 1899. He gave credit to three octogenarians of that time for furnishing him with much information. The three were Thomas Gentles, Thomas Synott, and George Shiels.
. . . The town naturally centered itself around the ferry. The ferry in those days landed at the foot of Ochterloney Street. The ferry service consisted at first of rowboats simple, later an addition was made in the shape of the “Grinders”, boats resembling whalers, having paddle-like arrangements driven by a hand-crank, which propelled them forward. These again were supplanted by the team-boat which requires no explanation. The horses used on the boat were housed overnight in an old schooner lying on the offside of the landing. The fare was fourpence, return sevenpence halfpenny, or twelve cents. The departure of the boats was signaled by the blowing of a horn, and shouting “hover rover”.
At the left on landing, i.e. the northwest corner of Ochterloney and Water Streets, stood the “Stone Jug”, being built of stone as the name suggests. It is said to have got its name from the fact that there was a well immediately back of it. This well constituted the water supply of the town, and in spite of being frequently flooded by the sea, the water in it never tasted the least brackish.
To understand this better, it must be remembered that the level of Water Street from the “Stone Jug” north was ten feet lower than now — or about the level of Coleman’s yard.* The lower side of the street was the sea wash at that time.
Across the street to the south (of the Stone Jug) was Indian Hill, on which was a flagstaff. Immediately opposite was Skerry’s corner, owned and occupied by “Skipper” Skerry. Passengers on the ferry paid their fare at the house, and it is said that it was as common a sight to see coppers barrelled as it was pork.
On the remaining corner stood the building recently replaced by the new Hotel. It had been built by Quakers, after the Quaker fashion. Continuing up Ochterloney Street on the left, a building stood midway in the block in which the late Frank Hyde’s father carried on a grocery business.* Farther along, a building stood near the corner of Prince Edward Street.* A building stood on Gentles’ Corner. (Gentles bakery, northeast corner Ochterloney and Edward Streets.)
From there to “Bush Inn” was a blank. “Bush Inn”* occupied the site of George Jackson’s house. It was built by Quakers. It was a low one-storey house with a large verandah. The place was kept by Mrs. Manning, who also ran a dancing school there.
From “Bush Inn” to Sullivan’s Pond was fields and woods* with the exception of the Church of England, a possible log-cabin on the corner of Pine Street, and Stanford’s Tannery at the foot of Maple Street. All the land back of Ochterloney Street and north of Pine Street then belonged to Thomas Boggs. Mr. Thomas Farrell’s father was old Boggs’ gardener, and lived about the present John White house.
On the south side of Ochterloney Street there were Skerry’s corner already mentioned; a blacksmith shop stood where the drugstore is now*, being run by Thomas Miller who did iron work for the Canal Company. Findlay’s house stood where E. M. Walker’s residence is at present.* Then came the Chapel, and it is possible a building stood on the corner of King Street. This is all the buildings that Ochterloney Street could then claim, on that side.
On Water Street, Dave Vaughan had a slaughterhouse near where Mr. Tufts’ store now is.* The building on the northeast corner of Quarrel and Water Streets* certainly ranks among the oldest existing houses in Dartmouth. The building lately occupied by Allan McDonald,* and which was recently torn down, was originally a cabin off a ship. Jackson’s house occupied the present site of James Simmonds and Company. The old wooden building* which stood where Sterns’ magnificent brick store is now, was a famous landmark of the town.
It showed traces of Quaker architecture, and was certainly built by them. It was owned by Edward H. Lowe and afterwards fell into the hands of the McDonald family.
*Bush Inn with its stables stood at 63 Ochterloney St. In front was a long hedge.
*By the 1830’s the “fields and woods” on the upper side of Ochterloney Street were undoubtedly developed. In 1831, James W. Johnston subdivided 2 1/2 acres between the present Victoria Road and Crichton Avenue, and extending back to Thomas Boggs’ boundary, which was about on a line with Whebby Terrace. Mr. Johnston divided the land into lots having a 66-foot frontage on Ochterloney Street. Timothy Murphy purchased lot no. 1 for £20, and by 1834 had erected and was offering for sale a three-storey double house “At the Sign of the Golden Boot”, already mentioned. Some other purchasers in order of numbers, were David Vaughan, A. Spriggs, Alex. Farquharson, Richard McCabe, Michael Dormady, Mrs. Simpson and James Stanford, the tanner, not Robert. The site of McCabe’s is at the present 137 Ochterloney. Ponnady’s foundation and vacant lot adjoins on the east, Simpson’s was the half-stone house opposite Greenvale Apartments, recently demolished. All this section is thought to have comprised part of Canal Town or Irish Town.
*The John White house is now the property of Mrs. D. W. B. Reid at 13 Myrtle Street. On that property is the Farrell foundation.
*The drugstore was Parker Mott’s, son of Thomas Mott. The store is just east of Eldridge Lloy, the grocer.
E. M. Walker’s residence was southwest corner Edward and Ochterloney. J. W. Tufts’ drygoods store is now a restaurant at 73 Commercial St. The northeast corner Quarrel (Queen) and Water is the Bell Bus Station. Allan McDonald had just died and the building demolished, but a few months before this article was written. It stood at the southeast corner of Quarrell and Water Streets. Mr. McDonald sold fishing tackle, made flies and mended rods. Over the front door, a metal fish dangled on a pole.
The old wooden building at Sterns’ corner had about a dozen rooms, with a grand staircase inside the front entrance on Portland Street, and a flight of ordinary steps near the back door to be used by the hired help. On the Water Street side were two separate shops. (We lived there from 1890 till its demolition in 1893. — JPM.)
Mrs. Lawlor’s corner* stood there then as now. Immediately south of the corner there still exists a building which is second to none as regards age.
On Portland Street, a little above Mrs. Lawlor’s, stood a large barn occupied by “Cups” Murphy and “Larry” Ring, respectively shoemaker and tailor. Connors held out where J. B. MaeLean* is now, the entrance then being nearly 15 feet higher than now, the street having suffered considerable cutting away since then.
Dr. Milsom’s present residence* was built by John Kennedy. It was then known as Dartmouth Hotel, and it was a very favorite resort.
Perhaps the more favorite resorts of those days were “Commercial Inn” on the corner of Portland and Dundas Streets, which also showed the effects of Quaker settlement in the town. Its flowery days were under the proprietorship of Captain Searl. Its destruction by fire is within the knowledge of the present generation. “Mill Bank Inn” on Quarrel Street, now called the old salt box, was owned by William Warren who kept a skittle alley, the great game of those days.
“Tea Garden”, latterly known as Hoyne’s Hotel, now the residence of J. B. MacLean, is the remaining one of the three famous resorts of the boys in the Thirties. It also had a skittle alley. It was run by Thomas Medley.
Of course, Dartmouth had then as now its out-the-road houses. The favorite was Jimmy Scallions,* a little above Sullivan’s Pond. The “boys” of town used to assemble there on a Sunday and watch the [Indigenous people] go through their war dances, jigs, etc., in all the paint, feathers and style of a more remote period.
I have already noted the lasting effect that the Quaker settlement left in the town, but they were not the only landmark makers.
The Scotch and Irish masons brought here to work on the Canal have left their lasting trademark in the shape of buildings. All the stone houses* in town were built at the time the Canal was undergoing construction. All of them were built by these imported masons, and all of them — no, I won’t say all, but at least some — were built of stone from the Canal, and they were not very scrupulous how the stone was come by — I don’t say it was stolen.
It may be mentioned here in passing that the Scotch masons had very crude ideas about how to trim and work granite — their sole tool being an ordinary pickaxe. It was not until the Irish masons arrived, bringing with them the approved stone-cutters’ tools, did the Scots get enlightened on the subject.
*Mrs. Lawlor’s corner is the southeast corner Portland and Water Streets. J. B. Mac-Lean’s grocery was at 35 Portland Street, head of Prince Street. Dr. Milsom’s was northeast corner King and Portland, now the Owl Drugstore. Scallions was on the bank near 147 Prince Albert Road, foot of Bolton Terrace.
*The Downey house on the west side of Coleman Street was a stone house. It was pulled down a short time after the 1917 Explosion. The only stone house left in the downtown area, is at North and Edward Streets.