1866

From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:

The year 1866 opened with a sharp spell of weather. On January 8th the thermometer at Citadel Hill registered 20 below zero. On February 2nd, Henry Y. Mott, former political partner of Joseph Howe, died in his 69th year at his residence near the brickyard. William Condran, born in 1859, well remembered the funeral procession passing his home, and often told me that it was the longest ever seen in Dartmouth up to that time.

The Starr Manufacturing Co. were now exporting their newly invented Acme spring skates and outselling American and European competitors in this field. This information was gathered from a report in the Halifax Morning Chronicle of 1866, which stated:

A few days since Messrs. Starr shipped 40 packages of skates to Montreal, which were manufactured at Dartmouth. They have upwards of 20 men employed and turn out weekly large numbers of skates and hundreds of kegs of nails. The firm can manufacture skates cheaper than the article can be imported from England. Much of the apparatus used in the manufacture of the skates was invented by Mr. Forbes who is foreman of the works.

The simplicity of the spring skates must have made it possible for local ladies to take up the pastime of skating which they evidently had not practised very extensively up to that time.

The Condran house was built about 1859 by John Condran, and was the first dwelling erected in North Woodside. It stood on the spot of the now Marvin house opposite North Woodside School. For some years it was the only human habitation between “Sunnyside” and McMinn’s. Both sides of what is now the busy thoroughfare of Pleasant Street were then bordered by thick forests teeming with rabbits, partridge and other wild life. Soldiers regularly travelled th« lonely road back and forth to Fort Clarence, but traffic to the Passage was mostly by water except for an occasional ox cart load of hay, bound for Halifax market. The old Condran house was burned down in 1940. William Condran died In 1947, having lived In the neighborhood for 88 years. James Condran, another sen of John, lived there over 92 years. He died In 1954.

Severe weather came early in February to freeze the harbor for five days, and thus tie up the ferries. The story continued:

Yesterday the tug “Neptune” cut a channel and ferried people over at 3 cents a head. The enterprise was well rewarded. The last time the harbor was frozen over, was some six years ago. Then there was not a young lady to be seen skating on the surface, as this amusement had not yet become fashionable among the fair sex. Yesterday afternoon, however, there were perhaps as many as a hundred lady skaters on the harbor, and the gay dresses rendered the scene quite a colorful one.

From Halifax on Friday night, parties could be seen walking across the ice to Dartmouth holding torchlights which reflected the light a great distance. Landing on the Dartmouth side, they appeared as if coming up out of the sea.

The first public school building in Dartmouth, for which money had been voted in 1864, was ready for occupancy in the early part of 1866. This was Central School, on the site of the Quaker Meeting House at the northeast corner of King and Quarrell Streets. At the time it was considered one of the finest of its kind in the Province. John Hollies was Principal and he had three female assistants. Four large well-lighted rooms provided accommodation for about 270 pupils, but these classes soon became so overcrowded that in November the Town trustees were obliged to apply for a lease of the room in the Mechanics’ Institute which had been used in the past for school purposes. The November minutes of the Institute noted that the trustees were already paying rent for three rooms in other building^. This information enables us to form an estimate of the total Dartmouth school attendance in 1866. Allowing 60 pupils to a teacher, the figures would be approximately 450. school on 528

In 1866, there came to live at “The Grove” in Dartmouth, Commodore Josiah Tattnall who had been head of the Confederate Navy in the American Civil War. This is the man who originated the saying, “Blood is thicker than water”, uttered in 1859 when he sent American sailors to aid the British then being slaughtered in Chinese waters.

Feeling throughout Nova Scotia was so strong against Confederation of Canada in 1866 that an anti-Confederate League was formed. Dartmouth had many members. In order to protest the passing of the B.N.A. Act, this group sent a strong delegation to London that autumn. Among the number was Hon. Joseph Howe of “Fairfield”.