From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:
By 1873 the newly established industries of Dartmouth were commencing to participate in the usual practice of holding annual sleigh-drives hereabouts. These establishments could not be expected to advertise their wares in all of the numerous newspapers then being published in Halifax, and consequently took advantage of other opportunities to make their products known to the public.
In February 1873 the employees of Starr Manufacturing Company boosted their Acme skates and new electro-plating department by parading in a long line of decorated sleighs through the business streets of Halifax, before proceeding to some popular hostel “out the road”. On the very next day, the employees of Symonds’ Foundry then numbering about 60 men, went through the same performance. Their destination was Bedford. With a Band discoursing music in the leading sleigh the horses jingled up George Street off the ferry followed by a 6-in-hand, a double sleigh and two 4-in-hand teams. In the last sleigh a steam-engine was rigged up and running, being supplied with steam from a stove in the sleigh. Crowds stopped on the sidewalks to view this unique attraction.
Dartmouth became an incorporated town by an Act of the Legislature in 1873. We were the first Town in Nova Scotia to obtain that distinction. Previously our problems had been decided by the Court of Quarter Sessions (equivalent to the present County Council), or by the Grand Jury, or by a majority vote of ratepayers at town meetings. From now on a Town Council, elected annually in May, would exercise control over all local affairs.
One great advantage of incorporation was that the Municipality of Dartmouth had the authority to raise money by the issue of bonds, on which only the interest need be paid, thus relieving the citizens of that time from heavy taxation which would soon be necessary to levy on them to meet the growing requirements of the community. The installation of a water system, for instance.
The boundaries of the Town were almost the same as those of the present day, and the whole area was divided into three Wards as indicated on old maps of Dartmouth.
Ward I then comprised all that portion of the Town lying to the south of a line through the middle of Portland Street to the Canal Bridge, and of a line through the middle of the present Prince Albert Road to Hurley’s (now George Fraser’s) at the Lake.
Ward III comprised all the portion lying to the north of the Ward II line, as far as the Town’s northern boundaries.
The Act of Incorporation further stated that for all school purposes “the district lying between the northern boundary of the Town and the lands of the British Government; and the district lying between the southern boundary of the Town and Herbert’s Brook, shall form part of the Town of Dartmouth”.
In other words, Dartmouth school section embraced all the territory from Burnside to the present Green Street at South Woodside.
In the first town election James W. Johnston, Jr., and Joseph W. Allan were returned for Ward I. John Forbes and William Murray were elected by acclamation in Ward II, as also were Thomas Hyde and Francis Mumford in Ward III. W. S. Symonds was unopposed for Warden, and convened the first Town Council meeting on May 23rd at his home.
It is noteworthy that one of the first problems to be dealt with was that of a water-supply. At a meeting on June 9th, Councillors Johnston and Mumford moved that the water question be taken up by a special committee with the assistance of an engineer.
Arrangements were soon made to purchase the old Presbyterian Church building for a combined Fire Station, a Town Hall and a schoolhouse. The first Council meeting in this building was held on July 7th. Thomas Short was Town Clerk and Treasurer. W. H. Isnor, the livery stable proprietor near the ferry, resigned as Police Constable and was succeeded by Thomas Waugh of Pine Street.
Hon. Joseph Howe who had been Secretary of State at Ottawa, came back to Halifax that spring to be sworn in as Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia. His health had not improved. Friends noted with silent sympathy his blanched cheeks and emaciated features. Perhaps indulging in that shadowy hope so often entertained by invalids, that a few hours sojourn in healthful haunts of an earlier day would restore his former vigor, Howe was driven on the ferry to our side of the harbor and out over his favorite Harvey Road to the Stag Hotel in Preston and return, on Thursday, May 29th. Of all the journeys undertaken by Joseph Howe during a long lifetime, this Dartmouth one was his last. At Government House early on the morning of Sunday, June 1st, the patriot Howe passed peacefully away. Most of Dartmouth went over to witness the funeral.
In 1873 the Starr Manufacturing Company were at the peak of prosperity. Their books showed a profit of $25,000 for the year, and the number on the payroll totalled 250. The Directors were seeking to purchase land at “Fairfield” or some other site for a Rolling Mill.