From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:
In the leap year of 1876 the Cabbage Club paraded through town on their annual sleigh drive to Griffin’s Inn at Preston. This time they were accompanied by lady friends. The recently organized Red Caps Snowshoe Club of Halifax held a snowshoe race from First Lake to Porto Bello. Eli Veniot, carpenter at the ferry, was fatally injured while cutting ice out of the paddle box of one of the boats. Bowes’ icehouse at the foot of Nowlan Street was badly gutted by fire. The horse races drew a crowd to Second Lake in mid-February.
A lengthy Act for supplying Dartmouth with water passed the Legislature that winter. The Act noted that the ratepayers had previously ratified the borrowing of $33,000 for such purpose. By this legislation the Town was now authorized to construct a water system, provided it received the approval of ratepayers at the town meeting. (The equivalent of a plebiscite.)
The Union Protection Company was organized that year. John Y. Payzant resigned as Stipendiary Magistrate, and was succeeded by Robert Motton of Halifax. The Town Council’s recommendations that a suitable Town Hall be provided; that a steam fire engine be secured and a school be built in Ward III, were approved by the citizens at the annual Town meeting in April. The proposal to construct a water system, however, was defeated by a majority of 13 votes. The number of ratepayers in attendance would be about 100. Estimated expenditures for the year were $14,500, which amount included $5,000 for schools. The salary of Miss Sarah Findlay, assistant to Principal Alexander McKay, was raised to $200. There were
12 teachers on the staff, and 11 buildings used. Central was the “big school”. A few classes were held in private homes.
Luther Sterns, who kept the Post Office as a side line in his brick business establishment on Water Street, resigned as Postmaster on April 1st. He was succeeded by John E. Leadley, and the Office removed to the latter’s shop and residence at the southeast corner of King and Portland Streets.
Dartmouth firms which sent their products to the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876 included Starr Manufacturing Co., Ropeworks, Symonds’ Foundry, Adam McKay and Ebenezer Moseley, marine paint.
That summer the heat was almost intolerable. In August the mercury rose to 93, the highest in 14 years. Boat-loads of bathers rowed from Halifax to Sandy Cove and Mill Cove. A dozen Dartmouth names of boys appeared in the newspapers as having swum across the harbor at that time. Among the list were Lewis Payzant, 14 years; Charles E. Creighton, Charles H. Harvey, Byron A. Weston and John Woodaman.
In the same newspaper we found the first record of an organized baseball game in Dartmouth, although there must have been games in earlier years because the Common field was available for playing, and by 1876 baseball clubs in Halifax were regularly competing against one another, and even against outside teams. The Halifax-Dartmouth series that summer was between the Bluenose Club of Halifax and the Victoria Club of Dartmouth. On the local nine were Colin McNab, George Sterns, Fred Leadley, Charles Robson, L. Payzant, J. Bowes, W. Bowes, L. Mylius, T. Creighton.
About the time that the famous Fishermen’s four-oared shell crew of Halifax left to compete for the world’s championship at Philadelphia, there was a big regatta held on Second Lake at Dartmouth. The Williams crew won $30 as first prize in the whaler race by defeating the Young-Parker crew and the Heffler crew. In the wherry race with two pairs of paddles, Williams and McKay won $20 as first prize. Other contestants were Moseley and Henderson, Mosher and Wilson. The Williams crew also won the four-oared scull race. In the Indian canoe race Peter Cope won the $14 first prize. Of four competitors in the tub race, Henderson finished first, with Moseley second. First prize $3.
In September the Warden and Councilors of Dartmouth participated in a monster torch-light procession which welcomed home the Fishermen’s crew at North Street railway depot. In the harbor the big cable steamer “Faraday” boomed out a salute of cannon and sent up intermittent shafts of skyrockets into the drizzly darkness.
Wooden Park School on the Common, known as the “Common School” was built in 1876 at a cost of $4,676. Henry Elliot was the architect, and his brother Thomas G. Elliot, the contractor, (page 211). This building was intended to accommodate all lower grades of the whole school section, so that many young pupils hitherto enrolled at Central School, now had to travel longer distances. They came from homes as far away as the present North Woodside and upper Portland Street areas, and also from Tufts’ Cove neighborhood.
The two-masted twin-screw lighter “Robbie Burns” modelled by Eben Moseley, was built for Contractor Duncan Waddell that year. (See page 56.) At the Methodist Church, alterations were made which extended the edifice 20 feet nearer the street. A handsome new front and tower largely improved its appearance. “Willow Cottage” on Preston Road (Prince Albert Road) formerly owned by Thomas Short, was purchased by Councilor Maurice Downey for $2,200. Rev. Alexander Falconer was then selling off his household effects on Cole Harbor Road (289 Portland Street) preparatory to his departure for Trinidad in December. He was to be succeeded at St. James’ Church by Rev. P. M Morrison.
The first telegraph poles and wires made their appearance in Dartmouth during the latter part of 1876. They were erected by the Dominion Telegraph Co., who were constructing a line from Halifax to Canso. In January 1877, a telegraph office was set up in Lead-ley’s Post Office which gave our town the first electrical communication with Halifax and with the outside world. No longer would it be necessary for merchants and others to send their employees over on the ferry with urgent messages, as had been the practice hitherto. The rate for a 10-word telegram to Halifax was 15 cents, which was about the price of ferriage. The first telegraph operator here was a Miss Phinney from Richibucto, N. B. Later on, Miss Frances Leadley learned the telegraphic art.