From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:
The first public demonstration of a telephone in Dartmouth, and also the first local broadcast over wires took place on March 21st, 1878, when a vocal and instrumental concert at the Town Hall was heard and acknowledged through telephone apparatus set up in the Dominion Telegraph Company’s office at 187 Hollis Street in Halifax. The Dartmouth hookup was made by connecting a telephone instrument to the local telegraph wire, an extension of which had been run in to the auditorium of the Town Hall.
This Dartmouth exhibition of the newly-invented telephone, previously advertised as a feature of the concert, was highly successful. Communication was held with the City, and the notes of musical instruments were clearly heard by a group assembled in the Halifax office. They in turn rendered a short program which was listened to by the Town Hall audience. A few names of our own people who took part in the concert and whose voices may have been among those that went out over the wire that evening are preserved in the newspapers. According to the program there were readings by Miss Sarah Findlay, Dutch recitations by Thomas Harrison and a medley of songs by Messrs. Shute and Ruggles. The 63rd Regiment Band furnished music.
The proceeds of the concert were in aid of the Dartmouth Temperance Reform Club, which had just been organized with Dr. W. H. Weeks, John Lawlor and John E. Leadley as the principal officers. They had a membership of nearly 600, and were campaigning for funds to erect a commodious hall for meetings and entertainments.
Dartmouth had two spectacular night-fires that year. The more glaring one occurred at the gristmill in April. The second was at Oland’s Brewery in early August. Both were disastrous. At the unoccupied four-storey gristmill, wind-fanned sheets of flame shot upward to redden the sky so alarmingly that people in west-end Halifax imagined their own downtown business section was ablaze. Elderly Dartmouth men of our time who were youths in 1878, often related how they were impressed into giving the fire-fighters a spell at the hand-pump engines on that fearful night when flying embers threatened rooftops and stifling smoke choked the lungs. The efforts of workers were largely centred on saving the storehouse.
The gristmill fire was among the last jobs of the old style rope-drawn engines, for in July the Town took delivery of a brand new horse-drawn fire engine from the Silsby Manufacturing Company of Seneca Falls, N. Y. In honor of the consort of the Governor-General of Canada, the engine was named ‘the “Lady Dufferin.” She was long considered one of the most efficient machines in Eastern Canada.
There were 39 pupils in the High School department that term. At the closing examinations on July 10th, the following were prize winners in order of merit: Annie Hunt, Edward Fairbanks, Louis McKenna, Libbie Creelman, Sarah Creighton (now Mrs. Walter Creighton of 114 Ochterloney St.), Lizzie Adams, Ida Bowes, Georgie Grant, Emma Findlay, Alice Downey.
Another move was made in 1878 towards the installation of a water-system when the Town purchased Lamont’s Lake and its gristmill for $3,719.11. Policeman John “Elbows” McLellan was given a $30 increase in salary. A new steel bell weighing 870 pounds was set up in a tower erected on the fire-engine house. Fire gutted the residence and shop of J. E. Leadley who kept a general store, Post Office and telegraph office at Poplar Hill corner. The property was owned by J. R. Ormon, grocer, who was then doing business at Sterns’ Corner near the ferry. Councillor John P. Mott took J. Walter Allison into his establishment and the firm became known as J. P. Mott and Company. The foundry of Mumford and Sons (near the present Police Station) had the most powerful welding-hammer in the Province and was turning out about 1,000 tons of finished iron-work every year. The 90-ton schooner “Blanche” was launched at Ebenezer Moseley’s shipyard. Dartmouth Ropeworks won a bronze medal at the Paris Exposition. A weekly newspaper called the “Dartmouth Tribune” commenced publication in July.
The summer was generally hot. The steamer “Goliath” ran trips from Halifax to Cow Bay where passengers were landed on the beach in small boats. At Lawlor’s Island in September over 1,000 children and adults attended St. Peter’s Sunday School picnic. At Dartmouth there was still the odd bear lurking as will be learned from a newspaper item of October 1878: Bruin is terrorizing certain Dartmouthians just now. The other night he made an unsuccessful raid on a soap manufactory for tallow. Traps have been set, and armed men with dogs await him at night.
There was a Dominion election in 1878 when the Conservatives came back to power on the platform of the National Policy. This policy was adopted by Sir John A. Macdonald’s party largely as a result of the persistent agitation of George G. Dustan of Woodside, who had been long pleading for a protective tariff on sugar imports so that Sugar Refineries could be established and operated with some degree of security. Dartmouth and Halifax County forgot their old enmity towards the Confederationists and elected two Conservatives.