From The Story of Dartmouth, by Dr. John P. Martin:
The bridge over the Canal at Portland Street was reconstructed under the direction of Street Superintendent Bishop, and the hollow filled in with material excavated from the water trenches. The sturdy stones on both sides which are now visible only on the northern side, are from the ruins of the Canal Locks, and bear the familiar 7-point etchings of stone-cutters of a bygone day. The stones were set in position by Messrs. Synott and Barry. Thus went the last of our downtown wooden bridges.
The railway bridge over the Narrows, which had been repaired in the previous year, collapsed on the night of July 23rd. The piles must have been very unstable because a large section extending from the Draw to the Halifax side simply floated away in the calm weather then prevailing. Many residents are still alive who had walked across a few hours before.
The old Mi’kmaq legend about the curse pronounced upon a crossing over the Narrows, was a well-known tradition in last century. The story goes back to the days before the settlement of Halifax. It seems that in the dim and distant past, a lovely Mi’kmaq girl was courted by two braves, one of whom was rich and more powerful than the other. The maiden’s heart, however, was inclined towards the poor one, who finally won her for his bride. They spent their happy honeymoon on the eastern side of Chebucto harbor, near the Narrows.
According to the legend, the Narrows was then bridged over by a Mi’kmaq construction of poles extended, and resting on canoes, to which they were fastened. These canoes were kept in place by heavy stones hung from ropes long enough to reach the deeper water. In the winter seasons, or in times of warfare, this primitive bridge was removed and the passage left open.
The unsuccessful lover disappeared, and was supposed to have gone on a hunting trip. But one night the bride was wakeful and uneasy. She rose, threw a blanket about her, and passed from the wigwam out into the cool midnight air, hoping that the quiet would bring back her repose. As she strolled towards the shore, a man sprang suddenly from behind a tree, and seized her in his arms. At once he bounded to the beach and on the bridge, while the young bride’s cries for help rang on the air, and wakened her husband and others of the tribe.
Grasping his hatchet, the husband rushed out, only to see his rival carrying away what was most precious to him. He also flew to the bridge, but by that time the rival was half-way across and, while firmly holding his prize, had plucked a hatchet from his belt and with rapid strokes, began cutting the bridge in twain.
A few slashes on the mooring ropes of the canoes, more blows on the poles connecting it with its neighbor, and the bridge parted. The severed ends were then rapidly swept downward by the swiftly flowing waters.
The western end on which stood the abductor and his now fainting prize soon touched the shore. He leaped on the beach with his burden, and was soon lost to sight in the pathless forest.
On the opposite side, the enraged and despairing husband, with bitter curses upon his foe and upon the severed bridge, threw himself into the rushing tide, and was swept down into the night.
Next morning he reappeared at the camp but his reason had fled. He spent the remainder of his days wandering about the shore, muttering over and over again the name of his bride, the villain who had betrayed him and repeating these words: “The first in storm, the second in darkness and the third in blood“.
The collapsing of the railway bridge left stranded in Dartmouth about 35 freight cars whose contents were subsequently transported to Halifax by lighters. Telephone and telegraph wires strung along the bridge, also went out of commission and disrupted communication service for a time. At Dartmouth public meetings were held to discuss the advisability of reconstructing the bridge once more, but the majority of townsfolk favored the building of a railway from Windsor Junction to Dartmouth. This proposal was forwarded to authorities at Ottawa. Councillor A. C. Johnston and Benjamin Russell went thither to urge its adoption.
All the while the water project was going steadily forward. When Portland Street was being trenched in 1893, workmen unearthed a skull and some human bones. In sections of town where there were solid slate-rock formations, hand-drills were replaced by steam-drills. The latter method, which greatly expedited progress was under the supervision of A. A. Hayward, Manager of the American Hill gold mine at Waverley. Prince Street was one of the toughest. Almost the whole block had to be blasted. Similar formations were encountered on Dundas Street south of Queen, and in the stretches of Prince Albert Road and Portland Street bordering St. James Church.
In 1894 the first street signs were put up, and certain changes made in street names. The southern section of Prince Edward Street was changed to Prince Street, and the northern part changed to Edward Street. Colored Meeting Road was changed to Crichton Avenue. The present Prince Albert Road, hitherto called Portland Street, was changed to Canal Street and then ran from the shore to the Town limits. Portland Street was lined up as at present. Bishop Street, which extended from the Starr Factory to Burton’s Hill, was incorporated into Pleasant Street.
The new Post Office was opened in May. On the opposite corner the Sterns family built their second brick structure (present Dartmouth Furnishers), and in October returned to do business at the stand Luther Sterns had vacated 30 years previously. Rhodes Curry and Co., were the contractors. Edward Elliot was architect.
In June the stone-crusher went into operation, breaking up heavy rocks to macadamize the streets at a low cost. Daniel Brennan was Policeman No. 2. William Webber of Pine Street was engaged as a Watchman from 12 o’clock until eight in the morning. Up to that year, the Town was without police protection after midnight. A drinking fountain, donated by the local branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, with outlets for humans, horses and dogs, was erected on Steamboat Hill. Another drinking trough for horses, donated by J. Walter Allison, was set up on the north side of the road near 97 Pleasant Street.
John T. Walker erected St. Peter’s Hall on Ochterloney Street, and a two-roomed school at Woodside opposite 217 Pleasant Street. John N. McElmon raised the roof of Greenvale School and inserted a second storey with four additional rooms. The same contractor built a spacious Hall for the Turtle Grove Recreation Club (now apartments at 32 Dawson Street). At 51 Pleasant Street a double dwelling was completed for James Simmonds and A. E. Ellis. More bones were unearthed that summer when excavating for St. James’ new Manse. A commencement was made on the branch railway from Windsor Junction. A private telephone wire was strung on electric light poles, connecting Town Hall with the four schools.
Dartmouth oarsmen like Colin McNab and Charles Patterson were competing in the Lorne Club and other regattas at Halifax. The ‘Atlantic Weekly” suggested that similar programs be carried out at First Lake. In September, Woodside Refinery Club held a Saturday afternoon regatta over a course from the Sugar Refinery northward and return. Only Woodside employees participated.