From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:
In February 1896 the Dartmouth Board of Trade was organized with E. M. Walker as the first President, and Arthur C. Johnston, Secretary. A new industry started in Mumford’s former foundry on Maple Street where a Rolling Mill with 15 men on the payroll commenced to manufacture merchant bar-iron. One big buyer was the Rhodes Curry Company of Amherst.
In favorable winter weather a popular pastime of young people consisted in the exhilarating sport of coasting down long hills like Synott’s near the Rink, or Bell’s hill on upper Portland Street, where the momentum carried you to Maitland Street intersection. Short steep hills like Pine Street and Blockhouse Hill were also well patronized. After school hours and in the evenings, there was usually a fleet of double-runners or double-tackle sleighs laden with gay groups of girls and boys who went scooting down past side-streets with impunity, for vehicular traffic at night would be confined to an occasional cabby.
William (Paddy) Foston, born 1868 tells me that on occasions when the snow was well beaten down, groups on double-runners from his neighborhood used to coast from Portland Street at Gaston Road, all the way down to St. James’ Church near Canal Street.
Another winter attraction was the Dartmouth Rink which was steadily engaged for hockey matches, carnivals and fancy skating parties. Most of the crowd skated round and round the oval surface changing partners after each musical selection while in the centre of the rink, young and middle-aged couples waltzed beautifully to the tunes of the three-piece orchestra in the gallery.
The Chebucto Club had not much competition that winter, and again claimed the senior hockey championship of Nova Scotia. A report of their activities in the Dartmouth newspaper (probably written by James D. McKenna) contained some items of interest:
For years past the Dartmouth Lakes have been the scene of thousands of games of “shinney” in which any number of players participated. The game in ye olden times was generally played with a stone for a puck, and hockey sticks rudely fashioned from roots of trees. Now things are different.
About ten years ago the Chebucto team organized. They were mere boys gathered together on occasion to play the Halifax Wanderers. From that day to this, a Dartmouth team has been defeated only once by a City team.
For many years the Chebuctos alone supported this now highly popular game. It was then played in the old-fashioned way. A wooden puck. No lifting. And the goals composed of two stones, placed in opposite position to what they are now.
On their return from Montreal in 1889, the Chebuctos had no competition for a few years; and were idle until a few seasons ago when a league was formed among the Mutuals, Turtle Grove and Chebuctos. The Chebuctos won the league. In the next winter, a schedule was drawn up with the Wanderers, Crescents, Dalhousie and Chebuctos. But the series was never completed.
By the end of the month of May, work was sufficiently completed on the branch railway to permit the movement of a ballast train over the new line, and for the first time in nearly three years a puffing locomotive rumbled down past the ferry-landing thoroughly terrifying horses at the cab-stand. The first passenger-train service commenced on June 22nd. As a vote-catcher for the reigning Conservative Government, the timing was perfect; for it was just one day prior to the Dominion general elections of 1896.
One of the candidates returned for Halifax County in that election was our Town Magistrate, Benjamin Russell, a Liberal. The other winner was R. L. Borden, a Conservative. Crowds of Dartmouthians, milling around the street outside Dymonds’ drugstore where the Western Union Telegraph was then located, learned the election results from bulletins posted.
At the Halifax Summer Carnival in July, the harbor was alive with all sorts of craft laden with sightseers to witness the fastest oarsmen of that time in action. “Jake” Gaudaur of Orillia, Ont., professional single scull champion of the world, and also a member of the double and 4-oared crews that won at Halifax, kept his shell at Henry Moseley’s boat-shop in Dartmouth. The Fishermen’s crew of Halifax comprising Brennan, Lynch, Shea and Holland had their headquarters in the Turtle Grove Hall where they ate and slept under the watchful eye of their trainer.
The Carnival program delayed the date of Dartmouth Natal Day celebration until August 20th which fell on a Thursday. The ideal weather conditions, the keen aquatic contests and the night illuminations brought throngs from Halifax.
In November 1896 the Dartmouth Boys’ Christian Association was organized in the building recently vacated by the “Atlantic Weekly”. The first President was John McLeod, and the Secretary, Ralph Gates. The promoters were H. R. Walker and William Forbes, B. A., (now the Rev. E. W. Forbes, our esteemed octogenarian).
One of the oldest houses in Dartmouth, known as “Brooklands” then still occupied by the Creighton descendants, was torn down that year, and replaced by the dwelling now on the location. At 84 Commercial Street, John T. Walker erected for J. P. Dunn a workshop and stove-store which in after years became part of the Belmont Hotel. Rhodes Curry and Co., constructed the freight shed at the railway depot.
At 70 Victoria Road W. L. Barss bought “Fairview” from the McKnight estate whose fields extended north to the present Thistle Street. Frank Campbell purchased the double-house from Charles Richard (son of Sebastien), and moved his grocery to 125 Ochterloney Street from his former shop at No. 96. Hoyne’s Hotel was acquired by grocer J. B. Maclean as a residence. A fire-bell which did duty on the old Engine House, and which had been presented to the Town 50 years previously by John Tempest, was hung in the U. P. C. tower. At St. Peter’s Hall in July, Harry Houdini mystified crowds with magic tricks. That year, for the first time in history Halifax schools had a holiday on July 1st. In Dartmouth for the first time, many shops shut up at noon.