From The Story of Dartmouth, by Dr. John P. Martin:
In January 1897 George Foston’s house near Maynard’s Lake was burned to the ground early on a below-zero morning. Later that year a dreadful holocaust took the lives of two people at the former; Lennox homestead on Chestnut Lane, Cole Harbor Road. Youthful James Harrison, clad only in night-clothes, heroically rescued injured George Tulloch from the flaming building. Mr. Tulloch later succumbed to burns received.
The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria was celebrated in June. Over 1,000 flag-waving school children were marched by their teachers to the Common Field where they sang patriotic songs and heard addresses on loyalty from Rev. Principal Grant of Queen’s University, and from Attorney-General Longley of Nova Scotia.
Dartmouth north-end residents commemorated the Victorian Jubilee in a more tangible form. They purchased from the Sinclair estate a two-acre block of land, then in a swampy and scraggy state, ,and donated it to the Town on condition that the whole area be transformed into a recreation centre with the name “Victoria Park”. Future generations should be informed that their benefactors of 1897 included George Stairs, John F. Stairs, W. J. Stairs, George Oland, John Oland, Albert Sawler, William Meredith, Frederick Keans, James Moir, John Moir, James Keddy, Joseph Keddy, John Robertson, John Gavel, Albert Landsburg, James Behan, Alexander McPherson, Albert Wright and John Kilroy.
On the evening before Natal Day in Augus’t, Parker Mott engaged St. Patrick’s band to render a delightful concert outside his drugstore. The first grants for Natal Day were obtained that year when the Town and the Ferry Commission voted $100 each towards the celebration. In that year also, a morning program was inserted for the first time. One novelty was a lengthy bicycle parade which drew crowds downtown to watch a succession of costumed riders tinkling along the main streets in close formation. Miss Hattie Stevens won the prize for the best decorated wheel; and “Joe” Austen got another for the most original idea.
The other morning attraction was the spectacle of British tars landing from warships on the shore at Black Rock, and the attempts of soldiers from one of the Imperial regiments to defend the Town in mimic warfare. Sailors and soldiers stormed all over the Common.
At the regatta the Labrador whaler race was won by the North Star crew. The four Grant brothers of Woodside finished second. Five boats competed. The North Stars were the same as the Turtle Grove crew of 1895, except that Percy Sawler took the place of “Sandy” Patterson.* The Natal Day expenses totalled $330.46.
In the summer of 1$97 the steel ferry “Chebucto” with fore and aft propellor was launched in Scotland. She set sail for Dartmouth in autumn, but was forced to winter at the Azores.
As Mrs. John P. Mott had died in the previous year, all the “Hazelhurst” property and residence was auctioned for $5,200. The house was then remodelled and occupied by J. Walter Allison one of Mrs. Mott’s executors. The factory continued as usual.
The Hamilton field was divided into 58 building lots but the only ones sold were those fronting Portland Street. East of Hebb’s within the next year or two, the present houses were erected, and set well back from the street. At 32 Pleasant Street, Contractor F. C. Bauld built a residence for J. L. Wilson. At 26 Queen Street ex-Mayor John C. Oland had a large double-dwelling erected. On John Street, Misener and Merson built three houses for John Moir who offered them for sale on easy terms. Several places were vacant throughout Dartmouth and displayed “To Let” signs. Real estate was dull.
At Austenville, James Simmonds subdivided the former Mum-ford field bounded by Rose, Maple, Thistle and Pine Streets into 28 building lots each measuring 34 by 120 feet. Prices were from $90 to $100, with a $5 down payment. Sales were slow.
The first aeronautical landing in Dartmouth was made by a balloonist from Halifax Exhibition Grounds on October 5th when he parachuted into an apple tree on the farm of Patrick Lahey. The spot would be about the present southwest corner of Slayter and School Streets. Later in October occurred the Windsor fire. Dartmouth responded generously with money and clothing.