1909

From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:

By 1909 efforts were still being made to start construction work on the Nova Scotia Eastern Railway. Rumors that the Provincial Government were considering an advance of one million dollars to promoters of the railroad, aroused strong protests from County Councilors that winter. They passed a resolution pointing out to the Government that such a financial outlay would benefit only a certain section of Halifax County, whereas if the same amount were applied to the macadamizing and widening of trunk roads, ‘the money would be expended to much better advantage.

Speaking for the resolution, Councillor W. A. Temple of Waverley said that macadamized roads would be the forerunner of better means of communication. In the very near future, automobiles would be manufactured at a lower cost than at present, and could then serve the needs of farmers equally as well as railroads.

At the same session, County Councilors vehemently denounced the recklessness of certain auto drivers who kept speeding towards a skittish horse, already showing signs of becoming unmanageable. The number of farmer’s’ horses and wagons along a highway far outnumbered automobiles; and moreover, the former used the roads for purposes of making a living, while the autoist raced through the countryside merely for motives of pleasure.

The Councilors thereupon drew up a by-law which in effect, was somewhat the same as had been adopted in some other Counties of Nova Scotia, and in some other Provinces. It declared that:

NO AUTOMOBILE SHALL BE ALLOWED TO RUN ON ANY ROAD IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF THE COUNTY OF HALIFAX, EXCEPT ON TUESDAY AND THURSDAY IN EACH WEEK.

The penalty for infraction of the automobile bylaw was $50 for the first offence, $100 for the second and $200 for the third offence with or without imprisonment of 60 days.

The comment of the “Dartmouth Patriot” agreed that the law was drastic but the County Council felt that the highways should be preserved for the people. Some rural roads had not been improved for years, and were little better than wagon tracks around a side hill or along a river-bank where an automobile and an ordinary carriage could not pass, without one or the other being forced off the road, said the editorial.

A few months later the Dartmouth newspaper again commented:

The vexed question of prohibiting motor vehicles from the use of the public highways is rapidly being adjusted in different places. The auto has come to stay. That might as well be understood. The only thing is to so regulate traffic that it will not interfere unduly with the great number of people who do not own these vehicles. Nearly every County in Nova Scotia has laws of its own which prohibit the traffic on certain days of each week. In Halifax County the prohibition is very severe, but so far no prosecutions have taken place although the law is violated every week. In fact the bylaw is a dead letter. In time, the auto will be as common as carriages are today, so it is better to prepare for them.

Dartmouth made a far-reaching step towards modernity in 1909 when the Town commenced the construction of permanent sidewalks. The first stretch of concrete was laid along the east side of Water Street between Portland and Quarrell Streets. The western side of the same block was the next to be laid, and the concrete walk continued down the north side of the ferry hill to the railway tracks. Another half block was completed that autumn on the north side of Portland Street from Sterns’ corner to Prince Street.

There was a proposal to extend Prince Street through to Quarrell Street at a cost of about $6,000, but the question was defeated by an adverse vote of ratepayers at a plebiscite.

That year the Governors of Dalhousie University, who were seeking a suitable location for building expansion, came to Dartmouth and looked over the Common field as a possible site.

At Greenvale School in October, Lieutenant-Governor D. C. Fraser presented pupils with prizes won during the previous term. It was the first time that a representative of the Crown had paid an official visit to Dartmouth schools.

There was a real Jesse James hold-up with real shooting, in a lonely part of town that fall. The scene was nearly opposite the present Memorial Rink on Wyse Road, then a narrow thoroughfare bordered by a swamp of trees and bushes. Back in last century, the road had been constructed largely at the expense of the Ropeworks Company because of the more direct route it afforded their teams in the movement of raw and finished material to and from the ferry. On account of its isolated position, the road was seldom used by other vehicles, and its pedestrian traffic was mostly confined to the few factory or office workers, who lived downtown.

During the noon hour on Friday, November 5th, as accountant George Foot, with a leather-bag containing a $2,000 payroll for Ropework employees, was being driven from the ferry in an open-seated double-carriage by a veteran hackman named Lewis DeYoung, two masked men Suddenly sprang out from the bushy swale on the western side of the roadway.

One of the outlaws dashed forward to seize the horse’s bridle, while his accomplice made a leaping lunge at George Foot and tried to wrench the precious money-bag from his grasp. Both attempts failed. The startled horse violently jigged his head clear, and bounding forward, hurtled his assailant aside. At the same moment Mr. Foot’s attacker was knocked off balance by the sudden jerk of the wagon. Then a revolver went off. either accidentally or by design, but the bullet came near to being fatal for Mr. Foot in the fleeing carriage, for the deadly missile whizzed straight across his mouth inflicting a painful wound which bled profusely as the horse galloped furiously northward to safety.

The whole affair was over in a minute, according to eyewitnesses David Drury and Clifford Smith, two northend boys who happened to be on the road at the time, although some distance apart.

The gunmen jumped back into the woods, and were last seen scurrying up the slope of School Street through the Common. They must have continued past Albro’s and the other lakes to ‘the northward, then turned westerly towards the railway track because a volunteer posse from the Ropeworks were able to follow their trail. They were overtaken near Flint’s farm about three hours afterwards, and surrendered without resisting. Their names were Charles Gallagher and Herbert Hassett. Both were residents of Massachusetts, although Gallagher had been born in Dartmouth. They got eight years each in Dorchester Penitentiary.

In 1909 the Western Union Telegraph Office closed up after two years trial in Dartmouth. About this time also the operator and typist at the Consumers’ Cordage Company resigned, and the private telegraph wire there was disconnected. The last operator was Miss Isabel McKay of Pictou. The only other large establishment to have a private wire was the Sugar Refinery, but they had closed it out about ten years previously. John Toomey was the last operator. All messages were then sent by telephone.

That year Mrs. Annie Smith (formerly Mrs. William Dear of the Stag Hotel), died at Brooks’ Corner in Preston, aged 106. At Dartmouth, the well-known “Ned” Beals of Preston, after being tormented by a local gang, aimlessly smashed a plate glass window with a retaliatory missile on Portland Street.

Edward Ned Beals