From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin:
During the first decade of the 1900s and up to the outbreak of World War I, there was a continual exodus of young people, particularly school-teachers, to the Canadian Northwest. Those who did not heed Horace Greeley’s advice, usually found employment locally or in Halifax. By this time there were many more female commuters on the ferry. At every trip, it was the custom of the male passengers to pop into the Reading Room and glimpse the morning papers while waiting for the boat. Then at the sound of the ferry-bell, they made a mad rush out of the door.
Some eight or ten hackmen with open carriages, made a small living at the cab-stand nearby. Low-slung ice-carts, returning empty at noon or night, had the rear step loaded with homeward-bound hitch-hikers. The few automobiles that passed through Dartmouth during the early part of that decade, were at first derided and even dreaded, for these chugging machines with their dust-coated and goggled drivers often caused runaway accidents. By 1910 cars were becoming fairly numerous. As there was no such thing as STOP signs, drivers were obliged to sound their horns at every corner. Failure to do this, drew a ten dollar fine in Police Courts.
Bathing spots at the lakes like Birch Cove, “Bull Rock” and Port Wallace Locks continued to be patronized by men and boys. After the Banook clubhouse was built, scores of canoes appeared on the fresh water surfaces. Billy McPhee, at the present Mic-Mac location, had boats for hire and made scheduled motor-boat trips up and down from Second Lake where whole families camped during the summer. Swimming was forbidden in Maynard’s Lake because it was a source of supply for the Nova Scotia Hospital.
Sunday bathers at Cow Bay beach kept increasing greatly after the turn of the century. The numerous wagons and four-horse teams returning to Halifax in the evening, created clouds of dust which literally coated houses on downtown Portland Street. (The watering-cart did not function on Sundays.)
McNab’s Island was another Sunday mecca for bathers and also for beer-drinkers. There were plenty of suitable spots for private picnics and beaching of row-boats, and plenty of ale for five cents a pint at the forts in the years up to 1905 when the Imperial regiments were garrisoned at Halifax.
The annual Sunday School picnic to Findlay’s Grounds on “the Island” was the one event in the lives of most youngsters to which they looked forward from one summer to the next. The march from the church, the band, the boat-trip, the Mauger’s Beach lighthouse, the rural surroundings, the smell of spruce, the creaking of swings, the welcome odor of dinner cooking, the cramming of food, the foot-races, the whir of the wheel of fortune, or the staccato tones of the agile young man calling figures through the strains of Buchanan’s Orchestra on the dance floor—all revive fond memories oJ those peaceful pre-war years with their comfortable sensation ol security, never to be known or understood by post-war generations
Such were some of the features of life hereabouts in the era preceding the coming of autos. Much of the energy of youth was there applied to things afloat. Their yachts, boats and boat-houses had to be repaired, and watched at every change of weather. On a summer evening, cushion-seated pleasure craft occupied by young couples, fairly dotted the Dockyard part of the harbor where British warships lay at anchor halfway across to Black Rock. Usually the naval band played nightly on the deck. Enterprising John Forsyth in his advertisement of a house to let on Fairbanks Street in the spring of 1905, mentioned as an inducement that the tenant would enjoy free band concerts all summer.
In 1910 the Consumers Cordage Company financed the expense of cutting a new street from the head of Crathorne’s Pond through the Brodie property to the Ropeworks gate. Seven more blocks c permanent sidewalks were laid downtown. Dartmouth installed it own street lighting plant by leasing telephone poles and erecting about 100 new ones. The Royal Bank came to Dartmouth when the organization absorbed all the branches of the Union Bank of Halifax
In the month of May, Hailey’s comet returned on schedule, and was the centre of attraction in the northern sky for nearly a week on fine evenings. Dartmouth firemen competed in a tournament at Truro on that Town’s 150th anniversary. Natal Day on Thursday, August 4th was fine in the morning, but the rowing races at the lakes were held in the rain.
The nine-year reign of King Edward VII ended with his death that spring. His successor, George V, was known in this port from the days of his service in the British Navy. In those years, he occasionally came to our side of the harbor on fishing and hunting excursions. Another death in England was that of wealthy Dominick Farrell, who lived there in retirement. At her Dartmouth home, died Mrs. J. W. Turner (Eliza Foster), who was 88 years of age and widow of James Turner, one time Mayor of Dartmouth.