The Avenue

the avenue black history

The “Black Settlement”, aka “The Avenue”, as seen on the outskirts of the Town of Dartmouth in 1886 The following excerpts are from “Survival of an African Nova Scotian Community: Up the Avenue, Revisited” by Adrienne Lucas Sehatzadeh, 1998. An incredible resource of some of the Black history of Dartmouth that is certainly worth your … Read more

September 14th, 1907

prince albert road

“This first picture was taken at the intersection of Prince Albert Road and Ochterloney Street on Saturday, September 14, 1907 (Below, as it looks in more modern times). The length of the shadow of the telephone pole indicates that the morning is not far advanced, yet there is almost a complete absence of pedestrian or … Read more


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

The removal of the Nantucket Whaling Company to Dartmouth in 1785, gave the town its first major industry; and also brought about a marked change in the shape of the 1750 town-plot. A local commission of inquiry set up in 1783, ruled that all but two of the Dartmouth proprietors had failed to fulfill conditions of their grants. The Legislature of Nova Scotia voted a considerable sum of money to assist this enterprise, because candles, sperm oil and other products were as essential then, as are gasoline and electricity in our own day.

Most of the houses and lots in the town-plot were then escheated by the Government, and re-allotted to the Nantucketers. This procedure caused much discontent and created disputes over titles for years afterwards.

These Quaker people were industrious. Years ago, old residents used to relate how they could erect a dwelling within a few days. They must have been co-operative. No time was spent in excavating cellars. That they intended to remain permanently, is evident from the spaciousness of their houses and from the fact that they constantly cultivated and improved the soil by grubbing-up tons of our familiar slate-rock to build breast-high stonewalls along the borders of their gardens and orchards.

What is perhaps the last of these walls, still supports the bank at the corner of King and Queen Streets. On that elevation, the Quakers erected Dartmouth’s first house of worship. It was in this building that the Dartmouth Society of Friends made their decision to remove to Wales in 1792. Seth Coleman was clerk.

Houses directly opposite the site of the Meeting House at 63, 65, and 67 King Street, with their very small squared panes of glass over the porches, are typical of Nantucket style. And families still prominent on Nantucket Island, whose ancestors migrated to Dartmouth at the time, include names like Coleman, Coffin, Bunker, Greaves, Swaine, Macey, Ray, Barnard, Leppard and Paddock.

Promoters of the Whaling Company, like Hon. Thomas Cochran of Halifax; and leading Quakers like Samuel Starbuck and Timothy Folger (Foal-jer), got whole blocks of downtown property near Dartmouth Cove. Their idea of reserving Dartmouth Common was to provide grazing-ground for owners of livestock in the town-plot. They builded better than they knew, for the Common has always been the town’s chief recreational centre.

Besides their downtown holdings, Messrs. Folger and Starbuck obtained large tracts in the suburbs. One grant in 1787 comprised 1,156 acres in the present Westphal district. Another of 556 acres bordering Edward Foster’s property, seems to be near the Rope-works. These two men also made application for the swamp land of four acres, which was to be drained and improved for English meadow. Historian George Mullane, writing of this period, calls it the “Folger and Starbuck land grab”.

In the same year that the Quakers left, there occurred the death of Christian Bartling. He was of Danish origin. Despite the fact that he had built a house in the 1750’s, yet his property was escheated for the Nantucket families. Later he obtained Crown grants near Lake Banook. The well-known Walker families of Dartmouth are his descendants.

Another name to note is that of Thomas Hardin (no. 5 Block B). As an illustration of tangled titles and also of the hazardous existence of pioneer Dartmouthians, the following quaint petition of Mrs. James Purcell, dated 1792, is most enlightening:

“To the Hon. Richard Bulkeley,

The humble petition of Mary Purcell, the Grand daughter of Thomas Hardin, most humbly sheweth. That your honor will be pleased to remember that my Grand Father was one of the first settlers in Dartmouth and lived on said place until about 15 years ago. And Bequeathed said Lott of Land to my mother Jean Hardin which served her apprenticeship in Your Honors family and my father Lawrence Sliney likewise, at my Marrying my present husband James Purcell, about four years ago My Mother and Uncle Thomas Hardin Resigned over their Right and Title to us for to subsist our Family- Which is a Lott of Land that was granted by Lord Cornwallis to my Grand Father which he suffered a Vast Deal of Hardship in Clearing and Erecting a House on it. Likewise Lost his Son by the [Indigenous people] as he was Obliged to Oppose them by Day and by Night. My husband having registered said Lott pursuant to the Laws of the Province.

But now being informed by a Letter from Mr. Morrice Surveyor General that said Lott is made over by a Grant from his Excellency Governor Par and his Majestys Council to one Cristian Barlet in Dartmouth which has had no Right or Title to said Lott but was to pay to our Family Twenty Shillings Currency a Year. Therefore I Beg and Emplore the favour of your Honour to see me and my poor children Rightified. And will be in duly bound to pray”.

In that same summer of 1792, another menace presented itself. All the munitions for the port were then kept at the Eastern Battery. Several thousand barrels of gunpowder stored in a wooden building near the border of the forest caused considerable alarm, there were frequent fires in the woods. In a petition to the House of Assembly, the inhabitants of Halifax expressed fear for the safety of their town, and asked that the munitions be moved in a more suitable storehouse and in a more remote section.

Hartshorne and Tremaine’s gristmill commenced about this time. The firm purchased the lower mill stream and lands on both sides, where Richard Woodin had his dwelling. They also obtained permission from James Creighton, the proprietor of the upper stream, to lower the bank at the outlet of the lake, and to dam up the river in order to provide a head of water for the millrace.

“Plan of Estate Lawrence Hartshorne Portland, King, Wentworth & A. Lane”, 1871.

In 1793, Lawrence Hartshorne purchased from Samuel Starbuck, Jr., for £100, the square block “L” bounded by King, Portland, Wentworth and Green Streets. On the old plan it is marked “D”. The lofty tenement building demolished at Woolworth’s corner in 1951, was known a century ago as the “Mansion House” of the Hartshornes. The estate was called “Poplar Hill”.

Jonathan Tremaine acquired the triangular block “M” at Green and King Streets, just below “Poplar Hill”. This had been the property of Samuel Starbuck, senior. But Tremaine’s residence is thought to have been in square block “E”, because he was regranted land at the northeast corner of Portland and Wentworth in 1796, and purchased the remaining lots and buildings in that block from the Starbucks. According to Tremaine genealogy, Jonathan died in 1823 at Dartmouth where he had “a country seat.”

At the same time, the wharves and water-lots left by the Nantucket Whaling Company were also taken over by Hartshorne and Tremaine. For many years this firm had the most extensive flour mill in the Province. Their warehouse was on Water Street in Halifax, whither the finished products were transported by the first vessel built in Dartmouth, “The Maid of the Mill”.

The milling business evidently was profitable in those times, for a third windmill commenced in 1798. An advertisement in the Weekly Chronicle of that year announced that Davis and Barker “have erected a gristmill in Foster’s Cove, and are ready to receive grain to manufacture into flour etc.”

A search through every available record fails to reveal the location of the town-plot ferry-dock during the first four decades of Dartmouth’s history. Certainly the present landing was not the place. The original acclivity of Portland Street can best be gauged by bridging with the eye, the space between the natural heights still seen in the rear of properties on each side of Portland Street, just east of Commercial Street.

The most suitable part of the waterfront for pulling up small boats and erecting cribwork wharves, was on the shelving shore of the crescent-shaped bay which then curved from Queen Street to Church Street. The low-lying land, still seen a few yards west of the Belmont Hotel, indicates that some harbor inlets must have flooded little bays of the original beach now covered with tons of fill leveling the area east of the railway tracks.

During the Quaker period, Zachariah Bunker of the Whaling Company, was located at the southeast corner of Ochterloney and Commercial Streets, where now stands Morris’ Drug Store. On the beach not far from his door he had a water-lot and shed set up, no doubt to ply his trade which was that of a boat-builder.

After the Quakers’ departure, all of Bunker’s town and rural property was bought in 1797 by Dr. John D. Clifford, the ship’s surgeon attached to H.M.S. “Leopard”. Whether Dr. Clifford resided in the corner house is not known, but it was in the above mentioned year that John Skerry commenced his ferry service.

There is no apparent record as to who operated ferries from the 1756 charter of John Rock until Skerry started 40 years later. Perhaps there had not been any organized system, and boats ran privately, for in 1785 a bill was introduced in the Legislature by Hon. Michael Wallace for the establishing of a “public ferry” between Halifax and Dartmouth. This might possibly refer to Creighton’s, or the lower ferry, already mentioned as beginning in the year 1786.

Waterfront plans of those years have Skerry’s dock marked “Maroon Wharf”, which suggests that the foot of Ochterloney Street was the landing-place used by the Jamaica Maroons during the four years that they were billeted at Preston.

Although the story properly belongs to the latter township, yet a brief sketch of the Maroons is included here, because their sojourn in our suburbs stimulated real-estate and transportation activities, and also resulted in the laying-out of a new highway.

The Maroons, deported from the island of Jamaica, arrived in this port in the summer of 1796. For a time they were employed by the Duke of Kent on the Citadel fortifications at Halifax. Later, most of the band were settled at Preston where their superintendents Colonel William D. Quarrell and Alexander Ochterloney bought some 5,000 acres of land with funds furnished by the Government of Jamaica. More was purchased on the Windsor Road near Sackville. In addition, Colonel Quarrell secured several properties in the town-plot of Dartmouth.


storyofdartmouth-32 old ferry

From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin: In January 1832, there appeared in the “Nova Scotian” seven stanzas of poetry written by “Albyn” at Ellenvale on the occasion of the death of John D. Hawthorn. The latter was a prominent merchant of this community, and a Justice of the Peace. He had been … Read more

Old Ferry Road, Green Lane

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

This is the lower part of Old Ferry Road, once known as “Green Lane” The curve in the foreground leads to the Old Ferry Wharf. The fence on the left encloses the South End Lawn Tennis Courts, and from there to the shore stood Regal willow trees. Two of them were named for King George III and Queen Charlotte, and two others for Mr. and Mrs. James Creighton of “Brooklands” who had them planted perhaps in the late 1700’s. When this picture was taken about 1900, they were of an enormous size. The whole road was a beautiful shady walk from the wharf all the way up to the present Portland Street.

The fence on the right borders Dr. Parker’s fields at “Beechwood”, and ran along near the location of the new house at 71 Newcastle Street.

A similar view as the above photograph, today

From Toler’s 1808 map of the area

The same area today

The route of the obliterated road to the shore is identified by manholes of the sewer pipe running to Parker’s Wharf.

What used to be Parker’s Wharf, at the foot of Old Ferry Road, still remains visible at low tide – particularly pronounced in this picture the morning after Hurricane Juan:

Looking towards the foot of Old Ferry Road, remains of Parker’s wharf (once the Old Ferry wharf) seen extending into the water middle right.

See also:


From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin: By 1842, when Dartmouth was nearly 100 years old, there still seemed to be no regular system of mail transportation. About that time, a resident complained to the newspapers that letters from abroad, addressed to Dartmouth, were detained at Halifax until nearly half a bushel had … Read more


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

At Silver’s Hill, the slope no doubt originally extended down to the lake shore. Pioneer trails generally avoided lowlands. Hence this “new” road to Preston followed the broad path still seen on the hillside below Sinclair Street, until it emerged around the bend at that bay of the lake called by the Mi’kmaq “Hooganinny Cove”.

The causeway-bridge over Carter’s Pond at the town limits, was very likely built during the time of the Maroons, for the road is shown on military maps as early as 1808, indicating that this section of highway had been constructed some years previously.

In the year 1808 Mrs. Jonathan (Almy) Elliot, widow, was married to Nathaniel Russell, widower, of Russell’s Lake, who had been long bereft of all his family. Of the Russell union, one son Nathaniel was thus a half-brother to the Elliot children.

Dartmouth, 1808 (See: Toler Map)

Ochterloney Street, No. 7 Highway

preston road map

From The Story of Dartmouth, by John P. Martin: The names of Ochterloney and Quarrell (now Queen) were commemorated by streets in downtown Dartmouth. The extension of the first named thoroughfare marked the beginnings of the present no. 7 highway. From the old town-plot boundary, it veered to the north beyond Pine Street. Opposite the … Read more

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