Ferryman John Skerry

“…About the year 1797, John Skerry began running a public ferry, and continued so employed until after the advent of the steam-boat company.

He was familiarly known as “Skipper” Skerry, and a few of the oldest inhabitants still remember the man and speak of him in words of praise. The Dartmouth terminus of his ferry was directly at the foot of Ochterloney Street, and the Halifax landing was at the Market Slip.

He occupied the building, which stood, on the south-east corner of Ochterloney and Water (Alderney Drive) Streets, and there kept a small bar. The second lot from the north-west corner of Quarrel (Queen) and Water (Alderney Drive) Streets, likewise belonged to him, together with the water-lot immediately in the rear.

His ferrymen, previous to leaving the landing, cried “Over! Over!”, and then blew a conch as a signal of departure. The boats were large. They were either sailed or rowed, according to the wind, and occupied about thirty or forty minutes in crossing from shore to shore.

…Skerry finally sold his boats to the (Steamboat) company, and retired from business. He died on 1st September 1838, aged 74 years, and was buried in the old Catholic Burying Ground to the west of the Dartmouth Common. He is said to have been an excellent man and one who was praised by all who knew him.”

From: History of the townships of Dartmouth, Preston and Lawrencetown, Halifax County, N.S, by Mary Jane Katzmann