Footprints Around and About Bedford Basin

“East side of Bedford Basin: The winding shore above the narrows has many picturesque points and coves to recommend it to the lover of natural scenery. It has also historical associations, but not, perhaps, of such prominence as that of the western side. High hills, clad with pine and spruce, rise conspicuously above the sparkling waters, affording wide views of the city and harbor of Halifax.

Tuft’s Cove, which was named after Gerisham Tufts, who belonged to a family extensively known in the United States, was the first to obtain a grant of the land surrounding this cove. The impression prevailed that he belonged to New England and came to Halifax early in the settlement of the town. The land above the Tufts property was granted to Ezekiel Gilman. He was one of the two army majors, retired, that accompanied the first settlers to Halifax. Leonard Lochman, after whom Lockman street is named was the other. In Murdoch’s history of Nova Scotia the following tragedy, with which Gilman was connected, is thus related:

On Saturday, 10th Oct., 1749 (N.S.) the [Indigenous people] committed acts of hostility at a saw mill that had been erected in Chebucto bay. Six men without arms were sent out by Major Gilman to cut wood for the mill. Of these six, four were killed and one made prisoner by a party of [Indigenous people], who had lain in ambush. The sixth man made good his escape from them. The saw mill was near Dartmouth Cove. On the following day, Sunday, the governor and council met on board the Beaufort. They decided not to declare war against the [Indigenous people] as that would be in some sort to own them as a “free people’ – that they ought to be looked upon as rebels to H.M. government, or as bandatti ruffians. War, however, was to be made on them; a reward offered for prisoners and for scalps; Major Gilman to raise another independent company of volunteers to scour all the country round the bay; a proclamation issued reciting the [Indigenous] hostilities recently committed at Canso and Chebucto, and ordering all officers, civil and military, and all H.M. subjects to taker and destroy the [Mi’kmaq], and offering ten guineas for each [Indigenous person] living or dead, or his scalp, as was the custom of America. Major Gilman was now instructed to raise his company and get them hatchets, haversacks and snowshoes. Gilman went to Piscataqua to enlist his company of 100 men, engaging to return with them before December.

The Gilman lands were escheated, and re-granted in trust to Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin. Coffin was a son of an officer of the customs at Boston. He was born in that town on 16th May, 1750. He entered the Navy in 1773 under the patronage of Rear-Admiral Montague, the commander-in-chief on the North American station.”


“A steamboat on Bedford Basin for the first time: The first steam boat to make a trip on Bedford Basin – indeed, it could be said, the first ferry boat propelled by steam to appear on the harbor of old Chebucto – was the Sir Charles Ogle. She was built in the cove at Dartmouth by Mr. Lyle. It was in the closing days of 1829 that the steamer was completed – the machinery on board and in order. An attempt was made to launch her on the first day of the new year. She set off in fine style, but when about two-thirds in the water she stuck in the ways, and every exertion to complete the launch at that tide were unavailing. Her length of deck was 103 feet, width of beam 20 feet, width of deck over all 35 feet, 176 tons measurement, her engine was 30 horsepower.

It was understood that the fare would be four pence, and that the steamer would make four passages an hour. The team boat, which she displaced, frequently made but four trips a day, frequently less, and sometimes in winter would not cross at all. It was considered on all hands that an excellent exchange had been made. The steamboat had two commodious cabins. In the eyes of the inhabitants she brought Dartmouth as it were to the end of the steamboat wharf, and it was anticipated that the enterprise would have an admirable effect on the life and prosperity of the village. The hope was generally indulged in that the steamer would well repay the public-spirited gentlemen who had first given to Halifax one of the wonders of science. At full tide, near midnight, the steamer was got off, and in the words of an enthusiastic townsman, uttered at the time: “she now sits in water gracefully as a swan, an honor and an advantage to the community.” On the 12th of January teams and passengers crossed the harbor in the Sir Charles Ogle, and on the following day she circumnavigated George’s Island, to the satisfaction of numerous and most respectable passengers who had taken advantage of the trip.”

Mullane, George. “Footprints Around and About Bedford Basin : a district brimful of romantic associations: some interesting facts about its early history” [Nova Scotia] : publisher not identified, [19–] https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.78665