Dartmouth Bridge Plaza and Shopping Center, (Dartmouth Common), 1958

“Dartmouth Bridge Plaza and Shopping Center”, 1958. https://archives.novascotia.ca/information-service/archives/?ID=1210

Dartmouth Ball field is seen front and center on Wyse Road at the Bridge Plaza, below you can see the area surrounding City hall previous to its construction on what is now Alderney Dr.



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

During 1919, shipload after shipload of defence forces were brought back to the port of Halifax to be discharged. The work of repatriation went on for months. In Dartmouth, a local Housing Commission was set up for the purpose of aiding returned men in the financing of new homes. Stocks of building material, hitherto limited in quantity, were now made available for all kinds of construction work.

Several new contracting firms established themselves in town, bringing artisans and craftsmen to assist in the rehabilitation of the devastated northend and other sections of Dartmouth. The population was increasing and rents were rising. New houses were started along the Park lots of Windmill Road, and also farther north. The Ropeworks built six dwellings on Jamieson Street. A whole block went up on Park Avenue east of King Street, and on Victoria Road in the former Barss fields.

Hawthorne Street, Prince Albert Road, Sinclair Street and Erskine Street also saw considerable development. The Cleveland apartments were built on Myrtle Street. Damaged Methodist Church was pulled down, and the cornerstone laid of the present edifice. The crushed-in blacksmith shop on Portland Street where the well-known John D. Murphy had shod thousands of horses over the years, even up to Explosion Day, was finally removed.

On the site, James J. O’Toole erected the fireproof White Lantern building. Diagonally opposite, Samuel Thomson put up the two-storey structure now occupied by Jacobson Brothers. Gerald Foot moved his garage to a small shack near the location of his present showrooms. L. M. Bell and Carl Dares opened a vulcanizing shop on lower Victoria Road. (From such small beginnings, came in later years, the Bell Bus system.)

In March 1919 the Dartmouth Curling Club was organized, and later the Dartmouth Citizens’ Band was formed. A baseball league schedule was carried out that summer, and bleachers erected at the Chebucto Grounds. Later the whole field was fenced.

All this time only two school buildings were in use, but by September the new Park School was ready. Victoria School was again made habitable and two extra classrooms added. All senior grade students were transferred from Greenvale to Park School.

That summer, Dartmouth got its first motor fire-engine, and discarded the “Lady Dufferin”. Two permanent firemen were engaged to be on day and evening duty at the Engine House, where they stood ready to respond to silent alarms with the Motor Chemical Engine. This put an end to the 97-year old practice of ringing the fire-bell, and summoning the entire volunteer department for every type of blaze. Now it was to be rung only for general alarms.

After a five-year lapse, the Natal Day celebration was revived with a full program, interrupted by an evening rain. About the same time, beginnings were made towards the establishment of a Memorial Hospital. At a monster Fair held on the Common Field in September, $4,500 was realized. An open air rink was operated that winter on the swampy area of Starr property at the foot of Pine Street. This was conducted by young men of the town.


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

The exodus of young people and sometimes of whole families, out of Dartmouth which had been going on since the 1890s, seems to have been halted about this time. This is indicated by school statistics. The total registration of pupils at the turn of the century hovered around the 1200 mark. In the year 1905 the figure was 1279, but by 1912 it had dropped to the low mark of 1084. The attendance picked up in 1913 when the annual enrolment stood at 1105. At last the tide had turned. It will be remembered that during these latter years the great development at the Halifax Ocean Terminals was well under way, bringing workmen and their families back to our district. On this side of the harbor, reconstruction of the Sugar Refinery brought increased trade to merchants in Dartmouth.

In 1913 the Ferry Commission erected the present station house at Halifax, replacing the small low building which stood on the southern side of the main gates. A new Post Office for Dartmouth was also on the Federal Government program. The proposal was to rebuild on the old site (present N.S. Light and Power office), but many townsfolk had been long agitating for the demolition of the Colored Barracks, and other old buildings fronting Quarrell Street. This location was decided upon, after President J. Walter Allison of the Board of Trade had interviewed Premier Borden at Ottawa in 1913.

More dwellings were erected in parts of Austenville that year, also on Hawthorne Street, Pleasant Street, and on Prince Albert Road south of F. S. Mitchell’s residence which had been built in 1909. The remainder of Eaton’s field (formerly Stanford’s) was still in its primitive state as far as Robert McElmon’s premises. The new North End Mission (Emmanuel) Church was opened in March.

The shipyard of Mayor E. F. Williams at the foot of Church Street was still flourishing in 1913. That summer he launched some half dozen small patrol boats for the Dominion Government. Dr. A. H. MacKay of the Board of Trade reported that his Bridge Committee had interviewed Federal Government engineers and the latter were then making estimates as to the cost of a bridge at the Narrows. Eugene Nichols succeeded Watson L. Bishop as Superintendent of Streets, after 21 years service. Mr. Bishop’s system of macadamizing had given Dartmouth some of the finest streets in the Province.

Since the turn of the century amateur baseball teams like the Casazos, Centrals, North Stars, St. Peter’s, Red Sox, DBCA, Woodside and Mount Amelias had attracted large crowds to the unfenced Chebucto Grounds for league games on summer evenings. The hat was passed around to defray cost of equipment. In winter the same enthusiasm was exhibited at the old Rink in the senior and junior hockey league games. In autumn there were generally four or five tug of war tournaments and athletic contests. The Boggshire boys, who were now young men, held their 15th annual regatta off the Slip in 1913. It was to be the last. Dartmouth celebrated its Natal Day on Thursday, August 14th. It also was the last for a while.

At this time, war was rumbling in the Balkans and in Mexico. Newspapers in parts of Canada, occasionally editorialized on the “German peril”; in other parts, the idea was ridiculed. All of it seemed very foreign to the carefree youths of Dartmouth who were then far more interested in battles of big-league baseball teams.


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

In the leap year of 1876 the Cabbage Club paraded through town on their annual sleigh drive to Griffin’s Inn at Preston. This time they were accompanied by lady friends. The recently organized Red Caps Snowshoe Club of Halifax held a snowshoe race from First Lake to Porto Bello. Eli Veniot, carpenter at the ferry, was fatally injured while cutting ice out of the paddle box of one of the boats. Bowes’ icehouse at the foot of Nowlan Street was badly gutted by fire. The horse races drew a crowd to Second Lake in mid-February.

A lengthy Act for supplying Dartmouth with water passed the Legislature that winter. The Act noted that the ratepayers had previously ratified the borrowing of $33,000 for such purpose. By this legislation the Town was now authorized to construct a water system, provided it received the approval of ratepayers at the town meeting. (The equivalent of a plebiscite.)

The Union Protection Company was organized that year. John Y. Payzant resigned as Stipendiary Magistrate, and was succeeded by Robert Motton of Halifax. The Town Council’s recommendations that a suitable Town Hall be provided; that a steam fire engine be secured and a school be built in Ward III, were approved by the citizens at the annual Town meeting in April. The proposal to construct a water system, however, was defeated by a majority of 13 votes. The number of ratepayers in attendance would be about 100. Estimated expenditures for the year were $14,500, which amount included $5,000 for schools. The salary of Miss Sarah Findlay, assistant to Principal Alexander McKay, was raised to $200. There were 12 teachers on the staff, and 11 buildings used. Central was the “big school”. A few classes were held in private homes.

Luther Sterns, who kept the Post Office as a side line in his brick business establishment on Water Street, resigned as Postmaster on April 1st. He was succeeded by John E. Leadley, and the Office removed to the latter’s shop and residence at the southeast corner of King and Portland Streets.

Dartmouth firms which sent their products to the Centennial Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876 included Starr Manufacturing Co., Ropeworks, Symonds’ Foundry, Adam McKay and Ebenezer Moseley, marine paint.

That summer the heat was almost intolerable. In August the mercury rose to 93, the highest in 14 years. Boat-loads of bathers rowed from Halifax to Sandy Cove and Mill Cove. A dozen Dartmouth names of boys appeared in the newspapers as having swum across the harbor at that time. Among the list were Lewis Payzant, 14 years; Charles E. Creighton, Charles H. Harvey, Byron A. Weston and John Woodaman.

In the same newspaper we found the first record of an organized baseball game in Dartmouth, although there must have been games in earlier years because the Common field was available for playing, and by 1876 baseball clubs in Halifax were regularly competing against one another, and even against outside teams. The Halifax-Dartmouth series that summer was between the Bluenose Club of Halifax and the Victoria Club of Dartmouth. On the local nine were Colin McNab, George Sterns, Fred Leadley, Charles Robson, L. Payzant, J. Bowes, W. Bowes, L. Mylius, T. Creighton.

About the time that the famous Fishermen’s four-oared shell crew of Halifax left to compete for the world’s championship at Philadelphia, there was a big regatta held on Second Lake at Dartmouth. The Williams crew won $30 as first prize in the whaler race by defeating the Young-Parker crew and the Heffler crew. In the wherry race with two pairs of paddles, Williams and McKay won $20 as first prize. Other contestants were Moseley and Henderson, Mosher and Wilson. The Williams crew also won the four-oared scull race. In the canoe race Peter Cope won the $14 first prize. Of four competitors in the tub race, Henderson finished first, with Moseley second. First prize $3.

In September the Warden and Councilors of Dartmouth participated in a monster torch-light procession which welcomed home the Fishermen’s crew at North Street railway depot. In the harbor the big cable steamer “Faraday” boomed out a salute of cannon and sent up intermittent shafts of skyrockets into the drizzly darkness.

Wooden Park School on the Common, known as the “Common School” was built in 1876 at a cost of $4,676. Henry Elliot was the architect, and his brother Thomas G. Elliot, the contractor. This building was intended to accommodate all lower grades of the whole school section, so that many young pupils hitherto enrolled at Central School, now had to travel longer distances. They came from homes as far away as the present North Woodside and upper Portland Street areas, and also from Tufts’ Cove neighborhood.

The two-masted twin-screw lighter “Robbie Burns” modelled by Eben Moseley, was built for Contractor Duncan Waddell that year. At the Methodist Church, alterations were made which extended the edifice 20 feet nearer the street. A handsome new front and tower largely improved its appearance. “Willow Cottage” on Preston Road (Prince Albert Road) formerly owned by Thomas Short, was purchased by Councilor Maurice Downey for $2,200. Rev. Alexander Falconer was then selling off his household effects on Cole Harbor Road (289 Portland Street) preparatory to his departure for Trinidad in December. He was to be succeeded at St. James’ Church by Rev. P. M Morrison.

The first telegraph poles and wires made their appearance in Dartmouth during the latter part of 1876. They were erected by the Dominion Telegraph Co., who were constructing a line from Halifax to Canso. In January 1877, a telegraph office was set up in Leadley’s Post Office which gave our town the first electrical communication with Halifax and with the outside world. No longer would it be necessary for merchants and others to send their employees over on the ferry with urgent messages, as had been the practice hitherto. The rate for a 10-word telegram to Halifax was 15 cents, which was about the price of ferriage. The first telegraph operator here was a Miss Phinney from Richibucto, N. B. Later on, Miss Frances Leadley learned the telegraphic art.



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

When the new House met in February 1841, Joseph Howe was chosen as Speaker. That appointment brought a bit of political prestige to our side of the harbor, because Dartmouth was the largest center in Mr. Howe’s constituency.

An Act incorporating the City of Halifax was passed by the Legislature that session. Of more local interest, however, was an Act for regulating Dartmouth Common.

“An act for regulating the Dartmouth Common”, 1841 c52: “The Common of the Township of Dartmouth, situate on the eastern side of the Harbour of Halifax, in special trust, for the use of the inhabitants settled and resident in the Town Plot, or that might thereafter settle and actually reside within the Township of Dartmouth”

“Whereas by Letters Patent, under the Great Seal of this Province, bearing date the fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eighty Eight” — “An act to enable the Inhabitants of the Town Plot of Dartmouth to use and occupy the Common Field…in such way as they may think most beneficial to them”, 1789 c6 “Trustees named in the grant of the Common of Dartmouth, to call meetings of the persons interested in that Common; Trustees may sue, or be sued, as it respects the management and safe keeping of said Common; Proprietors, at their meetings, to vote money to pay the expense, and also the charge for managing any of the affairs of that Common, the same to be assessed, levied, and collected, as the public taxes are at Halifax, and to be paid to the Clerk, who is to be sworn, and is to be appointed at a meeting of the proprietors”

This was the “new town-plot” … As the trustees of the Common were all dead by 1841, there was no one in authority to prevent the increasing number of squatters from occupying parts of the Common, especially those portions adjacent to the waterfront in the vicinity of Black Rock. (The whole area of the new town-plot must have been so called from earliest times, no doubt from the black color of the slate rock there.)

The Act of 1841 appointed new trustees in the persons of John E. Fairbanks, Henry Y. Mott and William Foster. They were empowered to subdivide the large area of Common land on the western side of Windmill Road, extending from about the present line of the new bridge on the north, to Geary Street on the south.

William MacKay, a well-known surveyor of that time, subsequently laid off the section into 41 building lots which were advertised at auction and conveyed to the highest bidder for 999 years, subject to an annual ground-rent of £1. Thirty-one of the lots were sold that summer. Some were bought outright by the holders, but others continued paying ground-rent for many years afterwards. (The MacKay map of the section, is still preserved at the Town Engineer’s office.)

According to the Act, revenue from the sale of these lands had to be applied to improve the remaining portion of the Common, and provide for the laying out of a street along the waterfront. (This is the present Shore Road).

Names of other streets in that vicinity like Fairbanks, Hare, Mott, Best and Lyle, commemorate trustees and original property owners. (Geary Street was named after the Priest who had charge of the Catholic cemetery. Turner Street, directly opposite, runs through the old Turner tanyard. The name of Foster certainly should be applied somewhere to honor a forgotten family who were long included among our early industrialists.)

From the Dartmouth “Atlantic Weekly” of April 29, 1899, readers may obtain the number of each lot of Common land, and the price paid for same at time of sale. The following names were among the first purchasers: George Turner, James Synott, William Stairs, C. A. Mott, James Whiteley, John Fenton, David Hare, Gilbert Elliott, James Keating, William Walker, Richard Best, Michael McKenna, John Thornham, John B. Woodworth, John Kennedy, Alexander Lyle, John E. Fairbanks, Richard McLearn and John Tapper.

On June 8th 1841, the Nova Scotia Philanthropic Society celebrated the Natal Day of Halifax by holding a picnic and athletic games at Turtle Grove “near the Windmill in Dartmouth”, whither they were transported on the “Sir C. Ogle”.

Another large group enjoyed an outing at Dartmouth on the afternoon of St. John’s Day, June 24th 1841, when the members of St. Mary’s Total Abstinence Society of Halifax crossed the harbor. A brass band on the deck of the “Sir C. Ogle” kept playing lively airs during two or three trips, until the full crowd of people had been transported.

These then “marched to a beautifully situated field, half a mile from the ferry, and kindly loaned for the occasion by Mr. Boggs. The progress through the pretty village of Dartmouth, and through the rural ways and woodpaths, was delightful”, says the account in the Nova Scotian. Between 700 and 800 met on the appointed ground where they indulged in games of ball and bat, and other sports. Quadrille and Contra dances were also got up on the green.

(About this time, the temperance cause was being preached in Europe by Father Theobold Mathew, and his influence was felt in North America. St. Mary’s Society had about 3,000 members. The Halifax Temperance Society had almost as many. In Dartmouth, St. Peter’s Total Abstinence Society had over 1,000, among whom many were Mi’kmaq. Most of Austinville district was then owned by Thomas Boggs. Roughly, the area from Christ Church cemetery to St. Peter’s School grounds was known as “Boggswood”. Not likely Pine Street was as yet constructed. Definitely lower Maple Street was not. The field referred to, must have been somewhere in “Boggswood”, other than the swampy section. [—I believe JPM is referring to the south side of Myrtle Street here]. The “ball and bat” contest mentioned, is the earliest written record of a baseball game being played in Dartmouth.)