Catalogue of ancient masonic documents in possession of Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, A.F. and A.M.

“For many years past Grand Lodge has been endeavoring to collect together the many ancient and venerable Masonic documents known to be in the Province in the possession of brethren of the craft and others, for the purpose of ensuring the safe keeping of the same. Much time and labor have been devoted to the subject, and the following report, made to Grand Lodge in 1884, gives the final result of the committee appointed for that purpose:

(Among many documents listed within that I haven’t included, a few that do stand out in importance are listed here; communication with those in the States and Bermuda as well as those relating to J.W. Weeks who was the first Rector of St. John’s Parish in 1792.)

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

“At Preston, the Rev. Joshua Wingate Weeks, who resided in Halifax, served as the first Rector of the St. John’s Parish from 1792. His report of 1794 states that, “The mission consists of four towns. Dartmouth is the principal, which consists of 50 families. Preston has 15, Cole Harbor 12 and Lawrencetown 23″. When Rev. Benjamin Gerrish Gray took over the parish in 1796, he had the additional duty of being chaplain and teacher to the Maroons.”

As an aside, it seems the Weeks family continued to be important players in Dartmouth for many years after. W.H. Weeks was listed as a Physician and surgeon living at King Street in an 1864 Dartmouth business directory, Jos. H. Weeks, Esq was listed as Secretary in regard to meetings held on the repeal of the British North America Act in 1867, J. M. Weeks is noted as having purchased a grocery concern at 22 Ochterloney Street from Frank M. Elliot in 1891, perhaps it was the same J. M. Weeks who purchased “The Atlantic Weekly” newspaper in 1901 from S. Harris Congdon, who then changed its name to the “Dartmouth Patriot“.

  • Bye-Laws of St. Johns lodge, 21, Auburn, North Carolina, 1772 (the earliest document on record).
  • Letter from Bro. Weeks acknowledging vote of thanks for his son, July 23 1782.
  • Letter from Grand Chaplain J. Weeks, acknowledging vote of thanks for sermon, September 3rd, 1783.
  • Letter to introduce G. Chaplain Rev. J. Weeks to Grand Secretary, London, No date.
  • Copy of letter to Bro. Weeks, with warrant, March 12th 1785.
  • Copy of letter to Grand Lodge in States warning of an expelled brother, December 2nd, 1790.
  • Letter from Grand Lodge of Virginia, January 15th, 1791.
  • Letter from Rev J.W. Weeks, Chaplain, Dartmouth, 1794.
  • Memorial to hold a Lodge at Bermuda, May 20th, 1796.
  • Letter from John Van Norden, St. George’s, Bermuda. October 13th, 1797.
  • Deed from King George III, signed by Duke of Kent, square piece of land, heretofore occupied by the main guard, lying between Pleasant and Granville Streets, Halifax, Nova Scotia. July 28th, 1798.

Freemasons. “Catalogue of ancient masonic documents in possession of Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia, A.F. and A.M. Report of Special Committee on Arrangement of Masonic Documents, classed as Grand Lodge and Subordinate Lodges.” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.], 1890


axe ladder 1911 fire department

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

The Dominion decennial census of 1911 gave Dartmouth’s population at 5,058. In February of that year, two-roomed Victoria School was opened at the southeast corner of Wyse Road and Common Road. The new ferry-steamer “Halifax” was launched in Scotland. Daniel Brennan commenced the first automobile-bus service around Dartmouth and also ran trips to Cow Bay Beach. In a short time, he abandoned the venture. Many Dartmouthians saw their first airship flights at the Provincial Exhibition. Sir Wilfrid Laurier campaigned in Halifax for the Dominion elections. The big issue was reciprocity with the United States, and the result was a victory for the Conservative party, led by Robert L. Borden, the representative for Halifax County in the House of Commons.

More permanent sidewalks were laid in Dartmouth that year. The dates of construction are still indicated by brass figures embedded at our various street corners. Road racing continued in vogue, with Dartmouth boys making their usual creditable showing at the contests in Halifax. President Stanley MacKenzie of Dalhousie University, a former Dartmouth resident, presented the annual prizes at Greenvale School. Dartmouth firemen assisted at an all-night conflagration of the King Edward Hotel in Halifax. The Dartmouth Board of Trade took advantage of the change of Government, and renewed their requests to Ottawa for the construction of permanent bridge across the Narrows. The steam-yacht “Hirondelle” equipped with wireless telegraphy, sent out a musical program over the air, from her anchorage in Halifax harbor.

This is the Dartmouth Axe and Ladder Company running team taken during “Old Home Week.” celebrations at Yarmouth in July 1911. Out of ten teams contesting” in the hook and ladder race, the Dartmouth group were only one fifth of a second behind the winning team from New Aberdeen. Back row, left to right: Alexander (Sandy) Patterson, William Chapman, Arthur Bonang, James Baker, Richard Walsh. Front row, left to right: Douglas Patterson, Martin Murphy, Harry Young, Clarence Short, Fire Chief Trefry of Yarmouth, Arthur Emery.



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

In January 1901 died Queen Victoria. Shops and public places everywhere were draped in mourning. At Dartmouth the school children were assembled one afternoon in the auditorium of St. Peter’s Hall where appropriate orations were delivered, and where many of those present sang for the last time the familiar anthem of four generations, “God Save the Queen”.

At 18 Prince Street that winter died Postmaster John E. Leadley who had come from Windsor in 1864 to work at Symonds’ Foundry. Mr. Leadley afterwards operated an Inn at the present 19 Ochter-loney Street. In the large barn which still stands in the rear of the premises, he set up what is said to have been the first livery stable in Dartmouth, and he also was the first man to put a cab on the stand at the ferry.

The appointee to the Postmastership was J. B. Maclean, grocer and one-time schoolmaster at Cole Harbor. Mr. Maclean sold his business at 35 Portland Street to B. O. Bishop. (He is still there.)

The 8-year-old newspaper “Atlantic Weekly” was acquired in April by Joseph M. Weeks. He changed its name to the “Dartmouth Patriot”, and published as usual on Saturday mornings.

John Jago, Ferry Commission Secretary, died in June and was succeeded by Prescott Johnston, brother of the Mayor.

There was no Natal Day celebration in 1901. A few of the old guard made an attempt at organization, but got little support.

That autumn, Ebenezer Moseley the veteran marine architect, was invited by the Provincial Government to submit his plan of a cantilever bridge for the Strait of Canso. Mr. Moseley had sketched the plan in 1896, and was told at the time that such a bridge would not be built for 50 years. (He also had plans for a tunnel under the Strait. All of these later went to the Provincial Museum.)

The Dominion decennial census of 1901 gave Dartmouth’s population as 4,806. After months of agitation by the Board of Trade and others, the Town got its first postman when Freeman Crimp became Letter Carrier No. 1 in September. As a consequence the rate on drop letters was raised from one to two cents. At St. Peter’s Hall a two-night movie was put on by the Bioscope Company showing pictures of the Boer War. In July the Bank of Nova Scotia opened a branch at the present No. 38 Commercial Street.

The Duke and Duchess of York who had been visiting Canadian centres, terminated their tour at Halifax where they were accorded a regal welcome on a cold Saturday afternoon in October. All business was suspended while a monster naval and military review was carried out on the North Common. Most of the stores re-opened in the evening. From the Dartmouth side at night there was an excellent view of the illuminations on the royal fleet of warships anchored off the Dockyard.


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

Dartmouth collected over $1,000 for the Springhill Mine Disaster fund in 1891. The Dominion decennial census gave our population as 6,252. The Statistical Year Book gave it as 4,576. Newspaper comment was that the first mentioned figure must have included the whole polling district, and the 4,576 was for Dartmouth municipality only. (Compare the 1881 and 1901 census.)

Dartmouth professional speed skaters of that era included Charles Moore, “Si” Faulkner, “Bob” Patterson and George Misener, Some fast amateur skaters were Ted Graham, Bud Swaffer, Jack Warner, Arch Mosher, William Foston, Frank and George Young, Charles and Sandy Patterson.

One evening at the Halifax Empire Rink in January 1891, Alexander (Sandy) Patterson captured the mile junior, the senior and the three-mile skating championship of the Maritime Provinces.

At Montreal in February the Patterson brothers participated in the Canadian amateur skating championships, and made a creditable showing. Charles finished second in the one-mile and five-mile contests. In the latter race “Sandy” was fourth.

That winter A. M. Beck had the 250-ton Falconer house hauled out to the street and then easterly along Ochterloney until it was moved back to its present position known as the Greenvale Apartments. The Beck family occupied the place for many years.

Wooden Greenvale School opened in May when pupils vacated Elliot School at 58 Dundas Street, the Town Hall classroom and two rooms in Central School. The new building accommodated some 250 children of primary grades including those of Miss Hamilton’s Kindergarten. In October Harris S. Congdon resigned as Supervisor, and was succeeded by Inglis Craig, then Principal at Parrsboro. Mr. Craig later became a School Inspector.

John E. Leadley, who had kept the Post Office in the shop of his residence on the southwest corner of Portland and King Streets since the fire at Poplar Hill, moved in 1891 to the house and shop still standing at the southwest corner of Water and Ochterloney Streets. As there was then no such thing as letter-delivery, the change was welcomed by northend people. About this time the Dominion Government purchased from the Ferry Commission the property adjoining Simmonds Hardware store as a site for Dartmouth’s long-promised brick Post Office building. The old houses to the southward of the site were to be removed so as to widen Steamboat Hill.

Contractor John T. Walker built the modern store at 22 Ochterloney Street for his brother E. M. Walker, the grocer. The old shop was demolished, as also was a high antiquated dwelling adjoining on the west. Across the street on the present location of the Belmont banquet hall, W. B. Elliot’s grocery business was purchased from his son Frank M. Elliot by J. M. Weeks formerly employed with E. M. Walker.

The railway bridge across the Narrows, which had been in operation over five years, was partly carried away by a hurricane in September. Freight for Dartmouth was now held up at Halifax and had to be hauled here by teams via the ferry.

The contentious question of a modern water and sewerage system for Dartmouth, which had been bobbing up intermittently since the first Water Company was incorporated in 1845, finally got settled in the late summer of 1891 when a definite beginning was made on this long-contemplated project.

The contract for trenching and pipe-laying was awarded to Donald Sutherland of Shubenacadie. He soon had a gang of Italian laborers at work laying long lengths of Londonderry iron pipe which were 20 inches in diameter and extended from Lake Lamont to York’s Hill. From that point towards Dartmouth, a 16-inch pipe was used. The route followed down through the present Lakecrest Drive, and at Hooganinny Cove near the foot of Sinclair Street, the trench continued along the slope of Silver’s Hill to meet the main highway at the Micmac Club.

Good progress was made all that autumn, and even during part of January which happened to be an exceptionally mild month. At the same time, construction of sewer outlets was commenced on the harbor shore at North Street and at the southern extremities of Water Street and of Wentworth Street into the Canal stream.

Jas. Simmonds & Co., Carriage Stock & Hardware


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

On January 29th, the fifth Sunday of the month in 1871, St. James’ Presbyterian Church was opened for the first services, and the new edifice was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies. On the next evening, the ladies of the congregation held their annual tea-meeting and salon in the basement hall where a large number of members and guests met in a “most successful housewarming,” according to the Presbyterian Witness.

At the capitulation of Paris towards the close of the Franco-Prussian War in February, William Garvie lectured on the beauties of that City to a crowded audience at the Mechanics’ Institute. George Webber 36, an oiler on the Steam Boat, was fatally injured when the Captain started the engine, unaware that Webber was inside the paddle-box chopping out the clogging chunks of ice. A large flag used to be hoisted at the end of the ferry wharf in Dartmouth to notify Haligonians there was good skating at the lakes.

That spring William Heffler commenced a north-end ferry service with row-boats running from Stairs’ wharf near the Brewery across the Narrows to Richmond. Fare five cents. Ebenezer Moseley completed a small steam-ferry for Cape Breton parties. Colonel George Dawson, now back in England, sold to John F. Stairs a large part of “Fairfield” property on the southern side of Dawson Street, where houses were to be erected for employees through a financial arrangement with the new Ropeworks. The remainder of Fairfield” estate which took in Pelzant Street and extended easterly towards Wyse Road was sold off in building lots from time to time. Gatherings at rural auction sales usually came a long distance; consequently it was the practice for the auctioneer to serve lunches on such occasions.

In the Provincial elections of 1871 the secret ballot was used for the first time. Instead of announcing candidates of his choice, the voter wrote the names on a paper, and deposited a sealed envelope into the ballot box. Again Dartmouth went Liberal. So did Preston.

The decennial census of 1871 gave the population of Dartmouth as 2,191. Weather records show we had 42 successive rainless days.

That summer there died Colonel William Chearnley (Charnley) retired military officer of Halifax, and native of Ireland, whose enthusiasm for fishing and hunting greatly popularized the countryside to the eastward of Dartmouth. He knew thoroughly the woods, streams and lakes of that district, and for years practised and promoted the protection of salmon streams and of wild life in general. It was Colonel Chearnley who once composed the lines on the large swinging signboard of the “Stag Hotel”, favorite hostel for sportsmen of last century, the ruins of which may still be seen at the northeast corner of No. 7 Highway and Frog Lake Road (now BRIAN STREET) in Preston, and locally known as Brooks’ Corner.

At the Aquatic Carnival, all the events including the four-oared scull race for the championship of the world, were rowed in August over a six-mile course from the Yacht Club at Richmond to stake boats moored off Fort Clarence. Sadler of England also won the world’s single scull championship over a straightaway course from Fort Clarence. The oarsmen must have passed quite close to Dartmouth shore, because the referee tugboat “Henry Hoover” fouled her propeller in a hawser off the Marine Slip. Hundreds of spectators crowded our wharves.

About this time the Octagon House or “Ink Bottle House” was completed for Gavin Holliday, Production Manager at The Starr Company. John Keating (father of Mrs. J. Howe Austen) was the Contractor, and Henry Elliot the Architect. There is a tradition that Mr. Holliday vied with his business associate John Forbes at “Lakeside”, in the erection of this modern mansion. The place contains 14 large rooms adjoining which are anterooms. Fixed washbasins were installed in the bedrooms, and stoves set up for heating. The walls of the house were double-plastered, and the whole building was surrounded with a two-tiered verandah. Earth from the rear of the property was hauled to the front to lay out the beautiful octagon-shaped terraces. According to G. C. Holliday, a son now living in Florida, the Octagon House cost over $25,000.

What has often been erroneously referred to as the “Saxby gale” occurred on the evening of October 12th when one of the worst hurricanes in history lashed the harbor into a foam, buffeted shipping against inundated wharves and strewed the shore with wrecks from Eastern Passage to Tufts’ Cove. The rain was torrential. Nearly every wharf and private boathouse suffered, but the greatest damage was at Symonds’ Foundry where the undermining of the stone wharf toppled the pattern shop with its contents, and most of the moulding shop into the harbor. The loss was $10,000.


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

Queen Victoria was crowned on June 28th, and on that day celebrations were held in several centres of Nova Scotia. Crowds thronged to Halifax where the demonstrations started at dawn with salutes of cannon, music of bands and the joyous peal of church bells. The weather was glorious.

All the principal shops were closed and shuttered, bunting billowed in the morning breeze and regal flags fluttered on church towers and other prominent places like Dalhousie College, then on the present location of City Hall.

People in holiday attire kept wending their way to the Common, where there were more parades and reviews of scarlet-coated troops before Governor Campbell and his staff.

On the Parade at noon, groups from Dartmouth joined in a patriotic procession of naval, military and civilian organizations, marching to the stirring music of intermittent bands and pipes through streets lined with hurrahing Haligonians. As each unit rounded the crescent-shaped driveway of Government House, the men halted to receive individual felicitations from His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor.

In the afternoon an immense concourse of people assembled on the green slopes of Citadel “Hill and on the Common, where there was a varied program of amusements and sports. No one went hungry or thirsty. On a massive spit outside the tent of the Irish Society, an entire ox was roasted. Refreshments were served in a large marquee set up by the Coronation Committee. Thomas Medley was chef.

At night there was a gorgeous display of fireworks from the Grand Parade, public and private buildings were illuminated, and a fashionable ball held at Government House.

Our townsfolk, who had probably crossed to Halifax by the hundreds that day, returned home in plenty of time for the Dartmouth celebration because on this side of the harbor the show was then only at the beginning.

As in Halifax, an energetic local committee had solicited subscriptions to defray expenses, and carried out a program most fitting for the occasion. How well they succeeded, may be judged from the fact that nearly 60 years later, elderly folks fondly recalled the memories of Queen Victoria’s coronation night, when they danced until dawn with the gay crowd on the pavilion in Medley’s Tea Gardens.

On the Committee were Dr. DesBrisay, William Hague, Mr. Turner, E. H. Lowe, Allan McDonald, Mr. Foster (probably William), Captain Galt, and Mr. Mcllreith, Secretary.

The Coronation Address commemorating the event was “classically and eloquently spoken” by Robert Jamison, the schoolmaster. The vast throng listened with marked attention throughout, and at the conclusion gave vent to their feelings of loyalty and enthusiasm by uniting with Mr. Jamison in “three times three rousing and rapturous cheers”.

There was also a Coronation song sung, which had been composed especially for the occasion by a Captain Galt. The latter was particularly praised in the newspaper report, as having devoted considerable time and trouble in arranging the program, although a comparative stranger.

Most of the account of the Dartmouth celebration in the “Acadian Recorder” is reprinted here, so that imaginative readers may enjoy vicariously the fun experienced by our ancestors on that June night of 1838. Medley’s Hotel (the present Central Apartments at 59 Queen Street), with its stables, outbuildings and gardens, then occupied the whole of the southern half of Town Block “F”. Down Queen Street to Dundas there ran a slate-rock stone wall in front of a thickly-set curtilage of hawsey trees which continued northerly on Dundas Street, giving that particular block the nickname of “Hawsey Lane”.

The skittle alley stood on the northeast corner of Wentworth and Queen Streets, with its length extending to the present property of the Telephone Company. There were other Inns at the time, like the Mill Bank, the Bush Inn at 63 Ochterloney Street, the Commercial Inn and Skerry’s Inn; but Medley’s had more attractive and spacious surroundings. It was also the stopping-place of the Halifax-Truro stagecoach. The hotel proprietor in 1838 was John Kennedy.


The village on this day came forward with a spirit eminently creditable. It not only contributed its numbers to enlarge the line of the procession in Halifax, but in the evening a large party of about 800, from a circuit of 15 miles, gathered in gay groups to welcome the event by a merry dance.

The whole town of Dartmouth including the Anglican Rector, the Magistrates and their families were present. On no occasion do we believe, within the memory of the oldest resident has so large and respectable an assemblage been seen. A more attractive spectacle pf health and beauty has seldom been assembled, and few prettier faces smiled a welcome to our youthful Queen’s reign on that day.

The green area which separates Mr. Kennedy’s Hotel from the ball alley, was enclosed by an extended awning consisting of more than two thousand square yards of canvas, lined on the inside by the flags of all nations which drooped in festoons from the ceiling, and presented the spectacle of a splendid Turkish tent. It was lit by a variety of chandeliers.

The enclosure of the roof of Mr. Kennedy’s Hotel afforded a very pretty coup d’oeil from its windows, of the glad groups as they joined in the joyous dance. All was lighthearted and merry, and the tout ensemble did eminent credit to the zeal and attention of the gentlemen who conducted the scene.

A great abundance and diversity of refreshments were provided in the ball alley. On a high hill in the vicinity, a huge bonfire blazed during the evening.

At 9 o’clock, after the company had witnessed an exhibition of fireworks in front of Mr. Kennedy’s gardens, the gay dance and quadrille were persevered in until the gray streaks of dawn in the eastern sky, announced that the Coronation was yesterday.

There was a census taken in 1838 giving the names of heads of families in Dartmouth Township which then extended into the suburbs of Tufts’ Cove, Port Wallace, PortoBello area, Woodlawn and Imperoyal districts. The number of males who were heads of families totaled 195. The number of males under 6 was 118. Number of females under 6 was 139. Number of males under 14 Was 128. Number of females under 14 was 136. Number of females above 14 was 371. Males above 14 not heads of families, 163. The total number in the settlement was 1,246. This included 76 people of color.

Speech on Canadian affairs, April 14 1838


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

In the summer of 1827, Engineer Hall reported that “800 tons of granite stone have been removed from the Quarry to Dartmouth Lake. A commodious line of road is now completed from the head of Dartmouth Lake parallel with the Canal. By this road, the Lock Stone will be conveyed”.

This must also mean the laying out of Maitland Street, because the terminus of the Canal was at first intended to be located on the shore there.

In July 1827, a fine ship of 344 tons named the “Halifax” was launched at Lowden’s in Mill Cove. The newspaper account stated that “a numerous concourse of people collected on the high ground near the shipyard, and a great many small boats filled with spectators gave the scene a very animated and pleasing effect”.

The gaiety that morning suddenly changed to gloom because of a fatal accident to Joseph Moreland, prominent townsman whose activities have been recorded in this book. He was a ship carpenter. As was customary, the launching was celebrated with a discharge of cannon. One shot had been set off when Mr. Moreland commenced ramming down the second charge. By accident the gun was fired. The unfortunate man had both his arms blown off to the elbows. Within a few hours, he died.

On the very spot where this ship was launched, a Halifax resident had a narrow escape from death a few evenings afterwards. He had just emerged from a dip off the shore, when a huge shark shot violently in on the beach where the bather had just lately stood. The monster was about 12 feet long.

In August, the second annual regatta took place on the harbor. Dartmouth won the 5-oared rowing race, and a $45 prize, in a boat called “Britannia”, built by Mr. Coleman. The crew were Philip Brown, Daniel Cogill, George Bowse, Philip Shears and William Fultz, steersman. (They look like Eastern Passage names).

In September, the Canal colony was increased by about 100 persons when the brig “Corsair” arrived from Greenock with 44 masons and stonecutters. Some brought their families.

On September 25, the Rev. James Morrison landed in Dartmouth. He was a missionary sent out by a Society established in Glasgow to further the interests of the Kirk of Scotland.

The Acadian Recorder has a long account of a banquet held in September at Warren’s Inn by Officers of the 3rd Regiment Halifax Militia, with the dinner “being handsomely provided and the wines excellent”. The bugles of the Rifle Brigade were present and their music “swelled proudly” at the entertainment.

On the morning of September 16, a vivid lightning storm passed over this district. At Port Wallace, Timothy Kennedy was instantly killed when a bolt struck the hut where the victim lay in his bunk alongside two others. Everyone in the encampment was more or less affected by the shock. A woman was knocked senseless as she stood on the floor. Two children in the same hut were likewise struck and somewhat scorched about the chest.

Many customs of bygone days, taken for granted at the time, would never be preserved for this generation but for that trait of human nature which urges a person to register complaints against what he regards as public nuisances. On the slow-going team-boat, for instance, it seems to have been the practice of some passengers during trips, to catch and gut the odd mess of mackerel from the thousands of such fish that came schooling into the harbor in spring and autumn.

This aroused the indignation of other commuters who protested to the Magistrates—the only governing body at that time. Or else, they wrote the newspapers, as did the undersigned in a letter to the “Acadian Recorder” on October 20, 1827:

“Sir, It has fallen to my lot to cross the ferry from Dartmouth to Halifax in the Team Boat during the fall run of mackerel. I have frequently seen the deck covered with fish, and splitting and salting carried on with as much facility as at any fishing establishments along the shore. From the “delicate” manner this complaint was canvassed by the Magistrates last Spring, I am disposed to think the public will be compelled at last to take other steps to regain their rights on the above ferry. Yours etc., A. F.”

In the next issue, another writer defended the practice, and praised Captain Findlay who “always renders the voyage as commodious as possible. If he has sometimes permitted passengers to amuse and exercise themselves with hauling in a mackerel, it is more proof of his desire to accommodate”.

In a Provincial census taken in the year 1827, returns showed that the Township of Dartmouth had 150 families, containing 405 males, 411 females, 93 male servants, and 51 female servants. Total population of Township 960.

Some households were large. Youths learning trades were apprenticed to their masters and lived with them. Robert Lowden, the shipbuilder, was listed as having 11 hired laborers under his roof. John Skerry had 13 in his household, six of whom were probably employed as ferrymen.

Also in the Township were 58 horses, 195 horned cattle, 162 sheep and 130 swine. On 504 acres of land under cultivation, there were raised that year 74 bushels of wheat, 921 bushels of other grain, 301 tons of hay and 8,480 bushels of potatoes. (There was no separate census for the town-plot.)


gibbet dartmouth
gibbet dartmouth
Gibbet seen at what was once “Gibbet Point” in Dartmouth

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

By 1761, the Mi’kmaq raids were at an end. After peace was made with the French in 1763, no more casualties seem to have occurred.

The year 1765 must have brought considerable excitement to Dartmouth, for it was in the month of May that hangings occurred. A search through the Supreme Court files, however, shows that six men were sent to the gallows that spring. Mr. Mullane omitted the name of John Evans. All six gave their occupation as sailors, perhaps merchant seamen.

Driscoll and Lawlor, convicted of murdering a man and a woman at Halifax on April 25, were sentenced to hang on May 20. The charge against Donnelly, Taylor, Smith and Evans was, “that on April 26, 1765, between 11 and 12 in the night, they did by force of arms feloniously break and enter the dwelling-house of Adam Prester at Dartmouth, and steal 20 pounds in gold and silver money and one silver buckle and some linen to the value of 10 shillings”.

Chief Justice Belcher presided. The four accused were convicted and sentenced to hang on May 28. Each man in turn begged the Court to be allowed the benefit of clergy, but was refused.

Adam Prester’s house was on the outskirts of the town-plot. Deed books show that in 1765 he owned lots 1 and 16 in Block “E”. There is no other record of executions in Dartmouth, so far as known, either before or since the above-mentioned.

At least, nothing of that nature befell a party of 30 under the command of Captain William Owen, private secretary to Governor Campbell, who went over the well-known water route from here to the Bay of Fundy in September of 1767. His diary of the trip is most interesting. At Mill Creek, he “impressed a Dutchman with two horses and two trucks to transport their gig and small boats over the portage to the nether Dartmouth Lake”. (This was probably one of the Germans). His descriptions of Lake Banook, and of the islands in Lake MicMac are very accurate. Portobello is also noted.

The number of animals and-of people in Dartmouth about this time is recorded in the census returns for 1767, which give the town a total population of 39. This includes 30 adults, 8 children and 1 [black] man. There are 14 horses, 6 cows and 4 pigs.


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

Furnished in the minutes of Cornwallis’ Council for February 3, 1752, is when John Connor was given exclusive rights to operate a ferry service. The preamble points out that great inconvenience attends the inhabitants of Halifax and Dartmouth for want of a constant ferryboat.

Henry Wynne of Halifax, and William Manthorne of Block “B”, lot no. 4, took over the service the following December.

There were 53 families with a total population of 193 within the town of Dartmouth, according to statistics of 1752. (This might possibly include the township).

In the same year Captain William Clapham requests the usual bounty for clearing land and erecting stonewalls on his farm, shown on Crown Land plans as being along Saw Mill river near the lower part of Crichton Avenue and Maple Street areas.

Settlement previous to 1749

census 1688

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

Dartmouth, long before the European explorers and colonizing forces, had a 7,000 year history of occupation by the [Mi’kmaq]. The [Mi’kmaq] annual cycle of seasonal movement; living in dispersed interior camps during the winter, and larger coastal communities during the summer; meant there were no permanent communities in the Euro-centric sense, but Dartmouth was clearly a place frequented by [Mi’kmaq] for a very long time. Whether it was the Springtime smelt spawning in March; the harvesting of spawning herring, gathering eggs and hunting geese in April; the Summer months when the sea provided cod and shellfish, and coastal breezes that provided relief from irritants like blackflies and mosquitos, or during the autumn and its eel season; Dartmouth with its lakes and rivers, both breadbasket and transport route back and forth to the interior, was a natural place for the [Mi’kmaq] to spend their non-winter months.

A fascinating look into what Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada could’ve looked like, from the end of the ice age at 19,000 BCE, until present. By 12,000 BCE, this model shows Cape Cod extending much further into the ocean than it does at present, along what is now Brown’s bank, a ridge which more or less stretches all the way to Sable Island along the continental shelf. A sea level 300 feet lower than it is today was enough to create a kind of land bridge to the parts of western and central Nova Scotia no longer under ice, the Bay of Fundy looking like it was an inshore repository for glacial meltwater until sea levels rose. This could’ve allowed for human exploration and settlement in what is now known as Nova Scotia previous to the retreat of the ice sheet in full.

By 10,000 BCE most of the ice had retreated, which squares with the earliest artifacts found in the area, such as at Debert, which date to the same general period, if not previous to that. That sea levels had risen one hundred feet in this two thousand year period might be instructive as to why artifacts are few and far between from this period, many of the settlements, if coastal, would have long ago been lost to the sea. Assuming the artifacts found (at Debert and Belmont) were not from nomadic hunters, and that this model is somewhat accurate, Nova Scotia could have been settled for 10,000 years or more.


A census of the district of Acadia taken in 1687-1688 attributed to de Gargas shows Chebucto had 1 French family consisting of a man, wife and son; that there were 7 Mi’kmaw men, 7 Mi’kmaw women and 19 Mi’kmaw children, “36 souls” in total. 1 French house, 7 Mi’kmaw homes, 3 guns, 1/2 acre of improved land.

census 1688
carteacadie6 map
Source: “Recensements d’Acadie (1671-1752)”, (info),,

The St. Malo fishermen who were located at Sambro and at Prospect in the days of French ownership, must often have run to the inner harbor either to dry fish on our long beaches, or to barter furs with the natives who were always their allies. On the Dartmouth side of the harbor, geographical conditions were far more favorable for congregating, with three voluminous streams of never-failing fresh water flowing down to the estuaries of the two little bays, both later known as Mill Cove.

Besides that, there was an abundance of shell fish available at low tide, along with lobsters, crabs, sea-trout, salmon, halibut, codfish, and haddock, with the usual runs of herring and mackerel in warm weather. The woods teemed with wild life. Partridge roosted on trees, moose and deer roamed the forest, and wedges of wild fowl honked high overhead.

The evidence already submitted that the [Mi’kmaq] resorted to the Cove, is borne out by the description of Cobequid (Truro district) by Paul Mascarene about 1721, where he states that “there is communication by a river from Cobequid to Chebucto”. This Implies that the Shubenacadie route had long been in use. Engineer Cowie, after studying several harbor sites for Ocean Terminals a hundred years ago was of the opinion that Chebucto had been used as a trading post over a century before its permanent settlement.

In 1701, when M. Brouillan the newly appointed French Governor, came here from Newfoundland to rule Acadia, he went overland from Chebucto to Port Royal. This is in Murdoch’s History. Dr. Thomas H. Raddall, in his bicentennial story of Halifax, thinks that on this occasion, [Mi’kmaq] transported the Governor by the well-known canoe route of Dartmouth Lakes. (One can’t imagine a viceregal party trudging over a rough black-flied trail from Bedford to Windsor, or portaging through the shallow rivers of that section of country).

One of the early sketches of Dartmouth side is preserved at the N.S. Archives. It is a detailed drawing of the whole shore and harbor, showing the depth of water from the Eastern Passage to the head of the Basin, done by the French military engineer De Labat in 1711.

The indentations of the various inlets seem quite accurate. The soundings must have occupied a full summer, and the work was no doubt done from small boats; otherwise his large vessel would have butted such shoals as Shipyard Point and the one off shore at Queen Street.

dartmouth map

Not sure whether this is the 1711 map Martin attributes to De Labat but it is detailed, especially as it relates to the Dartmouth Cove, and it contains a number of soundings as he describes. From: “Plan de la rivière de Seine et en langage accadien Chibouquetou”

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