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

In 1920 we had the coldest winter for years. There were 21 days of good sleighing, and 11 days of sub-zero weather in January with the mercury down to 17 below near the month-end. In February the harbor froze over for the first time since 1898. The ferries kept a lane open, and the tug “Ragus” bucked her way daily from the Sugar Refinery to the Imperial Oil wharf at Halifax. On a Sunday afternoon, a number of us skated from Mill Cove to McNab’s Island, without experiencing any difficulty except in hopping over the ice-pans in the channel of the “Ragus” off Woodside.

Robert Lynch, who had been eight years in the Town Council, opposed Dr. Simpson in the Mayoralty election and got 525 votes to the Doctor’s 617. A motor-driven ladder truck was purchased and the first Town Engineer appointed in the person of H. E. R. Barnes. The Dartmouth Housing Commission was organized with J. J. O’Toole as Chairman. Other members were James A. Redmond, Albion B. Smith, George Mitchell and Ralph W. Elliot.

The Dartmouth Amateur Athletic Association was organized in March with a membership of nearly 400, and secured a 21-year lease of the Chebucto Grounds. Leo Graham was the first President. About that time an 8-page newspaper called “The Independent” was started by Arthur Johnston, son of A. C. Johnston. The Halifax Institute of Engineers now reported that an overhead bridge across the harbor was impracticable, and suggested a low-level drawbridge to accommodate rail and other traffic. The cost was $2,000,000. “The Independent” thought this decision a fortunate one, stating that if people had to wait for a $10,000,000 overhead bridge, “they would be still waiting when the new millennium dawned”. The Ferry Commission in February passed a resolution recording, “its hearty appreciation of the efforts of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Committee, with the hope that their efforts would be crowned with success”.

Ex-Councillor John Ritchie died that spring, as also did James W. Tufts a member of the Dartmouth Park Commission continuously since 1891. Another prominent citizen to pass away was ex-Mayor Edward F. Williams. He had served as Chief Magistrate for a total of eight years, having previously sat six terms as a Councillor.

We got our first piece of permanent road on this side of the harbor in 1920 when Cavicchi and Pagano paved the stretch from the town limits to Horton’s Brook at Imperoyal. It was one of the first sections of permanent-surfacing completed by the Highway Department in the whole Province, and was commenced a few months before the local election. Considerable credit for this undertaking should go to Hon. Robert Finn, a former Dartmouthian, who was always alert to the interests of his constituents in eastern Halifax County

The work of rehabilitating explosion-damaged houses was just about finished up that summer. The stone Downey house on Coleman Street, built by Joseph Moore in early Canal days, was so badly shaken that it had to be demolished. More new residences went up in the north-end, also in Austenville, in Hawthorne-Sinclair Street sections, on Elliot Street, on upper Portland Street, in the Charles Harvey subdivision at Prince Arthur’s Park and on Rodney Road.

Falconer’s field was subdivided by Engineer J. Lorne Allan, and streets there were named for ex-Mayor Williams and Dr. M. S. Dickson. Sewerage and water pipes were extended to new houses on Elmwood Avenue, which had just been cut through the former Torrens field. At Manor Hill, where Andrew Shiels once wrote poetry the Eastmount subdivision of S. A. Heisler was selling lots as low a $100. Streets were named for military leaders in World War I.

The yearly report of the Housing Commission showed that 21 dwellings in Dartmouth were erected with their loans, on as many vacant lots. The Canadian Bank of Commerce opened a branch at the northeast corner of Portland and King Streets. Laurie Bell was now operating a small garage on the location of the present Police Station. The new Grace Methodist Church was completed and dedicated on Sunday, November 14th. South of the Church on King Street, Dartmouth’s second fire-engine house was torn down. This was an ordinary-sized shed in which were stored the watering cart and the antique fire-engine, pumped by hand. A valuable tourist attraction was lost when this relic was later sold for junk.

The school enrolment that year was 1,628. Grover C. Beazley joined the teaching staff to assist Principal Stapleton and Miss Findlay at Park High School where a class in Grade 10 was established in 1920. The Manual Training branch was abolished, and the work room converted into a shooting gallery for the cadet corps.

Ferry receipts fell and expenditures increased during 1920, for the second year in succession the Commission suffered a deficit. That year they went behind nearly $18,000.

The first electric street lights of Dartmouth were strung diagonally so that the light was suspended in the middle of intersections. In a wind-storm, the saucer-shaped disc rocked, swayed and almost turned turtle.

Central School served the Town for half a century until rendered uninhabitable by the 1917 Explosion, although the roof still remained tight. After that, the BBCA converted two upstairs rooms into a gymnasium for basketball and used it up to the time that the old landmark was demolished about the year 1922.

Henry Y. Mott, grandson of his namesake, who had left here in the 1870s for St. John’s, Nfld., occasionally contributed reminiscent letters to the Dartmouth newspaper. About this time another one appeared giving a list of members of the “Cabbage Club” which flourished in his youth, and included names like Charles and Harry Harvey, Edwin George and W. H. Sterns, Dr. Fred Van Buskirk, Charles Young, John Brown, Albert Wisdom, Fred Hardenbrook, W. C. Mott, W. H. Stevens, Alpin Bowes, Fred Bowes and others.

One of their popular events was the sleigh drive out to Griffin’s Inn on Preston Road, whither they were conveyed in teams supplied by W. H. Isnor, W. H. Greene or John Myers. “I saw Henry Isnor two or three years ago”, wrote Mr. Mott, “and found the patriarchial John Myers, white whiskered and bearing the marks of time, but in spirit as vivacious as a colt and possessing the old time fondness for his horses”.

The writer then commented on the changes in and about Dartmouth, noting that there was little left of many familiar scenes of his boyhood except the memory. “What Dartmouth boy of 50 years ago”, concluded Mr. Mott, “does not remember Mrs. Roberts’ taffy shop near the bridge (NW corner Victoria Road and Portland) and with what joy the treasured cent was expended. Then there was Mrs. Morrissey whose spruce beer, cakes and other juvenile attractions were sold in a little shop opposite the present palatial store of L. Sterns and Son. Could the old blacksmith forge of my friend John D. Murphy speak, what tales of deviltry and mischief would be revealed, of tricks played upon the citizens of Preston on market days, and indeed upon many other unfortunates who came under the spell of those who had not quenched the fiery vengeance of youth”.


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

Up to 1886 the Dartmouth civic year closed on April 30th. From 1887 onward it was changed to coincide with the calendar year ending on December 31st, and the Town elections were held on the first Tuesday of February instead of the first Tuesday of May as heretofore. In the February election of 1887 the first woman ever to poll a vote in Nova Scotia, voted at the Ward II polling booth in the Town Hall. Unfortunately the name of the lady is not preserved in local records but the candidates for Councillor that day were A. C. Johnston and H. C. Walker.

The usual winter activities of Dartmouth centred around the lakes and the new skating rink. That season the Chebucto Club played a series of hockey matches with the Wanderers A.A.C., whose home rink was the Halifax Exhibition building on the present location of All Saints’ Cathedral. In February a grand carnival was held in the electrically lighted Dartmouth rink where some 200 skaters in unique and comic costumes attracted another 800 spectators. At Montreal, Jack Warner (who lived at the northeast corner of King and Church Streets) made quite an impression upon ice-racing enthusiasts. In a three-mile contest against Hugh McCormack of St. John, and speedy Frank Dowd of Montreal, Warner was in the lead when fouled by one of his opponents. The report of the Montreal Herald classed Jack Warner as “one of the foremost amateur skaters in Canada.”

The members of the Chebuctos, who for the past year had been grubbing out the rocks and scraggy growth of that portion of Dartmouth Common (now the Arrows’ baseball park), formally opened their grounds in June. The newly-levelled field was encircled with a quarter-mile cinder track and the whole area was surrounded with a high board fence. The home-plate for baseball was in the same position as now in use. West of that point about 50 yards, stood a small club-house. The entrance gates fronted Wyse Road almost in a direct line easterly from the present first base position.

The Chebuctos promoted baseball, lacrosse, cricket, quoits, tennis, football and field sports. This Club held the first road race hereabouts on a Wednesday afternoon in October when Louis A. McKenna won a six-mile contest from Dartmouth to Mrs. Walker’s at Salmon River House in Preston (now Merrick’s). H. D. Creighton was second. On the Saturday following, these two athletes entered among a large field of contestants in a 10-mile road race from the Willow Tree in Halifax to Bedford. Again McKenna won, with Creighton second. When they returned home that evening, both boys were welcomed by an enthusiastic and hurrahing crowd who paraded them in a carriage through Dartmouth streets in an impromptu torchlight procession, with speech-making at corners.

Our summer recreations favored the water. Over 1,000 people were ferried to Lawlor’s Island on a perfect August day where St. Peter’s picnic netted $700 in aid of their proposed new church. The Knockabout Club held their second annual regatta at the lake. The Halifax County Exhibition was held at the Rink in October. That autumn the Salvation Army commenced the erection of their Hall on Portland Street. The Starr Manufacturing Company were building cars for the railway near a siding at the Hamilton field. Harry Watt was foreman. John N. McElmon set up a steam-driven lumber mill at the foot of Canal Street. In this year also liquor licences were abolished, and open bars no longer existed.

There were two disastrous foundry fires in 1887. Mumford’s forge works on the present location of Lambert Mason’s plant was burned down causing a loss of $15,000. No insurance. In December a midnight blaze destroyed Symonds’ Foundry, and threw 35 hands out of employment. The loss was,estimated at $40,000.

The first school banks in Canada originated in Dartmouth that autumn largely through the suggestion and efforts of Town Clerk Elliot. From weekly deposits of one cent and upward, over $1,400 was saved by the scholars in the first year of trial. Later on other centres throughout the Dominion adopted this system.

Nathaniel Russell, ex-Magistrate and one of the prominent leaders in the public life of Dartmouth, died in August. Formerly a staunch supporter of Hon. J. W. Johnston, he later became a strong anti-Confederate. Mr. Russell was a pillar of Grace Methodist Church.

See also the Town of Dartmouth’s Annual Report for 1887:

Annual Report 1887


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

The first public demonstration of a telephone in Dartmouth, and also the first local broadcast over wires took place on March 21st, 1878, when a vocal and instrumental concert at the Town Hall was heard and acknowledged through telephone apparatus set up in the Dominion Telegraph Company’s office at 187 Hollis Street in Halifax. The Dartmouth hookup was made by connecting a telephone instrument to the local telegraph wire, an extension of which had been run in to the auditorium of the Town Hall.

This Dartmouth exhibition of the newly-invented telephone, previously advertised as a feature of the concert, was highly successful. Communication was held with the City, and the notes of musical instruments were clearly heard by a group assembled in the Halifax office. They in turn rendered a short program which was listened to by the Town Hall audience. A few names of our own people who took part in the concert and whose voices may have been among those that went out over the wire that evening are preserved in the newspapers. According to the program there were readings by Miss Sarah Findlay, Dutch recitations by Thomas Harrison and a medley of songs by Messrs. Shute and Ruggles. The 63rd Regiment Band furnished music.

The proceeds of the concert were in aid of the Dartmouth Temperance Reform Club, which had just been organized with Dr. W. H. Weeks, John Lawlor and John E. Leadley as the principal officers. They had a membership of nearly 600, and were campaigning for funds to erect a commodious hall for meetings and entertainments.

Dartmouth had two spectacular night-fires that year. The more glaring one occurred at the gristmill in April. The second was at Oland’s Brewery in early August. Both were disastrous. At the unoccupied four-storey gristmill, wind-fanned sheets of flame shot upward to redden the sky so alarmingly that people in west-end Halifax imagined their own downtown business section was ablaze. Elderly Dartmouth men of our time who were youths in 1878, often related how they were impressed into giving the fire-fighters a spell at the hand-pump engines on that fearful night when flying embers threatened rooftops and stifling smoke choked the lungs. The efforts of workers were largely centred on saving the storehouse.

The gristmill fire was among the last jobs of the old style rope-drawn engines, for in July the Town took delivery of a brand new horse-drawn fire engine from the Silsby Manufacturing Company of Seneca Falls, N. Y. In honor of the consort of the Governor-General of Canada, the engine was named ‘the “Lady Dufferin.” She was long considered one of the most efficient machines in Eastern Canada.

There were 39 pupils in the High School department that term. At the closing examinations on July 10th, the following were prize winners in order of merit: Annie Hunt, Edward Fairbanks, Louis McKenna, Libbie Creelman, Sarah Creighton (now Mrs. Walter Creighton of 114 Ochterloney St.), Lizzie Adams, Ida Bowes, Georgie Grant, Emma Findlay, Alice Downey.

Another move was made in 1878 towards the installation of a water-system when the Town purchased Lamont’s Lake and its gristmill for $3,719.11. Policeman John “Elbows” McLellan was given a $30 increase in salary. A new steel bell weighing 870 pounds was set up in a tower erected on the fire-engine house. Fire gutted the residence and shop of J. E. Leadley who kept a general store, Post Office and telegraph office at Poplar Hill corner. The property was owned by J. R. Ormon, grocer, who was then doing business at Sterns’ Corner near the ferry. Councillor John P. Mott took J. Walter Allison into his establishment and the firm became known as J. P. Mott and Company. The foundry of Mumford and Sons (near the present Police Station) had the most powerful welding-hammer in the Province and was turning out about 1,000 tons of finished iron-work every year. The 90-ton schooner “Blanche” was launched at Ebenezer Moseley’s shipyard. Dartmouth Ropeworks won a bronze medal at the Paris Exposition. A weekly newspaper called the “Dartmouth Tribune” commenced publication in July.

The summer was generally hot. The steamer “Goliath” ran trips from Halifax to Cow Bay where passengers were landed on the beach in small boats. At Lawlor’s Island in September over 1,000 children and adults attended St. Peter’s Sunday School picnic. At Dartmouth there was still the odd bear lurking as will be learned from a newspaper item of October 1878: Bruin is terrorizing certain Dartmouthians just now. The other night he made an unsuccessful raid on a soap manufactory for tallow. Traps have been set, and armed men with dogs await him at night.

There was a Dominion election in 1878 when the Conservatives came back to power on the platform of the National Policy. This policy was adopted by Sir John A. Macdonald’s party largely as a result of the persistent agitation of George G. Dustan of Woodside, who had been long pleading for a protective tariff on sugar imports so that Sugar Refineries could be established and operated with some degree of security. Dartmouth and Halifax County forgot their old enmity towards the Confederationists and elected two Conservatives.


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

In January 1872 Dartmouth purchased a second-hand Hand Fire Engine in St. John, N. B., which went into service here after considerable repair work was done at Adam McKay’s boiler shop. R. B. Morris of the Virginia Tobacco Company instituted a series of winter lectures at his factory on Church Street for the cultural improvement of employees and their families. Results of trotting races at the Dartmouth Lakes together with names of officials appeared in the “Halifax Citizen” in February. The list includes names of well known horsemen of that time including Thomas Farrell, John R. Glendenning, Garrett Kingston, James Settle, J. E. Leadley, Andrew Corbin, Richard Barry, Thomas Hyde. (These races were not likely the first to be held here, because older residents used to relate tales of trotting contests long before that date.)

The weather grew pretty cold that winter. In March the harbor was so covered with ice that the ferries smashed their way across with difficulty. Mill Cove and Dartmouth side were frozen solidly. Soldiers from Fort Clarence walked back and forth freely over the surface, and skating parties were out in force.

Hornsby’s Brickyard at Eastern Passage advertised that they were prepared to furnish 2,000,000 bricks that season. At Lawlor’s Island, recently purchased from the Lawlor family, a Government quarantine hospital was being constructed. At Dartmouth Frederick Scarfe, late of the brickyards, set up the Chebucto Planing Mill. The Starr Company sent another large shipment of Acme skates by the English steamer. They now had about 150 employees, and had just declared a dividend of 15%, with a bonus of $1,000 to Manager John Forbes.

That spring over 400 residents crowded the Mechanics’ Institute to consider the question of incorporating Dartmouth Town. James W. Johnston, junior, submitted a charter modelled after the City of Halifax. The matter was deferred until July when a vote of ratepayers was taken, with the result that 141 voted in favor of incorporation, and 98 against. The Committee then prepared a Bill for the next session of the Legislature.

There was a Dominion election in 1872. This time the anti-Confederates offered no opposition to Hon. Joseph Howe in Hants County. There seems to be only one record of a political meeting here, and that one was held at Hoyne’s Hotel. The Conservatives won in Halifax County, but Dartmouth went Liberal; in other words they were still strongly “Anti”.

In August a representative meeting of Dartmouthians was held in the Mechanics’ Institute to present a farewell address to Judge James W. Johnston, ex-Premier of the Province, who was taking final leave of Mount Amelia to dwell in the south of France. The address was moved by Andrew Shiels and seconded by Rev. Dr. James Ross, Principal of Dalhousie College.


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

In the winter of 1867, Halifax newspapers carried unusually long accounts of seasonal activities on our lakes, such as games of curling, hockey and ice-boating. Up to about the mid-century there was only occasional reference to such recreations, perhaps because of the few persons participating. Now with a skate factory located in our midst, hundreds of others must have joined in the fashion. Increasing crowds came over from Halifax especially on holidays and Sundays. The bright uniforms of naval and military officers gliding over the glassy surfaces with their lady partners amid the throngs on our various lakes, created quite a colorful scene.

The “Halifax Reporter” of that time observed that it was curious the way that skating enthusiasts of Halifax changed their locations in different seasons. One year Maynard’s Lake in Dartmouth has the best ice; the next year the North West Arm will be the ‘favorite; and another year First and Second Dartmouth Lake will bear the palm, said a writer of that day.

The following account from the same newspaper of Feb. 17th. 1867, clearly proves that hockey was a long-established sport hereabouts:

On Saturday there were about 1,500 people at Oathill Lake. Two well contested games of ricket were being played at the upper end of the lake where a number of young men from Dartmouth and the City were playing their hurleys and “following up” the ball. The centre of the lake was occupied by a number of officers of the Garrison and the Fleet in a match game called hockey, i.e., ricket.

Very little science was displayed in either game, the old class of players seems to have died out, and their successors are not up to the science of leading off the ball, doubling and carrying it through. Instead of the old style, the game as now played is dangerous to outsiders especially the ladies, some of whom were rather roughly treated in the scrimmages after the ball.

On July 1st, 1867, the Dominion of Canada came into existence. One of the last shots fired by the opposing forces was the brilliant speech of Joseph Howe delivered in McDonald’s Hall at Dartmouth. A verbatim report may be found in Volume II of Howe’s Letters and Speeches edited by Sir Joseph Chisholm.

Nova Scotians expressed their anti-Union feelings in the first Dominion elections that September, by sending to Ottawa 18 Liberals and One Conservative. (The latter was Dr. Charles Tupper.) Polling booths in Dartmouth were at Huxtable’s shop near the Engine House, and at Alex. Hubley’s at Black Point, (probably Black Rock). Dartmouth Township gave a majority for the anti-Unionists, while Chezzetcook and Preston voted for the Unionist candidate. Joseph Howe ran for Hants, and was elected. On his return to the City, he was met at the ferry in Dartmouth and escorted in a torchlight procession to “Fairfield”, while bonfires blazed on the hills, and an 18-gun salute was fired.*

One of the worst conflagrations in Dartmouth occurred in mid-November on a rainy and windy Sunday, about two o’clock in the morning. Seven buildings fronting on Portland Street and on King Street at the southwest corner, were completely gutted. The magnificent but terrible illumination could be seen from Halifax and the surrounding country. A fire engine came over from the City.

At the Paris Exhibition in 1867, a model of a quartz-crusher from Symonds Foundry at Dartmouth, received honorable mention. S. Oland and Son bought the Albro Tannery land at Turtle Grove, and commenced their well-known brewery business. The Dartmouth Axe and Ladder Company was organized, with Henry Watt as Captain. St. James’ congregation purchased from Dominick Farrell for $1,600, land at the southeast corner of King and Quarrell Streets as a site for their new church. An 11-year-old boy named Bishop was killed while riding on a car of the inclined plane at the Canal. Contractor Jonathan Elliot died that year aged 70; also Peter Laidlaw 48, and James P. Dunn 42, (the last body in Dunn’s vault).

S. Oland Sons & Co. Brewery


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

Hon. J. W. Johnston, who had been at the head of the Nova Scotia Government in the previous decade, again became Premier of the Province in February 1857 when the Liberals were defeated on a want of confidence vote in the Assembly. (See Calkin’s History.)

One of the ablest of the Conservative members was Dr. Charles Tupper of Cumberland, who was residing that winter with Dr. Parker at “Beechwood” not far from Mr. Johnston’s home at “Mount Amelia.” In his reminiscences published long afterwards, Sir Charles Tupper tells us that it was at “Beechwood” where Mr. Johnston and he met to hold discussions on Conservative policy and no doubt to select the new Executive Council of that time.

Hon. Dr. Tupper evidently remained in Dartmouth after the close of the Legislative session on May 1st, because the ferry records show that he had a commutation ticket for himself, his wife and family for the six-month period ending on June 30th, 1857.

There is considerable information available regarding schools about this time. From the newspaper “Dartmouth Journal” we learn that the old school on the Quaker Meeting House site was torn down about 1857, and the teachers were scattered around in different buildings so that there was no system of school management.

From scraps of annotations on school returns, one gathers that classes were held in private houses, that pupils still paid fees and the teacher in some cases “boarded round”. For instance the school return of William Cox shows that he taught in Dartmouth for the summer term ending November, 1857. Fees for those, “who write, read and spell and cipher 12/6 per quarter. The smaller class 7/6 per quarter.” Salary for six months, “£25 exclusive of board and lodging”. Number of scholars, 19 boys, 6 girls. And finally, “school was held in a room of a dwelling in a large upper room.”

The school return of Elizabeth Frame that term shows 35 small boys and girls enrolled, among them being Benjamin Russell aged 8. In his reminiscences 75 years later, Judge Russell locates this house on Wilson’s Lane near Quarrell Street. His teacher in 1856 had been Miss Eliza Kuhn in a house next to the present Capitol Stores on Portland Street. (Up to within recent years children’s classes continued to be taught in private houses.)

John R. Miller, who later became School Inspector, commenced teaching at Dartmouth in 1857. His scholars varied in age from 9 years to 19. These were the more advanced pupils and their curriculum included Latin, Greek and French. Mr. Fitch assisted for three months, then Mr. Chase came, according to the school return. At the closing exercises of that term, a Halifax newspaper referred to the school as the Dartmouth Academy and gave the name of Miss Carlisle as junior class teacher.


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

In 1848 we note that this year marks an epoch in Nova Scotia history, because it was then that the Province attained complete Responsible Government. (See plaque in the corridor of Province House commemorating this accomplishment of Howe, Uniacke and others of the Reform Party.)

Foreign news that year conveyed the intelligence that King Louis Philippe, who was once in Dartmouth, had been driven from the throne of France by another Revolution.

In our own country, preparations went on for the proposed Halifax to Quebec railroad; and also for the construction of a telegraph line to the New Brunswick border. One section of the Railway Commissioners’ report dealing with their surveys in and around Halifax, must have made Dartmouthians leap with delight. The report noted:

The best site for a railway terminus is on the opposite shore at Dartmouth. The distance from Quebec to the latter is four miles shorter than to the Halifax side. One great advantage is that its shore line is as yet comparatively free from wharves and commercial establishments, and an extensive terminus can be formed there at less expense and inconvenience than on the Halifax side ….

Another interesting 1848 document dealing with a local matter, is a ferry record showing the rates of ferriage in effect at that time. Commutation tickets were quoted by the year, the fares being payable on January 1st and July 1st. Ten days’ grace was allowed at each half year.

£15 per annum passed man and wife, unmarried children, servants, constant inmates (not boarders), with all horses, carts, carriages, sleighs, sleds, owned by the proprietor, laden with his own goods, and driven by persons entitled to free passage.

The price was scaled down for one horse, cart or carriage; and scaled further if no cart used, but only a driving-carriage.

The list is lengthy and diversified. The rate for a foot-passenger was £2 10s per year. One rate was quoted for a family with children. The same rate applied if no children, but a horse might be substituted. Dogs not in harness, or in sportsmen’s carts, cost one penny. Clergymen passed free on Sundays. Disorderly persons excluded from ticket privileges.

One of the crying needs of the steamboats was an adequate supply of fresh water. No doubt that necessity had something to do with the recent formation of the Dartmouth Water Company, some of whose incorporators were likewise ferry directors.

About that time the latter must have hit upon the plan of tapping the flooded pit of John Cleverdon’s old mine at the foot of Fairy Hill, for there was an Act of the Legislature passed in the session of 1848, “empowering the Commissioners of Dartmouth Common to dispose of the abandoned pit and the use of the water, to any Company, for 21 years”.

Or perhaps the idea was suggested by Charles W. Fairbanks who at that time, was the civil engineer in charge of the laying of pipes from Long Lake to bring in the first fresh water supply to the City of Halifax. Mr. Fairbanks was then only 26 years of age, and a resident of Dartmouth.


peter toney

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

The elections were on that autumn. Joseph Howe came quite frequently to campaign in Dartmouth and in its suburbs, because he and William Annand were candidates for the County of Halifax, which was a separate constituency from the City.

On Friday evening, October 30th, there was a meeting of about 200 supporters of Howe’s Reformers held in the Dartmouth School House. Henry Y. Mott presided, and Alexander James, then the schoolmaster of the town, was Secretary.

Joseph Howe spoke at some length, outlining the legislative reforms recently gained by his party. Although the night was dark and tempestuous, loyal followers accompanied the Halifax group to the ferry; and as the boat pulled out, gave three rousing cheers which were lustily returned.

The poll for the election of candidates was held at the Halifax Court House for five days early in November. There was no privacy whatever in the manner of voting. The rabble, jostling one another in the Court House passageway and in the gallery, showed no mercy in voicing their feelings as freeholders announced the candidate of their choice.

(Once upon a time, even the old ferryman John Skerry, always the essence of honesty, was heckled by political foes in the gallery, with cries of: “Who stole the oars!”)

Dartmouth people voted at Halifax. Evidently campaign funds to provide transportation were also necessary in those days, as is gathered from the following account published in the “Morning Post” of November 4th, 1840 :

Yesterday the Court House was crowded long before the hour appointed for commencing the register of votes. A rich display was formed by the colored folks from Preston who came over in a steamer gaily decorated with flags, and chartered for the day by the Reform Party.

The African gentry formed themselves into a procession on landing, and marched with flying colours through part of Water and Hollis Streets, and then went to the Court House and took complete possession of the passage for the entry and exit of voters. The area in front of the Exchange was a dense mass of persons from the commencement of the poll until4 o’clock* when the poll closed for the day.

We conclude this account of the year 1840 by copying a few excerpts from a description of Dartmouth and its suburbs written that year for the “Nova Scotian” by Joseph Howe. Since 1836, when he was first elected for this constituency, Mr. Howe often toured the district to familiarize himself with its people, its problems and its romantic scenery.

Panoramic views in particular must have appealed to Joseph Howe. Note the number of well-known hills in our vicinity which he must have climbed, because he so definitely describes the surrounding streams and forests.

… In looking East, the growth and improvement of Dartmouth itself is a pleasing feature in the prospect. But a few years ago, it seemed to have been smitten with desolation — many of the houses were tenantless or unsaleable — business was at a stand — its population dispersing, while those who still clung to it were haunted with visions of the past, and reflections on the fortunes which they had not made by the Shubenacadie Canal.

“A change has come over the spirit of the dreams” of the good people of Dartmouth — they are no longer relying upon adventitious and extraordinary sources of wealth — but, with cheerfulness and activity, are making the most of the natural advantages of the place, and, aided by the example of a few enterprising individuals, who have settled among them, are raising the little town in industry, population and public spirit.

… Nearly all the roads branching off from Dartmouth have their peculiar charm. If one strolls to Sackville (Bedford) over the hilly, indifferent and unfrequented track, which skirts the eastern side of the Basin, the view from several points upon it is very fine. With that noble sheet of water spread out upon the right, white cottages, with a green background, circling its western margin, you look down upon the Narrows, the Harbour, the Eastern Passage, Dartmouth, Halifax, the Islands, with the men-of-war and merchant-ships riding tranquilly at their moorings, beating up, or gliding down, a numerous flight of coasters and sailboats glancing around them, and the scene, though there is nothing very striking or sublime about it, is yet full of beauty, variety and interest.

The ride down the Eastern Passage is also very pleasant …. On a summer evening when the setting sun throws his latest and mellowest beams upon Harbour and Town, giving a glow to all the life they have, whether still or animated, the look-out from the Battery, and from several points above and below, is very delightful.

. . . The only drawback to a ramble down the Passage in summer, is the powerful effluvium from the split dog fish, with which the fences are lined.

. . . The ride along the Cow Bay road has not many attractions. On crossing the River, one is struck with the regular natural steps by which the waters, drained from the chain of lakes stretching up to the celebrated Grog Brook, descend to the level of the ocean.

. . . These are but two of the pastern roads. That (one) leading past Creighton’s and Shiels’ to Cole Harbor also has its attractions. The views from Breakheart Hill, Mount Edward, and several other points, are pleasing and extensive—one is seldom out of sight of lakes or of the salt water, and there are several cross roads branching off in which the student may while away an hour with his book.

The peculiar charm of the Main Eastern Road (18 highway), is the fine chain of lakes, past which it runs for 18 miles. The old Preston Road is not without its beauties—a sweet sylvan scene rewards us for climbing the hills beyond the Parsonage, near the first and second lake. Another, of a somewhat similar character, is presented in the neighborhood of Lake Loon—while from Katzman’s and the Church Hill seaward a scene of great extent and beauty delights the eye. Where the Rivers cross the road there is a valley, fringed with green meadows, or overhung with maples and birches, and the bright waters sparkling between.

“Mi’kmaq captain Peter Toney” https://novascotia.ca/museum/mikmaq/default.asp?section=image&page=4&id=107&period=1800&region=

peter toney

This is a copy of a sketch of Peter Toney, made about 1840, and preserved among the collection of Lady Falkland in the Dominion Archives at Ottawa. Evidently Peter was a leader of the Mi’kmaq at Dartmouth. At least he was always prominent in canoe races in the harbor regattas of a century ago, and was a winner in one of these contests. The part of Hawthorne Street between Prince Albert Road and the Canal stream used to be called Toney Street, after this well-known Dartmouth family of that vicinity.


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

Among the petitions before the House of Assembly when they met in late January 1836, was a memorial from colored people of Dartmouth asking financial aid to help them establish a school for their children. It was signed by Jeremiah Page, Louis Cassity, Daniel Fendal, George Gibson, Samuel Wood, John Garo, William Andel, Robert Tynes, Nim Carter, Henry Clark, Daniel Gross and John Franklyn.

The petition of Jeremiah Page humbly sheweth that there are many colored persons residing in the Town Plot of Dartmouth and in its immediate vicinity. That they have among them as many as 40 children and they are entirely without the means of giving them schooling.

That the school which receives the aid of the public allowance in this place, is already so numerously attended that in all probability there would not be room in it for memorialists, children, if they had the means of sending them.

That the memorialists are willing to do all in their power, but without aid from your honorable House, they have no prospect of ever being able to support a school among them; and their little ones will consequently not be taught sufficiently to read the Bible.

A general election was held in December of 1836, when Joseph Howe was elected for the first time to the House of Assembly. Some credit for the commencement of the public career of the great Reformer might properly be claimed on the eastern side of the harbor, for his name had been put forward in the previous summer, first by a meeting of freeholders at Musquodoboit, and later at Lawrencetown.

Dartmouthians voted at the County Court House in Halifax, where the poll opened on December 5th and continued for three days. Later it. moved to St. Margaret’s Bay, and finally closed at Musquodoboit on December 20th.

Candidates usually appeared daily at the hustings, and on opening day, or during a lull in voting, made campaign speeches to the cheers of supporters, or the jeers of opponents. As the vote progressed, tail-enders would resign. What with open voting, political arguments and liquor drinking, it is small wonder that there were frequent fist fights at those prolonged elections.

Howe’s successful partner in the County was William Annand. Hugh Bell and Thomas Forrester were elected for the Town. The two losers in the County were William Lawson, who had sat thirty years in the Assembly, and Henry A. Gladwin of Middle Musquodoboit, who had been nominated by John Skerry of Dartmouth.

In this election, Halifax was divided from Colchester and Pictou districts, as these had just been made separate Counties.