Carte de la baye de Chibouctou

dartmouth map
Dartmouth Cove and the Shubenacadie River with a notation of “G”.

One of the only representations I’ve seen of an island that supposedly existed in Dartmouth Cove, that is mentioned by Martin in the Story of Dartmouth on page 31:

“There is an old tradition that in this part of Mill Cove, a small island used to exist. It is mentioned in a footnote to the History of Dartmouth by Harry Piers, who got the particulars from George Shiels, a lifelong resident who died about 1900. The latter stated that until the island had been washed away by the sea in the early part of the last century, it had been situated north of Mott’s Wharf. (Mott’s wharf ran out from the middle of the present Hazelhurst railway trestle, or about halfway between Evergreen point and Parker’s wharf).

As the island disappeared under the action of the sea, according to Mr. Shiels, numerous wooden coffins containing skeletons could be seen. He thought that these were graves of the early French, either prisoners from the Hazelhurst barracks, or a fraction of the one thousand victims of an epidemic which had swept through the fleet of Duke D’Anville in this harbor during the autumn of 1746. More are said to be buried under St. James Church.”

“G: Autrer riviere qui va aussy au mines” Another river that goes to Minas (basin)

“Carte de la baye de Chibouctou” <1750.



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

The bridge over the Canal at Portland Street was reconstructed under the direction of Street Superintendent Bishop, and the hollow filled in with material excavated from the water trenches. The sturdy stones on both sides which are now visible only on the northern side, are from the ruins of the Canal Locks, and bear the familiar 7-point etchings of stone-cutters of a bygone day. The stones were set in position by Messrs. Synott and Barry. Thus went the last of our downtown wooden bridges.

The railway bridge over the Narrows, which had been repaired in the previous year, collapsed on the night of July 23rd. The piles must have been very unstable because a large section extending from the Draw to the Halifax side simply floated away in the calm weather then prevailing. Many residents are still alive who had walked across a few hours before.

The old [Mi’kmaq] legend about the curse pronounced upon a crossing over the Narrows, was a well-known tradition in last century. The story goes back to the days before the settlement of Halifax. It seems that in the dim and distant past, a lovely [Mi’kmaq] girl was courted by two braves, one of whom was rich and more powerful than the other. The maiden’s heart, however, was inclined towards the poor one, who finally won her for his bride. They spent their happy honeymoon on the eastern side of Chebucto harbor, near the Narrows.

According to the legend, the Narrows was then bridged over by a [Mi’kmaq] construction of poles extended, and resting on canoes, to which they were fastened. These canoes were kept in place by heavy stones hung from ropes long enough to reach the deeper water. In the winter seasons, or in times of warfare, this primitive bridge was removed and the passage left open.

The unsuccessful lover disappeared, and was supposed to have gone on a hunting trip. But one night the bride was wakeful and uneasy. She rose, threw a blanket about her, and passed from the wigwam out into the cool midnight air, hoping that the quiet would bring back her repose. As she strolled towards the shore, a man sprang suddenly from behind a tree, and seized her in his arms. At once he bounded to the beach and on the bridge, while the young bride’s cries for help rang on the air, and wakened her husband and others of the tribe.

Grasping his hatchet, the husband rushed out, only to see his rival carrying away what was most precious to him. He also flew to the bridge, but by that time the rival was half-way across and, while firmly holding his prize, had plucked a hatchet from his belt and with rapid strokes, began cutting the bridge in twain.

A few slashes on the mooring ropes of the canoes, more blows on the poles connecting it with its neighbor, and the bridge parted. The severed ends were then rapidly swept downward by the swiftly flowing waters.

The western end on which stood the abductor and his now fainting prize soon touched the shore. He leaped on the beach with his burden, and was soon lost to sight in the pathless forest.

On the opposite side, the enraged and despairing husband, with bitter curses upon his foe and upon the severed bridge, threw himself into the rushing tide, and was swept down into the night.

Next morning he reappeared at the camp but his reason had fled. He spent the remainder of his days wandering about the shore, muttering over and over again the name of his bride, the villain who had betrayed him and repeating these words: “The first in storm, the second in darkness and the third in blood.

The collapsing of the railway bridge left stranded in Dartmouth about 35 freight cars whose contents were subsequently transported to Halifax by lighters. Telephone and telegraph wires strung along the bridge, also went out of commission and disrupted communication service for a time. At Dartmouth public meetings were held to discuss the advisability of reconstructing the bridge once more, but the majority of townsfolk favored the building of a railway from Windsor Junction to Dartmouth. This proposal was forwarded to authorities at Ottawa. Councillor A. C. Johnston and Benjamin Russell went thither to urge its adoption.

All the while the water project was going steadily forward. When Portland Street was being trenched in 1893, workmen unearthed a skull and some human bones. In sections of town where there were solid slate-rock formations, hand-drills were replaced by steam-drills. The latter method, which greatly expedited progress was under the supervision of A. A. Hayward, Manager of the American Hill gold mine at Waverley. Prince Street was one of the toughest. Almost the whole block had to be blasted. Similar formations were encountered on Dundas Street south of Queen, and in the stretches of Prince Albert Road and Portland Street bordering St. James Church.

In 1894 the first street signs were put up, and certain changes made in street names. The southern section of Prince Edward Street was changed to Prince Street, and the northern part changed to Edward Street. Colored Meeting Road was changed to Crichton Avenue. The present Prince Albert Road, hitherto called Portland Street, was changed to Canal Street and then ran from the shore to the Town limits. Portland Street was lined up as at present. Bishop Street, which extended from the Starr Factory to Burton’s Hill, was incorporated into Pleasant Street.

The new Post Office was opened in May. On the opposite corner the Sterns family built their second brick structure (present Dartmouth Furnishers), and in October returned to do business at the stand Luther Sterns had vacated 30 years previously. Rhodes Curry and Co., were the contractors. Edward Elliot was architect.

In June the stone-crusher went into operation, breaking up heavy rocks to macadamize the streets at a low cost. Daniel Brennan was Policeman No. 2. William Webber of Pine Street was engaged as a Watchman from 12 o’clock until eight in the morning. Up to that year, the Town was without police protection after midnight. A drinking fountain, donated by the local branch of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, with outlets for humans, horses and dogs, was erected on Steamboat Hill. Another drinking trough for horses, donated by J. Walter Allison, was set up on the north side of the road near 97 Pleasant Street.

John T. Walker erected St. Peter’s Hall on Ochterloney Street, and a two-roomed school at Woodside opposite 217 Pleasant Street. John N. McElmon raised the roof of Greenvale School and inserted a second storey with four additional rooms. The same contractor built a spacious Hall for the Turtle Grove Recreation Club (now apartments at 32 Dawson Street). At 51 Pleasant Street a double dwelling was completed for James Simmonds and A. E. Ellis. More bones were unearthed that summer when excavating for St. James’ new Manse. A commencement was made on the branch railway from Windsor Junction. A private telephone wire was strung on electric light poles, connecting Town Hall with the four schools.

Dartmouth oarsmen like Colin McNab and Charles Patterson were competing in the Lorne Club and other regattas at Halifax. The ‘Atlantic Weekly” suggested that similar programs be carried out at First Lake. In September, Woodside Refinery Club held a Saturday afternoon regatta over a course from the Sugar Refinery northward and return. Only Woodside employees participated.

This is what the old Inn of John Skerry looked like about 1892. The premises were then owned by John R. Graham, and the building divided to accommodate three families. In last century the sidewalk was much lower, and the Ochterloney Street entrance was reached by three layers of steps. The chimneys came up from three large fireplaces in the basement which evidently had served as a kitchen. Timbers twelve inches square support this building, and hand-hewn laths may still be seen in the walls. Note the clapboards on the sides, and the “Nova Scotia dormer windows” typical of 19th century houses throughout the Province. In the early 1890s Thomas Cushion kept a butcher shop at this corner. Man in white apron may be Albert Yetter. Lame “Johnnie” Wilson with his supporting stick and summer straw-hat, is leaning against the corner-board. The fence on the right is plastered with praises of patent medicines, and the low building adjoining is the old curiosity shop of Alec Pitts who used to display his second-hand furniture on the Water Street sidewalk in favorable weather.

This is the first St. Peter’s School erected about 1841, and regarded as one of the principal schools of Dartmouth until 1880. Boys and girls attended. This hall was built near St. Peter’s old church in the same manner as was the old parish school hall of Christ Church, because in the early days schools were usually of a denominational character and were fostered by the clergy. Of course any children were admitted upon payment of the tuition fee, until after the Free School Act when these institutions became public schools of the Town. Some teachers in old St. Peter’s included William Lawlor, John McDonald, David Walsh, Mr. Thorpe, Mr. Kelly, Mr. Hipp, John Cashen, Miss O’Toole, Miss Mary Holt, Miss Cassie Downey. St. Peter’s Temperance Society was organized here in 1885. The little building was removed from Ochterloney Street in 1894 to make room for the new St. Peter’s Hall.

This is the new Canal bridge and stone-crusher after it began to function in 1894. Both sides of the structure were made of heavy blocks of stone mostly from abandoned Canal Locks. Afterwards the middle part of the bridge was filled in with surplus slate-rock excavated from water-trenches, and also with material from the streets. The archway at the base is 12 feet high, built of bent iron rails and then covered with stone. In all, about 8 tons of iron rails, 775 tons of heavy stone and 3,258 cartloads of filling were used on this job. The total cost was $943.01. From about the year 1890, small stone was broken on a portable breaker which operated in different sections of Town to crush the surface pieces of whinstone then abundant everywhere. Previous to 1890, stone was broken with hand-hammers by unemployed men who were paid at the rate of three cents per bushel. In the 1880s they used the narrow level area on the east side of Prince Albert Road midway between the MicMac Club and Carter’s Corner. They had no protection from the weather.

See Also:

Annual Report 1894


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

In 1884, Dartmouth along with other centres adopted Standard Time of the 60th meridian. Timepieces were advanced 14 minutes before noon on March 1st. Louis D. Robinson resigned as Principal of Schools, and was succeeded by H. S. Congdon. William Mac-Kenzie became Chief of the two-man police force, in place of Robert Lehan.

Construction of the railway bridge at the Narrows began that spring. M. J. Hogan of Quebec was the contractor for the timber and trestle work. The Starr Manufacturing Company under the supervision of John Forbes, made the 200-foot swinging drawbridge. Duncan Waddell did the stone work. One of his divers, Edward Whebby, recently returned from Honolulu, was the first casualty. After working in 20 fathoms of water, he complained of being unwell and died within a few hours.

On Dartmouth side, the first sod for the railway was turned at Stairs’ wharf on July 1st. Hundreds of navvies and scores of teams were employed as the work progressed. By September they were evidently in the vicinity of the Mill Cove, for a report of that date said that the cutting down of the banks revealed the presence of human bones. At one place a coffin was unearthed with a cannon ball on top. Nothing remained inside but the skull and some mouldering bones, a heavy gold ring and a few coins. One was an Irish penny dated 1781. To the south of Old Ferry wharf, were found two skeletons, one skull measuring 26 inches, and the large thigh bones showed that there were giants in those days. The other skull had the teeth nearly intact, one being filled with gold.

Bones are being turned out in every direction to the eastward of the town-plot, which was known as the plague graveyard when the [Mi’kmaq] died in large numbers owing to the scurvy being brought among them by the French, and also by the deaths of French discoverers who died there in hundreds previous to the settlement of Halifax, said the report.


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

Although the exodus of young people seeking work in the United States continued, and there were several houses for sale or let in 1879, yet the industrial situation seemed to be improving.

The annual output of the Starr Factory was about 40,000 pairs of skates and many of these were shipped to the United States and to Europe. Of late years German competition was beginning to threaten their sales. About this time they commenced the manufacture of shovels, and the firm continually submitted tenders on government bridge-building projects. Among local jobs completed by the Starr Factory in 1879 was the making and setting-up of iron vaults and doors for the new Merchants Bank at Halifax. (Now Royal Bank.)

Aggressive Dartmouthians kept up their agitation for a railway that spring. There was talk in the air that the Allan line might build piers in Dartmouth if railroad connections were made available. At a public meeting held in April 1879, resolutions were passed memorializing the Dominion Government on the subject of building a branch line from Windsor Junction. About that time also, steps were taken to beautify the town when the Council encouraged the planting of shade-trees by abating taxes on property so ornamented. The tax rate was $1.05 compared with a 75 cent rate in the first year of incorporation. The estimate expeditures for the municipal year beginning May 1st, was $16,882. An amount was to be asked for the purchase of Lake Loon, and $200 was voted to build a school-house for [black] children. J. G. Foster became Town Magistrate.

Perhaps the biggest construction job that year was the $1,990 contract for a new Baptist Church on King Street built by Rhodes Curry and Co. of Amherst. This Gothic-style edifice occupied the site of the original Church which was then removed to the rear to be used for Sunday School classes.

About the same time, the lofty three-storey structure at the southwest corner of Portland and Prince Street was built for Mrs. Isabelle Lawlor. (This is now Chisling’s corner.)

The present Lesbirel building on Commercial Street was erected for George Craig, the barber-photographer, by Contractor John T. Walker, also in 1879. This soon became the leading tonsorial parlor in town and was patronized by leading citizens. Mr. Craig possessed considerable talent and ambition. As a young man he worked regularly as a factory hand in the Ropeworks, and employed his nightly leisure learning the barbering trade. Barber shops then kept open evenings, and also on Sunday mornings to serve Saturday midnight shop-workers.

Safety razors were 40 years away. The danger and difficulty of manipulating straight-edge razors did not encourage the majority of males to practise the fine art of shaving, with the result that many a man made frequent visits to his chosen barber-shop where his private shaving-mug was held in readiness. Shaves were seven cents. Most adults grew moustaches, sometimes sideburns. A haircut on Saturday night was generally taboo, even though long waits were of little consequence. Spending an hour or so in a group where everybody knew one another was an entertainment in itself, especially with a punster like George Craig steering the conversation.

The masculine privacy of 19th century barber-shops was seldom violated by the presence of women. Occasionally of an afternoon, some fond mother whose young hopeful needed a haircut, might be seen herding the little fellow past the customary row of spittoons to a distant seat where both were isolated from the men-folk, over whom an awed silence would generally descend.

The unsolved mystery of Dr. John McDonald, was brought again to public attention in 1879 when a human skull was found underground in the cellar-kitchen of the house where the Doctor once lived on Blockhouse Hill. For a time the incident aroused considerable excitement among older residents who now felt there was sufficient proof that Dr. McDonald had been murdered in that house. At the ensuing inquest, however, a former occupant, Mrs. Mary Loner declared that the skull had been given her by the widow of Dr. John Slayter, and that she had hidden it in the ground some years previously. Dr. W. H. Weeks also stated that he recognized the skull as the one belonging to Dr. Slayter, and it was supposed to be the head of one of the “Saladin” pirates who were hanged in 1844.

In October, Dartmouth had another mystery on its hands. Hugh Greene well-known resident and former inn-keeper at Skerry’s Corner was listed as missing. His family organized search-parties to scour the woods for some days until tidings came that the old man had eaten dinner at Nichols Hotel at Grand Lake on the 18th. More parties continued the search in that area, and only abandoned their attempts when it was felt that Mr. Greene must have frozen to death or been drowned.

County Magistrate Andrew Shiels, best known as “Albyn,” died in his 88th year at his residence 114 Ochterloney Street in November. His first blacksmith shop was set up near the ferry wharf in Halifax. In the volume of Albyn’s poetry available at the Provincial Archives, appear the following lines deploring the fact that the sacrifices of early settlers are not better remembered:

Lo! even in Quakertown, the fiendish raid Is quite forgotten that the Micmacs made;

And all the legends which it once could boast Have, with itself in Dartmouth, long been lost!

Nor is there any vestige left that says,

Where stood the Blockhouse in the former days.

By 1879 several telephones had been installed in business houses and offices of Halifax. The first telephone line in Dartmouth was a private wire strung that autumn from the residence of John P. Mott at Hazelhurst to one of his factory buildings about 150 yards southward.

In the shipbuilding line, Eben Moseley built a 32-ton schooner called the “Mora.” Alexander Forsyth acquired the grocery establishment in the new shop and residence at the present 85 Commercial Street which had been previously erected by E. L. Coleman. The latter lost the property in a Sheriff’s sale. At the northeast corner of Pine and Ochterloney Streets, an unoccupied house belonging to Alexander Richard was destroyed by fire.

Dartmouth deaths in 1879 included Olivia, 28 years, wife of John Greene, Portland Street jeweler; Anne 61, wife of David Falconer at “Greenvale”; Charlotte, wife of S. P. Fairbanks, Eastern Passage Road (Woodside); Mary Ann 24, wife of Peter O’Hearn, Halifax schoolteacher; Charlotte Donig, 53, wife of John Mansfield; Mary 92, widow of James Collins, Portland Street; Elizabeth 78, widow of Michael Waddell, Blockhouse Hill; Barbara 69, widow of John Jackson; Louise 70, widow and second wife of ex-Premier James W. Johnston, died at residence of her stepson at “Sunnyside”; Stephen Faulkner 66, Dundas Street; Francis Young 67, shipbuilder; Sackville McKay 73, Ochterloney Street; Daniel Sullivan 52, Austenville; Jeremiah Donovan 79; Henry Monohan 39, Porto Bello Road at Port Wallace.


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

The decade of the 1870s commenced with a boom in real estate which petered out after a few years of prosperity. One project attempted was the subdividing of about 100 acres of the virgin land of Mount Amelia where streets were laid out, and building lots surveyed. The promoters were Hon. James W. Johnston, Dr. Parker, John Esdaile, B. H. Hornsby, and others who became a corporate body in 1870 known as the proprietors of Prince Arthur Park. In that year, Mr. Esdaile built the first house. Except for the Harvey house at “Locust Knoll” and the France house at “Mapledene” (“Fairmont”), there was little or no development there for the next thirty years.

As the 50-year charter of the Steam Boat Company had expired in 1867, there was no longer any legal obstacle in the way of a competitive ferry. A new Company with a capital of $200,000 was incorporated in 1870 by George W. Corbett, a Dartmouth druggist, and others. Nothing seems to have come out of this project.

One gathers from fragmentary sources that there were the usual outdoor activities that winter. A Halifax newspaper of January 22nd reported 12 inches of ice in Maynard’s Lake at Dartmouth, and “hundreds went over from Halifax on Saturday afternoon to enjoy the skating. The splendid band of the 78th Regiment went over also and discoursed sweet music at the lake. The wealth and beauty of Halifax were fully represented, and the scene was one of the rarest and most exhilarating description”.

The only known duel in the annals of Dartmouth took place that winter when two jealous suitors quarrelled on the ice over a young lady. These flaming youths determined to settle the affair on the morrow morning with pistols. Accordingly they met at the appointed place. Both fired. Both missed. Then they shook hands.

The steamer “City of Boston” lost on a voyage to England in 1870, had among its passengers Mr. Edward Billing prominent drygoods merchant of Halifax, who lived in the stone house at the corner of North and Edward Streets. The Starr Manufacturing Company’s report for the year ending April 30th, showed a profit of nearly $9,000. John Greene, who had learned his trade with McCullouch at Halifax, set up a jewelry store in the shop next south from Skerry’s old corner which was now occupied by the Greene family. About that time Robert Moyes, well-known foundryman, committed suicide in a mood of despondency.

In the spring of 1870 work was commenced on the building of St. James’ Church situated on a commanding knoll at the junction of the Eastern Passage and the Preston Roads, where there was once an old graveyard. Earth from this excavation was at first hauled to the foot of Portland Street and used as fill in the hollow near the present railway tracks. This procedure was halted when it was noticed that the debris contained numerous pieces of human bones. Some specimens of these bones, one of which was an adult skull, were presented to the Provincial Museum. They are now in the Museum at Halifax Citadel.

A branch of the YMCA was formed in Dartmouth at least by 1870, because during that summer the organization held a picnic on the grounds of Judge James at “Evergreen”, the proceeds were in aid of funds for their Reading Room. They held meetings at “Lawlor’s new Hall”. (This was over the present Harbor Cafe.) At First Lake, John Forbes built “Lakeside” now ‘‘Beechmount Apartments.”

At his Dartmouth shipyard Ebenezer Moseley built the 10-ton steamer “Whisper” for Robert Chetwynd of Halifax; the 22-foot sailing yacht “Marie” for George J. Troop, and another yacht for S. A. White of Halifax. The Steam Boat Co. donated the services of the “MicMac” to take Mount Hope patients on an afternoon excursion. The Italian Harpers furnished string music. (This practice kept up every summer and was discontinued about 20 years later when a patient took a notion to swim ashore from mid-harbour.)

At Halifax a new waiting-room was built for ferry patrons. This was an oblong-shaped one-storey structure on the south side of the gates, and contained a separate compartment for women. (The building remained in use until 1913.) At the Town offices in Dartmouth, the Clerk was relieved of his duties after auditors had discovered certain irregularities in the finances. At Coleman’s Cove in August (north of the foot of Ochterloney Street) the Plymouth Brethren held a baptizing ceremony when two males and four females were immersed before a large crowd.

Besides having a member in the first House of Commons, Dartmouth also had one of her residents in the first Canadian Senate. He was Jeremiah Northup, prominent Halifax merchant, who lived at “Fairfield” for a time after Howe’s departure. Senator Northup had been a member of the Liberal House of Assembly, but received an appointment to the Senate when he became a Conservative.

The Shubenacadie Canal, now owned by Lewis Fairbanks, ceased operations that summer. The last book entry, dated June 30th, debits Dennis Ring with $2.50 being tolls on 13 tons of timber. The books show that the Inclined-Plane was used to haul up yachts for painting. Fees were also received from vessels docking at Mill Cove wharf, and from icemen for ice-cutting privileges in the lakes.

The Way Office at Dartmouth was advanced to the status of a Post Office that autumn. Among the prized possessions of Mrs. Marion Moore is the following letter of notification written in the hand of Joseph Howe to her grandfather, and dated at Ottawa, September 13th, 1870:

Dartmouth is to be made a regular Post Office, and you are to have 40% commission on the business of the Office, with $52 per annum for taking the mails across. I will try to get some allowance for a delivery of letters in the town. Write me what this would cost. Yours truly, Joseph Howe, Mr. Luther Sterns, Dartmouth, N. S.


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

In April a house was commenced for Arthur W. Godfrey “on the other side of Geyro’s”. George A. S. Crichton, finished enough of “The Brae” at Mount Pleasant, to live there that summer. On part of her late father’s property at the tanyard, Miss Annie Albro had a neat dwelling erected, which she called “Grove Cottage”, and later on, leased it to her brother and his bride.

The scene from Mount Pleasant was described as being very beautiful with the cottages on the opposite hills, and the rows of wigwams along the side of Silver’s Hill from the present MicMac Club to Graham’s cross roads. There was another encampment at “Second Red Bridge”. Other records state that there were also camps in the vicinity of Pleasant Street, near Erskine.

This may account for the heaps of bones that have been unearthed for over a century on the rising ground where stand the Church and Manse of St. James’ United Church. Or the knoll may have been the burial place of the first settlers of Dartmouth, because that locality in the 1700’s was just outside the boundary of the original townplot.

The first known account of these findings is contained in the Chronicle of July 1844. At that time Foster’s “MicMac Tobacco Manufactory” was in full operation on the lot now occupied by the Dartmouth Medical Centre. The newspaper said:

A quantity of human bones comprising the remains of seven or eight persons were discovered last week buried in a hill in Dartmouth near the residence of William Foster, Esq. Considerable quantities of bones have been dug up on the same spot on several previous occasions. They are in an advanced state of decay, and must have been buried one or two centuries ago.

The only clue to their probable history to be found in Haliburton, is his account of the visit of the French fleet under the Duc d’Anville to Chebucto in 1746, on which occasion 1130 of his men died of the scurvy, besides great numbers of Mi’kmaq.

Whether these remains were interred then, or at a more ancient period, is a question worthy the attention of those versed in historical reminiscences.