Local Government In the Maritime Provinces

Out of the territory east of the Penobscot and south of the St. Lawrence were carved the three Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The French called the district Acadie, and the Scottish King of England, in his grant to Sir William Alexander in 1621. Nova Scotia. The Isle of St. Jean (now Prince Edward Island) was granted a separate government in 1769, but was not renamed until 1799 after the visit of Prince Edward. The Loyalists on the river St. John, exasperated by delays in the issue of land patents and by apparent neglect, demanded and got separation from Nova Scotia in 1784 and in the name of the new province the House of Brunswick was honoured.1 In 1784 the island of Cape Breton was granted a separate government, but was reannexed to Nova Scotia in 1820.

The Settlers

To the character and traditions of the early settlers must be traced the nature of the struggle for self-government and the character of the institutions. At the outset physical features naturally determine the localities of settlement. The sheltered slip between the mainland and the peninsula offered the best haven. Here the French entered and settled at Port Royal and on the St. Croix. Later they spread to Cape Breton fortifying Louisbourg. Along the shores, in the bays and up the creeks and rivers of the eastern coast of these provinces the tide of population moved, at first impelled by the love of adventure and the prospects of hunting, later by political necessities.

The second inflow of settlers came from New England in search of cod and commerce. Convenient stations they found in the harbors of Chebucto and Canso and in those of the Bay of Fundy. Later on the arrival of Cornwallis and the prospects of trade attracted large numbers to Halifax. And in 1759 the proclamation of Goovernor Lawrence brought from Massacussetts and Rhode Island an excellent band of settlers to take up the fertile lands from which the Acadians had been driven.

The fear of French aggression impelled New England to attack and capture Louisbourg in 1745. When Britain returned it to France in 1748, there was but one thing to do — to build a stronger fortress between the French in Cape Breton and the people of New England. Accordingly Lord Cornwallis was sent out to Nova Scotia to establish a fortress and a colony. In 1749 he landed in Halifax with a following of 1,176 settlers and their families. Here he built fortifications and from here he ruled the province.

From the first it was recognized that a garrison without a colony could not hold the French in check. Inducements were accordingly offered to immigrants from England, Germany, Scotland and New England. The colonists, particularly those from New England, soon clashed with the garrison. When political necessities made the colonist almost indispensable, as was the case after the expulsion of the Acadians, liberal promises of land and of self-government were made. But with the coming of security from the enemy, the merchants and farmers found the rule of the Governor-in-Council at Halifax irksome.

The relation of Halifax to the province, it may be remarked, has always been peculiar. At the first it was a garrison in a hostile colony, later when the New Englanders began to settle in the west and the Scotsmen in the east. Halifax remained a military station and a trading-post. In war times its garrison made it a safe harbour for captured vessels and a profitable place for the sale of supplies. In times of peace, apart from fishing, trade languished. Before the opening of the railways the position of Halifax tended to isolate it from the rest of the province.

Situated on a bay about the middle of the Atlantic Seaboard, remote from the old capital, Annapolis, in the west, and from the fishing station at Canso in the east; separated from the fertile valleys to the north by a rough ridge of granite boulders and a surprising number of small lakes and ponds, Halifax was forced to look across the ocean for its trade and its people. The conservatism of the old ward settled upon its military government and long resisted the reforms of the new. The struggle for self-government was more prolonged and bitter, and the victory more fragmentary than elsewhere. St. John is a striking contrast. Situated at the mouth of a magnificent river, which drains three-fifths of the province and with its broad and deep tributaries provides an unrivaled waterway through the length and much of the breadth of the country, St John could not fail to grow with the prosperity of the province and through its commercial interests keep in the closest touch with its agricultural and industrial life. Although Fredericton was the political capital, St. John from the first dominated the province, and its reforms became those of the province.

The American revolution profoundly affected Nova Scotia. The struggle between the ruling and military element from the old England on the one hand and the commercial and colonizing element from New England on the other had resulted in the grant of a Legislative Assembly and some minor reforms. The reforming party however suffered severely when the Revolution broke out by the departure from Nova Scotia of several of the most ardent friends of reform and by the suspicion of disloyalty which fastened upon those who remained. At the close of the war the arrival of the Loyalists immediately brought about the division of Nova Scotia into two provinces and local government for the City of St John; but in the end it strengthened the conservative forces already at work.


Feudal ideas imported from France played little part in the municipal life of Nova Scotia. The compromise of deputies for the French and justices of the peace for the English during the period of discordant rule seems to have left no perceptible trace in the forms of local government. The formative ideas were those brought over by Cornwallis and those introduced by the New Englanders, and in the case of New Brunswick, by the Loyalists. Those of Cornwallis and the Loyalists had a common origin. The practices of the Loyalists had but suffered a sea-change. They grew out of the adaptation of English ideas and practices to the problems of government in the southern colonies of America, Virginia, and New York. As for the New Englanders, they advocated the principles of the chartered government of the Massachusetts Bay. In each of the types – the Virginian and Massachusetts – the powers granted to the governing body of the colony came direct from the Crown and not from the Parliament at Westminster; and in each case these powers were granted to a council or company which had the right to choose its subordinate officers.

The fortunes of the two companies, however, were different. The Massachusetts company migrated to the new land. The election of the assistants to the Governor by the freemen of the company became the election of the representatives for the government of the community. The interests of company and colony merged. The Virginian Council ruled from London through local councils. The interests of the council and the colonist diverged; which state of affairs led the Crown to intervene and take over the council’s rights. The Crown governed through a deputy or governor who called to his assistance a small number of men as councillors but theoretically did not necessarily follow their advice m all things. Together they made and administered laws and also acted as a court of justice. This was the system Comwallis introduced into Nova Scotia. But the fishermen and the traders from Cape Cod who preceded Comwallis, and the settlers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island who accepted Lawrence s invitation to occupy the lands vacated by the Acadians were strongly imbued with the ideas of Massachusetts They became the advocates of self-government.

The Loyalists of New Brunswick seem to have kept before them the provincial system of New York. Their first Governor Thomas Carleton, was the brother of Sir Guy, for a time Commander of the British forces in New York; and their first Provincial Secretary, Rev. Jonathan Odell, was a New Yorker and former private secretary of Sir Guy. The fidelity with which New York was imitated is seen in the resemblance between the city charters of New York and St. John, and between the charters of the College of New York and the College of New Brunswick In a letter to the Secretary of State Governor Carleton makes special reference to New York.’ The prominence of New Englanders in Nova Scotia and the predominance of the Loyalists in New Brunswick will perhaps account for certain differences in the two provinces.

The Loyalists landed at Parrtown in 1783; New Brunswick was separated from Nova Scotia in 1784; St. John was granted a charter in 1785 ; and a representative Assembly was summoned in 1786 to be elected on practically a manhood suffrage Comwallis landed at Halifax in 1749. With great reluctance Lawrence summoned an Assembly in 1758, and Halifax, though petitioning in 1765 and 1790, was denied a charter until 1841 Apparently New Brunswick was dominated by the most democratic ideas and Nova Scotia by the reverse; and yet Governor Carleton claimed that ” New Brunswick had improved upon the constitution of Nova Scotia where everything originated, according to a custom of New England, with the Assembly. But here, where a great proportion of the people have emigrated from New York and the provinces to the southward, it was thought most prudent to take an early advantage of their better habits and by strengthening the executive powers of the Government discountenance its leaning so much on the popular part of the Constitution.”

It is possible that Governor Carleton thought that the Loyalists could be trusted to govern themselves, and since they outnumbered all others ten to one. there was little danger of their liberty becoming license. He accordingly granted a charter tn St. John but reserved to the Crown the right of appointing the chief executive officers, the mayor, sheriff, recorder and clerk. ” He was,” however, ” rapped over the knuckles ” for it by the Secretary of State.

Things were different in Nova Scotia. The ruling class was in a minority. Governor Lawrence wrote of the members elected to the first assembly in 1758 that “he hopes he shall not find in any of the representatives a disposition to embarrass or obstruct His Majesty’s service or to dispute the Royal prerogative,” though “too many of those chosen are such as have not been the most remarkable for promoting unity or obedience to H.M. government here, or indeed that have the most natural attachments to the provinces.” Yet in Nova Scotia greater opportunity was given to the people to express their opinion through the Grand Juries. The township and county officials were all appointed by the sessions from the nominees of the grand juries. The grand juries could by presentments censure public officials and ask for public work. In certain cases the justices of the sessions could not act except upon the presentment of the grand jury. Further town meetings were regularly held until 1879, though for a time after 1770, when suspicion was rife, they were suppressed.’ These and similar provisions are rot found in New Brunswick. In only two Acts (and those were in the first ten years) was the grand jury required to make a presentment before the Court could act. One had regard to the altering of a road, the other to the prevention of thistles. The privilege of nominating officials seems not to have been enjoyed by the grand juries of New Brunswick.

French and English

Feudalism in Acadia, as in old Canada, was a mild copy of that of old France. The Governor was all-powerful and the seigniors were feeble and few. Governor Philipps, writing to the Duke of Newcastle in 1730, said, ” Here are three or four insignificant families who pretend to the right of seigniories, that extend almost over all the inhabited parts of the Country.'” In 1703 the King of France confirmed grants of seigniories at Cape Sable, Port Royal and Mines.’ Mention is also made of seigniories at Cobequid and Chignecto. The rights of the seigniors in Nova Scotia became little more than claims for rents which, under English rule, were transferred to the Crown.

From the capture of Port Royal in 1710 the mainland of Nova Scotia was subject to the English. Protests and resistance on the part of the French, however, made government extremely difficult and finally led to the expulsion of the Acadians. Finally the second capture of Louisbourg in 1758 left the English the undis- puted masters of the peninsula and the island. Prior to the founding of Halifax in 1749 there were two British garrisons — one to overawe the Acadians around Annapolis and the other at Canso to protect the New England fishermen. The seat of the govern- ment was at Annapolis, near the French settlements at old Port Royal (now Annapolis), Cobequid and Chignecto. The Governor’s task was by no means an easy one. The willingness of the Acadians to comply with his demands varied inversely with their distance from the cannon of the fort, and the collection of rents and the settlement of disputes about land were the causes of perennial trouble.

The French were governed through elected deputies. Each community was required once a year, early in October, to select a number of deputies from the ” ancientest and most consider- able in lands and possessions.” The community about Annapolis was required to select twelve, the other communities at least four or five each. If the business on hand was very important a large number might be demanded. The Governor might refuse to accept the deputies, if they were not of the oldest and richest in the community.’ After receiving the Governor’s instructions the deputies were required both to publish them and to assist in carrying them out. Mascarene summed up their duties as follows :

  1. Deputies having fixed times for meeting and consultation should act together in the execution of the orders, etc.. of the
    Government in the interests of justice and of the good of the community.
  2. They should ” in their meetings make joint reply to the letters of the Government addressed to them in common and propose measures for the common good.”
  3. They should watch and keep in hand restless spirits who could turn the habitans from their duty and lead them contrary
    to their oath of allegiance. They were expected to restrain the Indians.
  4. They were to enforce the regulations for keeping up the fences and to prevent the trespass of unruly cattle.
  5. They were to concert measures for the improvement and upkeep of bridges and highways. They were to assign to each
    habitant what according to custom he must contribute in material, labour, carriage or payment.
  6. They were to keep an account of the mills, those erected by the seigniors and those erected ” without leave since the King has been in possession of the seigniory.” and the dues that should be paid so that ” the King may get his rights.”
  7. They were to arbitrate in land disputes, but appeal to the Governor-in-Council was permitted. They were to redress
    wrong and recover stolen property.

In short the deputies were practically mediators, with little real power but great opportunity to facilitate or clog the work of administration. In only one instance is there evidence of the appointment of an Acadian to be a justice of the peace.” Prudent Robicheau was the honoured name. A Prudent Robicheau, once before, had been rejected by tlie Governor as a deputy because of lack either of ancientness or possessions.’

The independent fishermen of Canso were not disposed to brool< much interference from the Governor Their local affairs were managed by justices of the peace (and it is worth noting) ” with a committee of the people of Canso.” These justices seem at least to have been acceptable to the people. On one occasion the Governor sent three commissions for justices of the peace in blank, which the other justices and probably the committee were to fill in.* On another occasion there was a vigorous protest against Captain Aldridge. who seems to have been anxious to introduce something not far remote from military rule.* The Governor reproved him.

The system of deputies (or rather hostages) for the French and justices of the peace for the English was a rather happy compromise. It was lacking in power to coerce, but it provided good machinery for informing the people of the Governor’s instructions and the Governor of the people’s wants.

Government by Courts of Sessions

In 1749 Governor Cornwallis in accordance with his instructions erected three courts of justice, ” The first was a Court of General Sessions similar in its nature and conformable in its practice to the Courts of the same name in England.” “The second was a County Court having jurisdiction over the whole province (then a single county) and held by those persons who were in the Commission of the Peace at Halifax.”‘ ” The third was a General Court. This was a Court of Assize and general jail delivery in which the Governor and Council, for the time being, sat as judges.”‘ In 1754 a Supreme Court with a chief justice specially appointed for judicial work took the place of the General Court. These three courts were primarily courts of law, and yet one, the Court of Sessions, discharged important administrative functions, and another, the highest, was primarily not a court of law but an administrative body. To understand the Court of Sessions and its diverse duties one should turn to its history in England.

Unusual as is today the merging of judicial and administrative functions, it was not novel to Nova Scotians one hundred and fifty years ago. When Halifax was founded, the Governor-in-Council was a legislative, administrative and judicial body in one. Although it was relieved of its judicial functions in 1754 the chief justice still remained a member of the Council, became a governor, and exercised administrative powers until driven out of the Council in 1838 by Howe. The Council claimed the sole right to legislate until the chief justice questioned the legality of its acts and caused the Secretary of State to direct the Governor to summon an Assembly. Still the Council continued to discharge executive and legislative duties until separation was forced in 1838. And it was not until 1848 that Howe completed his great task and made the Executive Council dependent upon the will of the majority of the Assembly.

In the courts of general sessions, it may be explained, the sheriff as appointee of the Crown was the executive officer ; the justices were the guardians of the peace, also appointed by the Crown; and the grand jury was the people speaking through a select few. From the earliest times these courts were administrative as well as judicial bodies. Obviously the transition is easy from inquiries into how the King’s peace was observed to inquiries as to measures to secure its better observance, e.g.. the establishment of court-houses, jails, etc., bridges for the improvement of the King’s highway and the like.

In 1749 Cornwallis appointed four justices of the peace for Halifax. In addition to these there were those who by virtue of their office were conservators of the peace. At one time the captains of the ships in the harbour were justices of the peace for Halifax. Ordinarily those justices were appointed by special mandate of the Governor. According to English practice they must be residents of the county. Their number seems to have been unlimited, and they held office during the pleasure of the .Crown, In the days of Howe’s battles the larger counties had forty or fifty and when the Municipalities Bill became law some counties were credited with between one and two hundred. The general sessions of the peace were usually not well attended except by a few who took an active interest, but on occasions when some matter of widespread interest, such as the granting of liquor licenses or some questions of political moment were up, the attendance was large and the meetings frequently tumultuous.

The grand juries were composed of residents of at least three months standing having freehold in the county of the clear yearly value of $10 or personalty of $100. The sheriff was required each year to prepare a list of those qualified to serve. Their names were to be written on similar pieces of paper and put in a box. At a stated time the names of those to be summoned to serve were to be drawn out of the box. This method prevented jury-packing, and if it did not secure for the people the spokesmen whom they might have chosen it prevented the sheriff from stopping the questions of the people by summoning subservient tools.

The sheriff was appointed by the Crown each year. Previous to 1778 there was one provost Marshall for the province of Nova Scotia. Thereafter a sheriff was appointed for each county with the usual powers of Sheriffs in England. The chief justice or presiding justice selected three names, one of which was the retiring sheriff (unless a majority of the justices of the peace protested) and the Governor-In_Council must select one of these Sheriff for the year. In New Brunswick the provost Marshall disappeared about 1790, and the appointment of Sheriffs does not seem to have been hedged about with restrictions.

Local Divisions

There is considerable diversity in the three provinces with respect to municipal divisions. In all three the county divisions are the most important. New Brunswick was divided into counties, and the counties were subdivided into parishes, first by letters patent and later by Act of Parliament. In Nova Scotia the townships and settlements were the first to appear; and later out of or about these the counties were constructed. Nova Scotia also recognized other units such as “Divisions” and “Districts.” Prince Edward Island was divided into “Counties,” Parishes,” “Lots,” and three towns with royalties and commons attached.

Nova Scotia.- The “Division” in Nova Scotia was merely a circuit for the Court of Common Pleas reconstructed in 1824. The province, excluding Halifax and Cape Breton, was divided into three divisions.
In 1749 there was but one county. When the question of representation in the Assembly came up, the township as well as the county was considered worthy of representation. In 1833 Murdoch wrote: “Some of the counties are divided into Districts to facilitate the local business of the county, giving each district a set of public officers nearly equivalent to those of a separate county,” e.g., a court of general sessions of the peace.” “In Halifax county there are three districts-Halifax proper, Colchester, Pictou, each of which has every arrangement for the administration of justice, the registry of deeds, etc., as if it were a separate county wanting only the name and a county representative in the Assembly.” “Each district,” says Haliburton, “is or should be furnished with a court house, but the jail belongs to the county. The sheriff’s authority is commensurate with the county and the commissions of the peace extend throughout the same. The localities of the juries both in real and personal have also a reference to the county; and the election of representatives is in no way affected by this local arrangement of districts.”

“The settled parts of the province,” wrote Murdoch in 1833, “and those where settlements are attempted have been further divided into Townships, some as large as the smaller counties and many more of smaller dimensions, and it is probable that this mode of division will be extended over the whole surface of the country as it is a favourite manner of allotment in North America, and it is very useful as a guide to the arrangement of the representation, the local assessment and a variety of other purposes.” Haliburton stated in 1829 that a “township contains no certain definite quantity of lands nor assumes any prescribed shape as in Upper Canada where it is generally under- stood to extend nine miles in front and twelve miles in the rear; nor is it endowed with all those various corporate powers which the townships of New England possess, beyond the election of a representative; which privilege is not enjoyed by all. The inhabitants have no other power than holding an annual meeting for the purpose of voting money for the support of their poor.” Governor Lawrence in his proclamation of 1758 declared that “townships are to consist of 100,000 acres.” This seems to have been the usual size for those in the valley and on the Atlantic coast. On the other hand, the three townships of Pictou county contain over 200,000 acres each. Governor Lawrence also declared that every township containing fifty families would be entitled to send one representative to the Assembly. At the first Assembly it was proposed to restrict the qualification to twenty-five voters, but the Home Government insisted on fifty. Since Lawrence’s proclamation was addressed to New Englanders it is probable that their views about townships were adopted. In 1829 the province contained 10 counties (5) counties being subdivided into 12 districts) and 50 townships.

Murdoch’s expectation that the “townships” division would extend over the whole province has not been realized. Today they are important only as marks of land grants. The decline of the “township” began with the Electoral Act of 1847. Previous to this, simultaneous elections had been impossible because of the difficulty of polling the entire vote of a township or settlement in one day. To meet this difficulty the counties were divided into electoral districts or polling sections. Where townships existed this Act respected their boundaries in the setting off of the electoral districts. When no townships were recognized the electoral district provided a useful unit. In time the polling section became the constituency of a county councillor, and a poor division. In 1843 and 1844 two large and unwieldy townships in Pictou county were subdivided for poor purposes. In 1855 an Act provided for the incorporation of townships. No advantage was taken of its permission. When the right of sending a representative to the Assembly was taken from the townships in 1857 or 1858 the township lost the last shred of political importance. Henceforth it was but a name known to those who were interested in land titles.

New Brunswick.-Before New Brunswick was erected into a separate province the county of Sunbury and the township of Sackville were granted representation (1767) in the Assembly of Nova Scotia. The boundaries of the parishes or tow is of what afterwards became the county of Westmorland were defined by the boundaries of the lands granted by Nova Scotia.
By letters patent in 1785 Governor Carleton set off the boun- daries of the counties of St. John, Westmorland, Charlotte, Northumberland, Kings, Queens, York and Sunbury; and for the better administration of justice subdivided them into towns or parishes. The Legislature confirmed this division in 1786.

The plan was simple. The whole province was divided into eight counties. The settled portions were Sunbury on the St. John, Westmorland west of Nova Scotia, and St. John, the landing-place of the Loyalists (1783). The new counties were set off and Sunbury was the residue. Some of the boundaries were defined with reference to townships, e.g., St. John began from Hopewell township, York from Maugerville, Queens from Burton. The counties again were divided into ” towns or parishes.” The term “parish” rapidly supplanted that of township.” The “township” may be traced to Massachusetts, the “parish” to New York and Virginia. In England the parish was of course originally an ecclesiastical division, the township a civil.

The blending of the ecclesiastical and the civil appears as late as 1790 in New Brunswick. Governor Carleton in a letter (dated Aug. 20th, 1790) to the Secretary of State says of the provision made for education and religion: “There are now six ministers of the Church of England, having salaries from the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in addition to £100 allotted to each by an annual grant of Parliament, the glebe lands still being unproductive. The province has been divided into eight counties with thirty-nine parishes, all of which, how- ever, do not require a permanent minister at present.”

It is worth noting that in New Brunswick the county is sub- divided, and that in Nova Scotia the county is apparently a group of townships or settlements, as Mr. McEvoy states to be the case in Ontario. This difference had important consequences. It gave the township an independence in the public mind not possessed by a mere subdivision of the county (the parish). This is seen in the town meetings which were a feature of the Nova Scotia townships and electoral divisions down to 1879, although temporarily suppressed in 1770, as already remarked, through fear of revolution. This feature survived in the charters granted to such towns as Dartmouth (1873), Pictou (1873), New Glasgow (1875), which required an annual meeting of the ratepayers to receive the reports of the town’s officials and to authorize expenditures. In 1905 again, for example, Dartmouth held a town meeting to consider the increase of water supply and other matters. There were parish or town meetings in New Brunswick, particularly in the eastern portion, but they seem to have been due partly to the Nova Scotia example and partly to the movement for responsible government which secured an Act (in 1850) giving parishes or towns the privilege of electing their officials. This privilege seems not to have been generally taken advantage of, for pro- vision is made for appointment by the justices should there be no election; and in 1854 the consolidation of the statutes makes no mention of election.

The care of its own poor was the first, the primary and, as Haliburton said in 1829, practically the only duty of the parish or township; yet it is worth noting that the early schools in New Brunswick were parish schools and that the trustees were parish officials. The Superintendent of Education in 1904 recommended a return to the larger unit for school purposes, and suggested the parish as a suitable unit.

Prince Edward Island.-The Island was divided into 67 lots, usually containing about 20,000 acres each. These were grouped into three counties and in each county a town site with royalty and common was laid out for a capital. “The intention was that the man who held a lot in the town should be allowed a lot in the royalty for pasturing purposes. The common was situated between the town and the royalty and was for pasture purposes in common.” The counties were sub-divided into 14 districts or parishes. The “parish lines are but little recognized.” “These local divisions became practically useless and are seldom mentioned now except in legal proceedings connected with old land titles.” With the exception of the capital city, Charlottetown, there is but one other municipality, the town of Summerside. Local affairs are thus-doubt- less on account of the smallness of the island province-in the hands of the provincial Legislature and its local officials.

Appointment of Local Officials

Nova Scotia.-In Nova Scotia various methods of appointing local officials have been followed at different times. Before the establishment of courts of sessions the Governor-in-Council stared the privilege with the town meeting. Upon the institution of the courts the appointment of the great majority of the officials was delegated to them, in some cases without restriction, in others subject to the nomination of the grand juries. In a few instances the grand juries appointed, subject to the ratification of the justices. Of the five methods: (1) the Governor-in-Council, (2) popular election, (3) the court of sessions, (4) the sessions upon nomination of the grand jury, (5) the grand jury subject to the ratification of the justices, the mast common was the appointment by the sessions on the nomination of the grand jury. The Governor-in-Council appointed the sheriff, coroners, justices of the peace, commissioners of sewers and dykes, gaugers (from 1761 to 1769), commissioners for schools in each county and district (from 1828).

In January, 1751, the Governor-in-Council ordered that the “town and suburbs of Halifax be divided into eight wards and the inhabitants be empowered annually to choose the following officers for managing such prudential affairs of the town as shall be committed to their care by the Governor-in-Council, viz., eight town overseers, one town clerk, sixteen constables, eight scavengers.” In 1763 the town meeting (which was held twice a year) chose the assessors of the poor rate. This practice was also authorized by an Act passed in 1851. The assessors appointed the collectors of the poor rate, which, wrote Murdoch in 1833. “is the only regular fund managed by the township authorities without the intervention of the sessions and grand juries of the county.” From 1859 to 1878 the town meeting could choose the collectors.

In 1762 the grand juries in sessions were empowered to appoint annually cullers and surveyors of dry fish, surveyors of lumber, and surveyors of cordwood; and three years later the appointment of the county treasurer, subject to certain restrictions, was placed in their hands. The usual method of appointment by the sessions required the juries to nominate. At first twice as many candidates as there were offices were to be nominated; but later (1811) the number was to be as many as the justices in sessions might direct,” as the numbers before limited by law were found insufficient.” Apparently the juries by nominating impossible candidates could force the justices to appoint those whom they desired.

The officials appointed by the justices on the nomination of the grand juries, as given by Murdoch’ in 1832, with the dates of the Acts giving the power were as follows: In 1765 surveyors of lines and boundaries of townships and overseers of the poor (“both offices united in the same persons “), a town clerk, constables, surveyors of highways, fence viewers, clerks of market, poundkeepers, cullers and surveyors of fish, surveyors of lumber, sealers of leather, gaugers of casks, hogreaves (1792), measurers of grain, salt, coals, inspectors of lime and bricks, inspectors and repackers of beef (1794), surveyors and weighers of hay (1777), inspectors of flour and meal (1796), inspectors of red and smoked herrings (1798), inspectors and weighers of beef (1829), inspectors of thistles (1791), and inspectors of butter in Cumberland county (1802). The local trustees of schools were, according to the Act of 1828, appointed by the commissioners of schools who were nominees of the Governor-in-Council.

After Howe became prime minister an Act was passed in 1850 dividing Halifax into townships, and giving each township the right to elect a warden and four councillors who were to have all the powers “now exercised by the justices of the peace”; and empowering the ratepayers at the annual meeting to elect all township officers whether “now appointed by the sessions, town meetings or others as considered necessary.” This Act was per- missive and seems never to have been put into effect. A similar Act (1856), intended for the other counties, was put into effect in but one county, Yarmouth, and then only for three years.

The method of appointment by the justices on nomination by the grand juries continued until incorporation was made compulsory for all counties and districts in 1879.

New Brunswick.-Governor Carleton and the Assembly from the first decided to give the people, either directly or indirectly through the grand juries, as little power as possible in the appointment of local officials. In the draft of the Highways Bill submitted to the House in 1786 provision was made for the nomination of road surveyors or commissioners of the highways by the grand juries. This provision was struck out before the bill became law. New Brunswick was to “improve upon the constitution of Nova Scotia.”

The justices of the peace were empowered to appoint, at the first sessions of the court each year, “out of every town or parish in the said county three overseers of the poor, a clerk of the town or parish, a clerk of the market, a sealer of leather, three assessors, two or more constables, two or more fence viewers, a sufficient number of poundkeepers, cullers and surveyors of fish, surveyors of lumber and cordwood, gaugers of casks, hogreaves, surveyors and weighers of hay, surveyors and examiners of any staple commodity and (in 1805) parish school trustees.

In addition the Governor-in-Council appointed a great many officials, e.g., commissioners of sewers (1786), supervisors of great roads (1822), commissioners for the almshouse in Fredericton (1822) and Northumberland (1828), grammar school trustees (1829), firewards in Fredericton (1824), Newcastle and Chatham (1828), St. Stephen (1833), boards of health (1833), marine hospital trustees (1822), commissioners to collect dues for disabled seamen (1826), commissioners for the provincial House of Correction (1841), also for the asylum for the insane.

In 1850 the parishes were granted the privilege of electing the town or parish officials hitherto appointed by the sessions, except the treasurer, auditors, trustees of schools, overseers of fisheries, inspectors of fish, wharfingers, port warden, harbour master, pilots and firewards, who were to be appointed as before by the sessions. In the following year the same privilege was granted to parishes organized as municipalities. But failing election, appointment was to be made by the sessions or the council. When the statutes were consolidated in 1854 this privilege of election was withdrawn from the parishes. Probably little use had been made of it. It is possible that this introduction of the township idea was suggested by what Howe had done in Nova Scotia. It is well to remember that it was in 1848 that Nova Scotians gained responsible government.

Prince Edward Island.-As Bourinot remarks, “no system of local government ever existed in the counties and parishes as in other parts of America. The Legislature has been always a municipal council for the whole island.” In 1833 the representatives of Charlottetown in the Legislature were instructed to summon the inhabitants to vote money for local purposes and to appoint assessors and collectors. The following year the inhabitants of each school district were required to choose five trustees.

The Powers and Municipal Labours of the Sessions

Nova Scotia.–In the exercise of their administrative functions the justices of the peace appointed officials, ordered assessments and controlled expenditures, controlled certain licenses such as those for the sale of liquor, and made regulations about a variety of subjects. The list of subjects is similar to that given below for New Brunswick. In New Brunswick the justices in sessions were less restricted in the exercise of their powers by the grand juries than were their fellow justices in Nova Scotia.

In 1877 the committee appointed to revise the statutes prepared a draft summarizing the powers of the courts of sessions. But apparently after the draft had been printed and submitted to the Legislature it was decided to make the Municipalities Act compulsory and to abolish the courts of session. In that draft these courts were (1) given power to appoint and define the duties of the parish officials; (2) given charge of jails, lockups, workhouses or almshouses (unless entrusted to special commissioners) and village police; (3) required to prevent vice, dis- orders and disorderly driving, Sabbath profanation, nuisances, noises; (4) required to regulate the sale of liquor, circuses, exhibitions; (5) required to make regulations concerning trespass by domestic animals, the marking of cattle, pounds, dog tax, destruction of mad dogs, noxious weeds, fires, bush burning, trucks, depositing of ballast, markets, measuring and inspecting such commodities as bread, salt, coal, hay, iron, lumber; (6) required to have charge of ferries, streets, public wharves, bridges, booms, timber driving, commons, marshes, school reserves, river banks. At an earlier date they had had charge of inland fishing (1799), grazing on the commons (1814). parish schools (1823), lunatics (1824), the prevention of infectious diseases (1799).

The care of the poor was a parish charge and was in the hands of overseers appointed by the sessions.

The sessions assessed upon the presentment of the grand jury of the county setting forth the sums required for (1) the expenses of criminal justice, such as the building and maintenance of county court houses, jails, stocks, pillories, pounds, conveyance and support of prisoners, salaries of clerk of the peace and jailor; (2) the support of the or; (3) the building and repairing of bridges and other public works authorized by parliament; (4) the expenses for preventing fires. “The sessions apportion the sum presented fixing on each township and settlement the portion they think it should bear” (1765). It also appointed two collectors and three assessors for each township on the nomination of the grand juries (1777). The moneys collected were handed to the treasurer, who was chosen by the grand jury, and approved by the justices in sessions, to whom also the treasurer accounted quarterly (1813), and to whom appeals lay from the assessors.

Other sources of revenue were from rents from public buildings, fines and forfeitures, license fees from hawkers and pedlars (1782) and liquor sellers (1787). The liquor license fees were collected by a clerk of licenses appointed in Halifax by the Governor, elsewhere by the justices of the peace, who selected one of three candidates nominated by tire grand jury. Three-fifths of the license fees (liquor and hawkers) in Halifax went to the commissioner of streets; two-fifths to the police department. When money was to be borrowed permission had to be received from the Legislature.

The various officers were accountable to the sessions for the moneys entrusted to them. The grand juries had the right to inspect the accounts and to make a presentment upon the administration of the justices or their officials. The way in which the latter discharged their duties in Halifax was exposed in a painful manner by Howe in 1835.

New Brunswick.-The sources of revenue and the administration of it were similar to those of Nova Scotia. Apparently (though the evidence is not clear) the grand juries in the early days were not so influential in New Brunswick as in the sister province. In 1833 the justices in session were required to cause accounts of public moneys to be laid before the grand jury, and the grand jury was empowered to “make such presentment thereupon as they see fit.” In 850 stress was laid upon the recommendation of the grand jury for buildings and contingencies as a necessary condition to an assessment by the sessions. Further, the accounts of the county and parishes were to be laid before the grand jury, when the town or parish officers were to be appointed. Also at the time of the election of town or parish officers, the overseers of the poor, collectors of rates, and commissioners of highways were required to lay their accounts before the ratepayers for examination. The growing influence of the grand jury and the open examination of accounts were due to the demand for representative government.

It is worthy of note that today in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick each poor district or parish must bear the cost of the maintenance of the poor who have “settlement” within it. Every other charge, even the support of the insane poor at the provincial hospital, is a county charge. The sole exception in New Brunswick is the charge of opening up a new road.


In 1835 Joseph Howe published in the Nova Scotian a number of letters attacking the Halifax County Sessions, for which he was arrested on a charge of criminal libel; he was, however, finally acquitted in triumph in spite of the charge of the judge to the contrary. The repeated declarations of successive grand juries and the chorus of popular approval that greeted him seem to warrant one in believing that Howe’s severe arraignment was justified. He charged’ them with unfair assessment, mismanagement of public accounts, “miserable but costly corruptions of the Bridewell (Prison) and Poorhouse,” inefficient and dilatory administration of justice, all of which were supported by quotations from reports of grand juries and of a special committee appointed by the Governor-in-Council.

In its report published shortly before Howe’s trial, the grand jury stated that “but £36 of the whole assessment of the year had been collected and that from persons much less able to pay than many who stand in the list of defaulters.” Howe gave examples of the effect of the failure of the sessions to collect rates in the county outside of the city and from a large number of favoured or careless ratepayers. Although the city contained 14,439 people as compared with 10,437 in the county, from 1825 to 1835 not one shilling had been received from the county outside the city. Apart from the large amount of uncollected taxes, the management of funds collected was careless and irregular. Instead of paying into the treasury, collectors of taxes were permitted to pay to other persons, who appropriated the funds to suit their own convenience, causing much hardship to civic officials and creditors. “The credit of the county is absolutely so bad that an advance of forty or fifty per cent. is. required in all purchases made on account.” The grand jury returned the county treasurer’s accounts as being incomprehensible, not so much from fault of the treasurer as from the con- fused manner in which public accounts were kept. Examples of the inefficiency of the police, of the unequal administration of justice and of the indifference of the magistrates were cited. Although the law required all magistrates to attend general and quarter sessions under penalty of removal from office, “from the record of five years it appeared that not more than three justices had usually attended the general sessions of the peace in Halifax, frequently but two and sometimes only one.” The grand jury, which in effect was the organ of the people, Howe declared had been frustrated in its attempts to detect and remove abuses. Sometimes the magistrates refused it access to public documents and at other times ignored its recommendations. Finally the grand jury refused to assess, and thus brought matters to a head.

It should be said in fairness to other courts of sessions that there is little doubt that Halifax stood alone in its bad preeminence. Yet enough remains to show that the system had many serious defects. It was not, however, unacceptable elsewhere. For nearly thirty years a permissive Act for municipal incorporation held open a door of escape for the several counties in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. In Nova Scotia one county only took advantage of it and that for but a brief period.

Government by Elective Councils

Nova Scotia.-Responsible government for the province logically implied self-government in the municipalities. In Nova Scotia, since 1763, the township had the right to meet and vote money for the support of the poor and to elect the assessors required to get this money. This right the townships, or settlements as they were sometimes called, continued to enjoy until 1879.

It was natural for Howe to begin at home with his municipal reform. Halifax city had been given the right to govern itself in 1841. Halifax county, however, was still governed by the court of sessions when the victory for responsible government brought Howe into power. Whatever the cause, whether it was Howe’s New England ancestry, or the prominence of the township in western Nova Scotia, or the difficulty of combining the very diverse and widely separated sections of Halifax into one county, Howe adopted the township as the unit of municipal government in the Act of 1850. This Act provided for the appointment of commissioners to divide Halifax county into townships, each township to elect a warden and four councillors, who were to assume all the powers and duties of justices of the peace for the county. But little or nothing seems to have resulted from this Act.

In 1855 there was passed an elaborate Act providing machinery for municipal government in the four counties of Yarmouth, Annapolis, Kings and Queens, the four counties in which New England influence was strongest. The following year this restriction was removed and all other counties and a number of districts, such as the French districts of Clare and Argyle, the Scottish St. Mary’s and the pre-loyalist Barrington were given an opportunity, should they wish to transfer the government of the locality from the quarter session to elective councils.

In the same year another Act providing for the self-government of townships was passed. A reeve and four councillors were to be elected by the township, and the reeves in the county were to form the county council. The township councils were to exercise the power of county councils with reference to roads, the poor, prevention of vice and assessment, with the following exceptions. The expenditure of the government grants for roads, the erection of bridges, the control of liquor licenses, the regulation of ferries, wharves, markets and fairs were with- held from them. The annual town meeting was expressly provided for.

Both the County and the Township Acts were permissive and remained in force until the compulsory Act was passed in 1879. Yarmouth was the only county to apply for the privileges of the Act. But after three years’ trial, in 1858, it petitioned for the old order of local government; yet Yarmouth has always been noted for its sympathy with New England ideas.
The towns were more anxious to secure the privilege of self-government, more particularly the privilege of assessing for local purposes and of borrowing money. Each town sought incorporation by a special Act. Pictou and Dartmouth in 1873.

Municipal Organizations

Rural municipalities, towns and cities are incorporated under different Acts. The Municipalities Act applies to counties and, in the case of Nova Scotia, to districts as well, i.e., to divisions (never more than two) of a county. The Towns Incorporation Act of Nova Scotia provides for towns whether previously or subsequently incorporated: in New Brunswick the Towns Incorporation Act applies only to the towns incorporated subsequent to the passing of the Act. Each city has a special charter.
In Nova Scotia six of the eighteen counties are divided into two districts, making altogether twenty-four rural municipalities. These are again divided into polling districts, each of which is entitled according to population to at least one representative in the council. Only in one instance has a polling district as many as three representatives. The qualifications of municipal councillors and of voters are the same as those required of members and voters for the House of Assembly, except that since 1887 the franchise has been given to unmarried women, assessed for $150 realty or $300 personalty.
The elections are held on the same day throughout the province. Councillors previously sat for one year; but since 1892 their term is three years. Like the provincial Assembly the council chooses its presiding officer (the warden) at the first session after election, grants an indemnity ($2 a day and 5 cents a mile) to its members and an additional sum ($50) to the warden. It has power to assess for enumerated purposes, chief among which are the support of the poor, prevention of disease, administration of justice, court house and jail, protection from fires, bounties for certain wild animals, ferries and markets, roads and bridges (not exceeding $1,000 unless with the approval of the Governor-in-Council). Districts within a municipality may petition for the privilege of assessing for specified purpose: and be rated accordingly. Loans for current purposes are limited to $2,000 subject to the approval of the Governor-in-Council. A contingent fund of $500 is permitted. All by-laws are, however, subject to the approval of the Governor-in-Council.

The Towns Incorporation Act of Nova Scotia was passed in 1888, revised in 1895, and embodied in the consolidation of 1900. It requires a majority vote of the ratepayers of the town in favour of incorporation before such incorporation can be granted by the Governor-in-Council. A further condition was subsequently added. There must be at least 700 persons dwelling within an area of five hundred acres of land.

A mayor and six councillors are to be chosen at the first election by the entire town. The council has power to divide the town into wards and assign two councillors to each ward, these to be elected by the rate, ayers of the ward. The mayor holds office for one year, the councillors for two years; but one-half of the council retires each year.
Both mayor and councillor must be British subjects, at least twenty-one years of age, and ratepayers, the mayor’s assessment reaching at least $500 real or $1,000 personal property.

The council has power to assess for the poor, schools, streets, sewers, water, fire, the courts, police, salaries and the county fund. But before it can grant a bonus, or make a permanent loan, the sanction of the town meeting and the authority of the Legislature must be secured. A loan for school buildings need not be specially authorized by an Act of the Legislature. Exemption from taxation cannot be granted unless sanctioned by a special Act of the Legislature. And all the by-laws or ordinances passed by the town council are subject to the approval of the Governor-in-Council.

The council appoints all officials save the stipendiary magistrate, who is appointed by the Governor-in-Council. The town clerk holds office during good behaviour. The town solicitor may be dismissed by a two-thirds vote. But an official who holds office during good behaviour may appeal to a judge of the County Court or Supreme Court to call upon the mayor and town council to show cause for his dismissal or the reduction of his salary. All other officials save one are appointed for one year. The council appoints three revisers to revise the electoral lists.

Local Problems

Revision of electoral lists, liquor license control and assessment are responsible for most of the local municipal conflicts. As the burdens of taxation increase, the inequalities of the systems become more galling, and the demand for reform more insistent. The control of the sale of liquor has divided the community into two factions, while the revision of the electoral lists opens and keeps open the door to party politics and determines whether a road shall be ditched or a sewer laid according to the great principles of rival national policies.

Electoral Revisers.-Accordingly the revision of the electoral lists is jealously watched. The provincial lists are now used for federal elections, and are prepared by local authorities. The introduction of federal politics into municipal affairs is due partly to this, partly to the patronage placed in the hands of the councillors by the road grants, and partly to the tendency of co-workers in the federal and provincial contests to assist each other in municipal contests.

In Nova Scotia the three electoral revisers are appointed like other municipal officials. They are usually selected from the councillors for the districts concerned. The revisal section in rural municipalities consists of not less than two or more than five polling districts, as the council may determine, each polling district being usually represented by one councillor. Each town. constitutes a single revisal section. The city of Halifax has a registrar of voters, who is appointed by the council, but cannot be removed except for cause.

In New Brunswick the revisal section is the parish. In 1854 the law directed that the revisers be appointed or elected like other parish officers. In 1877 the county councillors of each parish were to be the revisers. If they were but two in number, the council selected another; if more than three, the council selected three. In cities and towns the councils elected the revisers. In 1899 the provincial Government secured the right to appoint the chairman, the other two being councillors.
Sale of Intoxicating Liquors.-The sale of intoxicating liquors is prohibited or regulated by municipal ratepayers in accordance with either the Canada Temperance Act, usually called the “Scott Act,” or a provincial prohibitory law (in Prince Edward Island) or a provincial license law. Compared with the federal Act the provincial prohibitory Act of Prince Edward Island is more stringent. It forbids. the sale except for specified purpose and then through a regularly appointed agent. It gives greater powers with regard to searching, and it provides that any one arrested for drunkenness may be required under oath to state where he received the liquor. In Nova Scotia six counties and Halifax have adopted the provincial license law, the remainder the Dominion prohibitory law. In New Brunswick the provincial license law is in force in the five northern or French counties and in the city of St. John, and the Dominion prohibitory law in. he remainder.

The enforcement of the law is placed in the hands of an inspect or inspectors appointed in Nova Scotia by the municipality. The appointment of an inspector or inspectors must be confined or vetoed by the Governor-in-Council. In New Brunswick the license inspector is appointed by the Governor-in-Council, the “Scott Act” inspector by the municipal council. In Prince Edward Island the police in towns are also inspectors under the law. Their vigilance varies, however, with the complexion of the council as reflected in the com- mission or committee controlling them.

The number of licenses granted is restricted in the following ways. In New Brunswick a distinction is drawn between counties or rural municipalities, incorporated towns and cities. In counties one license is permitted for each full 400 of the first 1,200 population and one for each 1,000 thereafter; in towns one license is permitted for each full 250 of the first 1,000, and one for each 500 thereafter; in the city of St. John the number is limited to 75 shop or tavern licenses and 7 hotel licenses. Since 1877 any parish in a county or any ward in a city has the right of vetoing the granting of licenses within its bounds by recording a majority vote of its ratepayers against it. In Nova Scotia the number is not limited by law, except in Halifax, but the town or the polling district in the county or in the city of Halifax must first express its willingness for the granting of a license by a petition signed by a certain proportion of the ratepayers. In the county or the incorporated town the proportion is two-thirds in favour. In Halifax three-fifths of the ratepayers of polling districts are required for a retail license, a majority for a wholesale. The licenses are granted in Nova Scotia by the council, town or county; in New Brunswick by three commissioners appointed by the Governor-in-Council. Each commissioner holds office for three years, one retiring each year. In each province stringent conditions must be complied with before a license can be granted, and in New Brunswick a commissioner may be subject to a heavy fine for the illegal granting of a license.

The license fees and fines in Nova Scotia go into the municipal treasury. In New Brunswick the spoil is divided with the provincial treasury.

Assessment.-General Acts govern the assessment in counties and towns in each of the three provinces and special Acts the assessment in cities. The provincial Act of Nova Scotia declares all real and personal property and income (subject to certain exemptions) liable for taxation. The assessment law of Hali- fax omits income. A fixed poll tax of 60 cents in the country, $2.00 in towns or $5.00 in Halifax is also exacted. Exemptions are numerous and important. Among others may be mentioned the property of widows to the value of $400, implements or tools of farmers, mechanics or fishermen to the value of $200, the produce of the farm and of the sea; income up to $400 in the country and $600 in the towns. Ships are rated at half value. Funds in provincial debentures, the income from provincial or municipal debentures, the property of railways, and other property by special Act, are exempt.

The New Brunswick provincial Act requires one-sixth of the tax to be raised by a poll tax and the remainder to be levied equally on real and personal property and income. Fredericton until 1907 enjoyed the distinction of retaining a provision whereby income is rated at full value and real and personal property at one-fifth. The exemptions granted are similar to those of Nova Scotia. Corporations are assessed on their paid- up capital less their real estate.

In Prince Edward Island the confusion of provincial and local obligations has produced a distinct type of assessment. The absence of mines, forests and important industries leaves that pastoral island without the great sources of revenue of the sister provinces. The heavy burden of the schools is principally borne by the provincial treasury and not by the district assessment. The principal sources of revenue are the Dominion subsidy, the land, income and road taxes, license fees and succession duties.

The land tax was introduced in 1894. At first it was levied at from one to six cents per acre according to value, but in 1897 this was changed to a percentage tax of one-fifth of one per cent., or twenty cents on every $100. The value of the land includes the value of buildings, but after the first year improvements are not assessed. A rate of one and a half per cent is levied upon income, but income due to manual labour, not exceeding $300, is exempt. The road tax is simple. A poll tax of $1.00 is levied on men between 21 and 60, and twenty-five cents for each horse over three years of age.

In the cities and towns generally there is much dissatisfaction over the system of taxation. Fredericton vigorously protested against the heavy burden placed upon income. John and Halifax complain of the hardships suffered by merchants and manufacturers who carry large stocks of goods. Partial relief was given in Halifax by placing merchandise at three-fourths value and by exempting by special legislation certain industries. Wharf property and shipping were granted similar relief. In St. John the heavy burdens which that ambitious city has incurred its efforts to equip the harbour with ample docks and facilities have aggravated the unequal pressure of its system; and an assessment commission has just reported in favour of a change to a tax on rentals very much as in Ontario. Another commission is sitting in Fredericton. Halifax has had its full share of committees and commissions, yet more are demanded. Fredericton’s preposterous income tax was neutralizing the great advantage of central position and natural beauty and was driving many away. And in both St. John and Halifax municipal taxation is unduly checking manufacturing and trading enterprise.

1 The name of New Ireland was proposed at different times for each of these new provinces. The legislature of Prince Edward Island in 1780 adopted the name, but the Sovereign disapproved. Later it was proposed for New Brunswick (N.B. Historical Collections No 6, p.441), but again prejudice prevailed over the passion for symmetry.

Murray, Walter C. (Walter Charles), 1866-1945. Local Government In the Maritime Provinces. [Canada?: s.n., 1907] https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100296416/Home, https://www.forgottenbooks.com/en/books/LocalGovernmentintheMaritimeProvinces_11146177

The legitimacy of local referendums on municipal amalgamation An instrument for decision-making or consulting citizens?

“Our analysis of the Norwegian cases has shown that the legitimacy of referendums is regarded as high by local political actors. This is, we believe, because referendums are inclusive (in Dahl’s terms). Even though a local referendum only is consultative legally speaking, it is often regarded as binding by political actors – especially if the referendum is held according to standards for democratic decision-making. However, that was not always the case.

The study has also shed light on factors that limit the legitimacy of referendums, both from a normative perspective and in the eyes of political actors. Even though most of the local referendums were held according to the principles of the Election Act, the wording of questions and alternatives on the ballot paper was problematic in several cases. This certainly reduces the democratic legitimacy of these specific referendums. Also other factors, such as low turnout or a close race, may play a similar role.”

B. Folkestad | 2017 | Sociology, https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-legitimacy-of-local-referendums-on-municipal-An-Folkestad/8cb9c9bd5d7d8c734207dce35343c46494df02bd

A New City Takes Form

Maritimes Report
A New City Takes Form
By Jark Golding
Citizen Special Correspondent

HALIFAX The township of Dartmouth, across the harbor from Halifax, is on the point of becoming a city. Such an event will amalgamate the interests of about 23,000 inhabitants of Dartmouth and roughly the same number of citizens in fringe areas
which have been growing rapidly since the end of World War II. This town is, generally accepted as a Royal Canadian Navy town, for HMCS Shearwater, largest navy flying base in Canada, is located there, and many service families live in the district.

First, property owners were petitioned by public-spirited citizens and obtained the necessary percentage for amalgamation. Then the town council passed a bylaw agreeing to the request. Now the final decision rests with the provincial government. It is hoped the answer may be known before Christmas.

This pioneering effort in old-fashioned Nova Scotia is an exciting incident. Dartmouth was born in 1749. one year after Halifax. It contained a sawmill and a few market gardeners. People crossed the harbor by small boat to the bigger settlement where the British army held sway. Dartmouth has been a poor relation for many years but in the past decade a new spirit of adventure has prevailed and a civic pride that, if anything, surpasses the esprit in Halifax.

One of the major reasons for this new spirit has been the birth of the Dartmouth Free Press, run by Mr. Ralph Morton and his wife, Ruth. They had this inky baby five years ago and recently moved into a new building. The Free Press is one of the five largest weeklies in Canada and certainly the most influential east of Montreal.

Mr. Morton could see the possibilities of Dartmouth and soon became a leading citizen, agitating for better administration, fresh projects, Improved schools and public services. While people naturally buy the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and the Mall-Star owned by one firm and the only dailies in the metropolitan area, they regard the Free Press as “their” newspaper.

There has been a warm rivalry between Halifax and Dartmouth but, in fact, the city has rather looked down its traditional nose at the little town across the harbor. Now the “little town” has a shopping center at its end of the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge (one mile in length) which makes the Halifax side look anaemic. Dartmouth still has a long way to proceed to match Halifax in size but its pulsating fringe area packed with young families and fresh, new homes is rearing with enthusiasm.

The fringe area people have been dissatisfied, in the main, with administration of the County of Halifax. They have built good homes and now they want better services in the form of police, fire department, paved streets and sewage. A strong element among the “fringers” has been acidly critical of the manner in which county funds have been spent. Naturally county officials oppose amalgamation for their role has been rural for many years and it still is in a considerable degree. The young families want urban treatment and have taken giant steps to obtain it.

If the provincial government lends its blessing to the marriage of the fringe areas and the town. of Dartmouth, the move will drop roughly $1,000,000 in taxes into the town’s coffers. This amount will not be sufficient to effect the development expected but it is a beginning.

Strident but sound in the fashioning of the amalgamation proceedings have been families from the Royal Canadian Navy. They come from many parts of Canada, including Nova Scotia, and they have done the entire community a great service. A few months back a navy officer, LL Cdr. John Jordan, presented a beef to a Royal Commission on rentals that was a key factor in a report being made recently that a rental control authority should be established in the Halifax-Dartmouth area. To many people, business and political, this suggestion of the commission Is not welcome. To the “little” man in uniform, and out of uniform for that matter, it could be a blessing. Without doubt many service people now living in Ottawa will understand this difficulty.

So while one could delve into the detail of events leading to the fashioning of Dartmouth and its fringe areas into a city of nearly 50,000 people, the main point is that such a happening is near reality. It is unlikely the provincial government, in the person of Hon. Leyton Fergusson, minister of municipal affairs, will say “no” to the request.

Ottawa Citizen, Oct 20, 1959. https://books.google.com/books?id=zdIxAAAAIBAJ&pg=PA6&dq=dartmouth+halifax+amalgamation&article_id=7351,1081049&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwju59rAqIaGAxXCKhAIHQbECjUQ6AF6BAgDEAI#v=onepage&q=dartmouth%20halifax%20amalgamation&f=false

Petition, Court of Quarter Sessions

PETITION numerously signed by the Inhabitants of the District of Dartmouth, having been presented to the Grand Jury and Sessions, complaining that for a long time they have been annoyed by a number of useless dogs, which have become a perfect nuisance; attacking persons travelling, destroying sheep, and continually chasing and annoying other animals: And the Grand Jury having recommended to the Sessions to make Regulations to remedy the evils complained of, and to impose a Tax to be paid annually by the owners or keepers of Dogs in the District of Dartmouth: The Sessions have made the following Regulations relating thereto :-
NEPEAN CLARKE, Clerk of the Peace.
September 16th, 1861.

All owners or keepers of Dogs in the District of Dartmouth shall, on or before the First Day of December in every year, make a return to the Town Clerk of Dartmouth of all Dogs owned or kept by them.
On and after the First Day of December next, a Tax of One Dollar shall be paid annually to the Town Clerk, Dartmouth, for each and every Dog within the District of Dartmouth, by the owner or keeper thereof. The tax shall be due and incur- red for the current year by any keeping of a Dog during any part of the year, and such tax shall be paid on or before the First day of December in every year.
The owner or keeper of a dog who has paid such tax shall affix thereon a Collar with the name of the owner.
All Dogs found at largo within the District of Dartmouth, without a Collar as required by this Regulation, may be destroyed, unless the owner shall be discovered within 24 hours.
Any person neglecting or refusing to comply with these Regulations or either of them, shall be subject to a penalty of Two Dollars for every violation thereof in addition to the Tax.
All Taxes and Fines shall be sued for and recover- ed in the name of the Town Clerk of Dartmouth, before any Justice of the Peace.
The Town Clerk, Dartmouth, shall pay all Taxes and Fines received by him into the County Treasurer, and shall make a Return thereof to the Sessions–the same to be appropriated and applied under the order of the Sessions, for the benefit of the District of Dartmouth.
The following Sections of 24 Vic. cap. 11, are also ordered to be published:

  1. Dogs found chasing or worrying sheep may be killed, and the owners of such shall have no right of action against the persons killing the
  2. The owners of dogs that have been found chasing or worrying sheep shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding twelve dollars, if, on being notified of the fact, they continue to allow such dogs to go at large.

Acadian Recorder, Oct 12, 1861. https://books.google.com/books?id=dNgHAAAAIBAJ&pg=PA3&dq=dartmouth+acadian+OR+recorder&article_id=3402,2175809&hl=no&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiXw8H1h4aGAxWGLBAIHZ1LADEQ6AF6BAgHEAI#v=onepage&q=dartmouth%20acadian%20OR%20recorder&f=false

Dartmouth Electric Light Company

At a meeting of the Dartmouth, N. S., ratepayers this week a report of the town council recommending paying $25,000 for the property and franchise of the Dartmouth Electric Light Company was rejected, 65 to 18. The whole matter may be dropped now or the question of price may be referred to arbitration.

St. John Daily Sun, Jul 28, 1900. https://books.google.com/books?id=EYAdAAAAIBAJ&pg=PA8&dq=dartmouth,+nova+scotia&article_id=2608,4142759&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj_8JSK4oSGAxWPJBAIHSujAr44ChDoAXoECA0QAg#v=onepage&q=dartmouth%2C%20nova%20scotia&f=false

Non Progressive Town

DARTMOUTH, N. S., may be safely put down as a non-progressive town, for after getting legislation to provide water and sewerage at small cost, a majority of the ratepayers at a recent meeting refused to go forward with the scheme, so the project is “hung up” for a year. It is asserted that a large majority of the citizens are in favor of the scheme, but a snap vote was secured against the improvements suggested.

The Monetary Times, Apr 19, 1889. https://books.google.com/books?id=JyIJAAAAIBAJ&pg=PA35&dq=dartmouth,+nova+scotia&article_id=2336,4342744&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiqx_6ahISGAxUnPxAIHXFnBAg4bhDoAXoECA0QAg#v=onepage&q=dartmouth%2C%20nova%20scotia&f=false

Annual Report 1953



Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have the honour to submit my report and comments on the civic events of 1953. The year 1953 showed acceleration in the progress and expansion which has been evident in recent years.

The sale of Town owned land at Maynard’s Lake and on Boland Road opened the way for tremendous apartment developments, which as the year came to a close were well on their way to completion. A total of 638 apartments will be provided in these two projects which should do much to alleviate the housing shortage in the area. The opening of new subdivisions continued and many new homes have been built.

A block of Town owned land near the bridge head was also disposed of for the purpose of building a shopping centre. Upon completion this centre should add materially to the commercial assessment in the Town.

Road construction in new subdivisions continues to pose a problem. but with the expenditure of $30,000. out of revenue for this purpose we have been able to keep up fairly well with the demand. The Council has laid down more rigid restrictions in the matter of road construction applicable to the subdividers which we hope will help out the situation.

Legislation was obtained providing for the abolition of the household personal property tax. The effect of this legislation is reflected in the assessment notices for 1954.

Authority was given to the Fire Department for the purchase of an aerial ladder truck. A two—way radio was also provided in the Fire Department which has already proven its value. Another set of traffic lights was installed, this time at Five Comets. Special constables were appointed during the year to handle traffic in school areas.

Continued improvement in the street program was noted with the purchase of a patching machine which has speeded up the program very materially. Further widening of Windmill Road was carried out during the year and is scheduled for completion during 1954.

An arrangement whereby the Town Assessor, Mr. Symonds, could carry out the duties of Building Inspector, was entered into and has worked out very satisfactorily.

The Year 1953 saw the passing of an old landmark with the demolition of the old Park School. This was in line with the general program of improvements carried out in the park area during the past few years.

We are grateful to the Junior Board of Trade for the project started in 1953 to clear out the undergrowth on the Birch Cove property and improving this beautiful site as a picnic area.

Plans for two new elementary schools, one in the north end and one in the south end, were approved and are scheduled for completion in time for the 1954 school term.

With the completion of the new Work Shop building downtown, The Works Department building in the north end as well as the D.B.C. building were disposed of.

Work on the Harbour Bridge continued on schedule, drawing another year closer this long dreamed of improvement in our transportation.

Revenue at the Dartmouth Ferry again touched the highest point in its history and profit was satisfactory. The Commission are, however, faced with the problem of major dork repairs and anticipate some adjustments as the impact of the Harbour Bridge competition begins to make itself felt.

I should like to express my thanks to the members of Council and the various Committees and Commissions, and also to Town employees and citizens generally for the co-operation afforded me during the year.

I have the honour to be,

Yours faithfully, C. H. MORRIS, Mayor.

Newcastle Street
A view of Newcastle Street, perhaps from the water, as the railroad trestle is visible at bottom. A child at the bottom right is making their way across the trestle while two others can be seen along the shore. Johnstone Avenue is seen atop the hill with water tower.

FINANCIAL REVIEW Town of Dartmouth — 1953

While costs everywhere have been on the climb the Town by careful financing and by developing new sources of revenue made big news with the announcement in 1953 that it’s tax rate would be dropped by ten cents per $100. of assessment. The tax rate of $2.48 for that 12 months period was the lowest mark the rate had struck since 1918.

Net assessment for Dartmouth during the 1953 period was $21,602,000, which was a new high. This resulted largely from the reassessment survey_ of two years ago. Revenues from this source provided $535,725 for the town coffers with revenues from Poll Tax amounting to an additional $25,015. Revenues from other sources amounted to $328,940. making total revenues for the year of $889,680.

During the year however, total operating expenditures exceeded revenues by the amount of $25,780. This deficit was charged to the Revenue Fund Surplus account which at the end of the Town’s financial year stands at a deficit of $4,675. This amount will be rated for in the year 1954.

The deficit resulted from several of the departments exceeding their budgets. Most notable of these were Education. Police and Sanitation departments.

The over—expenditure in the education field is accountable by the fact that the Town was faced with considerably higher financial demands than originally expected to cover its share of operations and capital cost of the Halifax County Vocational High School in Halifax. It was felt when the 1953 budget was drafted that sufficient funds were in reserve to cover this account but unfortunately this was not the case.

During the year also, Town Council authorized the start of the School Safety patrol, involving the hiring of several additional Police officers on a part-time basis. The work of these officers has as a result released regular Police officers for routine Police work. An extensive program was also undertaken to replace and renew Traffic signs throughout the Town and these items together with the increased cost of operating Police equipment accounted for the over-expenditure in this department.

Town clerk's office

Main reason for the Sanitation budget exceeding its preliminary estimates was the cost of necessary repairs to the incinerator together with the purchase of a new truck for garbage collection, both of which had not been anticipated.

A big item on the credit side of the Town operations during the past year was the revenue arising from the sale of a number of Town owned properties. A total of $87,810 was realized by Dartmouth ratepayers from this source. Of this amount the sum of $30,000 was earmarked by Town Council for capital street construction work. Another $4,000 was voted by the Town for Park beautification. An amount of $17,000 was transferred to the Windmill Rd. widening account which enabled the continuation of this project also an amount of $15,000 was voted for the widening of Wyse Road and Windmill Road in conjunction with these arteries being used as main routes from the Halifax – Dartmouth Bridge. The sum of $2,500 from this money was used to purchase land from the Province of Nova Scotia at Maynard’s Lake, which was subsequently sold by the Town to Maxwell-Cummings and Son for the construction of one of the biggest housing projects ever undertaken in the metropolitan area, the Lakefront Garden Apartments.

With the rapid growth of this area, each year brings a new high in operational costs for the Town.

This past year operational costs showed an increase of some $53,000. over 1952, with the cost of Education being the leader in this increase.

The cost of providing adequate protection to persons and property in the Town also continues to grow as the Town expands. With an expanding Town like Dartmouth also goes the added costs of providing additional sewer and water facilities, street lighting and innumerable other items.

Some of this additional cost in providing services for the newly developing areas is offset by the additional revenue received in taxes and other ways from these new sections, however for the first few years these districts do not begin to carry the cost of providing many of the services they receive.

The Town received a grant from the Dartmouth Ferry Commission during the year. This grant represents the net profit or surplus of the Ferry operation and amounted to $8,710.21.

An amount of $157,000. in serial debentures was retired during the past year plus interest of $98,624.75. This was composed of the following amounts: Genera1—$76,000.; School —-$24,000.; Water— $41,500. and Ferry $15,500. No sinking funds retired during the year but an amount of $15,155.65. was paid into Sinking Fund accounts.

Ferry Purchases Debentures

The Town had only three small issues of debentures during the year and all were purchased by the Dartmouth Ferry Commission.

One of the debenture issues was for $40,000. for school work, bearing 4 percent interest. It was bought for par value by the Ferry. There was also an issue of $25,000. water debentures and $25,000. sewer debentures, which were sold together, at 4} percent interest. These were also purchased at par.

With the Town owned Dartmouth Ferry Commission purchasing these debenture issues out of its reserve fund it meant that the Town received par value for their debentures, and did not necessitate the Town going to the Bond market, which was decidedly low during the year.

At the end of the year the Town’s debenture debts amounted to $2,694,261.03 which is made up as follows: General-—$936,600.: Schools -$434,000.; Water –$999,000.; Ferry -—$215,500, and the Town’s share of the Vocational High School $109,161.03.

During the year a total of $44,671.45 was expended on capital expenditures from revenue, and this was divided as follows: Police Department [car] –$1,331.45: Fire Department (mobile radio)— $1,140.: Street construction $30,000. Park Commission $4,000.: and Water and Sewer construction $8,200.

There are still some ratepayers who are slow in paying their tax accounts as evidenced by the fact that at the end of 1953 the amount of $97,104.61 was outstanding as Taxes receivable. Of the $560,740.13 current tax levy an amount of $68,130.38 is still outstanding.


Annual Report

Continuing a program aimed at encouraging minor hockey and developing the younger boys of the Town in hockey talents, the Dartmouth Memorial Rink Commission during the past year provided reduced rates for minor hockey so that more of the younger boys could participate. Through the assistance of interested citizens, such as Colenso Bowles, President of the minor hockey league, the Commission hopes to lay the groundwork for greatly increased hockey activity, and resulting increased revenue in the years to come.

Over the past year the Commission has also supported other minor activities in the skating field such as the work the Bluenose Figure Skating club is doing in developing skating talents in the young ladies of the Town. This groundwork is necessary in a Town that has been without a rink for the use of its young people for many years.

During the past year, according to the financial statement released by the Commission the operating profit before providing for Debenture Debt charges was $105.86.

The total revenue figures amounted to $31,201.84 including skating revenue of $11,340. ice rentals of $13,417., plus smaller amounts from dancing and wrestling events.

In the expenditure column salaries took up the biggest single item of $10,290. while light and power amounted to $5306. and maintenance costs on building and equipment totalled another $5,829.

The debenture debt charges, still very high on the initial borrowing for the rink, amounted to $18,240., resulting in a gross expenditure of $49,335.89 for the year. This amount less the revenue resulted in a deficit of $18,134.14 which has been provided by the Town from taxation.

One of the ways in which this deficit might be overcome in ‘ future years is the holding of a brand of senior hockey competitions in the Town which would develop a good following. Currently a proposal is being considered for the new year which would give a number of big league games per month to the Dartmouth Rink, and might be the first step to place the rink on a paying basis. Eventually the development of Allan Cup hockey or something similar might be the boost that is needed.

The Rink was sold out on several occasions last year, breaking records on two occasions, for playoff matches in the semi-finals of the Big Four league when Halifax came over here to play. Such support on an increased basis would solve all financial problems.


With a budget of $70,000. the Works Department concentrated on several big projects, and on other work did mainly maintenance and repairs during the past year. Biggest job of the year, and one which will have far reaching results on the development of the South end of Dartmouth was the installation of what can best be described as the Brook street sewer.

This is a thirty inch sewer, and extends parallel with Portland street draining the area in the valley between Portland and the hill sloping down from Rodney Road. Originally considered in the 1920’s when the late Mayor Vidito was in office, the big installation was finally undertaken and completed in 1953 at cost of $40,000.

This sewer drains much valuable property including a large block of about thirty town owned lots in what is known as the Prince Arthur Park sub—division. Completion of the storm sewer makes these lots available for development. It is in this same area that the new 16 room elementary grade school is to be constructed, and is just across the street from the Lakefront Garden Apartment project.

In all $50,000 worth of sewer and water extensions were handled during the year by the Works Department to assist in development of new subdivisions. Some work was done in the Wyndholme sub-division, also on Mount Pleasant Avenue. Crichton Park Road and the south end of Hershey Road.

Sewer and water extensions went to Scott Street. McNeil Street, Fenwick Street, Hillside Avenue and on a portion of Thistle Street between Beech and Mayflower Streets.

No permanent paving projects were undertaken during the year, and the street program was confined mainly to maintenance work. The Department purchased a mobile patch unit at a cost of $4,000. which while not elaborate. proved very efficient in quick patch work. It has been in use almost steadily since being purchased.

No other new equipment was purchased during the year excepting a vehicle for the garbage department. No curb and gutter work was done during the year due to the fact that the ratepayers of the Town turned down a plebiscite authorizing money for this purpose.

One big job undertaken and finished during the past year was the moving of Teasdale‘s grocery store back from Windmill Road at the corner of jamieson Street to make way for a general straightening and paving of this section which was quite hazardous. This project had been proposed as far back as 1920.

In the north-end of the Town the three Notting Park prefab Streets of Symonds, Russell and Chappell came in for considerable discussion by the Works Committee which laid out an overall plan whereby each year for three years one of the streets would be rebuilt and resurfaced with the aim of putting all in good shape. Last year a big job was done on Symonds Street. It was graded and levelled, and given a coating of penetration asphalt. It will be given a further coating this year and grading work will move on probably to Russell Street.

A similar type of program was undertaken on Crichton Park Road. This was a major job, costing close to $10,000. and involved grading of the street, installing storm sewers and catchpits, and coating the street with penetration asphalt. A storm drain was also installed up Forrest Road in addition to the sewer.

Slayter Street came in for some repairs and the Town made a start on construction work on streets in the newly developing Wyndholme sub-division.

The winter turned out to be generally light and the snow removal program was not too expensive, although motorists are now demanding more special attention each year with the result that snow removal and street maintenance in the winter is becoming an expensive problem. The Department now uses only salt on the streets because of the big saving in labour costs in cleaning up after, and also in the saving on catchpits and sewers which formerly became clogged with the sand and ashes used on the streets.

A better program of street cleaning was inaugerated and was especially followed out in the downtown area. Plans are to increase this service in the coming year.


With the new high pressure water system having now been in service for a complete operational year, many of the operational wrinkles have been ironed out and the installation is providing the Town and its customers with a water service of the PUMP HOUSE highest standards.

With this new service come additional costs and these expenses, coupled with the natural annual expansion of the water utility has made it necessary for the Utility to make application for a new rate structure. (This application will be heard by the Public Utilities Board early in 1954).

A misunderstanding over terms of an agreement between the Town of Dartmouth and the Municipality of the County of Halifax for the supplying of water to Halifax County was settled out of court by legal counsel for the two bodies, on December 31, 1953.

During the past twelve month period the utility had a gross surplus of $82,905.18 after providing for operation costs, taxes and depreciation. Out of this gross surplus the Debenture debt charges had to be paid and these amounted to $81,074.50, leaving the utility with a net surplus of $1,830.68.

Sinking fund payments during the year amounted to $2,542. Serial debentures retired amounted to $41,500. and interest payments were $37,032.50. The Tax payment to the Town of Dartmouth was $23,534.99.

Revenues for the Water Utility during the past year showed an increase of approximately $34,000. This actually represents a payment by the Municipality of the County of Halifax for water supplied during a three year period, and billed for under terms of an agreement. These accounts were not paid until December 31. as previously mentioned.

The Water Utility continues to make capital expenditures from revenue, using the depreciation funds to pay for these expenditures.These expenditures include new services, the cost of installing hydrants, etc.

To get a clear picture of what the Water Utility represents as an investment to the Dartmouth ratepayer it is well to realize that the Total Fixed assets of the Utility amount to $1,900,462.93. The total debenture debt of the Utility stands at $999,000.

The Utility continues to expand as the Town grows and every year Water service is being supplied to new developments and areas.


It is with profound regret as we prepare the annual report of the Dartmouth Ferry Commission that we must record the sudden death of the Ferry Superintendent, the late Captain Charles H. MacDonald. The late Superintendent passed away just shortly after giving his final report on the Ferry operations. He had served as Superintendent of the Ferries since the end of the Second World war.

With assets of over one and a quarter million dollars, and outstanding debenture debt of $215,500, the Dartmouth Ferry Commission faces the year 1954 in excellent financial standing, an aim which has been foresightedly sought by members of the Commission with a view towards being financially fluent in case of unfavourable developments with the opening of the Halifax—Dartmouth bridge.

Ratepayers of the Town again in 1953 benefitted as the owners of the Ferry service with the amount of $8.10.21 being turned over to the Town coffers, being the net profit for the 12 month period. An amount of $50,000. which also could be considered by any standards to be profits for the same period was transferred by the Commission to the Ferries contingency Reserve Fund to bolster even further its sound financial status.

Whether future years prove either prosperous or disasterous financially for the Ferry service, the Commission by making it financially fluent, has guarded against it becoming a burden to the owners, the ratepayers of Dartmouth.

According to the audited financial statements of the Ferry operations, revenues reached an all time high in 1953 of $597,565., making it one of the Town’s three top industries.

Expenses also reached an all time high in 1953 of $534,062., an increase of $7,000. over 1952. Salaries showed an increase of $20,000. reflecting the increases granted late in 1952 as well as the extra remuneration granted in December 1953.

A substantial decrease was noted during the past twelve months in the cost of maintaining the boats due to the extensive program of repairs carried out during the two previous years.

With the exception of the main dock in Halifax, which has been giving considerable trouble, the plant and equipment of the Ferry Commission are in good shape as the result of repairs and renovations carried out during the year.

Current assets in cash and investments at the Ferry have now reached an all time high of $340,000. While the debenture debt now stands at $215,500. In other words every cent of indebtedness could be paid off by the Commission and the plant and boats turned over completely paid for, to the Town at any time.

To increase even more solidly its standing, the Ferry, with some of its cash assets purchased two issues of Town of Dartmouth debentures during the past year, including 540,000. in July and $50,000. in December. In other words the Town of Dartmouth is in the situation that it is just borrowing money from itself for these two debenture issues, which is an excellent situation from the point of view of the ratepayers.

As previously mentioned, ferriage revenues for the past twelve months were the highest ever recorded in the Commission’s history. They amounted to a grand total of $597,565. as compared with $584,191. the previous year, which had been a previous high. It marked a two percent increase in revenue over the year.

Big reason for this increase was the tremendous jump in vehicular traffic on the ferries, with 592,473 being carried across the Harbour during the 12 months as compared with 568,841 in 1952 and 551,423 in 1951. This phase of the ferry operations has shown a steady climb.

The number of passengers, including all fares, showed a drop in numbers carried in 1953. During that period 4,03?,324 crossed on the Ferries as compared with 4,821,443 in 1952.

Cost of repairs on ferries during the year, together with maintenance of machinery. amounted to $18,937 for the S.S. “Scotian”, $l2.0?1 for the S.S. “Dartmouth” and $7,379 for the S.S. “Halifax.”

The capital fund balance sheet shows the general fixed assets of $1,228,092. are made up as follows:

Land and buildings -$87,818.; Ferryboats—$630,921.; Docks, wharves and bridges—–$413,432.; Machinery and equipment—~ $12,920.; Office furniture and equipment—$1,976. and Due from revenue fund -$81,021.



The Town’s Medical Health Officer, Dr. L. A. Rosere, in conjunction with the Victorian Order of Nurses provided Dartmouth with a sound Public Health setup during the past year. The school nursing service, carried out on a part time basis by the V.O.N. was an important phase of this program. Dr. Rosere and the nurses reported on the program carried out explaining that rapid classroom inspections were carried out three times a year in six Dartmouth schools. Records Show that Harbour Town students are almost 100 percent innoculated, and 100 percent vaccinated. In addition to this regular preschool immunization clinics were held.

Every new student in the schools was given a medical examination and in addition students in Grades 1, 3 and 5 were given special physical examinations. It was noted that in these examinations over 50 percent of the school children had dental defects. It was pointed out that no prophylactic dental program was in force in Dartmouth and the few dental clinics held were providing parents with a false sense of security about work being done which was incorrect. Only extractions were made at dental clinics, it was pointed out.

Proposals concerning fluoridation of the water supply were under way by the Water committee when the year came to a close.

During the year a very close check was kept on the Town water supply, and the condition of Town water, and schools were also rigidly inspected for health conditions by the Medical Health officer, and generally they were reported in good condition. Several minor health hazards in private residences were noted and the Board of Health took appropriate action.

The Health program by the V.0.N. was also extended outside the classroom with a total of 28 immunization clinics being held for infants, pre—school and school age children. A total. of 191 children were vaccinated against small pox, 553 children were immunized against diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus and 306 children were given reinforcing doses of toxoid. Arrangements were made during the year for patch testing and x-rays of students making use of the Province‘s mobile x-ray unit.

There were some changes on the V.O.N. staff during the year. Miss Daphne Harnett and Miss Louise Gillis resigned in the Fall, and were replaced by Miss Isobel Patterson and Mrs. Violet Orton (Mrs. Orton later resigned in January).


There was a certain amount of good news from the Public Welfare department in 1953 as the year end budget total revealed that the cost to the Town for services provided through this source had taken a drop during the year.

The total costs of hospital and medical debts incurred by residents in the Town of Dartmouth during the year in hospitals throughout the Halifax area amounted to $15,950.97, of which a portion is recoverable by the Town.

Total net expenses of the Public Welfare committee during 1953 amounted to $28,931.21 as compared with $30,888.22 in 1952

Under Provincial laws the Town is responsible for debts at hospitals in the Province incurred by residents of the Town, and that body must make its own arrangements for collection of these debts.

Charities and miscellaneous welfare costs were quite low during the year. They amounted to only $63.83 for groceries and coal, reflecting on the general prosperity of the area. Burials and sundries faced the Town with an additional $402.

Child Welfare costs included payments to the Department of Child Welfare. and the Children’s Aid Societies of Cape Breton, Lunenburg, and Halifax. Three institutions the St. Joseph’:-; Orphanage, St. Patrick’s Home and Maritime Home for Girls also cost the Town nominal amounts.

Maintenance of inmates in the Halifax County Home and other charitable institutions during the year amounted to $5,781., slightly more than the $4,733. cost last year.

Grants made by the Town to charity organizations in 1953 included V.O.N. $1,000., Halifax Visiting Dispensary $200., Canadian National Institute for the Blind $200., Children’s Hospital, $250., and Salvation Army, $300.


Like a giant mushrooming on every side, the development of the Town of Dartmouth reached an all—time high in the year 1953 with approved building permits totalling almost seven million dollars. Not even the total assessment of the Town stood at this high a mark a quarter of a century ago.

This big problem of providing adequate direction for this unprecedented growth fell to the capable hands of the Town Planning Board and its newly ap pointed Building Inspector Welsford Symonds.

The appointment of a building inspector to study all applications for building permits, and to . handle all preliminary details, ‘- – l leaving only major decisions for WELSFORD smouos Planning Board discussion, resulted in considerable additional time being made available to Board members for important discussions on zoning plans and other over—all building details.

With the building by-laws finally approved, and published in a booklet form, available to contractors and other builders, the Board finally saw one of its aims reach completion. A great deal of study was placed during the year on the Zoning by—laws and these will be placed before the Town Council for consideration in the immediate future.

Lakefront Apartments under construction at Maynard's Lake
Lakefront Apartments under construction

One big step was taken by the Board during the year, and it is one which will result in considerable criticism from builders, but must be faced with the rapid growth of this area, and with a view to keeping building under control, The Board asked Town Council to instruct the Building Inspector not to issue any permits to build, until sewer and water facilities were first installed, and streets graded to Town specifications. Council approved this step and placed it in the hands of the Town Solicitor to draft the necessary by-law.

During the past twelve months the total value of building permits issued was placed at $6,975,600. by the Building Inspector. The most amazing thing about this is that this figure did not include the permanent buildings being constructed at the Naval Armament Depot at a cost of $1,600,000. including a gun mounting and electrical shop. Nor did it include the millions being expended by the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission on the Dartmouth approaches of the Bridge.

A total of 152 single unit new buildings at a cost of $1,460,500 were constructed during the year, along with 5 duplexes amounting to $68,850. plus 55 new apartment buildings totalling 660 units, a tremendous development adding $5,125,000. to the building figure, also residential alterations and additions placing 56 more units available for the rapidly increasing population at a cost of $130,000. New commercial and industrial buildings added $41,800 to the total, while commercial alterations totalled $92,300.. and 42 private garages resulted in another $17,950. Completing the figure was another $39,200. resulting from small additions and repairs.

To climax the building year in Dartmouth for 1953 a total of 394 permits were issued adding a total of 880 units to the Town’s housing accommodations.


The sale of one house, the last of 214 prefabricated houses purchased by the Town from the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation in 1952, completed the final sale of these housing units by the Town to private ownership.

The amount of $2,800. received by the Town for the sale of the small four room pre-fab, together with mortgage interest received for the year amounting to $10,293.75. gave the Town of Dartmouth a gross income during the past year from the pre-fab houses of $13,093.75. From this amount a slight deduction for repairs was made, leaving net income over expenditures for the period of $13,048.81.

The balance sheet shows assets on hand in the Prefabricated Housing fund of $12,429.06 on deposit in the Royal Bank of Canada. together with $1 1 7,2 26. in mortgages receivable through the Eastern Canada Savings and Loan Company, and $84,079. in mortgages receivable from the Nova Scotia Savings, Loan and Building Society gives the Town total assets of $213,735.56, after all expenditures of permanizing these units have been taken care of.

This will represent a profit to the Town of close to a quarter of a million dollars on the transaction. The funds have to be paid into a special fund. which can only be dispersed by council with the consent of the Minister of Municipal Affairs


Board of school commissioners

Two new schools were born in the minds of School Board members during the past year, and tentative plans were considered for a third.

The year 1953 was another period of growth. Keeping pace with the tremendous development, both residential and commercial, throughout this area the population has been climbing steadily, and with it the student population in the Dartmouth schools has been increasing out of all proportions and facing local school authorities with dozens of problems.

Faced with part time classes in several cases during the year 1953, school authorities laid preliminary plans for a ten room school to be constructed in the south end of the Town to handle the rapid increase in population resulting from new subdivision developing. Suddenly these plans were all thrown out as the Lakefront Garden Apartments started work on a tremendous housing development which meant another 450 families, and an approximate increase in the number of elementary grade students. Finally plans were being drafted by architect D. A. Webber on a sixteen room school. which it was hoped would accommodate the new student body. The school is to be constructed in the Prince Arthur Park sub-division.

Meanwhile in the Northend of the Town a similar situation was developing. Here several new housing projects were underway and in addition another apartment project, with accommodation for 250 families was being started. Faced with tremendous overs crowding of facilities at present in use the Board decided it would be necessary to have a new ten room school ready for occupancy when classes commence in the Fall of 1954.

At year’s end both of these projects were in the stage of having tenders called for a start on construction.

During the year the Board recommended to Town Council the razing of the old Park school, located on the bluff of land looking down over Synott’s Hill.

Meanwhile the Board, after studying recommendations from Supervisor of Schools, Ian K. Forsyth, was faced with the possibility of needing a great deal of additional Junior High school space in another year. Reports were being considered on heavy increases in junior high school classes as the elementary grades advance, and action may be taken sometime next year in this regard.

Considerable work was done during the past year on school grounds, with a program aimed at improving the properties and laying asphalt surfaces for game areas being continued.


The cost of education in the Dartmouth public school system continued to climb in 1953 as the student population showed a steady increase.

Total expenditures during the year by the Board of School Commissioners amounted to $284,454.86 as compared with approximately $267,000. the Year previous, or $207,417. in the year 1951.

This climb will continue next year with the opening of two more schools, and the following year if another junior high school is constructed.

During 1954 Teachers‘ salaries accounted for $180,172.61 of the total amount. Principal installments on serial bonds took $24,000. and interest on bonds another $17,327. Other high items included janitor service which runs to $14,000. and fuel, another $1I.313.

Prince Arthur Park School started

Additional funds were used during the year to promote such items as Household Science, Music, Physical Education, and Industrial Arts, and these classes were felt to be providing a much needed service in the public education system.

The program of adult education through capably supervised evening classes, in such fields as Household Science and Industrial Arts, continued to meet with a great deal of favourable comment and have big followings. This program is arranged in conjunction with the Vocational Guidance division of the Department of Education and will be increased in the ensuing year.

One of the big items last year was the physical education display arranged by the P.T. Instructors, the Music Festival held at the Junior High School was also highly successful and warmly praised.


Direction of the Police and Fire Departments of the Town of Dartmouth was handled during the year 1953 under a single committee, designated as Public Safety.

One of the big projects of the year, and one which has done much to provide for a steadier flow of traffic in the downtown area was the installation of a set of traffic lights at the dangerous Five Corners intersection. A drop in the number of accidents at this corner, and encountering of little difficulty in the winter months has made the third set of lights installed in the Town very successful.

During the year a new police patrol car was purchased, and funds were also expended on the purchase and installation of a mobile radio-telephone unit in the Fire Chief’s truck to provide for more maneuverability of equipment in case of several fire outbreaks at one time.

Plans were considered during the year for the purchase of a new aerial ladder truck for the Fire Department to replace the obsolete chain driven model which has been in use for over 30 years.

The Civil Defence organization was in full operation during the year and is strongly set up to operate in case of an emergency. A Civil Defence pumper unit was obtained and is stored at the Fire station, a warning air raid siren was also installed by the committee, and a practice air raid drill was held during the year.


The Dartmouth Fire Department, headed by Fire Chief George Patterson had a busy year in 1953, but through the efforts of this department the total loss by fire throughout the Town was kept very low.

The total fire loss in the Town limits amounted to $173,619. Of this figure the amount of $155,1_54 was covered by insurance leaving only $18,465. actual loss suffered by property owners.

During the year the Fire Department responded to 245 alarms an increase of 29 over the previous year. Seven of these were general alarms, responded to by the members of the Volunteer departments.

The largest fire loss was the Vincent warehouse blaze on October 17, which contained the stock of Simpson Sears Limited. plus other stored items, resulting in a loss to the buildings and contents of$l43,005., representing the major part of the fire loss in the Town for the year.

Two other buildings were destroyed, including a combined shop and dwelling on Fairbanks Street and a bungalow on Woodland Avenue. In all during the year 14 buildings were damaged.

According to the Fire Chief the Volunteer departments are up to full strength and giving valuable service. working in conjunction with the 12 men on the permanent force. The Department responded to seven alarms in the County during the year.

The Department revealed that a number of local business firms have installed automatic sprinkler systems in their business places, and indicated it was endeavouring to have others installed in other public buildings in Town.


Town officials moved to bolstered the Dartmouth Police Department during the year 1953 and one of the most important steps taken was the installation of a separate School Safety Patrol. Four additional men were taken on duty on a part-time basis to serve during school days at rush hours on busy intersections, directing traffic to a certain extent and aiding students proceeding to and from school in crossing the street.

The results at the end of the year proved that the move had been justified, as school accidents were completely prevented during the year, despite the fact that traffic has increased greatly in recent years, and also considering that the 1953 school population was the highest recorded to date.

The strength of the Police Department in addition to the safety patrol officers, remained at 16 men including the Police Chief ‘John Lawlor, and other officers, plus the utility man.

The year was a busy one and the Department was praised for its work and investigations in breaking up several crime waves. including a series of breaks, and a bicycle resale gang of juveniles.

In all the Town Police court handled a total of 11,218 cases in comparison to approximately 900 the year previous. Fines and court costs collected amounted to approximately $8,500.

Considerable time was spent during the year by traffic authorities in studying the growing problem of downtown traffic and the traffic lights were found to be of great assistance. The new light installed at Five Corners was found to be a great assistance in handling the heavy flow of traffic in this area.

Extra funds were used during the year in erection of additional signs, traffic signals, and road guides to handle the heavy traffic. Further work was done to develop the downtown Parking lot at the corner of Commercial Street and Ferry Hill.


Mount Herman Cemetary

Space is rapidly being used up in the Town’s biggest cemetery, Mount Hermon. This large property has been becoming increasingly filled as the size of the Town’s populace has increased with leaps and bounds during the years since the end of the War.

The problem of a site for a new cemetery was studied very carefully during the past year by the Cemetery committee and thought given to the possibility that with burial space becoming steadily limited that only residents of the Town would be accepted for burial, and that Halifax County residents in the surrounding suburban areas would have to be refused space in this cemetery.

Further work was continued during the past year at Mount Hermon in removal of old brush, weeds and accumulated debris from the northern section of the cemetery. The installation of Town water in the cemetery has made it much easier for maintenance workmen to keep the grass and shrubs watered and fresh looking.

Despite increased lot and grave opening rates as set in 1951 the cemetery operated at a deficit amounting to $1,925.48 during the year 1953. Burial charges only netted the Town $1,105. which together with $700. provided from Town tax levy was still short of the $3,730. needed to operate during the year.

The biggest expenditure faced by the committee during the year was labor costs of $3,346.

In the overall picture of the balance sheet the assets held by the Cemetery committee amount to $8,086.36 including property and equipment while deduction of accounts payable, and minus the deficit for the current year the balance is cut to $7,389.97 as of December 31, 1953.


Build Retaining Wall in Dartmouth Park

Highlighting the development of Dartmouth Park properties in the year 1953 was the start of a concrete program of work on the beautiful Birch Cove property, which was obtained by the Town from the estate of the late L. M. Bell, and which in the future may be one of the Town’s most valuable Park properties.

The work in clearing out the underbrush, removing debris, having the terrain levelled and sand provided for a bathing beach was the start of a program which the civic minded men of the Dartmouth Junior Board of Trade sparked, in co-operation with the Park Commission.

After getting the go ahead signal from the Park Commission, a special committee headed by Charlie Clarke did a great deal of the preliminary work necessary to put the property into condition for use as an ideal picnic grounds. Located as it is on the scenic shores of Lake Banook, with easy access from Crichton Avenue, the location is fast becoming a popular gathering spot.

With a budget of $2,500 plus an amount of $4,000 from sale of Town owned land the Park Commission continued its program of beautification and maintenance on the Dartmouth Park. Considerable more work was done by Park workmen in constructing retaining walls along walks in the lower section of the Park.

Further shrubs and plants were planted and during the latter part of the Summer the whole section of the Park bordering along Synott‘s Hill and the Park Avenue Hill was a glorious array of colourful flowers.

Further work was done by the Park Commission in conjunction with work on the rock garden. This work is limited because of the lack of sufficient funds but the Commission has been following a program in recent years of doing a small amount of work in one section rather than trying to spread the small budget over too big an area. This has begun to pay off and now further work is being started in the Thistle Street extension area, a section which is also becoming a very heavily travelled route.

Considerable grass was planted in the Thistle Street area extending down from the Bicentennial Junior High School, and trees and shrubs were given special attention here.

A power mower was purchased during the year by the Commission to be used in assisting the small staff of the Park in keeping the new lawn areas well trimmed. A further amount of $400. was used by the Commission during the year in beautification and maintenance work on the centrally located Memorial Park at the intersection of Crichton Avenue and Ochterloney Street.

Benches were placed in this section of the Park and the area was widely used when Band concerts and other special events were held there.

At Victoria Park, the Victoria Park Commission continued its program aimed at making that section of property in the North end of the Town more useable for the residents in general.

Further seeding of the ground was completed here after it had been plowed up, and levelled off. The Commission hopes to add to the Kiwanis Club’s work of installing playground equipment. by providing walks across the Park, and benches for the use of residents of the district. With construction of the Dartmouth Park Apartments nearby, this will become an even more important Park area. Only the ordinary maintenance work was carried on during the year at the Wentworth Park.

The Tree planting program, which is rapidly beginning to show results in the Town was furthered during the past year with the expenditure of approximately $500. during the period for trees. Throughout the Park, and on virtually every Town street the new trees which have been planted are growing well and will soon add a great deal to the values of properties and to the beautification of the Town.


Continuing in a program to support the youth of the Town in various fields of progress the Recreation and Community services committee assisted financially in the sponsoring of Band concerts for the enjoyment of the general public, serving a double purpose in one of their 1953 projects.

The Committee arranged for a series of special Band concerts to be presented during the Summer months at the Memorial Park by the Kiwanis Youth Band. Realizing the heavy expenses the Kiwanis Club is undergoing in its efforts to assist the youth of Dartmouth in advancing culturally in the field of music, the committee decided to pay the club a nominal amount for each Band concert presented, as a boost in the Bands operation.

The strong general support of this move was evident by the large audiences on hand for the concerts on each occasion.

The committee felt that the young people interested in the Youth Band work should be supported as well as youngsters anxious to make use of Town ball diamonds and sports facilities.

Although operating on a limited budget the committee was able to assist further in the work of improving and maintaining present playing fields in operation in the Town. Considerable work was done at the Common field with approximately $200. being expended in repairs and maintenance on both grounds and bleachers.

The Community swimming pool, operated at the foot of Synott’s hill in the Dartmouth Park was as usual well patronized by boys and girls from all over Town. Two capable instructresses were on hand every day to direct the classes in Water Safety and Red Cross Life Saving and Swimming Methods. This pool provides well supervised swimming and has proven invaluable in providing instructions to Dartmouth children who with the nearness of the Lakes and seashores spend much of the summer in the water.

The Dartmouth Public Library, operated by a Board of Trustees, and still located in the Service Centre, was given a grant of $2,000. for operations during the year. A considerable number of private and public donations of books helped the Library to add to its wide array of reading n-iaterial. Attendance at this centre again topped all records and the Library is faced with a problem of needing larger quarters in the near future to accommodate a steadily increasing patronage.

In co-operation with the Dartmouth junior Board of Trade the Tourist Bureau was again operated at the corner of Elliot Street and Lake Road. The number of visitors and home-town residents making calls at this centre for information and literature increases every year, accentuating the need for this service in the Summer months. Outside visitors alone during the past year topped the 1.500 mark.


Grading Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge approaches

As the curtain came down on construction work on the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge for 1953 a great deal had been achieved.

Especially evident has been the progress made on the Dartmouth side of the Harbour. Concrete work had been completed and virtually all of the steel work stretching from the upper end of Lyle Street, down across Windmill Road to the waterfront, had been completed.

Construction work on the east main tower had been almost finished at the close of the year, and preliminary plans were being laid for the big job of erecting the catwalk and hauling the dozens of steel cable supports across the Harbour.

At the Wyse Road end of the Bridge, work on the approaches had been started at the end of the season. The approaches on the Bridge property itself had been levelled and given a preliminary coating of asphalt. Construction work had also commenced on the toll booths, administration and work buildings for the Bridge which would be located on the Dartmouth side of the Harbour.

The Town, under the direction of Mayor Claude H. Morris, who is the representative on the Bridge Commission was laying the first plans to start work on arteries which must handle most of the vehicular traffic from the Bridge. Through $100,000. obtained from the sale of a block of land to the Bridge Commission, and another $30,000. set aside in a special fund, the Town was planning to start work almost immediately in the new year on the Wyse Road approach. This would be widened and boulevarded for a distance of 100 yards in each direction of the Bridge entrance.

GENERAL MUNICIPAL STATISTICS (for year ended December 31, 1953)

POPULATIONDominion Bureau of Statistics Census (1951)15,037
AREALand. . .1,533 acres
Water. . .198 acres
Total1,731 acres
Land Exempt in Public Works and Playgrounds68 acres
ASSESSED VALUATIONAssessmentExemptionNet Assessments
Real Property. . .$23,538,970$7,156,550$16,382,420
Personal Property. . .$5,315,000$94,600$5,220,400
Total. . .$28,853,920$7,251,150$21,602,820
Government Property
Dominion. . .$5,223,400
Provincial. . .$24,000
Town. . .$242,800
Total Government Property$5,490,200
Property used for Educational,
Religious, Charitable Purposes
Widows. . .$245,300
Total Exemptions. . .$7,251,150.
TAX RATEGeneral Tax Rate 2.48%For General Purposes 1.40%For School Purposes 1.08%
STREETS AND SIDEWALK MILEAGEAsphaltConcreteGravel StoneBituminous
Streets. . .6.28Nil1116.55
Sidewalks. . .2.3014.0425.10Nil
Sewers. . .
Water. . .Total. . .

An Act relating to the Town of Dartmouth, 1911 c58


An Act Relating to the Town of Dartmouth.
(Passed the 31st day of March, A. D., 1911.)

  1. Section 30, Chapter 56, Acts 1902, amended.
  2. Section 2, Chapter 72. Acts 1906, amended.
  3. Provisions as to debentures.
  4. Light debentures a lien.
  5. School debentures.
  6. Sinking fund.
  7. School debentures.
  8. Ratepayers, meeting to be held.

Be it enacted by the Governor, Council, and Assembly, as follows:

  1. Section 30 of Chapter 56, Acts of 1902, is here-by amended by adding thereto the following:–At the said adjourned sale, should the amount offered be insufficient to satisfy the town for all rates, taxes, interest and expenses due upon said property, then the town clerk shall be authorized to purchase the said land for and on behalf of the town, and upon the same being knocked down to him the title to said land shall immediately vest in the town. The owner shall have the right of redemption at any time within one year from said sale upon paying the full amount of such arrears of taxes and expenses of sale, but should he fail to do so the town is authorized to sell the said land, and the mayor and town clerk are authorized to convey the said land to any purchaser in the usual manner.
  2. Section 2 of Chapter 72 of the Acts of 1906, is hereby repealed and the following substituted: Whenever a petition is presented to the Town Council, signed by two-thirds of the owners of property fronting on any street or part of a street in the town, requesting the Council to lay down permanent sidewalks thereon, the Council is hereby empowered to assess all the owners of property fronting on such street or part of a street, for one-half the cost of laying down such permanent sidewalk, which cost shall be exclusive of the usual granite or concrete curbing and gutter outside of such curb.
  3. The mayor of the Town of Dartmouth shall, Provisions as upon resolution of the Town Council of said town, issue debentures under the seal of the town in the form A to Chapter 56, Acts of 1902, in such amounts and redeemable in such period, not exceeding twenty years, and at a rate of interest not exceeding five per centum per annum, and payable at such places as the Council shall determine, the aggregate amount not to exceed twelve thousand dollars, and the proceeds of said debentures shall be used for the purpose of laying down such sidewalks in accordance with the provisions of the section amended by the next preceding section of this Act, and for no other purpose whatever. Such debentures when issued shall be a charge upon the real and personal property of the town and of the inhabitants thereof, subject to the provisions of section 6, Chapter 78, Acts of 1908, and section 1, Chapter 67, Acts of 1910.
  4. The mayor shall, upon resolution of the Town Council, from time to time, issue such and so many debentures of such an amount and at such rates of interest and payable at such time and place as the Council shall from time to time determine, not exceeding in the aggregate the sum of eight thousand dollars, which shall be in the form A to Chapter 56, Acts of 1902, and when issued shall be a charge on all the property, real and personal, of the Town of Dart- mouth and of the inhabitants thereof, and the proceeds shall be used for the purpose of paying off and discharging the indebtedness incurred in the installing of an electric light plant in the said town for the purpose of lighting the streets and public buildings of the town.
  5. The mayor of the Town of Dartmouth shall, upon resolution of the Council of the town, issue under the seal of the town in the form A to Chapter 56, Acts of 1902, debentures not to exceed in the whole the sum of one thousand dollars; such debentures shall be for the sum of one hundred dollars each or any multiple thereof, and shall bear interest at such rate, not to exceed five per centum per annum, as the Town Council shall determine, and be redeemable in twenty years from the date thereof; and such debentures when so issued shall form a lien and be a charge upon all the real and personal estate situate within the Town of Dartmouth and upon the revenues thereof, and the proceeds of the sale of such debentures shall be paid over to the Board of School Commissioners for the Town of Dartmouth and shall be used by such board for the completion of the new school building known as the “Victoria School.”‘
  6. The Council shall annually assess and collect with the ordinary taxes of the town a sum equal to two per cent of the sums borrowed under the authority of the next three preceding sections of this Act, which sums when collected shall form a sinking fund for the redemption of the debentures issued hereunder.
  7. The mayor of the Town of Dartmouth shall, upon resolution of the Council of the town, issue under the seal of the town in the form A to Chapter 56, Acts of 1902, debentures, not to exceed in the whole the sum of fifty thousand dollars; such debentures shall be for the sum of one hundred dollars each or any multiple thereof, and shall bear interest at such rate, not to exceed five per centum per annum, as the Town Council shall determine, and be redeemable in twenty years from the date thereof; and such debentures when so issued shall form a lien and be a charge upon all the real and personal estate situate within the Town of Dartmouth and upon the revenues thereof, and the proceeds of the sale of such debentures shall be paid over to the Board of School Commissioners for the Town of Dartmouth and shall be used by such board for the purpose of constructing and equipping a new school building in the said town and for acquiring lands upon which to construct the same.
  8. Before any debentures are issued under the Rate payers meeting to be authority of the next preceding section of this Act, held. the expenditure thereof shall be approved by a vote of the ratepayers of the town in the manner provided for by Chapter 56 of the Acts of 1902.

“An Act relating to the Town of Dartmouth”, 1911 c58



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

By 1909 efforts were still being made to start construction work on the Nova Scotia Eastern Railway. Rumors that the Provincial Government were considering an advance of one million dollars to promoters of the railroad, aroused strong protests from County Councilors that winter. They passed a resolution pointing out to the Government that such a financial outlay would benefit only a certain section of Halifax County, whereas if the same amount were applied to the macadamizing and widening of trunk roads, the money would be expended to much better advantage.

Speaking for the resolution, Councillor W. A. Temple of Waverley said that macadamized roads would be the forerunner of better means of communication. In the very near future, automobiles would be manufactured at a lower cost than at present, and could then serve the needs of farmers equally as well as railroads.

At the same session, County Councilors vehemently denounced the recklessness of certain auto drivers who kept speeding towards a skittish horse, already showing signs of becoming unmanageable. The number of farmer’s’ horses and wagons along a highway far outnumbered automobiles; and moreover, the former used the roads for purposes of making a living, while the autoist raced through the countryside merely for motives of pleasure.

The Councilors thereupon drew up a by-law which in effect, was somewhat the same as had been adopted in some other Counties of Nova Scotia, and in some other Provinces. It declared that:


The penalty for infraction of the automobile bylaw was $50 for the first offence, $100 for the second and $200 for the third offence with or without imprisonment of 60 days.

The comment of the “Dartmouth Patriot” agreed that the law was drastic but the County Council felt that the highways should be preserved for the people. Some rural roads had not been improved for years, and were little better than wagon tracks around a side hill or along a river-bank where an automobile and an ordinary carriage could not pass, without one or the other being forced off the road, said the editorial.

A few months later the Dartmouth newspaper again commented:

The vexed question of prohibiting motor vehicles from the use of the public highways is rapidly being adjusted in different places. The auto has come to stay. That might as well be understood. The only thing is to so regulate traffic that it will not interfere unduly with the great number of people who do not own these vehicles. Nearly every County in Nova Scotia has laws of its own which prohibit the traffic on certain days of each week. In Halifax County the prohibition is very severe, but so far no prosecutions have taken place although the law is violated every week. In fact the bylaw is a dead letter. In time, the auto will be as common as carriages are today, so it is better to prepare for them.

Dartmouth made a far-reaching step towards modernity in 1909 when the Town commenced the construction of permanent sidewalks. The first stretch of concrete was laid along the east side of Water Street between Portland and Quarrell Streets. The western side of the same block was the next to be laid, and the concrete walk continued down the north side of the ferry hill to the railway tracks. Another half block was completed that autumn on the north side of Portland Street from Sterns’ corner to Prince Street.

There was a proposal to extend Prince Street through to Quarrell Street at a cost of about $6,000, but the question was defeated by an adverse vote of ratepayers at a plebiscite.

That year the Governors of Dalhousie University, who were seeking a suitable location for building expansion, came to Dartmouth and looked over the Common field as a possible site.

At Greenvale School in October, Lieutenant-Governor D. C. Fraser presented pupils with prizes won during the previous term. It was the first time that a representative of the Crown had paid an official visit to Dartmouth schools.

There was a real Jesse James hold-up with real shooting, in a lonely part of town that fall. The scene was nearly opposite the present Memorial Rink on Wyse Road, then a narrow thoroughfare bordered by a swamp of trees and bushes. Back in last century, the road had been constructed largely at the expense of the Ropeworks Company because of the more direct route it afforded their teams in the movement of raw and finished material to and from the ferry. On account of its isolated position, the road was seldom used by other vehicles, and its pedestrian traffic was mostly confined to the few factory or office workers, who lived downtown.

During the noon hour on Friday, November 5th, as accountant George Foot, with a leather-bag containing a $2,000 payroll for Ropework employees, was being driven from the ferry in an open-seated double-carriage by a veteran hackman named Lewis DeYoung, two masked men Suddenly sprang out from the bushy swale on the western side of the roadway.

One of the outlaws dashed forward to seize the horse’s bridle, while his accomplice made a leaping lunge at George Foot and tried to wrench the precious money-bag from his grasp. Both attempts failed. The startled horse violently jigged his head clear, and bounding forward, hurtled his assailant aside. At the same moment Mr. Foot’s attacker was knocked off balance by the sudden jerk of the wagon. Then a revolver went off. either accidentally or by design, but the bullet came near to being fatal for Mr. Foot in the fleeing carriage, for the deadly missile whizzed straight across his mouth inflicting a painful wound which bled profusely as the horse galloped furiously northward to safety.

The whole affair was over in a minute, according to eyewitnesses David Drury and Clifford Smith, two northend boys who happened to be on the road at the time, although some distance apart.

The gunmen jumped back into the woods, and were last seen scurrying up the slope of School Street through the Common. They must have continued past Albro’s and the other lakes to ‘the northward, then turned westerly towards the railway track because a volunteer posse from the Ropeworks were able to follow their trail. They were overtaken near Flint’s farm about three hours afterwards, and surrendered without resisting. Their names were Charles Gallagher and Herbert Hassett. Both were residents of Massachusetts, although Gallagher had been born in Dartmouth. They got eight years each in Dorchester Penitentiary.

In 1909 the Western Union Telegraph Office closed up after two years trial in Dartmouth. About this time also the operator and typist at the Consumers’ Cordage Company resigned, and the private telegraph wire there was disconnected. The last operator was Miss Isabel McKay of Pictou. The only other large establishment to have a private wire was the Sugar Refinery, but they had closed it out about ten years previously. John Toomey was the last operator. All messages were then sent by telephone.

That year Mrs. Annie Smith (formerly Mrs. William Dear of the Stag Hotel), died at Brooks’ Corner in Preston, aged 106. At Dartmouth, the well-known “Ned” Beals of Preston, after being tormented by a local gang, aimlessly smashed a plate glass window with a retaliatory missile on Portland Street.

Edward Ned Beals


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

In February 1902 the last of the old-style “Town meetings” was held. The question discussed that night was the purchase of Daniel Donovan’s pasture-land which drained into Lake Lamont. On a show of hands, the proposal was rejected by a vote of 42 to 27. Within the next few weeks, legislation was obtained providing that in future all such matters must be decided by a plebiscite.

An act to consolidate the Acts relating to the town of Dartmouth — 1902, c56, §169: “Before any of said debentures are issued the expenditure shall be approved by a vote of the majority of the ratepayers assessed on real estate, taken under the provisions of this Act respecting extraordinary expenditure. (1899, c.61, §3.)”

In 1902 a frightful epidemic of smallpox struck at Dartmouth. The dreadful disease raged from February until the end of June. It began in Halifax. Twenty-three cases broke out in various parts of the Town, and one death resulted. Watchmen in sentry-boxes maintained a 24-hour vigil outside each yellow-flagged house. Dr. Joseph Doyle of Halifax, whose services were engaged, devoted full time to the task. He had his own quarters, and kept himself isolated from people even to the extent of walking in the middle of the street as he made daily and nightly rounds to his patients. The cost to the Town of this outbreak totaled about $200 every week.

In April, night-watchman William Webber was drowned at Stairs’ wharf. Arthur Trider then joined the force as Policeman No. 3.

The Boer War ended in June. At Halifax the occasion was celebrated by a torchlight procession. At Dartmouth there were a few bonfires on hilltops, and lighted candles illuminating house-windows.

About this time the proposal to build a bridge across the harbor was being promoted by the Dartmouth Board of Trade. During the previous months they also had been agitating for the construction of the Musquodoboit Railway, or the Eastern Railway.

What gave impetus to the bridge project was the circumstance that the Halifax and Southwestern Railway was then undergoing construction, and the idea was to provide a continuous line of communication along the south shore of the Province from Yarmouth to Guysboro, crossing Halifax Harbor by a bridge. Besides rail traffic, there was to be a lane for vehicles. The Halifax Board of Trade strongly endorsed the plan.

The Dartmouth Board were informed that the cost of an iron bridge with stone abutements would be about $300,000.

Natal Day was revived in 1902, and planned for Thursday, August 7th, but rain forced a postponement until September 9th.

King Edward VII was crowned that summer. There were only a few elderly people still surviving who had lived through the last coronation of a British Sovereign. One of them was Mrs. Thomas Mott, southeast corner of Ochterloney and Dundas Streets, who related to a “Dartmouth Patriot” reporter how Dartmouth looked when Queen Victoria was crowned in 1838.

At that time Dartmouth was but a small village surrounded by a forest. What is now Austenville was mostly forest owned by James Austen, Crown Land Surveyor. There never was any good reason for the name “Slabtown”. It originated from the first houses having been covered with slabs instead of clapboards.

Footpaths ran here and there among the tall trees, and Toddy Brook wound its way down through the woods from Mount Thom. Children considered it a wonderful trip through the forest of Mount Thom. Picnics were also held in the thick woods near the brook where John White now lives.

In that year, some $2,000 was spent renovating the Town Hall which gave us the present Council Chamber and an enlarged Town Clerk’s Office. A workshop was built in the rear of the Fire Engine House. At Dartmouth Park, a bandstand was erected. E. J. Butcher purchased from George Sterns the drugstore on Ochterloney Street which the latter had previously acquired from Parker Mott. At the suggestion of Albert Hutchinson, ice-dealer, the name Prince Albert Road was now being applied to that part of Canal Street from the lower bridge to the Town limits. The street name was changed at this time to commemorate the coronation of the late Prince Albert’s son, who is now King Edward VII.

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