Responsible Government in Nova Scotia

This book discusses the evolution of Nova Scotia’s constitutional and legal institutions during the 18th and 19th centuries in terms of the British institutions from which it sprang. As English settlers established colonies, they carried with them differing political and constitutional views, leading to tensions and migrations. Despite this scattering, the underlying issues persisted and grew, ultimately posing challenges for the British Empire as a whole.

The American Revolution emerged from these tensions, fueled by differing interpretations of political sovereignty and governance. Colonists demanded self-government and local autonomy, rebuffing British attempts at centralized control. The Declaration of Independence asserted the rights of man and consent of the governed, principles rooted in British constitutional history but revitalized in the American colonies.

The clash between local autonomy and centralized control led to the formation of the Articles of Confederation and the principle of federalism in the new American republic. Meanwhile, the colonies sought a partnership with Britain rather than subjugation, reflecting a new conception of empire and fellowship among equals.

This period of revolution and adjustment saw the birth of new constitutional principles and governmental customs, challenging traditional notions of imperial governance. Nova Scotia’s role in this constitutional evolution is highlighted, underscoring the neglected history of its contribution to the broader imperial narrative. Extensive research into original and manuscript sources sheds light on this overlooked aspect of history, providing insight into the complexities of constitutional development during this transformative era.


“From the beginning a most important feature of English history has been the steady evolution of a constitution and the development of legal and political institutions. During the period of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when her people were expanding into the new world and establishing states as offsprings of the mother country, the constitution at home was undergoing some very necessary adjustments and fundamental changes. While these transformations were wrought primarily for the purpose of meeting the changing circumstances and growing needs of the ancient island kingdom, some of the friction which resulted was profoundly instrumental in sending out to the colonies great groups and sections of her own people, who, when they arrived and settled retained the points of view and the interpretations which had made it unwise and, in some cases, impossible for them to remain at home.

The Puritans, the Cavaliers, the Catholics, and the Quakers all held political and constitutional views somewhat different, representing in those views the points of controversy and change sought before and at the time of their departure. Indeed, no question whatever was actually solved by their removal; rather the difficulties were scattered over a wider field where their growth continued apace, in some cases more virulent than ever, producing in time a more serious problem for the Empire at large than it had been originally for the more limited sphere of the mother country. The need for adjustments was only delayed by this process of scattering, and in time emerged again in a larger form for the Empire as a whole. Also the basic conditions of life in the new world were different, essentially those of the frontier, which tended strongly to bring out, to renew and to revitalize one of the deepest seated characteristics of the British stock, that of self sufficiency.

This added to the difficulty, and out of these two circumstances, — the dissenting colonists and the new life of the frontier — arose a strong sense of constitutional right and a powerful spirit of political and economic independence. This called for statecraft and adjustments of the finest sort from the side of the mother country, but as yet she had not sensed the real meaning of empire, nor was she able to cope successfully with those new problems which expansion and growth had made inevitable.

With the rapid growth and development of the older colonies, and with the acquisition after 1760 of the alien province of Quebec, the problems of political and economic adjustment in the new world became acute. Could the older institutions of the mother country be successfully adapted to the newer conditions and the widely varying circumstances of the several daughter colonies in America? Could the constitution of England in its broad historical meaning be transformed into a constitution for the whole of a vast imperial organization?

The strain was great; the demands for adjustments and change came too quickly upon the government in London; and that government in this evil hour unfortunately was more devoted to a few great private interests than to the larger problems of a growing empire. Indeed, it might be said that in this period the government of England was more a property of those private interests than it was a function of the constitution, and because of this defect it was impossible for the government to consider fairly the broader colonial policy and to preserve the whole of the growing colonial empire under a common Crown.

The deeper problems of adjustment which this British government was not able to meet successfully may be more clearly understood from a study of the constitutional issues of the American Revolution and a consideration of those principles upon which, at first, it was proposed to establish the new American Republic. The democratic life of the new world and the experience in the colonies for over a century of a large degree of self-government had not only produced reinterpretations of some of the older political and legal institutions, but had actually produced new constitutional principles and governmental customs.

The friction and circumstances following 1763 stimulated the colonial statesmen to attempt a definition of some of these new departures. By the time the disruption had been completed and the new republic established those basic principles had been given vivid and dramatic expression.

The Whig parliament in England had drifted far in its interpretation of the state and of its function in the government. Never “weary of expressing their contempt for public opinion” they “denied that members of the Commons sat as representatives of the people.” Standing in sharp contrast with this theory of an all sovereign and irresponsible parliament was the plain assertion in the Declaration of Independence of the rights of man and the “consent of the governed” as the proper basis for all just government wherever found. This broad and fundamental principle involved not only actual self-government for the people but also self-determination for a colony or a state.

But it was not a new constitutional principle, indeed it was as old as the British race and had been understood by such men as Sir Edward Coke in the time of the early Stuarts, and John Locke as he explained the so-called “Glorious Revolution” of 1688. In America this old principle, along with the British stock, had been revitalized and given a new and vigorous emphasis, while at home the Whig parliament and the Hanoverian kings had wandered far from any understanding of its constitutional importance and were unable, therefore, to make those finer adjustments demanded by the colonies prior to 1776.

As a natural corollary to the principle of self-government reasserted by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, was the demand on the part of the thirteen colonies for a system of general government in which the major emphasis should rest, not as the Whigs would have it, upon the central administration, but upon the sacred sovereignty of the local state as a political unit.

The British government had been unable to understand this need but continued to assert that the parliament in London had the power to legislate for them “in all cases whatsoever” and had gone on with its attempt to modify local administration with royal prerogative and centralized control. In this clash of principle — local autonomy versus centralized control — is found the explanation in part, of the first constitution of the new republic, the Articles of Confederation, and the origin of the American principle of federalism.

Of equal importance in the period of revolution and adjustment was the theory held in the colonies of the nature of the empire and of the place of the colony in the larger organization. In harmony with the principle of self-government the colonies maintained that their local legislatures should occupy, a coordinate position under the Crown with the Parliament of Great Britain. In this they were breaking new ground and building slowly a new conception of an imperial organization. Since the people in the colonies were entitled to all the rights of British subjects the colonies could not possibly be considered as possessions of the mother country.

The alternative, therefore, was a partnership relation among them and with the United Kingdom. But again the British government, dominated by the Whig theories, could not appreciate this new interpretation of a larger fellowship as it developed in the growing life of the new world communities. Soon after the organization of the republic this new principle found expression in the definition of the colonial policy of the new American nation. Like the Declaration of Independence, the Ordinance of 1784 came from the vigorous mind of the Virginia liberal, Thomas Jefferson, and the principle of empire which it explains is quite in harmony with his conception of the place of the individual in the social and political organizations. According to this principle, which was finally embodied in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the new states, subsequently formed from this Northwest Territory, should be free and autonomous units:

“That Whenever any of the sd. states shall have of free inhabitants as many as shall then be in any one of the least numerous of the thirteen original states, such states shall be admitted by its delegates into the Congress of the United States, on an equal footing with the said original states.” (Report to Congress, March 1, 1784. Journals of Congress Containing their Proceedings (Philadelphia, 1800), Vol. IX (April 23, 1784), pp. 109-110. In the Ordinance of 1787 “in all respects whatsoever” was added. The same principle is found in the earlier deed to the Northwest Territory given by Virginia to Congress and prepared also by Jefferson: “… and that the states so formed, shall be distinct republican states, and admitted members of the federal union; having the same rights of sovereignty, freedom and independence as the other states.” Ibid., p. 48)

The conception here is clearly that of a union of equals freely associated together, and as such it is a definition of a new colonial policy and of a new imperial order. Upon this conception the new American “empire of liberty,” as it was called by Jefferson, was to expand indefinitely under republican institutions. Little did he realize that the older empire of Britain would also in time accept the same liberal interpretation of its own imperial bond.

A history of this political and constitutional process is the scope of this study. The field is new, for Nova Scotia and the period of her important contribution to the constitution of the newer empire has been neglected by the students of history and politics. (In June 1926, the Canadian Historical Review published the writer’s article, “The First Responsible Party Government in British North America”. Last year, 1929, since the completion of this volume, the Oxford Press published a study by Professor Chester Martin, Empire and Commonwealth, which has a section devoted to the constitutional evolution of Nova Scotia.)

The research, therefore, has involved the use and study of original, and in many cases manuscript sources, hitherto unexploited. Most of these are available in the Public Archives of Canada at Ottawa. Some are in the Provincial Archived of Nova Scotia and others are to be found only at the Public Record Office in London.”

Livingston, Walter Ross. Responsible Government In Nova Scotia: a Study of the Constitutional Beginnings of the British Commonwealth. Iowa City: The University, 1930. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/wu.89080043730https://archive.org/details/responsiblegover0000livi

Dartmouth, N.S. 1980 City Street & Industrial Park Information

Points of Interest:

(1) Tourist Bureau
(2) Dartmouth Heritage Museum
(3) Historical Park: cairn celebrating 353 Alderney Settlers 1753 [sic], granite mill stones retrieved from harbour at entrance, panoramic view of Halifax from Pagoda
(4) Christ Church: oldest in Dartmouth, 1817
(5) Geary Street cemetery: [–supposedly] Graves of [Mi’kmaq] and their Chief Paul, [–otherwise known as the old Catholic burying ground]
(6) Dartmouth Shipyards: former location of the Whale Oil Plant
(7) Jackson House: Quaker Whaler house, oldest landmark 1785, also in area of 19th century houses
(8) Former location of Sugar Refinery: Built in 1884, moved to St. John W.W.2
(9) Sullivan’s Pond, cairns marking entrance to Shubenacadie Canal, [indigenous]-carved Totem Pole, gift from B.C. at First Canada Summer Games
(10) Bannook (sic) Canoe Club: Founded 1905
(11) MicMac Aquatic Club: Founded in 1923
(12) Senobe Aquatic Club: Founded 1965

Dartmouth: Dartmouth has been called “The City of Lakes”, but it is a city which looks to the sea as well. Indeed, from nowhere else on the shores of Halifax Harbour can one see the full panorama of landmarks and ocean-borne activity that is visible from the Dartmouth waterfront.

The Landings: Central waterfront Plazas (Chebucto Landing in Halifax and Alderney Landing in Dartmouth) will provide attractive surroundings for ferry passengers and other pedestrians near the new terminals being constructed by the Dartmouth Ferry Commission. As focal points for the major uphill streets (George Street and Portland Street), the Landings will be visual reminders of the presence, importance and new accessibility of the waterfront.

The Tour: The route selected for this tour takes in most of the attractions in the waterfront and neighbouring downtown area. The Dartmouth Heritage Museum is on the tour and well worth a visit, as is the historic Quaker house.

Areas of interest which are somewhat less accessible (due to adjacent construction activity, awkward pavement, or distances beyond the average tolerance) are noted for persons who wish to explore them (——–)

Historic waterfront: Dartmouth waterfront’s earliest recorded use was as an encampment for [Mi’kmaq] arriving each spring from the Bay of Fundy by way of the Shubenacadie River and connecting lakes.

Upon the arrival of English ships in 1749, the Dartmouth shore served as a source of timber for the settlers of Halifax, who built a sawmill above Dartmouth Cove.

When the ship “Alderney” arrived with additional settlers in 1750, Dartmouth became a community in its own right. A tidy little town developed, with waterfront businesses spilling out of the Cove and along the adjacent shore.

As the years went by, however, the waterfront of Dartmouth was rendered increasingly inaccessible to the public by both the rail line and the busy traffic of Alderney Drive. The area badly needed the revitalization effort now being undertaken by the Waterfront Development Corporation. As the first phases of this effort, the new Ferry Terminal Park and Harbour Walk are already turning the area back to the public and visitors to Dartmouth.

The Downtown: The most prominent feature of downtown Dartmouth is its Common, a legacy of the Quaker Whalers who settled here in 1785. Today, a network of footpaths and carefully laid stone walls rises to an expanse of greenery with an encircling view, 140 feet above sea level.

Another feature of downtown Dartmouth which cannot escape notice is the architecture. Wooden houses and churches of simple, graceful styles provide an interesting contrast to the predominantly stone and brick structures on the Halifax tour.

The walker who looks up at dormers, eaves and door trim will be rewarded with a variety of interesting “finds”, and will feel the charm of old Dartmouth.

Start here: Historical Text by Elizabeth Pacey.

1: Dartmouth Ferry – oldest salt-water ferry service in North America (licensed in 1752), introduced its newest ferries in 1979.

2: Dartmouth City Hall – built in 1967 as the first step in the direction of focusing attention on the downtown and waterfront

3: Propeller – from the ice breaker “John A. MacDonald”, this propeller was damaged in service in 1969, while escorting the “Manhattan” on its history making voyage through the Arctic Ocean.

4: Ferry Terminal Park – A walk along the water’s edge commands excellent views south towards McNabs Island and the smaller George’s Island, and north towards the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge. Across the harbor, downtown Halifax, Citadel Hill and the grey warships of the Canadian Armed Forces are visible. This popular park has been completed as part of the Waterfront Development Corporation Dartmouth Revitalization project and will have an extension along the curve of Alderney Drive (scheduled for completion Summer, 1980).

5: The Marine Slips – The earliest settlement in Dartmouth grew up around Dartmouth Cove, now the site of these drydocks noted for their outstanding recovery rate in repairing torpedoed ships during World War II.

6: Steps to Alderney Drive – a proposal by the WDCL for this central area will make access to the waterfront easier and more attractive. New steps will be located south of the existing ones, and will connect a waterfront plaza with the foot of Portland Street. Pedestrians on the main street will then enjoy a view of the water and the cluster of boats in a planned boat basin. The area will be called “Alderney Landing” after the ship which brought the first 353 settlers to Dartmouth.

7: Harbour Walk and Ferry Parking area – site planned for future redevelopment with parking included. Harbour Walk will remain.

8: Geary Street cemetery – Site of early [Mi’kmaq] graves, including those of two chieftains, as well as early 19th century headstones. This was the first Roman Catholic cemetery in Dartmouth.

9: Railway marshalling yards – best seen from the cemetery observation area.

10: “Mont Blanc” Gun – The heavily-laden munitions ship “Mont Blanc” was struck by another vessel, the “Imo”, in Halifax Harbour on December 6, 1917. The result was an explosion which devastated the northern areas of both Dartmouth and Halifax, killing or injuring thousands of persons. This explosion, the largest man-made one before Hiroshima, hurled the ship’s gun to Albro Lake, two miles away. Note also the 1500-pound anchor which was salvaged from an old sailing vessel.

11: Dartmouth Heritage Museum – Fascinating artifacts and models depicting life in Dartmouth are on display upstairs in the museum.

12: Tourist bureau – a source of information on other areas of Dartmouth.

13: Dartmouth Common – provides scenic views of the harbour entrance and the narrow Eastern Passage between McNabs Island and the oil refinery. During the American Civil War, the Confederate raider “Tallahassee”, which had come into port by day, escaped by night through the Eastern Passage, while two Union warships stood guard at the harbour entrance. (Exit the Common at King Street.)

14: Mystery House – in 1846, resident Dr. MacDonald disappeared mysteriously. The only clue in the unsolved case was the remnant of a tunnel leading out from the basement of the house.

15: Grace United Church – rebuilt in 1919 after the Explosion.

16: Nos. 53-55 Ochterloney Street – early New England style architecture (c.1800) with simple dormers, now restored for the Fire Department Offices.

17: Jackson House – best remaining example of a Quaker House. Nantucket Whalers, mainly Quaker by religion, came to Dartmouth in 1785 to avoid the high British tariff on American whale oil imposed after the American War or Independence. Restored by the Museum Society, the house is open to the public in July and August.

18: Christ Church (Anglican) – built in 1817, a fine simple Georgian structure with rounded windows, decorative cornices and plasters.

19: Christ Church Cemetery – First used by the Quakers, this cemetery is tucked in behind the gentle slope of Dartmouth Common.

20: Victoria Road Baptist Church – This ecumenical building, built in 1844, was once the parish hall for the Anglican Christ Church and was moved on rollers in 1906 to this site to serve a Baptist congregation.

21: Sullivan’s Pond – Dredged out in 1833 as part of the old Shubenacadie Canal system, this gracefully landscaped pond is located three blocks off the map. A Kwakiuti totem pole commemorates the 1969 Young Canada Games.

22: Starr Manufacturing Company – Became internationally renowned for its ice skates, selling 11 million pairs in 50 different models.

23: St. James Church – build in 1871 near the site of a 1749 [Mi’kmaq] raid on the sawmill built by the settlers of Halifax.

24: Portland Street – this commercial district is involved in a redevelopment scheme which will include repaving, landscaping and refurbishing of storefronts.

25: Corner of King and Portland Streets – two buildings with five-sided Scottish dormers, a characteristic Halifax/Dartmouth style, introduced by stone-cutters and masons who came in 1826 to build the Shubenacadie Canal. The Canal connected Halifax Harbour with the Bay of Fundy though a system of locks across the province. This engineering feat was 36 years in the planning and construction phase and 10 years in operation, from 1861 to 1871. The canal followed an ancient Micmac canoe route used for annual migration to the shores of Chebucto, the [Mi’kmaq] name for the harbor. The first stage in the canal system was located in the area visible down King Street (an inclined railway from Dartmouth Cove to Sullivan’s Pond).

26: Proposed housing – the waterfront development plan anticipates new housing on these sites, as an adjunct to the effort to revitalize Portland Street.

27: Wentworth Cannon – brought from the estate of Governor John Wentworth, once located just beyond Dartmouth. Wentworth was Surveyor General of his Majesty’s Woods in North America, then Governor of New Hampshire from 1767 to 1775, and later Governor of Nova Scotia from 1792 to 1808.

28: Alderney Landing – from this point Alderney Landing will open up a view of the harbour.

“Dartmouth: #1 with Industry in Atlantic Canada. Dartmouth, Nova Scotia has been the first choice for expansion and development for over 450 local and national firms. Dartmouth’s industrial parks offer a superior location with good connections by land, rail, sea and air. Products are never far away from the U.S., Europe and other Canadian cities. Dartmouth offers the largest pool of skilled manpower available in Atlantic Canada and over 150 site-ready acres in a retail trading zone of a half a million people.

So what are you waiting for? Take advantage of government incentive programs and call on the Dartmouth Industrial Commission for aid in expansion or relocation. Make Dartmouth your company’s first choice for the future.”

“Dartmouth, City of Lakes. The City of Dartmouth, with a population of over 65,000 is the second largest community in Nova Scotia. Since incorporation as a city in 1961, Dartmouth has enjoyed record growth and prosperity.

Located on the eastern slopes of Halifax Harbour, Dartmouth features a chain of 23 sparkling lakes complemented by public parks and recreation areas. The lakes provide swimming at public beaches and boating areas for the use of all. Canoeing and rowing clubs are situated on Lake Banook.

For the tourist and holiday maker, Dartmouth offers a quiet, peaceful atmosphere with plenty of hotels and motels. For the camper, the City-operated Shubie Park campsite provides electricity and water services for both tents and trailers.

Five shopping malls (MicMac, Woodlawn, Penhorn, K-Mart Shopping Plaza, the Dartmouth Shopping Centre) and the City’s Downtown shopping area offer a wide variety of goods and services to the shopper.

Come to Dartmouth. Stay a day or a week. You will find that we have much to offer and that you will enjoy our City, our scenic lakes and our friendly hospitality!”

“Listening to us can make your life more pleasant, CFDR 680, Nova Scotia’s strongest Radio Voice, 50,000 watts.”

Dartmouth Inn, with a Telex number listed!

Little Nashville, the Harbour Lites Country Cabaret

Little Nashville, one of only a few establishments in the area that had a cabaret license, aka Harbour lights lounge.

“City Boundary”

“Dartmouth, N.S. 1980 City Street & Industrial Park Information”, City of Dartmouth Chamber of Commerce. 1980. https://archives.novascotia.ca/maps/archives/?ID=2008&Page=202013022

Plan of the new track from Dartmouth to Sackville cleared during the summer of 1812

An interesting map for a few reasons, it specifies Pace’s stream, field and hill which is useful to pinpoint the bounds of the Township of Dartmouth, it also denotes what is typically shown as the Town Plot of Dartmouth as “Quakertown“, as distinct from “Dartmouth” at the foot of Old Ferry Road (as with a few other maps that centered Dartmouth around the Old Ferry, here and here).


The legend is as follows: green line being Windsor Road, Orange is the New Track to Dartmouth, pink being the Old path to Dartmouth. Red dots and marks indicating settlements and single houses immediately benefited (presumably from the new road).

Sackville Barracks is noted “a”, Sackville River bridge “b”, M. Sabatier’s is “c”, Quakertown is “d”, Albro’s Tanyard is “e”. Miles, from 1 to 7 are noted with “0”, half-miles with “.”, bridges with “=”.

From Old Ferry Road is noted “Road to Preston, Cole Harbour, Lawrencetown and many other settlements to the eastward of Halifax Harbour.”

The report is transcribed here as accurately as possible.


“Having completed the survey of the new track from Sackville, towards Dartmouth, and cleared the whole course, new and old, of brush, trees and logs, I beg leave agreeably to your Excellency’s direction, to report the particulars.

The old track begins at the Windsor Road at my gate – passes by my house – crosses Pace’s Brook – goes up a very steep and high hill, too steep to be ever rendered convenient or even practical for wheel carriages, – along and again down the same – then ascends another steep hill to f. – all this is through good land, and would make a very good road were it not for the hills are so very steep and high. – from f. to the bridge g. it is a most practicable barren of rocks; in most parts of which a shovel-full of earth can, with difficulty, be got. It is to avoid those hills and this barren the road from h. to g. will require to be turned.

The alteration proposed begins at my gate h. – passes on the eastern side of Pace’s hill, avoids the steeps and is a gentle acclivity to Pace’s field; – and thence either a level or a gentle declivity to f.; the quality of the land is sometimes very good hardwood, and an equal quantity of barren, but with abundance of earth – from f. the new track goes to the westward over Drillio’s tow hills; the land is excellent, with exception of 80 rods of practicable barren, but earth is abundant all the way – from i. to the bridge g. it is, in general, tolerable land, and, with trifling exceptions, level – but it is very stony with a few rocks, plenty of earth.

The remainder is the old track to Dartmouth – from the bridge g. the land is chiefly a barren to Albro’s Tanyard e.; it is, however, generally level with a few short steeps, some of which may be avoided and others rendered easy – from k. ( at 5 ¾ miles) to Dartmouth, it is a narrow but good road, generally, not more than 6 feet wide, and will serve as a sample of what would prove if so made all the way, a great accommodation to the public.

Mr. Samuel Albro, as overseer of highways, has eased my labor very much – he cleared the old path from g. towards Quaker town of brush and logs – the only trouble I had in this place was to chain it and fix up painted boards marked with the miles and half miles – others, also, where the track was doubtful from l to g.

On the whole I beg leave to recommend this road to your excellency’s patronage as a useful accommodation to persons living on both sides of the inner and outer harbours. To show the relative situations of these I have sketched the whole neighbourhood. I conjecture a very good road, as mentioned above, might be made for £350.

Sackville, October 12th 1812. William Sabatier, Commissioner.”

“Plan of the new track from Dartmouth to Sackville cleared during the summer of 1812” Sabatier, William. 1812. https://recherche-collection-search.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/home/record?app=FonAndCol&IdNumber=4514427

Dartmouth Shore, 1786

“Dartmouth Shore, N.S., 1786. From Anchorage off Naval Yard, Halifax, Looking Eastward.

A general view of the town of Dartmouth as it appeared at this period, is here given. It is impossible, however, to identify most of the buildings, which were merely dwellings. Dartmouth was first settled in 1750. On 2nd March, 1786, the old town lots were escheated, the town re-planned, and granted to twenty families of Quaker whalers from Nantucket. The picture shows their dwellings until 1792, when most of the residents moved to Milford.

1: Main center of present town. 2: Old grist mill in Dartmouth Cove. Lawrence Hartshorne and Johnathon Tremaine worked a grist mill there about 1820. Of late years it was destroyed by fire. 3: Halifax harbor. 4: This elevation is now known as Prince Arthur’s Park, a recent name. The left end of this view joins the right of that of the “Hospital and Entrance of Bedford Bason.”

Exact reproduction of the water color sketch by the Duke of Clarence, afterwards William IV., in the private log book of H.M.S. Pegasus, when commanded by him in 1786.”

“Dartmouth Shore”, Duke of Clarence, 1786. https://archives.novascotia.ca/photocollection/archives/?ID=6507

Samuel Starbuck

southon 2
Starbuck Archive. Photo: Catherine Southon Auctioneers. https://artdaily.com/news/153623/Catherine-Southon-to-sell-the-archive-of-important-Quaker-Samuel-Starbuck

“In his notes, Starbuck (1762-1829) wrote: “Not only the floors and the platforms are entirely covered with bodies, but the bodies actually touch each other, how wretched must have been their situations…” His descendant said it was likely that, as a young man in whaling, Starbuck had witnessed aspects of slavery first-hand. “It would have been almost inconceivable for them not to have come across slavery in some form or other in various ports that they visited.”” https://historyfirst.com/quaker-abolitionists-unseen-anti-slavery-archive-to-go-under-the-hammer/

“The Starbuck family were prominent in the Anti-Slavery movement both in the UK and the USA. Having been involved in the founding of Nantucket, members of the family emigrated to Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire, South Wales after the American Revolutionary War and continued their successful Whaling business. The family who were Quakers were active abolitionists throughout the 18th and 19th centuries.”

“The Starbuck family, originally from Derbyshire, emigrated to Dover in the North American colony of New Hampshire in about 1635. The island of Nantucket, off Massachusetts, was granted to Thomas Mayhew and his son in 1641; they combined with others to buy the island from its Indian owners. By c. 1660, Nathaniel Starbuck was one of the associates. In 1725, Nathaniel Starbuck of Sherborn, blacksmith, granted land to his son Paul, including land that had formerly belonged to his brother Barnabas. Paul Starbuck described himself in his will of 1759 as a glazier; Samuel Starbuck described himself as a mariner in 1745, as a glazier in deeds dated between 1751 and 1763, and as a merchant, 1772-1783. In 1791 Samuel Starbuck, now of [Dartmouth], Nova Scotia, merchant, sold Samuel Starbuck & Co. to William Hussey of Sherborn, merchant. Samuel Starbuck’s will was proved at Canterbury in May 1805. Samuel Starbuck of Nantucket, mariner, bought the sloop Unity in 1745, with all appurtenances, except for some whaling equipment. The first American Quaker whalers arrived in Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, from Nantucket in 1792. The Starbuck family is said to have sailed to Milford Haven on the whaler Aurora. By 1800, Daniel Starbuck held land in Milford and Steynton, and had goods distrained for the non-payment of tithes in four of the six years 1810-1815. Samuel Starbuck probably died in 1819, when his estate included half of the stock in trade of Daniel & Paul Starbuck, joiners (£5,020), the lighter Upton Castle, and the brig Diligence. The Starbucks were related to the Penrose family of Waterford, Ireland, merchants, who were fellow Quakers.”

A Quaker Odyssey: The Migration of Quaker Whalers from Nantucket, Massachusetts to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and Milford Haven

“Prior attempts to settle Dartmouth had not thrived. In August, 1750, the ship Alderney had arrived from England with over 300 settlers and house-lots were assigned to them in a planned new town. Unfortunately, the town had been laid out on the traditional summer camping ground of the native Mi’kmaqs. In May, 1751, the Mi’kmaqs attacked the settlement, killing at least four and taking others prisoner. Most of the English settlers were frightened away. Although from five to several dozen families resided in Dartmouth in the years following 1751, settlement remained sparse. In 1783, when Loyalists arrived from New York, many Loyalists camped in Dartmouth while waiting for settlement of their claims for losses during the American Revolution. But most moved on to grants of large acreages throughout Nova Scotia. Parr and the Provincial Council were interested in attracting settlers and in developing new industry. Governor Parr knew the whaling industry would be an economic boon to the development of Dartmouth. He welcomed the Quakers who were not only skilled mariners but were known as hardworking and of good conduct.

In settling the Quaker Whalers, Governor Parr ordered the Chief Land Surveyor to re-survey the town plots in Dartmouth and assign them to the Quaker families. The Commission appointed by Parr planned to build 22 houses but some house-frames were “blown down by an uncommon Gale of Wind and much broken and damaged,” so only 12 two-family houses were completed. Soon, the new settlers were moving in the furniture they had brought with them, putting in gardens and digging wells. The township was laid out with streets in a grid pattern with an average of eight lots making up each block. Samuel Starbuck, his wife Abigail, their son Samuel, Jr., his wife Lucretia and their two young children were assigned lots on the block on the corner of the present Wentworth & Portland Streets in Dartmouth. The Folgers received three plots, one for the parents, Timothy, Sr. and Abial; and one each for the two sons’ families: Timothy Jr. and his wife Sarah; and Benjamin Franklin Folger and his wife Mary. Timothy and Abial’s daughter Peggy Folger and her husband David Grieve also were provided a plot, as was their daughter Sarah and her husband Peter Macy. Names of other Nantucket families who were assigned lots were: Barnard, Bunker, Chadwick, Coffin, Coleman, Foster, Macy, Paddock, Ray, Robinson, Slade and Swain. These early simple frame houses stood for many years until over time, one after another, they were pulled down to make way for larger, more modern buildings. The only one of the Quaker settlement houses remaining today is that of William Ray at 57/59 Ochterloney Street, built in 1786 and now the oldest house in Dartmouth. Concerned about saving this heritage building, citizens of the Dartmouth Museum Society bought the house in 1971 and it is now preserved as “Quaker House,” part of the Dartmouth Heritage Museum.

Not only were houses built but docks and warehouses, essential for sending out ships and handling cargo, were erected on the shores of Mill Cove in Dartmouth. “Within one season the land was converted into a thriving sea port.” A plot was set aside for a Friends Meeting House, which was soon built, the exact date uncertain. The site of the Meeting House was where the present Post Office Building stands. (This Meeting House is mentioned by traveling minister Joseph Hoag in September, 1801: …”We appointed a meeting in the evening at Friends meeting house in Dartmouth.”). During 1786, the Friends held Meetings on First Day (Sunday) and in October, 1786, sent a letter to Nantucket Monthly Meeting requesting that the Dartmouth Friends be recognized as an established Meeting of the Society of Friends. The Dartmouth Meeting was advised to continue holding Meetings for Worship and eventually, after the request was referred to Sandwich Quarterly Meeting and New England Yearly Meeting, Dartmouth was recognized as a Preparative Meeting under the care of Nantucket Monthly Meeting. The Friends also established a burial ground on a hill overlooking the town. There Friends who passed away were laid but without markers in a place carpeted by grass and shaded by ancient trees, as these early Friends considered monuments to be too worldly. The site of the Quaker burial ground is now part of the Anglican Cemetery.”

The British Government Discourages Development in Nova Scotia

“Governor Parr’s efforts to enable the Province of Nova Scotia to be self-sustaining were not appreciated by the British government in London. The well-being of its colonies was not of interest to the British who considered colonies to exist primarily for the benefit of the mother country [Nova Scotia, still a mercantilist colony to this day, if not for the British, certainly for the Canadians]. Under the policy of mercantilism, colonies were seen as providing cheap raw materials to the home country while being consumers for the home country’s manufactured products. Successful colonial manufacturies were rivals to be discouraged. The British government decided that whaling vessels as well as the whale-related industries of refining oil, making candles and the subsidiary work of boat-building, sail-making and ship chandleries, should be based in the home nation to provide work and profit for Britains. [Not to mention what kind of feelings the the familial relations between Timothy Folger and American Founder Benjamin Franklin, who advocated for the cession of Nova Scotia, among other colonies into the American Union, must have created for British masters]. They had missed the opportunity presented by William Rotch in 1785 of allowing a colony of Nantucket whalers to set up their base in England. The British acted to encourage whalers to emigrate to the home island after finding Rotch’s whalers established on the soil of Britain’s great enemy, France, the next year. The Nova Scotian governor was instructed to discourage the whaling colony in Dartmouth in order to bring the Nantucket whalers to Britain. “It is the present Determination of Government,” wrote the British Home Secretary, “not to encourage the Southern Whale Fishery that may be carried on by Persons who may have removed from Nantucket and other places within the American States excepting they shall exercise the Fishery directly from Great Britain.”

Follini, Maida Barton. “A QUAKER ODYSSEY:  The Migration of Quaker Whalers from Nantucket, Massachusetts to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and Milford Haven, Wales.” Canadian Quaker History Journal, vol. 71, 2006. https://documents.pub/document/a-quaker-odyssey-the-migration-of-quaker-whalers-from-cfhainfo-shire-wales.html?page=21

Timothy Folger

Timothy Folger was born in 1732 to Abishai Folger and Sarah Mayhew. In 1753, he married Abial Coleman, daughter of Barnabas Coleman and Rachael Hussey. The couple had seven children: Syllvanus, Abial, Sally, Lucretia, Margaret “Peggy”, Timothey, and Benjamin Franklin, named after his cousin, the founding father.

As a skilled mariner from Nantucket, Folger was involved in the whaling industry. It was during his time as a Nantucket whaler that he became well-acquainted with the Gulf Stream, a warm and strong ocean current.

In 1768, Benjamin Franklin, then in London, received a visit from his cousin Timothy Folger, who captained a merchant ship. Folger’s knowledge of the Gulf Stream prompted Franklin to inquire about the prolonged travel time of British mail packet ships compared to regular merchant vessels. Franklin and Folger collaborated to name and map the Gulf Stream for the first time, publishing their findings in the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society in 1769.

In September 1785, Folger, along with Samuel Starbuck and other associates, relocated to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, intending to continue the whale fishery. They surveyed land in the Township of Dartmouth, acquiring two tracts totaling 2156 acres. The relocation of the Nantucket Whaling Company to Dartmouth marked the town’s first major industry.

However, in 1792, Folger and Starbuck were enticed to leave for Milford Haven in Great Britain, where they hoped to continue their whale fishery with greater facilities. They were invited by British authorities to establish a whaling center in Milford Haven. Financial assistance, including pensions for Folger and Starbuck, was provided, and the first 15 families arrived in 1792.

Timothy Folger, now settled in Milford Haven, continued his involvement in the whale fishery. He became known as a whalebone cutter in his later years, contributing to the processing of valuable whalebone used in various products. His wife Abiel kept a detailed diary, providing insights into their daily lives and activities.

Timothy Folger died in 1814 in Milford Haven, leaving behind a legacy as a skilled mariner, navigator, and cartographer. His contributions to navigation, alongside his cousin Benjamin Franklin, have had a lasting impact on maritime history. Folger’s involvement in the whaling industry and his role in the settlement of Dartmouth further attest to his significance in shaping both local and maritime communities. He was buried in Milford Haven’s Quaker burial ground, leaving behind a rich legacy of exploration, innovation, and industry.

“Timothy Folger (1732 – 1814)” https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Folger-296

“Benjamin Franklin Was the First to Chart the Gulf Stream, Franklin’s cousin, Timothy Folger, knew how the then-unnamed current worked from his days as a whaler” https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/benjamin-franklin-was-first-chart-gulf-stream-180963066/

“Former home of whale-ship captain Timothy Folger, Milford Haven” https://historypoints.org/index.php?page=former-home-of-whale-ship-captain-timothy-folger-milford-haven

A short statement of facts relating to the history, manners, customs, language, and literature of the [Mi’kmaq] tribe

This contains the most charitable and interesting sections of the book. Many of these vintage titles I’ve found contain so much that is superfluous or offensive that I try to be selective, not to paint a pretty picture, but to find anything that approached a realization of the gravity of the situation. I don’t think these excerpts represent the totality of the opinion at the time, or the prevalent opinion, so I don’t take them as broadly representative. They were representative enough, however, to have found their way into print.

An interesting connection I noticed was what I think is a reference to Cain and Abel, below (“And when they shall have passed away, and their very name is forgotten by our children, will not the voice of our brother’s blood cry unto God from the ground? And in the Day of Judgment when all past actions will be brought to light, and the despised [indigenous person] will stand on a level with his now more powerful neighbor, then as poor and as helpless as himself; when the Searcher of Hearts shall demand of us, “Where is thy brother?”, how shall we answer this question, if we make not now one last effort to save them!”).

This is reminiscent of Quaker Joshua Evans of West Jersey, who visited Dartmouth in 1795, 55 years earlier, who often preached “something is yet due the [Mi’kmaq] for land wrongfully taken”. He would often compare the blood of Abel, calling out for revenge, to the blood of slaves and [Mi’kmaq].

Something else I am interested in is the contention here that the Mi’kmaq language resembles Hebrew, “especially in the suffixes by which the Personal Pronouns are connected in the Accusative Case, with the Verb.” Truly fascinating.


“Drunkenness is fearfully prevalent … though not so much of late years as formerly; and other vices resulting from the proximity of what we proudly call “civilization”, a civilization which too often seeks its own interest and gratification, regardless of either the temporal or spiritual interests of others; caring for neither soul or body.”

“Chiefs are … duly elected. The [Mi’kmaq] assemble on such occasions to give their votes, and any one who knows any just cause why the candidate should not be elected, is at liberty to state it. Councils too are held, to which ten different tribes, extending from Cape Breton to Western Canada, send their delegates; and they seem to consider the affair as important as it ever was.”

“The language of the [Mi’kmaq] is very remarkable. One would think it must be exceedingly barren, limited in inflection, and crude. But just the reverse is the fact. It is copious, flexible, and expressive. Its declension of Nouns, and conjugation of Verbs, are as regular as the Greek, and twenty times as copious. The full conjugation of one Micmac Verb, would fill quite a large volume! … in other respects the language resembles the Hebrew. Especially in the suffixes by which the Personal Pronouns are connected in the Accusative Case, with the Verb.”

“We have treated them almost as though they had no rights, and as if it were somewhat doubtful whether they even have souls.”

“…they have some knowledge of Astronomy. They have watched the stars during their night excursions, or while laying wait for game. They know that the North star does not move, and they call it “okwo-lunuguwa kulokiiwech,” “the North star.” They have observed that the circumpolar stars never set. They call the Great Bear, “Muen” the bear. And they have names for several other constellations. The morning star is ut’adabum, and the seven stars ejulkuch. And “what do you call that?” said a venerable old lady a short time ago, who with her husband, the head chief of Cape Breton, was giving me a lecture on Astronomy, on nature’s celestial globe, through the apertures of the wigwam. She was pointing to the “milky way”. “Oh we call it the milky way — the milky road,” said I. To my surprise she gave it the same name in [Mi’kmaq].”

“Now all these facts relate to the question of the intellectual capacity of the [Mi’kmaq]; the degree of knowledge existing among them; and the possibility of elevating them in the scale of humanity. If such be their degree of mental improvement, with all their disadvantages, what might they not become, were the proper opportunity afforded? Shame on us! We have seized upon the lands which the Creator gave to them. We have deceived, defrauded, and neglected them. We have taken no pains to aid them; or our efforts have been feeble and ill-directed. We have practically pronounced them incapable of improvement, or unworthy of the trouble; and have coolly doomed the whole race to destruction. But dare we treat them thus, made as they are in the image of God like ourselves? Dare we neglect them any longer? Will not the bright sun and the blue heavens testify against us? And will not this earth which we have wrested away from them, lift up its voice to accuse us? And when they shall have passed away, and their very name is forgotten by our children, will not the voice of our brother’s blood cry unto God from the ground? And in the Day of Judgment when all past actions will be brought to light, and the despised [indigenous person] will stand on a level with his now more powerful neighbor, then as poor and as helpless as himself; when the Searcher of Hearts shall demand of us, “Where is thy brother?” how shall we answer this question, if we make not now one last effort to save them! We will make such an effort. We are doing so, and God is with us. He will crown our labours with success. We will implore forgiveness for the past, and wisdom and grace for the future.”

Rand, Silas Tertius. “A short statement of facts relating to the history, manners, customs, language, and literature of the Micmac tribe of Indians” [Halifax, N.S.? : s.n.] 1850. https://archive.org/details/cihm_39506

Statistics Relative to Nova Scotia in 1851

Screenshot-2021-06-08-at-23-54-26-Statistics-Relative-to-Nova-Scotia-in-1851-2338357-pdf

“The constitution of Nova Scotia is a representative provincial government. The Lieutenant-Governor, who is subordinate to the Governor-General of British North America, is commander within the province; and the supreme civil as well as military authority under him, is a council of twelve members, of whom the bishop and chief justice are members ex officio, and the rest appointed by the Crown. The legislative assembly consists of a body of forty-one members, elected by 40s. freeholders. It is elected, like the British House of Commons, for seven years, but may be prorogued or dissolved by the Lieutenant-Governor. It meets every year, and all money bills must originate in this assembly; other bills require the consent of the Governor and council before they become law. For the purposes of election, Nova Scotia is divided into ten counties. The counties have two members each, and the other representatives are returned by the towns. Justice is administered by a Court of Queen’s Bench, sitting at Halifax, and by district courts in the different counties. The common and statute law of England are in force. The laws are, on the whole, considered judicious, and, as far as they go, calculated to promote the prosperity of the colony, but the harmony of society is too often broken by a love of litigation.”

“Church of England is the established religion, and in 1838 the colony was divided into thirty-two parishes, each of which had a rector salaried by the Crown, or by the society for the propagation of the gospel. Nova Scotia was made a bishopric in 1787, the diocese extending over New Brunswick and Prince Edward’s Island, Newfoundland and the Bermudas.”

Census of the Province of Nova Scotian in 1851

SexAge
Under 1010 to 2020 to 3030 to 4040 to 50Above 50Total
Male44,00033,79120,27714,61510,61614,378137,677
Female43,45233,44422,38514,66510,27114,223138,440
Total87,45267,23542,66229,28020,88728,601276,117
Table I: Census of the Province of Nova Scotian in 1851

Condition of the People

MalesFemales
Married39,351Married39,351
Widowers2,238Widowers5,916
Bachelors52,088Spinsters49,721
Boys (under 10)44,000Girls (under 10)43,452
Total137,677Total138,440
Table II: Condition of the People

Occupation, Pursuit, or Calling of a large proportion of the inhabitants

Clergymen288Farmers31,604
Lawyers143Engaged in the fisheries9,927
Doctors145Registered seamen1,413
Merchants and traders2,415Employed at sea3,961
Employed in manufactories3,200Engaged in lumbering1,254
Mechanics8,895
Table III: Occupation, Pursuit, or Calling of a large proportion of the inhabitants

Blind, Deaf and Dumb, Idiots and Lunatics

BlindDeaf and DumbIdiotsLunaticsTotal
Males7413217676458
Females629812390373
Total136230299166831
Table IV: Blind, Deaf and Dumb, Idiots and Lunatics

[indigenous persons] and black Persons]

[indigenous persons]black Persons]Total
Males5242,3212,845
Females5322,5873,119
Total1,0564,9085,964
Table V: [indigenous persons] and black Persons]

Crops, Grain and otherwise

Wheat297,157bushelsPeas and beans21,638bushels
Barley196,097bushelsGrass seeds3,686bushels
Rye61,438bushelsPotatoes1,986,789bushels
Oats1,384,437bushelsTurnips467,127bushels
Buck-wheat170,301bushelsOther roots32,325bushels
Indian corn37,475bushelsHay287,837tons
Table VI: Crops, Grain and otherwise

Live stock

Horses28,789Sheep282,180
Neat Cattle156,857Swine51,533
Milch Cows85,856
Table VII: Live stock

Fisheries in 1851

Vessels employed812Quantity of fish oil189,250*
Tonnage43,333Value of ditto in £17,754
Men3,681Quantity of dry fish cured196,434*
Boats employed5,161Salmon in barrels1,669
Men6,713Shad3,536
Quantity of smoked herrings15,409*Mackerel100,047
Value of ditto in £217,270Herrings53,200
Nets and seines30,154Alewives5,343
* In the returns there is nothing to show what these numbers indicate
Table VIII: Fisheries in 1851

Coals, Lime, Bricks and Gypsum

Coal raised, in chaldrons114,992Gypsum quarried, in tons79,795
Baskets of lime burnt28,603Value of ditto in £10,498
Value of ditto in £4,433Grindstones quarried , in tons37,540
Bricks made2,845,400Value of ditto in £5,857
Value of ditto in £3,211
Table IX: Coals, Lime, Bricks and Gypsum

Manufactories

Mills, Factories, &c.NumberValue in £Hands employed
Saw mills1,15389,8691,786
Grist mills39872,649437
Steam mills or factories10
Tanneries23726,762374
Foundries912,900138
Weaving and carding establishments8111,690119
Hand looms11,09624,486
Breweries and distilleries176,03242
Other factories13114,382185
Table X: Manufactories
Iron smeltedin tons400Agricultural implementsvalue in £
16,640
Value of dittoin £
4,635Charis and cabinet warevalue in £11,155
Value of castingsin £3,486Carriagesvalue in £9,491
Flannelin yds.219,352Other wooden warevalue in £19,233
Fulled clothin yds.119,698Boots and shoesvalue in £73,654
Cloth not fulledin yds.790,104Leathervalue in £52,625
Malt liquorin galls.78,076Soap value in £28,277
Distilled liquorin galls.11,900Candlesvalue in £21,210
Maple sugarin lbs.110,441
Manufactories, continued

Shipping

CountiesEntered InwardsCleared Outwards
ShipsTonnageShipsTonnage
Great Britain9727,88610229,739
British Colonies2,517149,6312,815179,712
United States1,211136,5801,266139,427
Foreign18118,039495,299
Total4,006332,1364,232354,177
Table XI: Shipping

Religious Denominations

Church of England36,482Methodists23,596
Roman Catholics69,634Copngregationalists2,639
Kirk of Scotland18,867Universalists580
Presbyterian Church of Nova Scotia28,767Lutherans4,087
Free Church25,280Sandemanians101
Baptists42,243Quakers188
Other denominations3,791
Table XII: Religious Denominations

Houses, Buildings, &c.

Inhabited houses41,455Paupers1,072
Families45,541Rate payers38,388
Uninhabited houses2,028Probable value of real estate in £8,050,923
Houses building2,347
Stores, barns, and outhouses52,758
Table XIII: Houses, Buildings, &c.

Cheshire, Edward. “Statistics Relative to Nova Scotia in 1851.” Journal of the Statistical Society of London, vol. 17, no. 1, 1854, pp. 73–80. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2338357. Accessed 9 June 2021.

History of Halifax City

“The [Mi’kmaq] had appeared in the neighborhood of the town for several weeks, but intelligence had been received that they had commenced hostilities, by the capture of twenty persons at Canso… On the last day of September they made an attack on the sawmill at Dartmouth, then under the charge of Major Gilman. Six of his men had been sent out to cut wood without arms. The [Mi’kmaq] laid in ambush, killed four and carried off one, and the other escaped and gave the alarm, and a detachment of rangers was sent after the [Mi’kmaq], who having overtaken them, cut off the heads of two [Mi’kmaq] and scalped one.

This affair is mentioned in a letter from a gentleman in Halifax to Boston, dated October 2nd as follows: “About seven o’clock on Saturday morning before, as several of Major Gilman’s workmen with one soldier, unarmed, were hewing sticks of timber about 200 yards from his house and mills on the east side of the harbor, they were surprised by about 40 [Mi’kmaq], who first fired two shots and then a volley upon them which killed four, two of whom they scalped, and cut off the heads of the others, the fifth is missing and is supposed to have been carried off.”

“The Governor deeming it expedient that some permanent system of judicial proceedings to answer the immediate exigencies of the Colony should be established, a committee of Council was accordingly appointed to examine the various systems in force in the old Colonies. On 13th December, Mr. Green reported that after a careful investigation, the laws of Virginia were found to be most applicable to the present situation of the province. The report was adopted. It referred principally to the judicial proceedings in the General Courts, the County Courts, and other tribunals.”

[More on the constitutional connections between Nova Scotia and Virginia: Virginia and Nova Scotia: An Historical Note, “As Near as May Be Agreeable to the Laws of this Kingdom”: Legal Birthright and Legal Baggage at Chebucto, 1749, Draught of H.M. Commission to Richard Philips to be Governor of Placentia and Cap. General and Governor in Chief of Nova Scotia or Accadie, June 19 1719 (relying on) Commission and Instructions to the Earl of Orkney for the Government of Virginia, 1715, Catalogue of books in the Nova Scotia Legislative Council Library, The First Charter of Virginia (1606)]

“In the month of August, 1750, three hundred and fifty-three settlers arrived in the ship Alderney… Those who came in the ship Alderney, were sent to the opposite side of the harbor, and commenced the town of Dartmouth, which was laid out in the autumn of that year. In December following, the first ferry was established, and John Connor appointed ferryman by order in Council.

In the Spring of the following year the [Mi’kmaq] surprised Dartmouth at night, scalped a number of settlers and carried oft several prisoners. The inhabitants, fearing an attack, had cut down the spruce trees around their settlement, which, instead of a protection, as was intended, served as a cover for the enemy. Captain Clapham and his company of Rangers were stationed on Block-house hill, and it is said remained within his block-house firing from the loop-holes, during the whole affair. The [Mi’kmaq] were said to have destroyed several dwellings, sparing neither women nor children. The light of the torches and the discharge of musketry alarmed the inhabitants of Halifax, some of whom put off to their assistance, but did not arrive in any force till after the [Mi’kmaq] had retired. The night was calm, and the cries of the settlers, and whoop of the [Mi’kmaq] were distinctly heard on the western side of the harbor. On the following morning, several bodies were brought over — the [Mi’kmaq] having carried off the scalps. Mr. Pyke, father of the late John George Pyke, Esq., many years police magistrate of Halifax, lost his life on this occasion. Those who fled to the woods were all taken prisoners but one. A court martial was called on the 14th May, to inquire into the conduct of the different commanding officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, in permitting the village to be plundered when there were about 60 men posted there for its protection.

There was a guard house and small military post at Dartmouth from the first settlement, and a gun mounted on the point near the Saw Mill (in the cove) in 1749. One or two transports, which had been housed over during winter and store ships were anchored in the cove, under cover of this gun, and the ice kept broke around them to prevent the approach of the [Mi’kmaq]. The attempt to plant a settlement at Dartmouth, does not appear to have been at first very successful. Governor Hobson in his letter to the Board of Trade, dated 1st October, 1753, says, “At Dartmouth there is a small town well picketed in, and a detachment of troops to protect it, but there are not above five families residing in it, as there is no trade or fishing to maintain any inhabitants, and they apprehend danger from the [Mi’kmaq] in cultivating any land on the outer side of the pickets.”

There is no record of any concerted attack having been made by the [Mi’kmaq] or French on the town of Halifax.”

“German palatine settlers (arrived on the 10th of June 1751, and) they were employed at Dartmouth in picketing in the back of the town.”

“On February 3rd 1752, a public ferry was established between Halifax and Dartmouth and John Connors appointed ferryman for three years, with the exclusive privilege, and ferry regulations were also established.”

“The government mills at Dartmouth, under charge of Captain Clapham, were sold at auction in June. They were purchased by Major Gilman for $310.”

“In 1754, an order was made for permission to John Connors, to assign the Dartmouth Ferry to Henry Wynne and William Manthorne.”

January 26th 1756, the term of Henry Wynne and William Manthorne’s licenses of the Dartmouth and Halifax ferry having expired, John Rock petitioned and obtained the same on the terms of his predecessors.”

“(1757) was also memorable as the one in which Representative government was established in Nova Scotia. The subject of calling a Legislative Assembly had undergone much discussion. It had been represented by the Governor and Council, to the authorities in England, that such a step at that particular time would be fraught with much danger to the peace of the colony. Chief Justice Belcher, however, having given his opinion that the Governor and Council possessed no authority to levy taxes, and their opinion being confirmed in England, it was resolved by council on January 3rd 1757, that a representative system should be established and that twelve members should be elected by the province at large, until it could be conveniently divided into counties, and that the township of Halifax should send four members, Lunenburg two, Dartmouth one, Lawrencetown one, Annapolis Royal one, and Cumberland one, making in all twenty-two members, and the necessary regulations were also made for carrying into effect the object intended.”

“In September, 1785, a number of whalers from Nantucket came to Halifax ; three brigantines and one schooner, with crews and everything necessary for prosecuting the whale fishery, which they proposed to do under the British flag. Their families were to follow. A short time after they were joined by three brigantines and a sloop from the same place. On the twentieth of October following, the Chief Land Surveyor was directed to make return of such lands as were vacant at Dartmouth to be granted to Samuel Starbuck, Timothy Folger, and others, from Nantucket, to make settlement for the whalers. The Town of Dartmouth had been many years previously laid out in lots which had been granted or appropriated to individuals, some of whom had built houses, and others though then vacant, had been held and sold from time to time by their respective owners. Most of these lots were reported vacant by Mr. Morris, the surveyor, and seized upon by the Government, as it is said, without any proceeding of escheat, and re-granted to the Quakers from Nantucket, which caused much discontent, and questions of title arose and remained open for many years after.”

“The whale fishery was the chief subject which engaged the attention of the public during (1785). Much advantage was expected to accrue to the commerce of the place from the Quakers from Nantucket having undertaken to settle in Dartmouth. They went on prosperously for a short time, until they found the commercial regulations established in England for the Colonies were hostile to their interests, and they eventually removed, some of them, it is said, to Wales and other parts of Great Britain, where they carried on their fishery to more advantage.

A petition was presented this autumn to the Governor and Council from a number of merchants, tradesmen and other inhabitants, praying for a Charter of Incorporation for the Town of Halifax. This was the first occasion on which the subject was brought prominently before the public. It was, however, not deemed by the government ” expedient or necessary ” to comply with the prayer of the petition. The reasons are not given in the Minute of Council, which bears date 17th November, 1785. The names of the Councillors present were Richard Bulkeley, Henry Newton, Jonathan Binney, Arthur Goold, Alexander Brymer, Thomas Cochran and Charles Morris.

The functions of His Majesty’s Council at this period of our history embraced all departments of executive authority in the Colony. They were equally supreme in the control of town affairs as those of the province at large. The magistrates, though nominally the executive of the town, never acted in any matter of moment without consulting the Governor and Council. The existence of a corporate body having the sole control of town affairs would in a great measure deprive them of that supervision which they no doubt deemed, for the interest of the community, should remain in the Governor and Council.”

“Folger and Starbuck, the Quaker whalers, who settled at Dartmouth a year or two since, left (in 1792), for Milford Haven in Great Britain, where they expected to carry on their whale fishery with greater facilities than at Dartmouth.”

“…the Governor, M. Danseville, with several hundred prisoners and stores were brought to Halifax. They landed on the 20th of June (1793). Governor Danseville was placed on parole, and resided at Dartmouth for many years in the house known as Brook House, now or lately the residence of the Hon. Michael Tobin, Jr., about a couple of miles or more from Dartmouth town. The old gentleman displayed some taste in beautifying the grounds at Brook House. He built a fish pond and laid out walks among the beech and white birch groves near the house. The pond still remains, but the walks and most of the trees have long since disappeared. He remained a prisoner with an allowance from Government until the peace of 1814, when he returned to his own country a zealous royalist.”

“a poll tax had been imposed by Act of Legislature in 1791.”

“During the spring of 1796 Halifax suffered from a scarcity of provisions. The inhabitants were indebted to Messrs. Hartshorne and Tremain, whose mills at Dartmouth enabled them, through the summer, to obtain flour at a reduced price and to afford a sufficient supply for the fishery.”

“The following list of town officers appointed by the Grand Jury for the Town March 5th 1806, will be found interesting: … Edward Foster, Surveyor of highways from Dartmouth Town Plot to the Basin; Samuel Hamilton, Constable from Dartmouth Town Plot to the Basin; Jon. Tremain, Sr., William Penny, Surveyors of Highways, Dartmouth Town Plot; David Larnard, Constable, Dartmouth Town Plot; James Munn, Pound Keeper, Dartmouth Town Plot; Henry Wisdom, Surveyor of Highways from the Ferry up the Preston Road to Tanyard”

“In the autumn (of 1814) the small pox made its appearance in Dartmouth and Preston and was very fatal among the Chesapeake blacks].”

“There were two ferries (in 1815). The upper ferry was conducted by John Skerry, whose memory is still cherished by many, both in Dartmouth and Halifax, as one of the most obliging and civil men of his day. Skerry’s wharf in Dartmouth was a short distance south of the steam boat wharf (—at the foot of Ochterloney Street today). The other ferry was the property of Mr. James Creighton, known as the Lower Ferry, situate to the south of Mott’s Factory (—at the bottom of Old Ferry Road). It was conducted for Mr. Creighton by deputy and was afterwards held under lease by Joseph Findlay, the last man who ran a ferry boat with sails and oars in Halifax Harbor. These ferry boats were furnished with a lug sail and two and sometimes four oars. They were large clumsy boats and occupied some thirty or forty minutes in making the passage across the harbor. There were no regular trips at appointed hours. When the boat arrived at either side the ferryman blew his horn (a conch shell) and would not start again until he had a full freight of passengers. The sound of the conch and the cry of ”Over! Over! ” was the signal to go on board. The boats for both ferries landed at the Market Slip at Halifax.

An act of the Legislature had been obtained this session to incorporate a Steamboat Company with an exclusive privilege of the ferry between Halifax and Dartmouth for 25 years. They could not succeed in getting up a company, steam navigation being then in its infancy, and in the following year had the act amended to permit them to run a boat by horses to be called the Team-boat. This boat consisted of two boats or hulls united by a platform with a paddle between the boats. The deck was surmounted by a round house which contained a large cogwheel, arranged horizontally inside the round house, to which were attached 8 or 9 horses harnessed to iron stanchions coming down from the wheel. As the horses moved round, the wheel turned a crank which moved the paddle. It required about twenty minutes for this boat to reach Dartmouth from Halifax. It was considered an immense improvement on the old ferry boat arrangement, and the additional accommodation for cattle, carriages and horses was a great boon to the country people as well as to the citizens of Halifax, who heretofore had been compelled to employ Skerry’s scow when it was found necessary to carry cattle or carriages from one side of the harbor to the other.

The first trip of the Team-boat was made on the 8th November, 1810. The following year an outrage was committed which caused much excitement and feeling in the town. All the eight horses in the boat were stabbed by a young man named Hurst. No motive for this cruel act could be assigned, drunkenness alone appearing to be the cause. The culprit was tried for the offence and suffered a lengthy imprisonment. Mr. Skerry kept up a contest with the Company for several years, until all differences were arranged by his becoming united with the Company, and after a short time old age and a small fortune, accumulated by honest industry, removed him from the scene of his labors.

The team-boat after a year or two received an addition to her speed by the erection of a mast in the centre of the round house, on which was hoisted a square sail when the wind was fair, and afterwards a topsail above, which gave her a most picturesque appearance on the water. This addition considerably facilitated her motion and relieved the horses from their hard labor. As traffic increased several small paddle boats were added by the Company, which received the appellation of Grinders. They had paddles at the sides like a steamboat, which were moved by a crank turned by two men. In 1818 the proprietors of the old ferries petitioned the House of Assembly against the Teamboat Company suing these small boats as contrary to the privilege given them by the Act of Incorporation. It afterwards became a subject of litigation until the question was put an end to by Mr. Skerry becoming connected with the Company. Jos. Findlay continued to run his old boats from the south or lower ferry until about the year 1835.”

“During the month of February (1818), the harbor was blocked up with float ice as far down as George’s Island. Between 13th and 20th, persons crossed from Dartmouth on the ice at the Narrows.”

“By the 27th of January 1821 the ice formed a firm bridge between Halifax and Dartmouth, over which a continuous line of sleighs, teams and foot passengers might be seen on market days.”

Akins, Thomas B., 1809-1891. History of Halifax City. [Halifax, N.S.?: s.n.], 1895. https://hdl.handle.net/2027/aeu.ark:/13960/t7zk65s8s

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