Sunday, 11 May 2014

Recent News Article Neglects Starr Manufacturing

A recent article about the re-opening of the Shubenacadie Canal (the first wave of construction of this water link to the Bay of Fundy started in 1826) in Downtown Dartmouth(http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/shubenacadie-canal-excavation-starts-this-summer-1.2637619) unfortunately neglects to mention anything about the Starr Manufacturing Company which should actually play a central role in the story.  Follow these links for key background information:
  • Overview of the history of Starr Manufacturing (especially concerning the impact of Starr equipment on early hockey) This link is from the website www.hockeyshome.ns.ca which supports the true claim of Dartmouth as the birthplace of hockey. Hockey's Home, by Dartmouth lawyer and author Martin Jones, is the national best-selling book on the genuine birthplace of our favourite cold-weather pastime.  Starr Manufacturing, harnessing the waters of the defunct Shubenacadie Canal, produced millions of pairs of Starr skates which were the first modern skates in the world. This Dartmouth company was on the leading edge of innovation in hockey for decades and played a direct role in the creation of Canada's national winter sport. The Acme Club spring (derived from the spring mechanism securely clamping the skate to the boot) skate was invented by John Forbes  who came to work for John Starr's nail factory in the 1860s. Skates soon became the main, but not exclusive, product of the Starr plant.
  • Starr Manufacturing National Historic Event inscription Since the Starr factory was demolished, it was decided that Starr Manufacturing would be named a national historic event instead of a site. Although the paper work was approved in 2007, it wasn't until years later that the plaque was unveiled at the Dartmouth Sportsplex (it still needs to be mounted on the Starr site - I propose the construction of a giant steel Starr skate similar to the giant steel birchbark canoe by the Senobe Aquatic Club).
  • CRM Group archaeological work on the Starr site 
I believe that the history, archaeology and legacy of Starr Manufacturing is a crucial part of Dartmouthian (and Canadian) heritage. It is worth noting that Starr's impact on hockey (through the production of the first modern skates and Micmac brand sticks) was deemed a National Historic Event by the federal government. Even though the Shubenacadie Canal was the focus of the article on the proposed work in Downtown Dartmouth, it has not been granted status as either a National Historic Site/Event. Although I am frustrated by the historiographical over-emphasis on the Shubenacadie Canal (especially when it distorts the telling of the Starr story), I appreciate the contributing role it played in the development of Dartmouth industry and recreation.






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