Friday, 23 May 2014

The Mouth of the Shubenacadie Canal

Since starting this blog a few weeks ago, I have made several picture-taking trips to various sites of historic interest in and around Downtown Dartmouth. Today, I stopped by the little white and green hut (formerly an interpretive centre for the Canal, it is now a newly opened bike rental spot operated by the Bike Pedaler of downtown Portland Street:  http://www.thebikepedaler.ca/) that you see as you drive along Alderney Drive near the monstrosity that is King's Wharf (a condo complex slammed into the middle of Dartmouth Cove). For your benefit, I photographed two different plaques that will help illustrate my story about the early recorded history of the Dartmouth waterfront.

Does anyone know the age/origins of this mill stone? Photo taken by David Jones. May 23, 2014.
The plaque on the mill stone commemorates the Hartshorne-Tremaine gristmill which is said to have been located in the same spot as the above monument. Here is a transcription of the plaque:
HARTSHORNE-TREMAIN GRIST MILL 1792
"ON THIS SITE IN 1792 UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS LAWRENCE HARTSHORNE AND JONATHON TREMAIN ERECTED A GRIST MILL AND BAKEHOUSE, WHICH SUPPLIED HIS MAJESTY'S FORCES IN NOVA SCOTIA, NEWFOUNDLAND, BERMUDA AND THE WEST INDIES, AS WELL AS THE CIVILIAN POPULATION OF THIS REGION. THIS ENTERPRISE LED TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SUBSTANTIAL GRAIN GROWING INDUSTRY IN NOVA SCOTIA."
PRESENTED BY THE DARTMOUTH MUSEUM SOCIETY 1984
 

Hartshorne-Tremain Gristmill plaque. Photo taken by David Jones, May 23, 2014.
 
If Hartshorne and Tremaine sound familiar, you might be recalling them from my blog post on corner cannons. These men had a corner named after them in downtown Halifax. As to be expected, John Martin's Story of Dartmouth offers a wealth of information on the Hartshorne-Tremain mill:
"The Dairy and near-by Scrapyard occupy historic land . . . Until the Rolling Mill came there in 1903, the area was mostly covered with grass, in the midst of which you could still see the remains of an extensive oblong-shaped foundation. This marked the site of a very large gristmill commenced by Lawrence Hartshorne and Jonathan Tremaine as far back , at least, as 1792. For in that year, there was a grand ball and supper given at Government House in Halifax  by Lady and Sir John Wentworth, the Lieutenant Governor. In the dining hall on that evening were displayed several ornaments. For example, a miniature of the windmill on Camp Hill. Another was an exact representation of Hartshorne and Tremaine's new flour mill at Dartmouth" (Martin, pages 33-35).

Nantucket Whaler monument. Photo taken by David Jones, May 23, 2014.

Nantucket (Quaker) Whaler plaque. Photo taken by David Jones, May 23, 2014.
I have already discussed the Quaker (Nantucket) Whaler hype in Dartmouth. Most Dartmouth children who play organized hockey belong to the Dartmouth Whalers Minor Hockey organization (their logo is based on the old-school Hartford Whalers crest) and you have probably driven by the Quaker House (owned and operated by the Dartmouth Heritage Museum) on Ochterloney Street.
Here's a bit on the Quakers from John Martin (38-39, Story of Dartmouth): "The biggest boom that came to our town in the 18th century, commenced in 1785 with the removal from Massachusetts of the Nantucket Whaling Company. The purpose of their coming here was to prosecute the whale fisheries from a port which was under the British flag. The United States had just gained their independence. For many years, Great Britain had been the biggest buyer of oil from the American whale fishermen. But now that they belonged to a foreign nation, their whaling products would be subjected to a very heavy duty before being marketed in England. This 18th century oil industry set up their factory and wharves in the Dartmouth Cove. The factory building for the making of spermaceti candles and other products was situated on the northwest corner of King and Marine Streets. One large wharf ran out into the Mill Cove, just to the northeast of that big reddish brick building which now houses the office and machine shop of the Shipyards. (See historic plaque at this plant.) Their vessels sailed from here to the whaling grounds off the Brazilian and African coasts. Thousands of pounds sterling were made in this enterprise. The firm carried on business here for seven years, then packed up in 1792. and moved the whole manufactory to Milford Haven in Wales. Most of the employees belonged to the Quaker religion. A few of their houses still remain in Dartmouth. So do the descendants of one or two families like the Colemans and Elliots. The Dartmouth Service Center now stands on the site of the old Quaker Meeting house at the northeast corner of King and Queen Streets. Whole blocks of town lands in this vicinity were taken up by over forty families of these people. The section got to be called Quakertown. The Bell Bus terminal building was originally a Quaker-built house. There is another at 59 Ochterloney Street."

Quaker House Museum plaque.
Since I've already taken a bunch, I am going to attempt to document all of the historic plaques in Dartmouth. This will be an interesting and somewhat tricky task. I will post my progress! I recommend you take a bicycle this weekend (perhaps rent from the Bike Pedaler) and explore our beautiful city!





1 comment :

  1. Hi David. I'm told that Martin's history of Dartmouth contains a description of "Woodside", the estate owned by my ancestor John Eleazer Fairbanks. Do you think you could forward that description along to me? JEF was quite an impressive figure in Dartmouth history. Perhaps my cousin Catherine Duff and I could help you make a blog about him at some point in the future. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete