Saturday, 14 June 2014

Dartmouth's North Ferry

 If you are a local reader, you are probably very familiar with the ferry service between the downtowns of Halifax and Dartmouth (as well as the Woodside route). You might not, however, be aware of the North Ferry which ran between Halifax, North-end Dartmouth and Tufts Cove (think today's power plant / Shannon Park). The pictures in this blog post are of three different pieces of North Ferry memorabilia given to me as a graduation present. Please comment if you have more information on this fascinating aspect of our history!

Photo: David Jones, owner of these artifacts.

Photo: David Jones, owner of these artifacts.

The M.V. Haldart (named for Halifax/Dartmouth). Photo in the possession of David Jones.
According to Joan and Lewis Payzant (Dartmouth historians) in page 196 of Like a Weaver's Shuttle;
1921: J. H. Dauphinee took over the Duggan operation, or what was left of it, and ran his ferries with the help of his two sons, Wesley and Dewey, until 1956. The Dauphinees had a sizeable fleet --- three 40-passenger boats, and one 90-passenger vessel. These boats provided quick, reliable transportation, and the Dauphinees were justifiably proud of their fine record, keeping up their service throughout World War II, the V-E Day riots, and the hurricane in September 1954, which forced the large car ferries to stop. They go on to say that the Angus L. Macdonald bridge (aka the 'old' bridge), opened 1955, killed this ferry. Page 195 features an awesome picture of the North Ferry fleet (four vessels are shown).
Like a Weaver's Shuttle is a must-read for those of you interested in the history of the Dartmouth/Halifax ferries. It is thoroughly researched and includes excellent references. The book includes a 5-paged chapter (The North Ferries) on various incarnations of the service between North End Halifax and North End Dartmouth.


  1. Hi David,

    Great to see these posted! My grandfather, his brother, and my great grandfather were the owner/operators of this ferry. I'm sure I can get more information on them for you - what would you like to know?

    Anne Irwin

  2. I'm glad you like this post! The more info the merrier! Thanks very much: David.

  3. NO, the old North ferry ran from a wharf about an eighth of a mile ( or less) to the left of what I have known as NRE ( Naval Research Establishment) at the bottom of what is now Grove Street. The last time I remember using it was about 1958 when I went over to the Dockyard for Navy Day. I can recall going to Halifax with my father ( now approaching his 96th year and still with it ) on numerous occasions. There were also "duty boats" provided for Naval and DND personnel who traveled from Shannon Park when it was primarily PMQ's for the NAVY. I find it shocking that in a relatively few generations histories are re-written and no one is ready to refute the newest version.
    I've been here all my life and remember as if it was yesterday. In 1948 or '49 the North Ferry collided with another boat in the Harbour because visibility was obscured by heavy fog ... one man lost his life as a result. This ferry was the principal mode of transportation for anyone working at the Halifax Shipyards or at the Dockyard ... especially during WWII when convoys were prepared by the many stevedores and freight handlers who lived on the Dartmouth side and lived in the North End. There was a thriving canteen in the terminal on the Dartmouth side and I can remember going there to buy bubble gum and candy as a little kid ... even though there was a store next door when I lived at 4 Elmwood Avenue. This is back in those days when people could let there kids run free without worries of them being grabbed by some pervert or worse.

  4. It appears that the Mi'kmaq operated a canoe ferry across what we now call the "Narrows" in 1752 (and earlier). The following was recorded by Harry Piers of the Nova Scotia Museum in his notes of interviews with Jerry Lonecloud, Mi'kmaw Elder and Chief, on July 17, 1916 (pp. 12-13)

    "... what is now Richmond at northern end of Halifax. The Indians called that place (what is now Richmond) Heen-tood-dimpk (“Hollo {holler} for toll”, a canoe ferry being across from Tufts Cove encampment to encampment at Richmond, & the Indians so going back and forth). This [John Baptiste] Cope was a chief, living at Halifax in summer, and at Stewiacke in winter, and going and coming by way of the Dartmouth Lakes and Shubenacadie River. Chief Cope was then camped at Richmond, near the shore, ... on 22 November 1752."

    Information acquired by the Nova Scotia Museum from Jerry Lonecloud: 1910 - 1930
    Notes by Harry Piers from Conversations with Jerry Lonecloud
    Edited and Annotated by Ruth Holmes Whitehead
    Nova Scotia Museum Library
    Harry Piers Papers
    Jerry Lonecloud to Harry Piers
    1910 - 1930

    [This used to be available as a PDF download from the NSM website, but last I checked it wasn't there anymore. My own copy was downloaded 2003-01-05.]

  5. Hi David - I've found the link to the book about the HalDart and the other ferries - it's call Like A Weaver's Shuttle, by Joan Payzant: - I hope that helps!

  6. My great grandfather and his brother and father were the orginal owners, The Duggans, they lost all in the Halifax explosion boats, docks and a few lives. The boats were man powered, My Great grandfather, Bill Duggan was noted for his oarsmen accomplishment,but also lost his trpheys and ribbons in the explosion, He is listed in the NS sportshallofFame