Monday, 8 February 2016

Starr Manufacturing Turbine Demolished

As stated in an earlier Dartmouth History Blog post (Recent News Article Neglects Starr Manufacturing), "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 skate was invented by John Forbes who came to work for John Starr's nail factory in the 1860s."

Starr Manufacturing's key position in early hockey and skating history has been honoured as a National Historic Event (the only one in Dartmouth). Frustratingly, the Starr National Historic Event plaque is not on display. It should be prominently mounted on the Starr property (misleadingly referred to as the 'Canal Greenway' on current signage) alongside a fitting sculpture of a Starr skate.

Recently, I came across a troubling update, concerning the turbine that powered the Starr Factory, from the Shubenacadie Canal Commission (
In order to allow for the restoration of masonry work and flooring in the turbine chamber the Starr era turbine has been removed. As you can see it was in poor condition and the experts determined that because there are existing examples of this type of turbine, it would not be kept. There are plans to install a replica of the original canal era turbine.

Starr Turbine removed from the Starr Site and destroyed.

The  production of the Acme Spring Skate was made possible by the turbine housed below the Starr factory floor on Prince Albert Road. Unnecessarily, this impressive piece of machinery, a tangible and physical link to our past, has been broken up into pieces. It is sincerely hoped that the Starr turbine will re-appear (perhaps from a junkyard or warehouse) and be put on display for the general public. Our hockey history deserves better than to be thrown out with the trash.


  1. Great story David Jones! Why has the opinion of the public not been consulted before taking the decision to destroy such an important part of Dartmouth and hockey's history?!

  2. I can't help but think if Starr Manufacturing had been near Halifax's historic properties,ALL would have been saved. I remember taking photos of the burnt building.

    Bill from Dartmouth.