Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

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Dartmouth (2001 pop.: 65,741[1]), founded in 1750, is a metropolitan area of the Halifax Regional Municipality, and a former city in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

On April 1, 1996 the provincial government amalgamated all the municipalities within the boundaries of Halifax County into a single-tier regional government named Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). While Dartmouth and its neighbouring city of Halifax, the town of Bedford and the Municipality of the County of Halifax were dissolved at this time, the former city forms part of the urban core of the larger regional municipality and is officially labelled the "capital district" by the HRM government. At the time that the City of Dartmouth was dissolved, the provincial government altered its status to a separate community to Halifax however its status as part of the metropolitan "Halifax" urban core existed prior to municipal amalgamation in 1996. Dartmouth still has the same geographic name that is still used designated by the Halifax Regional Municipality mapping, 9-1-1, planning, and is recognized by Canada Post as a municipality. The official place name did not change due to the confusion with similar street names and planning set out by the "City of Dartmouth" and public pressure. Today the same development planning for Downtown Dartmouth and the rest of the community is still in force as well as specific bylaws created prior to April 1, 1996.


  • 1996 population: 650 625 123
  • 2001 population: 650 741 345
  • dwellings: 39 533
  • land area: 125.917 km²

Municipal government

Dartmouth is represented municipally in Halifax Regional Council by the following districts:

The HRM community council for Dartmouth is the Harbour East Community Council and community council meetings are held in the council chamber of the Halifax Regional School Board building (formerly the Dartmouth City Hall) on the first Thursday of every month.

Residents of Dartmouth are known as Dartmouthians. As a community, Dartmouth has often tended to distinguish itself from the community and former city of Halifax, even under the present municipal amalgamation.


Dartmouth is linked to Halifax by the oldest continuously operating salt water ferry service in North America with the first crossing taking place in 1752. During the early 1900s, ferries were used to shuttle between the downtown areas of Halifax and Dartmouth and carried both pedestrians and vehicles at the time. A railway trestle was built across Halifax Harbour in the late 1800s to bring rail service to Dartmouth however it was destroyed by a storm, requiring the present railway connection built around Bedford Basin.

During the early 1950s, construction began on the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, a suspension bridge crossing Halifax Harbour. It opened in 1955, ushering in an unprecedented development boom in Dartmouth. New subdivisions, shopping centres, and office buildings and industrial parks have been built in recent decades. A second bridge, the A. Murray MacKay Bridge was opened in 1970 and the Highway 111 Circumferential Highway was built around Dartmouth to Woodside at this time.

Other information

Natal Day

  • Dartmouthians have celebrated a civic holiday known as "Natal Day" since August 1895. The concept originated as a means to celebrate the arrival of the railway, but construction of the railway tracks was incomplete on the appointed day. Since all the preparations for the festivities were ready, organizers decided to go ahead with a celebration of the municipality's birthday instead.
  • In 1941 the Dartmouth Natal Committee decided to erect a cairn in honour of the spirit and courage of the first settlers to Dartmouth's shore. It is situated in Leighton Dillman Park, part of the common lands left to the community by the Quakers, and it overlooks the harbour where the first settlers built their homes. The monument stands three meters high and is constructed from rocks gathered on Martinique Beach. A plaque in front of the cairn is inscribed and describes the arrival of the Alderney "on August 12th, 1750 with 353 settlers."



Dartmouth has been home to several Canadian Forces installations:

  • CFB Shearwater, located on the southern border of Dartmouth is an air force base, formerly known as Naval Air Station Halifax, RCAF Station Dartmouth, RCAF Station Shearwater, HMCS Shearwater, and RCNAS Shearwater.
  • HMC Naval Radio Station Albro Lake, a radio transmitter/receiver facility.
  • CFB Halifax adjunct, an area on the Dartmouth waterfront opposite HMC Dockyard.
  • Wallace Heights, a former military housing area in north-end Dartmouth
  • Shannon Park, unused military housing area in north-end Dartmouth (the site for Halifax's bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Bedford, a munitions magazine for Maritime Forces Atlantic, located on the border between Dartmouth and Bedford.

Famous Dartmouthians

Assorted information

  • Latitude: 44.6812°
  • Longitude: -63.53°
  • The oldest structure in Dartmouth is the house of William Ray, one of the whalers. It is located at 59 Ochterloney Street and is believed to have been built around 1785 or 1786. Today it is a museum, furnished as a typical modest dwelling of a merchant of that time. Guided tours are available during summer months.
  • In February of 1752, the Connor family of Dartmouth started a ferry service. It was a large rowboat with sails, and passengers were summoned by a crewmember blowing on a conch shell. Improvements were made in 1816 with the arrival of the Sherbrooke, a 20-meter boat, powered by eight horses harnessed to iron stanchions that rotated the propeller sending the boat forward. The horses rested if the winds were favorable and sails could be raised. Samuel Cunard of the Cunard Shipping Lines managed to convince the city fathers in 1830 to trade in the horses for a steam-driven ferry. Ferries still criss-cross the harbour, but completion of the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge in 1955 provided an alternate method for travel between the two cities.
  • Westphal was named for two brothers, Philip and George, who were born on the old Preston Road (Now known as Main Street/Prince Albert Road). During the 1790s both boys left home to join the navy, eventually becoming British Admirals.
  • In 1955 the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge was opened. The bridge, named in honour of a former premier of the province, gave families greater access to the Dartmouth side of the harbour. New homes, businesses and factories were constructed in the growing town. In 1961, some of the smaller communities that bordered Dartmouth officially amalgamated with it, creating the city of Dartmouth. Dartmouth's population doubled in the next ten years as boundaries were extended farther and as new residents and businesses arrived following the opening of the A. Murray MacKay Bridge across the Narrows in 1969. In 1996, the City of Dartmouth became a part of the Halifax Regional Municipality.
  • The city was not only a bedroom community for Halifax but also had commerce and small industries of its own, including a molasses plant dating back to the days of the "triangular trade" with the West Indies.
  • Dartmouth is nicknamed "The City of Lakes". Boasting 23 lakes within its boundaries, Dartmouthians take special pride in the chain of lakes within its boundaries that form part of the Shubenacadie Canal. Most famous amongst these is Lake Banook, which provides an excellent location for recreation as well as attractive vistas. Dartmouth's most historic body of water is the artificial Sullivan's Pond, located north-east of the downtown area on Ochterloney Street. It was dug in the 1830s as part of the Shubenacadie Canal to connect Halifax Harbour with Cobequid Bay on the Bay of Fundy.
  • Gloria McCluskey was the last Mayor of Dartmouth, and now serves as a Councillor on HRM council representing District 5.

  • The steel ice skate was invented in 1867 by John Forbes, foreman at the Starr Manufacturing Company, Dartmouth . It was a clip-on design. Their Acme brand became famous worldwide.


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