History of Halifax and Dartmouth
History of Halifax
Halifax was founded in 1749 by the British who used it as a navel and army base to protect them from the French. Governor Edward Cornwallis arrived here with approximately 2,500 settlers. Many German, Scottish and Irish immigrants arrived during the mid to late 1700’s.
The land was hilly and with the deep harbour made Halifax an ideal military port. Citadel Hill (Fort George) was named after King George the 2nd and was established during “Father Leloutre’s War” to protect the protestant settlers against raids by the French, Acadians and Wabonaki Confederacy. A series of four different defensive fortifications have occupied Citadel Hill.
In 1818 Halifax became a ‘free port’ and allowed foreign ships to move cargo in and out.
In 1840 mail service became available between Britain and North America. The Intercolonial railway opened in Halifax connecting the city to the rest of North America in 1882.
Other new developments in the 1880’s include: The Deep Water Terminus, a grain elevator and a dry dock.
In 1912, Halifax deployed a rescue mission after the sinking of the Titanic. Many of the bodies are buried here.
In 1917 a French munitions ship “The Mont Blanc” and a Belgian relief ship “The Imo” collided in the harbour causing the world’s largest man made explosion before the nuclear age.
In 1928 Pier 21 opened as a gateway to Canada for over 1 million immigrants.
In a city steeped in history, many historic sites and buildings remain intact giving Halifax its wonderful character of new and old.
History of Dartmouth
Dartmouth is one of the oldest communities in Nova Scotia, dating back more than 250 years.
The native Mi’kmaq people were the first to use the area now known as Dartmouth for their summer camp site. The first Europeans to settle in Dartmouth arrived in 1750 from England on a ship called “The Alderney”. A ferry service was established to provide transportation to Halifax. They would travel to Halifax for food and supplies.
Dartmouth saw growth in the community when at the end of the American Revolution in 1781 many loyalists arrived, then again in 1785 with the arrival of the Nantucket Whalers.
The Shubenacadie canal was the main travel route used by the Mi’kmaq to travel from Dartmouth to different locations, stretching all the way to Cobequid Bay. Merchants from Halifax and Dartmouth created a company to work on the canal, to allow passage of larger boats by digging channels, constructing dams, and building locks.
The first school in Dartmouth was called the Central School, built in 1866. The first church was Christ Church, an Anglican church, built in 1817. Dartmouth’s earliest industries included factories, forges, foundries and shipyards, producing such products as soap, sugar, candles, flour, linens and ship building materials.
Dartmouth was a town until it became a city in 1961.