History of Nova Scotia
with special attention given to
Communications and Transportation

Chapter 8
1 January 1840   to   31 December 1849




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    http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue7_6/fraim/index.html



1840-1850

Cunard's Ships
The Early Years

The first four ships, built by Cunard for the transatlantic service, were named:

Britannia   (Great Britain)
Acadia   (Nova Scotia)
Caledonia   (Scotland)
Columbia   (United States)


The British and North American Royal Mail
Steam Packet Company

The Cunard Line
The Transatlantic Service, 1840-1853


Name Launched First Trip
Unicorn 1836 Aug dp. L'pool     1840 May 16
ar. Halifax     1840 May 30
ar. Boston     1840 Jun 2
Britannia 1840 Feb 5 dp. L'pool     1840 Jul 4
ar. Halifax     1840 Jul 17 (18?)
ar. Boston     1840 Jul 20
Acadia 1840 Apr dp. L'pool     1840 Aug 4
ar. Halifax     1840 Aug
ar. Boston     1840 Aug
Caledonia 1840 dp. L'pool     1840 Sep 19
ar. Halifax     1840
ar. Boston     1840
Columbia 1840 dp. L'pool     1841 Jan 5
ar. Halifax     1841 Jan
ar. Boston     1841 Jan
Hibernia 1842 dp. L'pool     1843 Apr 19
ar. Halifax     1843
ar. Boston     1843
Cambria 1844 Aug 1 dp. L'pool     1845 Jan 4
ar. Halifax     1845 Jan
ar. Boston     1845 Jan
America 1847 May 13 dp. L'pool     1848 Apr 15
ar. Halifax     1848
ar. N. York     1848
Niagara 1847 Aug dp. L'pool     1848 May 20
ar. Halifax     1848
ar. Boston     1848
Europa 1847 Sep dp. L'pool     1848 Jul 15
ar. Halifax     1848
ar. Boston     1848
Canada 1848 Jun dp. L'pool     1848 Nov 25
ar. Halifax     1848
ar. N. York     1848
Asia 1850 Jan dp. L'pool     1850 May 18
ar. Halifax     1850
ar. Boston     1850 June 4
Africa 1850 dp. L'pool     1850 Oct 26
ar. N. York     1850 Nov
Andes 1852 dp. L'pool     1852 Dec 8 (Note 3)
ar. N. York    
Arabia 1852 Jun 21 dp. L'pool     1853 Jan 1
ar. N. York     1853 Jan
Alps 1852 Sep dp. L'pool     1853 Feb 2
ar. N. York     1853 Feb
From here on, the history of Cunard's transatlantic ships gets complicated, mainly because of the severe disruption in Cunard's operations caused by the British Admiralty taking so many of Cunard's ships for military use during the Crimean War, 1854-1856.  While this requisitioning of Cunard's ships for government use was authorized under Cunard's contracts, there were many difficulties encountered by the Cunard company as it tried to maintain the contracted transatlantic service while many of its largest and best ships were engaged elsewhere — not overlooking the fact that during the years 1851-1856 Cunard was facing a very serious competitive threat from The New York and Liverpool United States Mail Steamship Company – the Collins Line – which, until September 27, 1854, looked likely to be able to force Cunard to abandon its North Atlantic service to New York.

During this chaotic time, Cunard's management was juggling ships as best they could: Taurus began in Cunard's Mediterranean service, between Liverpool and Constantinople, before transferring to the transatlantic run late in 1853.  Lebanon was built by another company and launched in 1854 as Aerolith; Cunard bought Aerolith in 1855, changed the name to Lebanon, and on 3 July 1855 started its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York.  Persia was built for Cunard and, on 26 January 1856, started her maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York.  Emeu was built for the Australiasian Pacific Mail Steam Packet Company and launched in August 1853; was bought by Cunard in 1854 and operated as a Crimean War transport until 1856; in March 1856 Emeu made its first trip from Liverpool for New York.  Etna was launched in August 1854 and arrived in Liverpool from the Clyde shipyard in January 1855; it was immediately requisitioned as a Crimean War transport and its history after that becomes excessively tangled.  Jura arrived in Liverpool from the Clyde shipbuilder in September 1854, and was immediately taken for Crimean service (at the very time when the threat from the Collins Line was strongest)...
dp.   departure from
ar.   arrival at
Note 1:   In the beginning, starting with Britannia and ending with Alps, all these ships were built for Cunard to Cunard's specifications, and made their first trips for Cunard.
Note 2:   Throughout the 1840s, all trips stopped at Halifax, westbound and eastbound.  Beginning in 1850, only the Boston trips stopped at Halifax, and New York trips bypassed Halifax.
Note 3:   On 8 December 1852, Andes began its maiden voyage from Liverpool to New York, but had to put back to Liverpool due to a technical glitch.  The problem was solved in a couple of weeks and Andes then successfully completed its voyage to New York.
Note 4:   All the earlier ships, up to and including Africa, were side-wheelers with a wood hull.  Andes was built with an iron hull and used screw propulsion.  Thereafter, all of Cunard's hulls were made of iron.  However, passengers were reluctant to accept the new (and invisible) screw propulsion, and in 1856 Cunard built Persia, an iron-hull side-wheeler which, when launched, was the largest passenger ship in the world.
Note 5:   Source: http:www.cunardline.com/index.cfm
and other references.




Unicorn

The first trip date (above) for Unicorn is the date of the ship's first (and only) voyage across the North Atlantic, operated by Cunard.  You could argue that Unicorn does not belong in this list of ships in Cunard's transatlantic service, because Unicorn did not operate in the transatlantic service.  Unicorn was assigned to feeder or branch routes, first in the Pictou-Quebec service, and later in the Newfoundland service.  Unicorn is included here for those who see Unicorn's name in the historic record and want to know where this ship fitted in.  There is no denying that Unicorn made the first trip for Cunard across the North Atlantic.



1840

Charles MacIver, Samuel Cunard
and George Burns

Charles MacIver was one of the original partners with Samuel Cunard and George Burns in the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company (later known as the Cunard Steamship Company).  He joined his brother David in Liverpool to help run his City of Glasgow Steam Packet Co., under the name of David MacIver & Co (later D & C MacIver).  In 1840 he joined the Cunard enterprise, and in 1853 he started Charles MacIver & Co to run ships to the Mediterranean.  In 1856 the British and Foreign Steam Navigation Co was established with the same partners as the Cunard company to take over the Mediterranean trade.  Sir Samuel Cunard died in 1865, and in 1866-7 the shares in the two companies were reallocated equally between the MacIver, Burns and Cunard families.  The companies were to be run together in future.  The Cunard Steam-Ship Co was incorporated in 1880.  In his later years, Charles MacIver lived at Calderstones Park, Liverpool.  In 1883 Charles MacIver resigned from management, and he died in 1885.
Source: Papers of Charles MacIver, shipowner...



1840 January 15

Cape Forchu Light Begins Operation

The new lighthouse at Cape Forchu, on the west side of Yarmouth Harbour, latitude 43° 59' north, longitude 66° 08' west, was put into regular operation on this day.  The building was painted white, and was 135 feet 41.1 metres high.  The revolving light was adjusted to be visible 75 seconds, and invisible 30 seconds, during each cycle.


1840 March

Halifax Gas Light & Water Company

In the early spring of 1840, the Nova Scotia legislature passed 3 Victoria chapter 16, An Act to Incorporate the Halifax Gas Light & Water Company.

Four years later, on 6 April 1844, the Legislature passed 7 Victoria chapter 72, which changed the name of the Halifax Gas Light & Water Company to the Halifax Gas Light Company.



1840 May 14

First Trains to Dunbar's Point

The first trains run over the whole length of the Albion Rail Road, from Albion Mines (Stellarton) to Dunbar's Point, Abercrombie, in Pictou County.


1840 May 16

Unicorn Departs Liverpool

Cunard's First Transatlantic Trip

Unicorn, under charter to the British and North American Steam Packet Company, the new Cunard Line, steams out of Liverpool on Cunard's first trip under the North Atlantic Royal Mail contract.  Unicorn was launched at Greenock in May 1836 for George & John Burns, along with its sisters Eagle and City of Glasgow. These ships initially served the Glasgow to Liverpool route.  In 1840 Unicorn became the first steam ship to operate for Samuel Cunard, contracted to sail between Quebec and Pictou, Nova Scotia, on a feeder service.  On 16 May 1840 she departed Liverpool, under the command of Captain Walter Douglas, with 27 passengers, the mail, and 450 tons of coal, on the Cunard Line's first voyage on the Liverpool - Halifax - Boston route.

During June 1999, the following two items were found.
Found in the Saint John Regional Library:
The Steamer Unicorn, owned by Mr. James Whitney of Saint John, and which has been employed for several years past in carrying the Mails between Halifax and Newfoundland, has been purchased by the Hon. S. Cunard, of Halifax, for £10,000.
[Source: New Brunswick Courier, Saint John, 6 January 1849]
Found on the Internet:
S.S. Unicorn Built at Greenock, Scotland, 1838.  Side-wheel steamer.  Wooden hull.  Two steam engines.  650 tons, 162 feet.
She operated as a coastal steamer between Glasgow and Liverpool until purchased by the British and North American Steamship Company (Cunard Line) and sailed from Liverpool for Halifax and Boston on May 16, 1840 as the pioneer of the service.  She was chartered by Aspinwall's Pacific Mail in 1849, purchased by him in 1850 and operated occasionally between San Francisco and Panama until 1853.  She was sold again, sent to Australia, and her fate is unknown.
[Source: http://www.maritimeheritage.org/shipsdet.htm ]
It appears that Cunard bought Unicorn late in December 1848, and shortly afterward leased her to Aspinwall.  This fits the chronology of Aspinwall's corporate developments.

In 1847, William Henry Aspinwall, a New York merchant, raised eyebrows by setting out to build a railroad across the Isthmus of Panama and combine sea and land routes into one great system that would open up the whole Pacific.  The railroaders chose Manzanillo Island — a square mile of virgin mangrove swamp — as the Atlantic terminus of the Panama Railroad, and transformed it into what was to become the city of Colon.
[Source: http://www.czbrats.com/Articles/PRR_903.htm ]

The maritime empire created by William H. Aspinwall helped shape the course of American history.  Aspinwall's notable career: his entry into the shipping business in the 1830s; his championship of early clipper ship designs in the 1840s; his establishment of the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. (fore-runner of the present-day American President Line) and the Panama Railroad in the 1850s.
[The Aspinwall Empire by Duncan S. Somerville, 1983, 129 pages, ISBN 0913372293]



1840 May 30

Unicorn Arrives in Halifax

Fourteen days out of Liverpool, Unicorn arrived safely in Halifax on 30 May, and in Boston on 3 June, 1840 (the first steamship from Europe to reach Boston).  Unicorn's statistics: 185 × 23.5 feet 56.4 × 7.2 metres, one funnel, two masts, powered by two one-cylinder side lever steam engines, service speed 9.5 knots 18 km/h built by Robert Steel & Son, Greenock, Scotland.  Unicorn had accomodations for 40 passengers and 35 crew.


1840 July 4

Britannia Departs Liverpool

RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Britannia, the first ship built by the new Cunard line especially for the trans-Atlantic Royal Mail service, was launched on 5 February 1840.  On 4 July 1840, Britannia steamed out of Liverpool on her first voyage across the North Atlantic, carrying 80 passengers, including Samuel Cunard, and 200 tons of cargo.  Britannia was a large ship for that time, 1200 tons, with two steam engines, each of about 350 to 400 horsepower 250 to 300 kilowatts.

References:
Painting of Britannia at speed Off the Anglesey Coast
    http://freespace.virgin.net/buc.dist/britanni.htm
Photograph of a model of Britannia
    http://www.mariner.org/britannia.html

Other shipping lines sacrificed safety for speed, and lives were lost.  Not a single life was lost on a Cunard ship in the first 75 years of the company's history — an incredible and unparalleled record.  The first disaster his company experienced — the sinking of Lusitania torpedoed by a German submarine on May 7, 1915 — occurred 50 years after Cunard's death in 1865.



1840 July 17

Britannia Arrives in Halifax

RMS Britannia arrived in Halifax at the end of her first voyage across the North Atlantic.  Her Liverpool to Halifax time was 12 days 10 hours, very fast for that time.  Britannia was in Halifax only a few hours, then continued to Boston, where she docked on 20 July.  Britannia was 207 feet 63.1 metres long, 1200 tons, and was powered by two one-cylinder side-lever steam engines.


1840 August 4

Acadia Departs Liverpool for Halifax

Cunard steamship Acadia was launched in April 1840, and began her maiden voyage from Liverpool to Halifax and Boston on 4 August 1840.  Acadia continued in this service until November 1848.  On 9 March 1849 she began sailing from Liverpool to Bremen and on the first trip became stranded on Terschelling Island in Holland.  She was soon refloated and became part of the former German Confederation Navy under the name Erzherzog Johann. In 1852 She was refitted by W.A. Fritze & Co. and Karl Lehmkuhl, and renamed Germania.  In August 1853 she began the Bremen - New York service which she maintained until the end of 1854.  In 1855 she was chartered to the British Government as a Crimean War transport.  She was finally scrapped at London in 1858.

Acadia, Caledonia, and Columbia were near sisterships of Britannia, a 1,154-ton paddle steamer.  These four vessels regularly made the Atlantic voyage in 14 days at 8.5 knots and between them they were able to maintain weekly departures from Liverpool.


1840 September 19

Caledonia Departs Liverpool for Halifax

Cunard steamship Caledonia departed Liverpool on 19 September 1840 on her maiden voyage to Halifax and Boston .  She continued this service until November 1849; early in 1850 she was sold to the Spanish Navy and in 1851 was wrecked near Havana.


1840 November 16

Round Trip in 27 Days

Cunard steamship Caledonia arrived at Halifax on November 16th, in less than thirteen days from Liverpool, England.  The round trip, from Halifax to Liverpool and return, was completed in twenty-seven days, including four days at Liverpool.


1840 November 27

Slow Mail Service at Yarmouth

In every instance except one, of the arrival of the Atlantic steam ships at Halifax, the news first reached Yarmouth via Boston — generally two to five days before it arrived by the regular mail from Halifax.  The same thing has occurred again, this week.  The news of the arrival of the Caledonia at Halifax, was received in Yarmouth in a supplement to the Boston Times on Monday, November 23rd, more than three days before the arrival of the mail from Halifax.  "We think these facts deserve attention.  Yarmouth, with its 150 sailing vessels, and its large extent of business, enterprise, wealth, and population, is fairly entitled to a more frequent and rapid mail communication.  We therefore earnestly recommend that our inhabitants lose no time in making application" for twice a week mail between Yarmouth and Digby, which, the greater part of the year, then had a twice a week, or three times a week, mail service to Halifax and Saint John.
[The Yarmouth Herald, 27 November 1840]


1841 January 5

Columbia Departs Liverpool for Halifax

Cunard steamship Columbia began her maiden voyage on 5 January 1841, from Liverpool to Halifax and Boston.  On 2 July 1843 Columbia was wrecked on a rock called the Devil's Limit, near Halifax.  At the time she was on a passage between Boston and Halifax.  All hands and passengers got off safely; the ship herself remained the only loss that the Cunard Company sustained during the first 30 years of its existence.


1841 March 29

Punishment by Cutting Off Ears Abolished

An Act to abolish the punishment of Pillory,
Cutting the Ears of Offenders, and Whipping,
and to substitute Imprisonment in lieu thereof

Passed the 29th day of March, A.D. 1841
4 Victoria, chapter 8
Nova Scotia Provincial Parliament, Halifax

Be it enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Assembly, that, from and after the passing of this Act, judgement or sentence shall not be given and awarded against any person or persons convicted of any offence whatsoever, that such person or persons do suffer the punishment of being set in the Pillory, or of having his or their ears nailed thereto, or cut off, or do suffer the punishment of being whipped — any Law, Statute or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.

And be it enacted that in all cases where the punishment of being set in the Pillory, or of having the offender's ears nailed to the Pillory, or cut off, or of being publicly or privately whipped, has hitherto formed the whole or part of the judgement or sentence to be pronounced, or has in any other case been inflicted, it shall and may be lawful for the Court, before whom any such offender shall be tried or convicted, to pass sentence of imprisonment, or imprisonment with hard labor, in the Common Gaol, Bridewell or House of Correction, in the County where such conviction shall take place, or in any Public Penitentiary, Bridewell or House of Correction, which may be hereafter established in any part of this Province; and also, to direct that the offender shall be kept in solitary confinement for any portion or portions of such imprisonment, or of such imprisonment with hard labor — such solitary confinement not exceeding one month at any one time, and not exceeding three months in any one year, as to the Court, in its discretion, shall seem meet.

Source:
Nova Scotia Legislative Library, Halifax
The above is the full, complete text of this Act.


The Nova Scotia Provincial Parliament
before 1 July 1867

"Be it enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Assembly..."

From 1758 to 1867, Nova Scotia's government consisted of the Lieutenant-Governor acting more or less (less in the earlier years and more in the later years) with the advice and consent of two bodies, the Legislative Council (often referred to as the Senate and its members as Senators) and the Legislative Assembly (often referred to as the House).

Taken together, the Council and the Assembly formed the Provincial Parliament.  A member of the Legislative Assembly, now called an MLA, was before 1867 generally known as an MPP (Member of the Provincial Parliament).  MPPs were elected; members of the Legislative Council were appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor.

To become law, each Act had to be approved twice, by separate votes, in the Assembly and in the Council, before it received the Lieutenant-Governor's signature.

On 31 May 1928, the Nova Scotia Legislative Council voted itself out of existence.



1841 May

Traveler in Nova Scotia

At 14, brewery heir Jackey Molson spent 11 days in Halifax
and recorded his observations in a diary

Editor's note: Six years before John Henry Robinson Molson inherited Molson Brewery in Montreal, he was delayed in Halifax for eleven days before boarding Samuel Cunard's steamship Britannia, bound for England.  The delay was due to damage to the Britannia's keel as the ship attempted to navigate Eastern Passage in heavy fog.  Jackey kept a record of his voyage in three small scribblers, which were later neatly copied into a small red leather diary.  It was May 1841 and the young Montrealer was 14 years old.  Most spelling is as written.

May 1841

      We left Quebec in the Steam Ship Unicorn on Friday the 14th at 11 a.m. Saturday; very squeamish, eat nothing till the following day.  The passage was a very smooth one and the weather very pleasant.

      We anchored at Pictou at 2 a.m. Monday.  So we remained on board till the morning.

      We came down to Pictou in a ferry boat and went to the Stage Office to take our places in the stages.  Instead of bringing stages with six horses, they brought two waggons.  We were very uncomfortable for we had no place to put our feet at the bottom of the cart, it being filled up with baggage.

      Before we had been long on the journey it began to rain.  We arrived at Truro at 7 p.m. and had a dinner which was very acceptable to us poor half-drowned rats.  We would have been glad to rest ourselves but that was impossible for fear of being too late for the Britannia which was to sail from Halifax on the following day.

      As we passed along, on the road we saw the remains of a canal.  It was a most foolish undertaking and turned out in the ruin of many who invested their money in the stock.  The most ridiculous part of it was their importing granite from Scotland for building the locks, although there was granite in Nova Scotia.  If it was for some public building it would have been a different matter, but for canal locks it was the height of imprudence and extravagance.
Jackey Molson, 1841
A daugerrotype of
John Henry Robinson Molson
in about 1841.


      In a short time we arrived at Dartmouth, a small town on the side of the harbour opposite to Halifax.  And just as we got to the wharf one (of) the wheels of the larger waggon broke in pieces, and there we received the pleasing intelligence that the Britannia had not arrived.

      We crossed over to Halifax in a ferry where we arrived at half past two and immediately put up at the City Hotel, a new building not quite finished, conducted by Messrs. Parker and Rice.  It is built of wood and at the back is shingled all the way up to the roof, which when neatly executed looks very well and I was told that it was much warmer than clapboarding.

      It is four stories high facing the street and five in the rear.  On the first floor are the following rooms: Grand Dining Room, a Ladies Ordinary, the Gentlemens and Ladies Drawing Rooms, a Smoking Room and a Reading Room.  There is also a Bar Room where refreshments can be obtained.  The hotel is traversed by three pair of stairs from top to bottom.  It has a platform on the top commanding a most delightful prospect of all the shipping and the city.

      At about 6 p.m. the Britannia arrived and I immediately went to enquire when she would leave.  She unfortunately touched on a rock near Sambro and received considerable damage and therefore could not sail untill the injury was repaired.

      There is a peculiar custom prevalent — that of building flats on the tops of houses.  Whether it is of any other use than that of a promenade for walking on in the summer evenings, I do not know.  I think it is very dangerous in case of a chimney taking fire for it would very quickly reach the wooden flat and the house would be burnt.  It so happened when I was at Halifax, the chimney of the Government House took fire and immediately communicated to the flat on the top of the roof and if immediate assistance had not been procured, this fine building must ere long have been a smouldering heap of ruins.

      There is another peculiarity in this city that I have not noticed in other cities, that of having pumps in the streets.  I dare say it is a great convenience to the people having fresh water so near to them but they could not do without them for the water of the harbour is salt.  They are of great use in case of fire.

      While I was walking one evening on one of the roads heading to the country I passed a brewery and distillery, situated towards the mouth of the harbour, belonging to a Scotsman called John Oal, who very kindly invited us in to see his establishment. He manufactures rum and whiskey, porter, ale, peppermint shrub and ginger beer.

      Near this establishment is a lime-kiln and I asked one of the workmen who was employed about it, whether limestone was to be got in Nova Scotia. So he told me that there was none and that they are obliged to get it from St. John's and Ireland and the price of lime was consequently very high.

      I went to see the house of assembly. It is a fine edifice built of stone with six pillars in the front and the same number in the rear.

      I afterwards went to see the Museum. It is in a stone building built of free stone. It contains several curiosities consisting of beasts, birds, fishes, insects and all other animals stuffed.

      They had some Indian curiosities such as spears, wooden axes and other weapons. The spear consists of a straight piece of hard wood made very smooth, to one end of which is attached a piece of bone sharpened at one end and rising with a slope exactly like the end of a fishhook. There was likewise an Indian wooden hatchet made of ironwood used by the South American Indians.

      There was large bone which was found in Prince Edward's Island about four feet long and weighing about two hundred-weight, supposed to be the thigh-bone of some large animal that existed before America was discovered.

      But the best and most deserving of attention of the works of art was a small pair of scissors about one-eighth of an inch in length & weighing only one-twentieth of a grain; they are made of steel and manufactured at Sheffield (England).

Cunard steamship Britannia in Boston
RMS Britannia in Boston

      On Sunday the 23rd of May (I) went to church at Halifax. The walls were erected at the expense of Government in 1750 (and like the houses) are made of wood. All the interior was ... at the expense of the congregation.  At the altar upon black boards in gilt letters are the Lords Prayer, Ten Commandments, and Creed besides which there were several tablets.

      On Monday the 24th of May being the Queen's birthday, there was a grand review of all the troops of the garrison at 12 o'clock in the rear of the city. At 12 his excellency Sir John Harvey arrived on the ground accompanied by a numerous staff and then the firing began, the artillery firing 19 guns and the infantry fired a feu de joie. On the telegraphs & on the shipping in the harbour, there was brilliant display of flags of all kinds and on one telegraph post there were upwards of 60.

      On Thursday evening the welcome intelligence met our ears that the Britannia was in sight just about entering the harbour, accordingly most of the passengers ran up on the platform on the top of the hotel and I was one of them when, after about 20 minutes, she stopped at the wharf and immediately commenced taking in her coal, which occupied untill Saturday noon when she left.

Excerpt abridged by Hilbert Buist,
a researcher in the Molson Archives
at National Archives Canada in Ottawa.

[Halifax Sunday Herald, 18 June 2000]

Reference:   Journal of the Voyages and Travels of John Henry Robinson Molson, 1841
    http://www.magma.ca/~hilbert/pages/page2.html

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this document:
On His Way in the World:
The Voyages and Travels of
John H.R. Molson, 1841

Edited by Karen Molson and Hilbert Buist

Archived: 2001 May 20 Hilbert Buist webpage index
Before John Henry Robinson Molson inherited the Molson Brewery in Montreal
he took a trip to Nova Scotia, Great Britain and the United States...
http://web.archive.org/web/20010520165049/http://www.magma.ca/~hilbert/

Archived: 2001 May 20 Hilbert Buist webpage 1: Bon Voyage
The four month trip would include Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont...
http://web.archive.org/web/20010520165049/http://www.magma.ca/~hilbert/pages/page1.html

Archived: 2001 May 20 Hilbert Buist webpage 2: Delay in Halifax
They left Quebec in the Steam Ship Unicorn...
http://web.archive.org/web/20010520165049/http://www.magma.ca/~hilbert/pages/page2.html

Archived: 2001 May 20 Hilbert Buist webpage 3: R.M.S. Britannia
http://web.archive.org/web/20010520165049/http://www.magma.ca/~hilbert/pages/page3.html

Archived: 2001 May 20 Hilbert Buist webpage 4: On His Way in the World
This time Halifax was only a stopover...
http://web.archive.org/web/20010520165049/http://www.magma.ca/~hilbert/pages/page4.html


These links were accessed and found to be valid on 14 March 2010.


Notes (by ICS, 18 June 2000):

"We left Quebec in the Steam Ship Unicorn..."

In 1839, Samuel Cunard and his two partners in the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, signed a contract with the British Admiralty, to set up and operate a fast, regularly-scheduled transportation system to carry the Royal Mail between Liverpool, England, and the government centers in the British North American colonies — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Lower Canada (Quebec) and Upper Canada (Ontario).

The necessity of having a better system of communication between London and the North American colonies — especially the Canadas (Upper and Lower) — had been demonstrated forcefully by the Rebellion of 1837.  In 1838, the British Government had been told in no uncertain language that the 1837 Rebellion might not have occurred if the communications between Upper Canada and London had not been so slow and unreliable.  Of course, the British Government had vivid memories, dating from 1776, of the possible consequences of allowing the population of any of its colonies to become excessively angry at government lethargy or incompetence. There is no doubt that the Cunard contract for the North Atlantic Mail service was a direct consequence of the 1837 Rebellion.

The main link in Cunard's new transportation system was the trans-Atlantic steamship service between Liverpool and Halifax, but it was also necessary to get the Mail (and any passengers who might want to make the trip) between Halifax and Quebec.

The required link to Quebec was completed by a stage coach line between Halifax and Pictou, Nova Scotia, and a steamship running between Pictou and Quebec.  Unicorn was bought by the Cunard Company for the Pictou-Quebec portion of the service.  RMS Unicorn, the first ship bought by the new Cunard line, steamed out of Liverpool on 16 May 1840, on Cunard's first trip under the North Atlantic Royal Mail contract.  Unicorn was launched at Greenock, Scotland, in May 1836 and operated initially in the Glasgow to Liverpool service.  After this one voyage across the North Atlantic, Unicorn was assigned to the Pictou-Quebec run.  When Molson made his trip, RMS Unicorn had been in service on this route barely a year.


"We would have been glad to rest ourselves but that was impossible for fear of being too late for the Britannia which was to sail from Halifax on the following day."

This is a compelling demonstration of the slowness of communications in those days (just two lifetimes ago!).

In Halifax, it was widely known that Britannia had been damaged by running aground, and its departure would be delayed several days after the scheduled date.  But this information was not known in Truro, 62 miles 100 km away.

Molson was travelling in the spring of 1841, eight years before the construction of the first electric telegraph line between Halifax and Truro.  In 1841, the only way to get news — information of any kind — from Halifax to Truro was to carry it physically, in the form of a message on paper (such as a letter or a newspaper) or in the memory of a traveller.  This meant someone had to make the trip and, apart from the weekly stage, there were few travellers.

Because they did not know of the delay in Britannia's departure, Molson and his fellow travellers had to endure an all-night trip, riding in an open wagon in the rain, from Truro to Halifax.  If they had known, they could have had their 7pm supper in Truro and then stayed there for the night in a comfortable hotel, and still have reached Halifax in plenty of time to catch Britannia.

The electric telegraph line between Halifax and Truro was completed in October 1849.


"On the telegraphs & on the shipping in the harbour, there was brilliant display of flags of all kinds and on one telegraph post there were upwards of 60."

These "telegraph posts" were part of the semaphore (not electric) telegraph system then in use around Halifax Harbour for passing messages ship-to-shore, or between various government operations on land, such as the Dockyard, the Citadel, York Redoubt, etc.  A semaphore telegraph system had been set up in the Halifax area in the 1790s, for military purposes, but it was a local system and did not extend to Truro.


"...we saw the remains of a canal..."

This was the Shubenacadie Canal.


"...a small pair of scissors about one-eighth of an inch in length
& weighing only one-twentieth of a grain..."

...about 3 millimetres in length and weighing only 3 milligrams...


"...his excellency Sir John Harvey arrived..."

Sir John Harvey was Governor of Prince Edward Island from February 1836 to March 1837.  He was Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick from 1 May 1837 to 26 April 1841, and was Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia from 29 August 1846 to 22 March 1852.  Harvey's term as lieutenant governor of New Brunswick ended on 26 April 1841, and later that year he was appointed Civil Governor of Newfoundland.



1841 May 18

Cunard Steamship Ad

Cunard Steamship Company ad, May 1841
Montreal Gazette 18 May 1841
Source: Hilbert Buist
http://www.magma.ca/~hilbert/pages/page1.html



1841 December 14

Fast Stage Service, Halifax - Pictou

On this day, a contract was signed by John Howe, Deputy Post Master General in Halifax, and Samuel Cunard, to establish and operate a fast stage coach service between Halifax and Pictou through Truro.  The contract required each trip to be completed within seventeen hours, one way, which was tight scheduling in those days.  Cunard was required to provide four horses to draw each coach.  Passengers were to be carried at a fare of £2 10s.  Cunard was to set up and operate this service for eight years, and was given a government subsidy of £1550 sterling annually.  The contract specified three round trips each week during the months May through October, and twice a week November through April.  The stage coach trips were scheduled by the Post Office, to connect at Pictou with the steam packet boats running between Pictou and Quebec, and at Halifax with the steam packet boats running between England and Halifax.

This stage line was an essential link in the British Admiralty's new arrangements to carry the Royal Mail quickly, regularly, and reliably, between London and Quebec. This new service put Ezra Witter out of business.
Complete text of the Contract
    http://ns1758.ca/cunard/cunard01.html


1842

First Steamer to Dock at Lunenburg

The first steam-powered vessel arrived at Lunenburg in 1842.


1842 January 20

C. Dickens Arrives on Britannia

On this day, the Cunard steamship Britannia arrived at Halifax, on its way from Liverpool to Boston.  Charles Dickens was on board.  He wrote: "...The town [Halifax] is built on the side of a hill, the highest point being commanded by a strong fortress, not yet quite finished.  Several streets of good breadth and appearance extend from its summit to the water-side, and are intersected by cross streets running parallel with the river.  The houses are chiefly of wood.  The market is abundantly supplied; and provisions are exceedingly cheap.  The weather being unusually mild at that time for the season of the year, there was no sleighing: but there were plenty of those vehicles in yards and by-places, and some of them, from the gorgeous quality of their decorations, might have "gone on" without alteration as triumphal cars in a melodrama at Astley's.  The day was uncommonly fine; the air bracing and healthful; the whole aspect of the town cheerful, thriving, and industrious.  We lay there seven hours, to deliver and exchange the mails.  At length, having collected all our bags and all our passengers (including two or three choice spirits, who, having indulged too freely in oysters and champagne, were found lying insensible on their backs in unfrequented streets), the engines were again put in motion, and we stood off for Boston..."
Complete text of Chapter Two of American Notes, by Charles Dickens, which contains his description of the voyage from Liverpool to Halifax and on to Boston.
    http://ns1758.ca/quote/dickens1842.html


1842 June 3

First Steamer to Enter Yarmouth Harbour

The first steam-powered vessel to arrive at Yarmouth was Saxe Gotha, Captain Vaughan, owned by James Whitney of Saint John, N.B.  She had 34 passengers on board.


1842, Summer

Survey of a Canal Across Chignecto

Fredericton, N.B.
27th January 1843

Sir —
I have the honor to enclose to you, by direction of the Lieutenant-Governor, copy of a Letter from Capt. Crawley, R.E. [Royal Engineers] who has been employed in the Survey of a Line for a Canal between the Bay of Fundy and the Gulph of St. Lawrence, and to request, that you will bring the same under the consideration of Lord Falkland, in the hope that His Lordship may think the matter of sufficient importance to induce him to submit it to the Legislature of Nova Scotia, with a view to obtain a contribution towards carrying out the Survey, suggested by Capt. Crawley.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most Obedient Servant,
(signed) A. Reade

To The Provincial Secretary, &c. &c. &c. Halifax, Nova Scotia


Fredericton, N.B.
19th January 1843

May It Please Your Excellency —
When I was employed in the Survey of the Line for a Canal between the Bay of Fundy and Gulph of St. Lawrence, last Summer, Mr. J.S. Morse, of Amherst, N.S. showed me the Plan of a Line that had been surveyed for a similar purpose, from the mouth of River LePlanche to Tignish River.

There appeared to have been no levels taken of that route.  If any funds could be made available, it would be very desirable that a more minute examination should be made of it, with a view to carrying the desired communication by that Line, which lies wholly within the Province of Nova Scotia.

I have, &c.
(signed) H.O. Crawley,
Capt. Royal Engineers

[Appendix No. 11, Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, for the Session 26th January 1843 to 29th March 1843]

This survey line "from the mouth of River LePlanche to Tignish River"
eventually became the location of the Chignecto Ship Railway, 1888.



1842 August 1

Fast Trip from Yarmouth to Halifax

Steam ship Saxe Gotha made the passage to Halifax from Yarmouth in 26 hours, including two one-hour stops at Liverpool and Lunenburg.  She was driven by two paddle wheels placed at either end of a large crankshaft turned by two one-cylinder walking-beam steam engines.


1844 February 20

Birth of J. Slocum

Captain Joshua Slocum was born on this day in Wilmot Township, Annapolis County, Nova Scotia.  Captain Slocum commanded some of the finest tall ships that ever sailed the seas.  On April 24, 1895, at the age of 51, he departed Boston in his tiny sloop Spray and sailed around the world single-handed, a passage of 46,000 miles 74,000 km, returning to Newport, Rhode Island on June 27, 1898.  This historic achievement made him the patron saint of small-boat voyagers, navigators and adventurers all over the world.
Source:   http://pw2.netcom.com/%7Edslocum/index.html


1844 April 6

Halifax Gas Light & Water Company
Halifax Gas Light Company
Halifax Water Company

In the spring of 1840, the Nova Scotia legislature had passed 3 Victoria chapter 16, An Act to Incorporate the Halifax Gas Light & Water Company.

On 6 April 1844, the Legislature passed 7 Victoria chapter 72, which changed the name of the Halifax Gas Light & Water Company to the Halifax Gas Light Company.

Immediately after, the Legislature passed 7 Victoria chapter 61, An Act to Incorporate the Halifax Water Company.

"Ordered, That the Clerk do carry these Bills to the Council, and desire their concurrence."
[The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1844]


1844 April 6

Roads and Bridges

On this day, the Nova Scotia Legislature decided on several budget allocations "for the service of Roads and Bridges" as follows:

£750 for Roads and Bridges in Cape Breton County,
£700 for Roads and Bridges in Inverness County,
£500 for Roads and Bridges in Richmond County,
£650 for Roads and Bridges in Lunenburg County,
£500 for Roads and Bridges in Sydney County,
£500 for Roads and Bridges in Guysborough County.

The Legislature gave its approval that "these sums ... be placed at the disposal of His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, to be expended on the said services."
[The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1844]


1844 April 16

Ferries

On this day, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed several resolutions granting money for ferry services, as follows:


•  £20 granted "to aid the Inhabitants of Douglas, at the mouth of the River Shubenacadie, in supporting a suitable Boat or Scow, to run between Londonderry and that place ... at least twice a week for six months..."
•  £20 granted "to aid the Inhabitants of Cape Breton, in supporting a suitable Boat or Scow to run between McMillan's Point, in Cape Breton, and Auld's Cove, in the County of Sydney..."
•  £10 each granted "to the two Licensed ferrymen at the mouth of the Shubenacadie, in the Counties of Colchester and Hants, for the transportation of Horses and Carriages across that River..."
•  £15 granted "to John Pernette and Charles Pernette, for keeping up the Ferry over LaHave River..."
•  £10 granted "to Cornelius Craig, to enable him to keep up the Ferry across the Narrows at the entrance of Sable River, in the County of Shelburne..."
•  (Gut of Canso Ferry, Western side)
£10 granted "to Richard Carter, to enable him to run a suitable Ferry Boat or Scow between his landing, on the Western side of the Gut of Canso, and David McPherson's, on the Eastern side thereof..."
•  (Gut of Canso Ferry, Eastern side)
£10 granted "to the Ferryman on the eastern side of the Gut of Canso, to enable him to run a suitable Ferry Boat or Scow between Richard Carter's landing, on the Western side of said Gut, and David McPherson's, on the Eastern side thereof..."
•  £10 granted "to such person as shall keep up a Ferry at the mouth of the Harbor of Port L'Hebert — provided a Boat be kept to convey Horses and Cattle across the said Harbor..."

[The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1844]


Auld's Cove, on the west shore of Canso Strait, is now
in Guysborough County, but in 1844 Auld's Cove and
vicinity was included in the County of Sydney.



1844 April 18

Post Office

On this day, the Nova Scotia Legislature, "on motion of Mr. J. B. Uniacke," passed the following:

1. Resolved, That the extra expense entailed on this Province by the arrival and transmission of the English Mails to the neighbouring Colonies, by the charge for Couriers, and the additional charge created thereby in the Post Office Department at Halifax, ought not to be paid out of the Treasury of this Province; and as the Lords of the Treasury have admitted in their Minute to the Right Honorable Post Master General, dated 23rd September, 1842, and enclosed in Mr. C. E. Trevylian's Letter of the 29th September, 1842, both of which appear in the Appendix to the Journals of last Session, Appendix, No. 19, page 110, that these charges ought to be paid out of the Packet Postage; and as it appears that the Packet Postage paid into the department last year, did not meet this expenditure to the extent of £870 19 shilling 6 pence, according to an estimate made, this House conceive that they have a right to demand from the Post Office Authorities the repayment of this sum, the excess paid for the year 1842, stated on a similar principle, and also, an arrangement by which any deficiancy arrising may be made good in future years.

2. Resolved, That while the postage of a letter, not exceeding the weight of a single rate, transmitted by the Mail Packets from England to any part of those Colonies, Halifax, Saint John, New Brunswick, Quebec, or Toronto, Upper Canada, is only 1 shilling 2 pence Sterling; the postage of a single letter mailed at Halifax, for Montreal, is charged at 2 shillings ½ penny Sterling — Toronto 2 shillings 2 pence Currency; and therefore, that the attention of the Post Office Authorities should be directed to the early removal of so unequal a tax, and to the introduction of a more moderate rate of inter-Colonial Postage.

3. Resolved, That the experience of the Parent State has clearly established, that the introduction of a uniform rate of Penny Postage has had a beneficial effect upon the social and Commercial interests of the United Kingdom — has largely increased the amount of letters passing through the Post Office — prevented the illicit transmission of letters by private opportunities — and that its effect on the Revenue has been fully counterbalanced by the other important consequences resulting from it — therefore, this House, after due enquiry, are satisfied, if a uniform charge of 4 pence Sterling, for a single rate, were introduced into this Province, under the same regulations as to Stamps, which prevail in the United Kingdom, it would promote the public interests, not add materially to the labor of management, and ultimately increase, in place of diminishing, the Public Revenue...

7. Resolved, That this House ... recommend that every Editor of a Newspaper published in this Province, be allowed to transmit and receive twenty-five exchange papers per week, free of Postage.

8. Resolved, That it would be of great advantage to the Literature of these Colonies if some established and economical system were introduced, by which the English Reviews and Periodicals, and New Works, as they issue from the London Press, could be received as parcels by the Mail Packets...

[The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1844]


1845 December 4

Meeting to Discuss the Halifax - Windsor Railway

"In spite of stormy weather and almost impassable roads, over 150 inhabitants consisting of members of the Legislative Assembly, clergy, magistrates, and the more weighty and influential freeholders of Windsor and its vicinity" gathered in Windsor on Saturday, 4 December 1845, to discuss transporation in general and, in particular, a railway between Halifax and Windsor.  The tollkeeper of the Avon River Bridge at Windsor entered the discussion and produced figures on the amount of traffic passing to and from the western counties:

Traffic Passing Over Windsor Bridge
Dec. 1, 1844 to Dec. 1, 1845


Persons passing & repassing 22,865
Single horses, carriages & ox carts 6,008
Two-horse conveyances 679
Three-horse conveyances 477
Four-horse conveyances 346
Cattle 1,198
Calves & Sheep 401
[Source: History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, (book) by Marguerite Woodworth, 1936]
The same Windsor Bridge traffic statistics were published in The Novascotian, 7 May 1849.

The Novascotian, a Halifax newspaper, commented on these statistics: "It is proper to remark that there is another bridge about five miles eight km further up the River, which is not subject to toll, and over which there is a large amount of travel.  The first two items of the above report manifestly consists mainly of the traffic between the townships on either side of the Avon River..."

This bridge over the Avon River was owned and operated by the Avon Bridge Company of Windsor.  The Company sold shares to get the money to build the bridge, and charged tolls to obtain the revenue needed to maintain the bridge and to pay dividends to the shareholders.  An advertisement in The Novascotian, 2 April 1849, announced to all that "a dividend of fifteen shillings per share, on the capital stock of the Company, for the half year ending the 1st February 1849, will be paid" to all shareholders.


1846

Nova Scotia Western Steam Navigation Company

In March 1846, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed 9 Victoria chapter 56, An Act to Incorporate the Nova Scotia Western Steam Navigation Company.  This Act received Royal Approval as number 2665, at the Court at Windsor, England, on 19th December 1846.
[The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]


1846 March

Dartmouth Water Company

9 Victoria chapter 45, An Act to Incorporate the Dartmouth Water Company, was passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature in March 1846.  This Act received Royal Approval as number 2653, at the Court at Windsor, England, on 19 December 1846.
[The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]


1846 March 20

Pictou Gas Light Company

On this day the Nova Scotia Legislature passed 9 Victoria chapter 41, An Act to Incorporate the Pictou Gas Light Company, authorizing 1000 shares to be sold for £5 each, to raise £5,000 to finance the Company.  James Primrose, James Purves, Thomas Gibson Taylor, James Chrichton, John Yorston, James Daniel Bain Fraser, and George Moir Johnston were named in the Act as the founding shareholders of the Company.  This Act received Royal Approval as number 2650, at the Court at Windsor, England, on 19 December 1846.
[The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]


1846 April

35,000 Letters – Largest Delivery of Mail to Boston

Brought by Cunard's RMS Caledonia

The largest mail ever received at the Boston Post Office, was brought there from the Caledonia yesterday at half past one, P.M., consisting of 113 bags of letters and papers.  It was important to forward the letters and papers for the South by the steamboat mail, which closes at 4 P.M.  The clerks went at it, and before half past four o'clock, the mail for the South was on its way to New York!  In less than three hours a mail containing over 35,000 letters, was sorrted and dispatched by the clerks of the Boston Post Office.
— Boston Journal (date not known)
[Reprinted in the Rome, New York, Roman Citizen, 28 April 1846]
    http://istg.rootsweb.com/newsarticles/1840_newsarticles.html



1846 May 2

Cambria Runs Aground at Truro

The Steamship Cambria, Capt. Judkins, left Liverpool, England, on the 18th ult.  [18 April 1846] at 4 P.M., arrived at Halifax on the 1st inst.  [1 May] at noon, and left again at 4 P.M. She brought from 90 to 100 passengers to Halifax, and landed about 20 there.

On Saturday [2 May], about 20 minutes to 12 o'clock the weather being foggy, and the boat running at half speed, just as preparations were made to stop her, for the purpose of sounding, she ran on shore on a beach, afterwards discovered to be in Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The engines were immediately reversed, but she remained hard and fast.  An anchor and stern cable was carried out.  After heaving on it, the anchor came home without having altered the ship's position.  At the time she went ashore, it was about halftide.  As the tide rose, the stern swung round.  At high water about 4 P.M., she lay broad side on.

The beach on which she lays is in Truro, about 5 miles about 8 km South of Highland light, Cape Cod.  She heads South.  There was considerable swell when she went on, but fortunately it was entirely calm.  Other anchors were carried out and every effort was made to heave her off.

About 4:30 A.M. on Sunday, George B. Blake, Esq., of Boston, and Capt. Chester, passengers, landed, took horses to Plymouth, and thence to Boston by an express car [railway].

At the latest accounts the ship lay perfectly tight. L.R.B. Forbes, steam-tug, and other steamers went to the assistance of the Cambria.

[Roman Citizen, 12 May 1846; (a newspaper published in Rome, Oneida County, New York)]
    http://istg.rootsweb.com/newsarticles/1840_newsarticles.html



1846 May 17

Cunard's New Admiralty Contract

May 17, 1852: Cunard excerpt from S. Borland's speech, page 614
Excerpt related to the Cunard Steamship Line
from Solon Borland's speech, May 17, 1852
Appendix to the Congressional Globe, page 614
United States Congress
Source: Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library
http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/030/0600/06260614.tif


The above item is excerpted from Congressman Solon Borland's speech of May 17, 1852, as reported in the Congressional Globe (at that time the semi-official record of proceedings in the United States House of Representatives).  Congressman Borland said he obtained this quote from "a book of unquestioned authority for facts of this kind," The British Almanac for 1851 page 63, in the article on North American Mails. This is as good a source as can be found (except for the contract itself).



1846 June 17

Canso - Quebec Railway

At the end of this letter, here quoted whole, the
British Admiralty "strongly" recommended that
a railway be built "between Canso and Quebec".


  Admiralty, 17th June, 1846
To:— James Stephen, Esq., &c. &c. &c.

Sir,—
Having laid before my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty your Letter of the 13th instant, representing that various propositions for the construction of a Railway between Halifax and Quebec, have been brought under the consideration of Mr. Secretary Gladstone, and requesting to be furnished with such information as my Lords may possess upon this subject, more especially with reference to the Port to be selected for the Terminus on the Sea Coast, and also with their opinion thereon, I have it in command to acquaint you, for Mr. Secretary Gladstone's information, that my Lords have received from Captain Owen certain suggestions on the subject of a Railway to Quebec, of which the following are the main points:

Captain Owen shows in his Letter, that from a Western Port of Ireland to the nearest Port of Nova Scotia, Canso Harbour, is about 2000 miles 3200 km, or ten days steaming.

From Cape Canso to Quebec, by direct distance, is 480 statute miles 770 km, or by a practicable Railway 540 miles 870 km, which would be performed in twenty-two hours.  He further assumes that London is twenty-six hours from a Western Irish Port, and that Quebec would therefore be twelve days from London.

The first line of Rail would, from Canso, run along the Northern Shore of Nova Scotia to the head of Petit-Coudiac, after passing the Coal Mines of New Glasgow, thus ensuring a supply of Coals.  The Ports of Canso he says are good, not incommoded by drift ice, have deep water, and no outlying dangers — they were used by the French before 1760, as a winter rendezvous, and are now a rendezvous for our Merchant Vessels.

At the head of Petit-Coudiac he proposes that a branch should turn off to Halifax, from which it is distant 150 miles 240 km, or six hours.

The sea route to Halifax would require fifteen hours more than to Canso, and it is a more difficult Harbour to enter.

I am, however, to remark, that the tenor of captain Owen's statement is to show the advantage which would accrue from the English Packets going direct from England to Canso, as regards communications with Quebec; and if the Rail Road were constructed from Canso to Halifax, the communication with the latter would be equally quickly preserved; but if there were to be but one Terminus in Nova Scotia, my Lords doubt whether the advantages of Canso would compensate for giving up the rapid communications with the far more important Port of Halifax as the Terminus.

My Lords, however, would strongly recommend, that the plan suggested by Captain Owen of a Railway between Halifax and Canso, and between Canso and Quebec, should be the course adopted.
  I am, &c.
(Signed) W. A. B. Hamilton

[Source: Appendix 8, Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]
Appendix Number Eight sixteen documents written in 1846 about the proposed railway between Halifax and Quebec
    http://ns1758.ca/rail/railway1846.html



1846 July 18

Electric Telegraph Line Completed
Between New York and Boston

The first electric telegraph line between New York and Boston was completed and ready for regular operation on 18 July 1846.
[page 121, The James Gordon Bennetts, Father and Son: Proprietors of the New York Herald, (book) by Don C. Seitz, Bobbs-Merrill, 1928]

In the mid-1840s, a revolutionary new telecommunications technology — the electric telegraph — began reaching northward from New York City.  This telegraph line was built first to Boston, in July 1846, then to Portland, Maine, and onward, reaching Saint John, New Brunswick, in January 1849.  The electric telegraph reached Halifax, Nova Scotia, in early November 1849.  Then a telegraph line was built to Saint John's, Newfoundland, and ultimately, in 1866, across the Atlantic to Europe.

The first link, between New York and Boston, was completed and ready for regular operation on 18 July 1846.  This soon had important effects on events in Nova Scotia.

When the telegraph line was carried east to Portland, in Maine, the press, which then comprised all the chief morning newspapers of New York, on the arrival of each Cunard steamer at Halifax, ran a horse express in Nova Scotia from Halifax to Annapolis, from whence a chartered steamer conveyed it to Portland, from thence it was conveyed by telegraph to Boston and New York.  The leading Boston newspapers also participated in this arrangement.  The cost of getting the news in this manner averaged near $1,000 per steamer...
[page 122, Historical Sketch of the Electric Telegraph, (book) by Alexander Jones, George E. Putnam, New York, 1852.]

When Was the Real Techno-Revolution? by Stephen Ambrose, December 1996.  A first-rate commentary on the astonishing communications revolution in the 1800s.
    http://www.forbes.com/asap/120296/html/stephen_ambrose.htm


...In 1810, nothing moved faster than the speed of a horse.  Nothing ever had moved any faster and, so far as the people of 1810 were aware, nothing ever would.  Trade goods or information, news of any kind, and armies, all moved by either muscle power, wind in the sails, or falling water.  When Thomas Jefferson left the White House in 1809, it took him ten days of hard riding to get to Monticello.  Had a Roman legion set off up the Missouri River in 1804, except for the rifle and sextant, its equipment would have been the same as Lewis and Clark's, and it would have moved at the same pace...

In 1810, James Gordon Bennett was a teenager.  Bennett died in New York in June 1872.  Horace Greeley, Erastus Brooks, and Fred Hudson were pallbearers at Bennett's funeral.  Bennett, Brooks, Greeley, and Hudson, and most of those named in Daniel Craig's 1850 letter to the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Commissioners, were at the center of this communications revolution, which was for them, given the world they grew up in, much more wrenching and challenging than any that has occurred since.
Complete text of Craig's 1850 letter to the Nova Scotia Telegraph Commissioners
http://ns1758.ca/tele/craig02.html



1846 October 30

Disorderly Riding on the Public Roads

On this day, Royal Assent was given at the Court at Windsor, England, to eighty-five Acts of the Nova Scotia Legislature, including: "And whereas, the said Acts have been referred to the Committee of the Lords of Her Majesty's Most Honorable Privy Council, appointed for the consideration of all matters relating to Trade and Foreign Plantations, and the said Committee have reported, as their opinion, to Her Majesty, that the said Acts should be left to their operation, Her Majesty was thereupon this day pleased, by and with the advice of Her Majesty's Privy Council, to approve the said Report; whereof the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Commander in Chief, for the time being, of Her Majesty's Province of Nova Scotia, and all other persons whom it may concern, are to take notice, and govern themselves accordingly."

[Appendix 9, The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]


1846 November 4

Negotiations for an Electric Telegraph Line
Halifax to Toronto

Government House, Montreal,
20th November, 1846
To:— His Excellency Sir J. Harvey, K. C. B., &c. &c.
[Sir John Harvey was Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia at this time]

Sir:—
On the recommendation of the Executive Council of this Province, I have the honour to enclose a copy of a Letter from the Board of Trade of Montreal, urging the co-operation of the respective Governments of the British North American Provinces, for the establishment of an Electric Telegraph from Halifax to Toronto, on which subject the projectors of the measures here are desirous of eliciting information as to the extent of support which would be likely to be offered by each Province; and with this view I would invite your Excellency to communicate to me the views entertained by yourself and your Executive Council on the subject.
I have the honor to be,
Sir,
Your Excellency's most
Obedient, humble servant,
(Signed) Cathcart





Office of the Board of Trade,
Montreal, 4th November, 1846

Sir:—
The rapid expansion on this Continent, of the Electro-magnetic Telegraph, and its general application to purposes of Mercantile operations, having rendered it a matter of much importance to the British North American Provinces that they should possess, equally with the United States, any advantages to be derived from the introduction of this invention, I am directed by the Council of the Board of Trade to pray that you will submit, for the consideration of His Excellency the Governor General, whether the establishment of a line of Magnetic Telegraph from Halifax, Nova Scotia, via Quebec and Montreal, to Toronto, would not be of important usefulness to the British Government, as well as conducive to the Mercantile interests of the Provinces in question, and on these grounds deserving encouragement from both the Imperial and Provincial Government.

Under the existing Post Office arrangements, the earliest European intelligence is brought to Halifax, Nova Scotia; and by the suggested line of Telegraph, this advantage might be further confined to British Interests, rendering the United States dependent on the said line for the intelligence, and thereby obtaining their contribution towards the expenses of the establishment; instead of which, the Telegraphic arrangements formed, and forming, will have the effect of making British interests tributary to the United States, receiving the intelligence at second hand, and nearly doubled in cost by the terms exacted by the Patentee of the invention there.

The enquiries made by the Board of Trade lead them to believe that no insuperable difficulty exists to the erection of a line of Telegraph along the Main Post Road through the British Provinces; but if Her Majesty's Government should decide on making either a Rail Road or a Military Road, between Quebec and Halifax, the Telegraph for that portion of the distance would, of course, be erected along the line thereof.

The cost of a line of Telegraph in the United States is stated to be about £25 per mile for a single, and about £37 10 shillings for a double line of wire.  It is believed that the work could be done in the British Provinces for less money, but the outlay would probably exceed that which the Provinces might be disposed to undertake on their own resources for the attainment of an object which may be regarded as scarcely less essential to the furtherance of Metropolitan, than of Colonial, interests.  On this ground, and that Provincial capitalists may hold themselves free to support what appears to be the best Provincial line of Telegraph communication with the Sea Coast, the Board of Trade are desirous that no time should be lost in submitting the project for consideration of both the Home, and the several Provincial Governments, with the view of eliciting, previous to the ensuing Session of the Canadian Legislature, the degree of support which each may be disposed to afford to it.
I have, &c.
(Signed) Frederick A. W. Wilson, Secretary

[Source: Appendix 8, The Journal of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]

"Electro-magnetic Telegraph", "Electric Telegraph", and "Magnetic Telegraph" were various names, used at this time, for the same technology, which was in the very early stages of its development.  Few people had a clear idea of what it was or how it worked, and the terminology was still fluid.  The modern term for this system is "Electric Telegraph".

The distinction between a "single" and a "double" line of wire is important.  The "single-wire" or "grounded" line was cheaper to build than a "two-wire" or "metallic" circuit, but there were other considerations. Technical note comparing one-wire and two-wire lines. (This technical note was written with telephone lines in mind, but similar considerations applied to telegraph lines.)
    http://ns1758.ca/tele/telcirc.html

I do not know of any photographs now available on the Internet, showing the appearance of a "Main Post Road" in Nova Scotia in the 1800s.  However, there is a photograph of a road in Newfoundland, probably taken in the 1870s or 1880s, which gives a fairly accurate idea of what a Main Post Road in Nova Scotia looked like in those days.
    http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/205/301/ic/cdc/nfld/photos/avalon/27.jpg





1847 January 21

The Projected Railroad
Between Halifax and Quebec
and
a Telegraph Line

Excerpt from the Speech from the Throne, by Sir John Harvey, Lieutenant-Governor, on the opening day of the Nova Scotia Legislature, 21 January 1847 —

"...The period at, and the circumstances under, which we meet, afford me the opportunity of recommending to your continued attention an undertaking second in its importance to none which has ever engaged the notice of any Colonial Legislature in any portion of the British Dominions.  I allude to the projected Railroad between Halifax and Quebec, which will constitute the most important link in that great line of communication which may be destined at no remote period to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean, and to conduct to a British Sea-port, from those into which it is now forced, that vast stream of Trade, not of our own Western Possessions alone, but of the rich and extensive Wheat and Grain growing Districts of all Central America.

This view of the incalculable advantages which the completion of this great work would confer on all the British North American Colonies, and perhaps more especially upon this, its natural Atlantic terminus — this consideration alone should call forth our gratitude for the promptitude with which our appeal to the Home Government was met, on this all important topic.

With respect to the Survey which, in compliance with your request in the last Session, has been commenced, by order of Her Majesty, for ascertaining the best line through which to carry [build] the projected Railroad, although it may have unavoidably experienced some temporary interruption, from the unfortunate loss of one of the distinguished Officers to whose superintendance it was confided, I am nevertheless enabled to inform you that it is proceeding energetically, and that the operations will be renewed as soon as the season may permit.

In reference to this subject, extracts of several Despatches from the Right Honorable the Secretary of State will be laid before you, as well as the copy of one from the Right Honorable the Earl of Cathcart, respecting the prolongation to this place of a line of Electro Telegraphic communication, now understood to be in actual operation in Canada, from Toronto westward — and, although this is a project which would appear to connect itself with individual enterprise, in which I am convinced that the mercantile community of this City will evince no reluctance to engage, I should nevertheless be happy to receive and to communicate to the Governor General, any expression of your views upon the subject..."

[Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]


1847 February 12

Western Stage Coach Company

On this day, a petition "of Timothy Barnabe was presented" to the Nova Scotia Legislature "by Mr. Dewolfe, and read, praying a return of the Duties paid on the importation of Carriages, by the Western Stage Coach Company." The Legislature referred the petition to the Committee on Trade and Manufactures.
[Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]

"Mr. Dewolfe," who presented Barnabe's petition to the Legislature, was
Thomas Andrew Strange DeWolfe (1795-1878).  From 1836 to 1847,
T.A.S. DeWolfe represented Kings County in the Legislature.

It is believed that the "Timothy Barnabe" referred to,
is Timothy Barnaby, born 14 June 1811 in
Cornwallis, Kings County, Nova Scotia.

The first scheduled stage coach to run between Halifax and Annapolis, departed Halifax on 3 June 1828.  This line was organized and operated by the Western Stage Coach Company.



1847 February 13

Antigonish Canal

On this day, a petition "of Inhabitants of Antigonishe was presented" to the Nova Scotia Legislature "by Mr. Power, and read, praying aid to remove obstructions from and to repair a Canal and Tow Path connected with the Harbor of that place." The Legislature referred the petition to Mr. Marshall, Mr. Howe, and Mr. Ryder, "to examine and report upon to this House."
[Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]

This petition was presented to the Legislature by Patrick Power (c.1800-1851)
who, 1843-1847, represented Sydney County (which then included Antigonish) in
the Legislature.  John Joseph Marshall (1807-1870) represented Guysborough County,
Joseph Howe (1804-1873) represented Halifax County, and
John Ryder (1805-1872) represented Argyle Township.



1847 February 16

British North American Telegraph Association
Proposed Electric Telegraph
Halifax to Toronto

"The Honourable the Attorney General, by command of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, presented to the House, a copy of a Despatch from His Excellency the Governor General to His Excellency Lieutenant Governor Sir John Harvey, dated Montreal, 2nd February 1847; also a copy of a Despatch (enclosed therewith) from Earl Grey to the Governor General, dated 22nd December 1846, on the subject of a proposed Electric Telegraph from Toronto to Halifax; and a copy of a Letter, dated Quebec, 8th February 1847, from the Secretary of the British North American Telegraph Association to the Provincial Secretary, accompanied by a Report of the Board of Directors of that Association, as to the proposed line of Electric Telegraph — and the same were severally read."
[Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]


1847 February 25

Roads and Bridges

On this day, the Nova Scotia Legislature approved "that the sum of £30,000, granted for the service of Roads and Bridges, in the present year, be applied" as follows:
Nova Scotia
Roads and Bridges
1847

For the County of Yarmouth £1,500
For the County of Shelburne £1,500
For the County of Digby £1,500
For the County of Sydney £1,500
For the County of Guysborough £1,500
For the County of Queen's £1,500
For the County of Richmond £1,500
For the County of Halifax £2,280
For the County of Hants £2,100
For the County of Inverness £2,070
For the County of Cape-Breton £2,190
For the County of King's £1,650
For the County of Pictou £2,190
For the County of Colchester £1,800
For the County of Cumberland £1,800
For the County of Lunenburg £1,860
For the County of Annapolis £1,560

[Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1847]


1847 March 17

Eastern Shore Road

On this day, 10 Victoria chapter 38, An Act to "provide for the opening of a New Line of Road from Dartmouth to the Settlements on the Eastern Shore" was approved by the Lieutenant Governor.

In 1851, the Legislature passed 13 Victoria chapter 13, to provide for building an extension to this road.  In 1855, the Legislature passed 17 Victoria chapter 52, to extend this road from Ship Harbour to Sheet Harbour.


1847 March 17

Londonderry Mining Company

On this day, 10 Victoria chapter 51, An Act to Incorporate the Londonderry Mning Company of Nova Scotia, was approved by the Lieutenant Governor.

George Edward Drummond
Londonderry Iron Company



1847 March 30

Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company

On this day, the Nova Scotia Legislature passed 10 Victoria chapter 58, An Act to Incorporate the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company, with an authorized capital of £5,000, "to construct and operate a telegraph line between Halifax and the New Brunswick border, to meet the telegraph line from Quebec and St. Andrews, and such branch lines as might appear necessary and expedient." Nothing was done, and the next year this Act was repealed.
Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company
    http://ns1758.ca/tele/telegraph03.html

In 1851, the Legislature passed 14 Victoria chapter 17, to incorporate anew the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company.  (The new electric telegraph line between Halifax and Amherst — which connected with other telegraph lines to Boston, New York, and other distant places — had begun regular commercial operation in November 1849.)



1848 January 1

Cunard Establishes Direct Service to New York

The Cunard Line establishes direct steamship service between New York and Liverpool with departure of Hibernia. The Cunard docks are in Jersey City near the New Jersey Railroad terminal.
Source:
Pennsylvania Railroad Chronology, 1845-1849
    http://www.prrths.com/Downloads/PRR1845.pdf



1848 April 1

Electric Telegraph Act Passed

This Act (thought to be 11 Victoria chapter 25) by the Nova Scotia Legislature specified that nobody could build any electric telegraph line or equipment unless they had been given prior approval by the Legislature.

Section 24: "It shall not be lawful for any person, body politic, corporate, community or company whatsoever, directly or indirectly, to make and complete any electric telegraphs, stations and appurtenances in any part of this province, unless by the previous sanction, and under the authority, of the legislature of this province."



1848 April 15

America Sails on Maiden Voyage

On this day the new Cunard steamship America departed from Liverpool for Halifax and New York.  It was an enormous and luxurious ship for that time, 1826 tons, 251 feet 76.5 metres long with beam (width) 38 feet 11.6 metres, driven by two single-cylinder side-lever steam engines each capable of producing 320 horsepower 240 kilowatts. The fuel was coal.  America had a service speed of 10 knots 19 km/h, and was capable of carrying 800 people in all, 140 of them in first class.  From this date, the Cunard Company increased its scheduled calls at Halifax to four times a month in summer and twice a month in winter, twice the previous frequency.  America, launched in May 1847, was the first of Cunard's order for four new steamships to be completed in 1848; the others were Canada, Europa, and Niagara. They were practically identical in design and construction.

America held the Liverpool to Boston speed record for some years.  During December 1856 America suffered serious storm damage near Cape Clear but made it back to Liverpool.  In 1863 it was hired by the Allan Line and began to sail from Liverpool to Quebec and Montreal.  It served Cunard again in 1866 before becoming a sailing vessel (with the engines and boilers removed) with the new name of Coalgacondor. It was finally scrapped in 1875.


1848 May 20

Niagara Sails on Maiden Voyage

On this day the new Cunard steamship Niagara departed from Liverpool for Boston via Halifax.  It was an enormous and luxurious ship for that time, 1826 tons, 251 feet 76.5 metres long with beam (width) 38 feet 11.6 metres, driven by two side lever steam engines each capable of producing 320 horsepower 240 kilowatts. The fuel was coal.  Niagara had a service speed of 10 knots 19 km/h, and was capable of carrying 800 people in all, 140 of them in first class.  Niagara, launched in August 1847, was one of Cunard's order for four new steamships to be completed in 1848; the others were Canada, Europa, and America. They were practically identical in design and construction.

Niagara captured the eastbound Boston and New York speed records and later was a particularly useful transport in the Crimean War, carrying a tremendous number of troops with their wives and children.  It ran from Liverpool to Havre in 1866 but was then sold without a change in name and its engines were removed.  On 6 June 1875 it was wrecked near South Stack, Anglesey.


1848 July 17

Europa Sails on Maiden Voyage

On this day the new Cunard steamship Europa departed from Liverpool for Boston via Halifax.  It was an enormous and luxurious ship for that time, 1826 tons, 251 feet 76.5 metres long with beam (width) 38 feet 11.6 metres, driven by two side lever steam engines each capable of producing 320 horsepower 240 kilowatts. The fuel was coal.  Europa had a service speed of 10 knots 19 km/h, and was capable of carrying 800 people in all, 140 of them in first class.  Europa, launched in September 1847, was one of Cunard's order for four new steamships to be completed in 1848; the others were Canada, Niagara, and America. They were practically identical in design and construction.

In June 1849 Europa collided with the emigrant ship Charles Bartlett which sank with the loss of 135 lives.  Europa's mizzen mast was removed in 1853 and in 1854 it became a Crimean War transport.  In August 1858 it collided with another Cunard vessel, Arabia, off Cape Race and both were damaged.  In February 1866 it made its last voyage from Liverpool to Boston and was sold the following year.


1848 July 18

Improved Navigational Aid
Halifax Harbour

Notice to Mariners

It having been represented to Vice Admiral the Earl of Dundonald, that great benefit would result to the navigation of the Port if a Bell was attached to the Buoy on the Rock Head Shoal, at the entrance of this Harbor, His Lordship has been pleased to order a Bell to be fitted to the Buoy accordingly — which will assist in guiding vessels up the Harbor in foggy weather.

S. Cunard
Thos. Maynard
J. P. Miller
Commissioners of Light Houses
Halifax, 18th July 1848

[British Colonist, 11 November 1848]


The British Colonist was a Halifax newspaper, four pages per issue, published Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday of each week.  This notice appeared on the front page of every issue, from 1 August 1848 for at least four months.



1848 July 19

Some Facts Connected with the Development
of British Ocean Steam Navigation

The British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company

"The most formidable portion of the British Navy"

By act of the British Parliament, 7th William IV chapter 3, all previous contracts entered into by the post office for the conveyance of the mails by sea were transferred to the Admiralty.  Then commenced, under the auspices of the Government, the system of mail steam packet service, which has become so important a part of the mercantile marine, and which, in the case of necessity, will constitute, so far as the United States are concerned, the most formidable portion of the British Navy...
July 19, 1848: Cunard excerpts from Butler King's speech, page 936 column 2
Excerpts related to the Cunard Steamship Line
from T. Butler King's speech, July 19, 1848
Appendix to the Congressional Globe, page 936 column 2
United States Congress
Source: Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library
http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/020/0900/09460936.tif


July 19, 1848: Cunard excerpts from Butler King's speech, page 936 column 3
Excerpts related to the Cunard Steamship Line
from T. Butler King's speech, July 19, 1848
Appendix to the Congressional Globe, page 936 column 3
United States Congress
Source: Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library
http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/020/0900/09460936.tif


July 19, 1848: Cunard excerpts from Butler King's speech, page 937 column 1
Excerpts related to the Cunard Steamship Line
from T. Butler King's speech, July 19, 1848
Appendix to the Congressional Globe, page 937 column 1
United States Congress
Source: Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library
http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/020/0900/09470937.tif


July 19, 1848: Cunard excerpts from Butler King's speech, page 937 column 2
Excerpts related to the Cunard Steamship Line
from T. Butler King's speech, July 19, 1848
Appendix to the Congressional Globe, page 937 column 2
United States Congress
Source: Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library
http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/020/0900/09470937.tif


July 19, 1848: Cunard excerpts from Butler King's speech, page 938 column 2
Excerpts related to the Cunard Steamship Line
from T. Butler King's speech, July 19, 1848
Appendix to the Congressional Globe, page 938 column 2
United States Congress
Source: Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library
http://memory.loc.gov/ll/llcg/020/0900/09480938.tif

Thomas Butler King of Retreat Plantation, Saint Simons Island, Georgia, was a Georgia and United States legislator, collector of the port of San Francisco, and Georgia representative to various courts in Europe during the American Civil War, with special interests in internal improvements and naval affairs. King was U.S. representative from Georgia's First Congressional District, which included Savannah.  He was chairman of the U.S. House Naval Affairs Committee.  King's work in California was first as the personal adviser of President Zachary Taylor and then as the first collector of the port of San Francisco under Millard Fillmore.
Source:
Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/htm/01252_m.htm



1848 November 25

Canada Sails on Maiden Voyage

On this day the new Cunard steamship Canada departed from Liverpool for New York via Halifax.  It was an enormous and luxurious ship for that time, 1826 tons, 251 feet 76.5 metres long with beam (width) 38 feet 11.6 metres, driven by two side lever steam engines each capable of producing 320 horsepower 240 kilowatts. The fuel was coal.  Canada had a service speed of 10 knots 19 km/h, and was capable of carrying 800 people in all, 140 of them in first class.  Canada, launched in June 1848, was the last of Cunard's order for four new steamships to be completed in 1848; the others were Europa, Niagara, and America. They were practically identical in design and construction.

In October 1850 Canada was stranded near Halifax but was undamaged.  In April 1854 it sank the brig Belle with the loss of two lives.  In November 1854 it collided with the SS Ocean near Boston with the loss of three lives.  It made its final voyage from Liverpool to Boston in December 1865 and became the sailing ship Mississipi in 1867.  It was scrapped in 1883.


1848 December 6

Halifax City Council Discusses Hydrants

The City Council met on Wednesday [December 6th, 1848] and after a good deal of talk and noise, which with them is always the precursor of business, passed the following Resolution, 7 to 6: Resolved That it be intimated to the Water Company, that the City Council are willing to take charge of any number of fire plugs which they may be prepared to hand over, and to be a charge against the city from that period, at the rate set forth in their letter, but not to be paid for until the hydrants and fire plugs are put into operation, and the number of hydrants and fire plugs contemplated in the City completed.
(This item, here quoted whole, referred to events in Halifax.)
[British Colonist, (Halifax newspaper) 9 December 1848]


1849

F.N. Gisborne Moved to Halifax

Frederick Newton Gisborne settled in Halifax.  He was the chief engineer of several early electric telegraph ventures in the Maritimes and Newfoundland.  Gisborne built the first telegraph line between Halifax and Quebec.
— Frederick Newton Gisborne
    http://128.100.124.81/library/special/gisborne.htm

Use the Wayback Machine to view web sites from the past.

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this document:
Frederic Newton Gisborne (1824-1892)
Victoria University Library at the University of Toronto

Archived: 1999 February 25
http://web.archive.org/web/19990225092512/http://128.100.124.81/library/special/gisborne.htm

Archived: 1999 November 02
http://web.archive.org/web/19991102232304/http://128.100.124.81/library/special/gisborne.htm

Archived: 2000 March 07
http://web.archive.org/web/20000307110529/http://128.100.124.81/library/special/gisborne.htm

Archived: 2000 August 17
http://web.archive.org/web/20000817012526/http://128.100.124.81/library/special/gisborne.htm

Archived: 2001 December 26
http://web.archive.org/web/20011226120659/http://128.100.124.81/library/special/gisborne.htm


These links were accessed and found to be valid on 14 March 2010.



1849 February 21

First Run of the Pony Express

The Cunard Royal Mail Steamship Europa arrived in Halifax on this day with the latest news from Europe.  A special brief summary of the most important news had been prepared and placed in a sealed container in England before the ship departed.  Upon arrival at Halifax, the news package was immediately handed to a courier to be galloped to Victoria Beach, Digby County, where a chartered boat was waiting with steam up to rush the package across the Bay of Fundy to Saint John.

This was the first run of the pony express service, organized by Hiram Hyde working with Daniel Craig, to deliver European news as quickly as could be managed to Boston and New York, using the new one-wire electric telegraph line between Saint John and Boston.

This new service was about 36 hours faster, Liverpool to New York, than was possible before.  James Gordon Bennett was one of the main customers of this enormously expensive service.  Six New York newspapers — the Sun, Tribune, Express, Journal of Commerce, Courier and Enquirer, and Bennett's Herald, — had recently formed an organization called the New York Associated Press, to rush the European news from Halifax and publish it immediately upon receipt.  Soon after, nine Boston newspapers joined the group under an agreement to pay one-sixth of the expenses. The New York Associated Press later became the Associated Press, which today is one of the major news-gathering organizations world-wide.

See:   The Nova Scotia Pony Express, 1849
    http://ns1763.ca/ponyexpress/ponyexdx.html


At the time the term was "horse express"
or simply "express" — "pony express"
became the popular description later.



1849 March 8

Second Run of the Pony Express

This time, there were two pony expresses operating over the same route, between Halifax and Victoria Beach.  One express service was run by the Associated Press, and the other by a group of United States speculators, who knew that, if they could get the European news a few hours ahead of everyone else, they could make a lot of money (in much the same way that you could make millions of dollars today, if you could get the report of today's stock market prices even ten minutes ahead of everyone else).

Hiram Hyde (then 32 years old) organized the Associated Press relays, and a man named Barnaby did likewise for the competition.  In contrast to the first run fifteen days earlier, this trip attracted a lot of media attention because it was a competitive trip.  (At that time, the only "media" around were the newspapers.)

The two riders galloped out of Halifax immediately after the arrival of the Cunard steamship America, at a speed "unprecedented in this country".  America had arrived at the Halifax wharf at 2:30am on March 8th, 1849.  The couriers arrived at Victoria Beach only three minutes apart, at 11:30am, having taken 8½ hours for the trip from Halifax (these are the times given in contemporary reports, which appear to allow about a half-hour to get the mail packages off the ship and handed over to the riders).

This was early March, when the nights were still long, and the riders galloped at least as far as Mount Uniacke in darkness, with no light other than that provided by the stars and the Moon.  On March 8th, 1849, the Moon reached full phase about 9pm Halifax time.  When the riders started from the Halifax waterfront, the Moon's phase was only 18 hours short of being full; for practical purposes they had the light of a Full Moon if the sky was cloudless, or nearly so.  We do not know what the sky was like that night — they may have had anything from bright moonlight to utter darkness.

Excerpted from the British Colonist (Halifax newspaper) 10 March 1849;
the Acadian Recorder (Halifax newspaper) 10 March 1849, and
Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon, and Planets by Jean Meeus, Willmann-Bell Inc., 1983, ISBN 0943396026


1849 June 5

Celebration of Halifax Centenary

"At dark, the Province Building, Dalhousie College, and the Engine House were brilliantly illuminated.  The residence of R. Noble, Esquire, was surrounded with a temporary bower of Forest trees, and illuminated with gas.  It shone conspicuously... The Government House was illuminated till after midnight... The residence of John Richardson, Esq., Granville Street, was brilliantly illuminated during the evening..."
[The Times and Courier, Halifax, 9 June 1849]


1849 June 30

Tender Deadline for Construction of
Electric Telegraph Halifax to Amherst

"Sealed tenders will be received until the 30th day of June next, for building a Line of Electric Telegraph from Halifax to Amherst... The line will be built forty posts to the mile, Hackmatack or Cedar... The line is to be constructed with a single line of wire, of the best quality, number nine... The whole line will be required to be completed in good working order... on or before the 1st day of November next... (Signed) Joseph Howe, George R. Young, W. Murdoch, A.G. Archibald, Thomas Logan, Commissioners.
[Advertisement in The Times and Courier, Halifax, 9 June 1849]
    http://ns1758.ca/tele/telegraph03.html#tendercall


This line was completed and put into regular commercial operation on 15 November 1849.  It was the first electric telegraph line in Nova Scotia.
History of Telegraph & Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia
    http://ns1758.ca/tele/telephone.html



1849 September 3

The Electric Telegraph, Halifax to Amherst

"The Posts [poles] for the Electric Telegraph are now standing from the North-west boundary of the Province, along the line of the Great Eastern Road, as far as Sackville.  They are now erected nearly up to the Ten-mile Inn (Brass's).  The workmen will be engaged at the close of this, and in the early part of next week, in bringing them on towards the city.  The wire, &c., we have been informed, are on the way from New York, and it is now expected that the line in Nova Scotia will be completed, and in working order, by the 15th or 20th of September.  The line from Saint John to Amherst is nearly complete, and the connected line between Halifax and Boston may be expected to be operated before the end of September."
[Above quoted whole from the Novascotian, Halifax, 3 September 1849]


1849 November 1

First Gas Streetlights in Halifax

On this day, the streets of Halifax were first lighted by gas.
[Halifax Daily News, 1 November 1999]

The gas was manufactured by roasting coal, a process which produced coke as well as large quantities of combustible gas.  The gas could be, and was, sold for such purposes as heating and lighting commercial buildings and homes.



1849 November 15

Electric Telegraph Begins Operation,
Pony Express Ends Forever

On this day, the first Associated Press news despatch was sent from Halifax over the newly-completed one-wire electric telegraph line, which now connected Halifax to Amherst, Saint John, Portland, Boston, and New York.  The pony express to Victoria Beach ended immediately.


1849 December

Discipline on Ships at Sea

44,830 lashes on one ship during one trip

Commodore Stewart, one of the oldest and bravest officers of the United States navy, says that forty-four thousand eight hundred and thirty lashes had been inflicted on board one ship, the Independence, during one trip.
[Rome, New York, Roman Citizen, 5 December 1849]
     http://istg.rootsweb.com/newsarticles/1840_newsarticles.html


The above item has  nothing  to  do  with Nova Scotia,
but is a general indication of the working conditions at
sea in the mid-1800s in the vicinity of  North  America.



1849 December 4

RMS Canada Brings European News
nearly three weeks old on arrival

The Cunard steamer Canada, Capt. Harrison, arrived at Halifax yesterday morning [December 4th, 1849] at 8 o'clock, whence she sailed for New York at 10:30.  She will accordingly reach New York about 1 P.M. to-morrow.  The Canada left Liverpool on the 17th inst.  She brings dates from London to the 16th, and from Paris to the 15th.  The Niagara arrived out on the 13th, after a passage of thirteen days.
[Rome, New York, Roman Citizen, 5 December 1849]
    http://istg.rootsweb.com/newsarticles/1840_newsarticles.html

"She brings dates from London to the 16th,
and from Paris to the 15th."

This means that the latest news from London was dated November 16th,
18 days old on arrival at Halifax on December 4th, and the latest
from Paris was dated November 15th, 19 days old on on arrival at Halifax.

A brief summary (about 3000 words) of this news was telegraphed from
Halifax to the newspapers in Boston and New York which were members
of the Associated Press, but people in the United States had to wait,
until RMS Canada reached New York in the afternoon of December 6th,
for the complete European news.  This news was three weeks old when it
became available to the public — when the newspapers appeared
on the streets.

This three-week delay was the best that could be done at that time.
Fifteen years would go by before faster delivery of news became possible
with the completion of the transatlantic telegraph cable in the summer of 1865.






Go To:   History of Telegraph and Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia
    http://ns1758.ca/tele/telephone.html

Go To:   History of Railway Companies in Nova Scotia
    http://ns1758.ca/rail/railways.html

Go To:   History of Electric Power Companies in Nova Scotia
    http://ns1758.ca/electric/electric.html

Go To:   History of Automobiles in Nova Scotia
    http://ns1758.ca/auto/automobiles.html

Go To:   Nova Scotia History, Chapter One
    http://newscotland1398.ca/hist/nshistory01.html

Go To:   Nova Scotia in the War of 1812
    http://ns1758.ca/1812war/war1812-atlantic.html#war1812-novascot

Go To:   Nova Scotia Historical Biographies
    http://newscotland1398.ca/hist/nshistory00.html#ns-historical-biog

Go To:   Proclamations: Land Grants in Nova Scotia 1757, '58, '59
    http://planter2010.ca/proc/proclamations-ndx.html

Go To:   Statutes of Nova Scotia, 1805, edited by Richard John Uniacke
    http://ns1763.ca/law/ns-statutes1805-titlepg.html

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