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

Chapter 10
1 January 1860   to   31 December 1869

    Special topic:

#   United States Plan to Annex Nova Scotia, 1866

From the early days of our being a species conscious of its own history, some part of society has had the role of preserving this history: priests, learned scholars, archivists.  Information was valued, valued enough to be denied to some members of society, and to possess information was to be part of the ritual of belonging to an elite.

So, I find it particularly puzzling that, as we move into this new "information age," our efforts are focused on the machinery of the information system, while the electronic information itself is being treated like just so much more flotsam and jetsam.  This is not a democratization of information, but a devaluation of information.

On the Internet, many electronic information sources that we are declaring worthy of "universal access" are administered by part-time volunteers, graduate students who do eventually graduate, or network hobbyists.  Resources come and go without notice, or languish after an initial effort and rapidly become out of date.  Few network information resources have specific and reliable funding for the future.  As a telecommunications system the Internet is both modern and mature; as an information system the Internet is an amateur operation.

Commercial information resources, of course, are only interested in information that provides revenue.  This immediately eliminates the entire cultural heritage of poetry, playwriting, and theological thought, among others.

If we value our intellectual heritage, and if we truly believe that access to information (and that broader concept, knowledge) is a valid social goal, we have to take our information resources seriously...

— Growing Our Communications Future: Access, Not Just Wires, by Karen Coyle, 1995
Progressive Librarian, issue number 14, Spring 1998

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this document:
Growing Our Communications Future:
Access, Not Just Wires

by Karen Coyle, 1995
Progressive Librarian, issue number 14, Spring 1998

Archived: 2000 September 15

Archived: 2002 October 30

Archived: 2004 February 24

Archived: 2006 October 04

1860 January 1

Decimalization of the Currency

...In Nova Scotia, decimalization occurred on 1 January 1860.  Nevertheless, because that province rated the sovereign at $5 instead of $4.8667, its currency remained incompatible with that of Canada and New Brunswick.  New Brunswick officially decimalized on 1 November 1860, and Newfoundland followed in 1863.  Like Nova Scotia, Newfoundland's currency was not compatible with that of Canada or New Brunswick.  The colony of Vancouver Island also decimalized in 1863, followed by British Columbia in 1865.  Manitoba decimalized in 1870, upon its entry into Confederation, and Prince Edward Island followed in 1871...
Source: Currency Reforms (1841-71), page 24, Introduction of Decimal Currency

A History of the Canadian dollar

The Halifax and York ratings

One currency rating that became particularly important in British North America was the Halifax rating.  Named after the city of Halifax, where it was first used, this rating was given legal standing by an act of the first Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 1758.  This rating used pounds, shillings, and pence (£, s. and d.) as the unit of account and valued one Spanish (or colonial Spanish) silver dollar weighing 420 grains (385 grains of pure silver) at 5 shillings, local currency.  This valuation of the Spanish dollar, the most common coin in circulation at that time, was to be used in settling debts.  In effect, the Spanish dollar became legal tender in Nova Scotia.  Although the British imperial authorities overturned the legislation in 1762, since it did not conform to the 1707 Imperial Act, the rating remained in common use and was later adopted in Quebec...
Source: The Early Years (pre-1841), page 13, The Halifax and York ratings

The introduction of paper money

...As was the case in New France, British colonies in North America also experimented with paper money with mixed success, issuing "bills of credit." These bills, typically, although not exclusively, used as a means of wartime finance, were denominated in convenient amounts and circulated widely as currency.  The Massachusetts Bay Colony was the first British colony in North America to issue such bills of credit in 1690.  Paper money issued by Massachusetts, or "Boston bills," circulated in Nova Scotia during the first half of the eighteenth century owing to close economic and political links between Massachusetts and the British garrison and community in Annapolis Valley, formerly Port Royal...
Source: The Early Years (pre-1841), page 14, The introduction of paper money

Sweeping Changes in Currency after Confederation

...Confederation on 1 July 1867 brought sweeping changes to banking and currency legislation in the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.  Under the British North America Act, the government of the new Dominion was given jurisdiction over currency and banking.  The Dominion Notes Act came into effect in 1868.  Under this legislation, the Dominion took over the various provincial note issues.  Provincial notes issued in the Province of Canada were renamed "dominion notes" and were made redeemable in Halifax and Saint John in addition to Montreal and Toronto.  The Dominion Notes Act was subsequently extended to cover Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, and British Columbia in 1876 and the Northwest Territories in 1886.

Like earlier provincial notes, dominion notes were partly backed by gold.  The first $5,000,000 issued were 20% backed and the next $3,000,000, 25% backed.  Over time, the size of the authorized note issue was increased.  There were also some changes to the percentage of notes backed by gold.  By 1913, the first $30,000,000 had a 25% gold backing.  Issues in excess of $30,000,000 had to be fully backed with gold.

Interestingly, although dominion notes became redeemable in Halifax in 1868, Nova Scotia retained its own currency until April 1871, when the dominion government passed the Uniform Currency Act.  At that time, Nova Scotian currency was converted into Canadian currency at a rate of 75 Nova Scotian cents to 73 Canadian cents.

The Uniform Currency Act also established that denominations of Canadian currency would be "dollars, cents and mills" (a mill equalled one-tenth of a cent).  Moreover, the Canadian dollar's value was fixed in terms of the British sovereign at a rate of $4.8667 and the U.S.  gold eagle at a rate of $10 — the same rates established in the 1853 Currency Act.

The Dominion government also passed the Bank Act in 1871, which repealed all provincial acts that were in conflict with federal jurisdiction over currency and banking.  Consequently, chartered banks in the four provinces eventually came under common regulation.  Chartered banks were allowed to issue notes with a minimum denomination of $4 (raised to $5 in 1880).  Although banks, as a matter of course, held substantial reserves of dominion notes and gold, they were not required to secure their note issues either by gold or by specific collateral.  Note issues could not, however, exceed a bank's paid-in capital.  The notes that a bank had in circulation represented a first lien on that bank's assets in the event of failure.  The government preserved the issuance of smaller notes for itself.  It also issued notes in larger denominations to be used mainly for transactions between banks...
Source: Currency Reforms (1841-71), pages 26-27, Confederation

Chronology of Money

For an absolutely first-class history of currencies, including decimalization, see
A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day
A Comparative Chronology of Money, 1830 - 1859
A Comparative Chronology of Money, 1860 - 1879


Commentary on Resistance to Decimalization
in the United States

July 1999

In a recent, informal Business Week poll, 87 15/16% of those surveyed said they are glad that the U.S. securities industry must switch to decimalization of stock prices by July 2000.  It's about time.  France switched from fractions to decimals way back in 1795.  Spain switched in 1848.  At the beginning of 1974, only the U.S. and Canadian stock markets and Yemen's currency were still fraction-based.  Yemen, however, wised up and joined the ultra-hip decimalization ranks later that year.  The Canadian stock markets capitulated in 1996.  (In July 1999) the United States securities industry clings to the arcane fraction system...
Source: Business Week 5 July 1999

Decimalization of the Currency Completed
1 July 1871

The introduction of the decimal system of currency into the Dominion of Canada was pretty much completed by 34 Victoria chapter 5, the Uniform Currency Act, which received royal assent on 14 April 1871 and became legally effective on 1 July 1871.  It is ordered by the Act that the unit of account shall be the dollar of 100 cents, the value of which dollar shall be on the basis of 486 2/3 cents to the pound of British Sterling money.  The value of the money of the United Kingdom is fixed by law as follows:
The soverign of the weight and fineness now established, four dollars and eighty-six and two-third cents;
the crown piece, one dollar and twenty cents;
the half-crown piece, sixty cents;
the florin, forty-eight cents;
the shilling, twenty four cents;
the sixpence, twelve cents.
[Source: 1882 ColliersCyclopedia of Social and Commercial Information, page 704]
        Subject: [LL] Re: Pounds to Dollars
        To: LUNEN-LINKS-L@rootsweb.com
        Date: Mon, 25 Oct 1999 21:28:46 -0300


Chronology of Events in the History of Canadian Coins
(excludes pre-Confederation Nova Scotia and New Brunswick)

English Coinage Denominations

The Earliest Money Using the Dollar as a Unit of Value

Money and Coinage in Victorian Britain
explains how Nova Scotia's money system worked in the pounds shillings pence days

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this document:
Money and Coinage in Victorian Britain
explains how Nova Scotia's money system worked in the £sd days

Archived: 2002 August 02

Archived: 2003 April 08

Archived: 2004 June 15

Archived: 2005 August 22

Archived: 2006 September 11

Archived: 2007 August 22

Archived: 2008 June 08

These links were accessed and found to be valid on 7 March 2010.

1860 April 2

Two Round Trips Each Day

On and after April 2nd, 1860, passengers could travel between Windsor and Halifax, on the Nova Scotia Railway, twice a day.  The morning westbound train departed Richmond (Halifax) at 8:00am and arrived in Windsor at 11:00am; the morning eastbound train departed Windsor at 8:20am and arrived in Richmond at 11:15am.  These two trains crossed (passed each other) at Mount Uniacke; this was (and is) a single-track line, and trains going in opposite directions could (and can) pass each other only where a siding is available.  The afternoon westbound train departed Richmond (Halifax) at 2:30pm and arrived in Windsor at 5:30pm; the afternoon eastbound train departed Windsor at 3:00pm and arrived in Richmond at 6:00pm; these two trains also crossed at Mount Uniacke.  The end-to-end fare, one way, was $1.35 first class, and 87½ cents second class.  A resident of Windsor could now go to Halifax in the morning, have a clear three hours in the city to conduct business or fulfill appointments, and return to Windsor the same day.  A resident of Halifax could travel to Windsor in the morning, have nearly four hours to conduct business there, and return to the city the same day.

1860 May

American Telegraph Company Arrives

In May, 1860, the American Telegraph Company leased the telegraph lines and equipment owned and operated by the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company, that is, all telegraph lines in Nova Scotia.  ATC now controlled all telegraph operations from Newfoundland to Louisiana.

1860 August 2

Special Royal Train on the Nova Scotia Railway

The Prince of Wales travelled to Windsor on a special train from Halifax.  Windsor was, at that time, the end of the railway track westward from Halifax, there being no bridge across the Avon River that could support the weight of a locomotive.  Prince Albert Edward, son of Queen Victoria and later King Edward VII, was travelling to Windsor to make a speech at Kings College.  The royal party left Government House on Hollis Street, and rode in carriages to Richmond, where at 7:00am the special train departed for Windsor.  At Windsor they were met by a guard of honour made up of two Halifax regiments who had been brought to Windsor in a train that departed the city at 3:00am, four hours ahead of the royal train.  During the period of the royal visit, there were no second class passengers on the Nova Scotia Railway — everyone was carried first class at half fare.


Nova Scotia's Great Roads

The high roads of Nova Scotia are very numerous, and generally they are good.  Legislative grants are made yearly to aid in opening new roads, and repairing the great post-roads.  The grant for this purpose in 1850 was $96,800; in 1860 it was $103,855; and in 1861 $100,341.

The great roads of the province are:

From Halifax westward to Yarmouth, by the Atlantic coast, as follows: Halifax to Lunenburg, seventy miles; thence to Liverpool, thirty-six miles; thence to Shelburne, forty miles; thence to Yarmouth, fifty-six miles — making in all 203 miles from Halifax to Yarmouth.  A stage-coach runs this route three times a week.

Another line of highway is from Halifax to Yarmouth via Windsor, Kentville, Annapolis Royal, Digby and Clare.  The distance from Halifax to Yarmouth by this route is 214 miles.  A stage-coach runs this route three times a week.

Eastward from Halifax we travel sixty miles to Truro by railway; from Truro to Amherst (within three miles of the New Brunswick border) the distance is sixty miles; from Truro to Pictou the distance is forty miles.  An excellent line of stage-coaches run this road daily.

From Pictou to Antigonish, fifty miles; thence to the Strait of Canseau ferry, thirty-three miles.  Total from Halifax to Canseau Strait, 183 miles.

On the Cape Breton side, from Plaister Cove at Canseau, to Sydney town via south of Bras d'Or, seventy-six miles; from Sydney via Sydney Mines to Margaree, sixty-four miles; from Plaister Cove to Port Hood, thirty miles; thence to Margaree, forty miles.

Another great road runs from Halifax through Musquodoboit via Guysborough to the Strait of Canseau.

Another from Halifax to Tangier, Sheet Harbor, &c., by the Atlantic coast.

Another important road runs from Pictou via River John, Tatamagouche, Pugwash, &c., to Amherst.

The cross-roads and by-roads are too numerous to mention.

All those mentioned are run either by daily, tri-weekly, bi-weekly, or weekly stage-coaches

Source: Pages 699-700 Eighty Years' Progress of British North America...

Eighty Years' Progress of British North America... (book) by Henry Youle Hind, published in Toronto by L. Stebbins and in London, England, by Sampson Low, Son & Marston, 1863.  Henry Youle Hind (1823-1908) F.R.G.S. (Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society) was Professor of Chemistry and Geology in Trinity College, Toronto.  He was the editor of this book and wrote much of the section that dealt with Upper and Lower Canada.  The 74-page section on Nova Scotia is credited to Rev. William Murray.  The book's publication date is 1863, but it contains little or no information later than 1861 — the remaining time was used in setting type, printing, collating and binding.

Postal Services

Nova Scotia has regular mail from Great Britain only once a fortnight; with the United States we have weekly, and sometimes bi-weekly (twice a week) postal communication; with Newfoundland, in summer we have fortnightly communication, in winter, monthly; with Prince Edward island, bi-weekly during seven months in summer, and weekly, and sometimes only monthly, in mid-winter; with New Brunswick, bi-weekly in summer and weekly in mid-winter.

The number of offices under the control of the postmaster-general, in 1860, was: one general post-office in Halifax, 72 central offices, and 344 branch or way offices.  In 1861, the number of way offices increased to 380.

The number of newspapers posted at, and delivered at the Halifax office during the year 1860 was 2,080,520; in 1861 2,358,824 — showing an increase of 278,304.

The number of letters of all kinds sent, received, and delivered in 1860 was 534,922; in 1861 705,696 — increase 170,774.

The number of parcels received at and sent from Halifax and county post-offices in 1860 was 627; in 1861 717 — increase 90.

The amount of money paid through the money-order department of the post-office during the last year was $67,081.90.  This department has been in existence only two years in this province.

The net income for 1861 was $47,115.76.  The total expenditure for the same period, $69,444.35½.

In 1860, the length of mail route in existence in the province was 4,115¼ miles; and the actual distance travelled was 751,346 miles.  In 1861, the length of route was 4,151¾ miles; distance travelled, 809,032 miles.

There are 289 mail contracts made by the postmaster-general, at an annual cost of $38,604.60

There is a uniform rate of postage — five cents for letters weighing half an ounce — now established between all the British North American provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland.

Source: Pages 700-701 Eighty Years' Progress of British North America...

At the time this book was published, the
British North American provinces were:
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick,
Prince Edward Island, Lower Canada (Quebec),
and Upper Canada (Ontario).

Steam Ship Services

The line of steamers from which Nova Scotia derives the greatest advantage is that of the Cunard Company.  These call at Halifax to land and receive passengers and freight, both westbound from Liverpool and to Boston, and on the return voyage from Boston and to Liverpool, England.  The freight carried by these steamships to Halifax is increasing every year.  The finer description of merchandise, which was wont to be conveyed in sailing ships, is now almost without exception brough to Halifax in these steamers.  When the great Intercolonial Railway is finished, Halifax will undoubtedly have her weekly line of steamers from England, instead of fortnightly as at present.

The Cunard Company have also a line of screw steamers, which ply regularly between Halifax and St. John's, Newfoundland; and between Halifax and Bermuda.  The steamers to Newfoundland receive a subsidy from the colonial government.

There is a steamer also which plies between Halifax, Yarmouth, and Boston.

There is a steamer that makes tri-weekly trips between Windsor and St. John, New Brunswick; also between Annapolis Royal and St. John, and connecting at St. John with steamers to and from Boston.

There is also a line that connects Pictou with Charlotte Town, Prince Edward Island, Shediac, New Brunswick, and Quebec.

There is one also on the Bras d'Or Lake, and one that plies between Halifax and the principal gold-fields on the Atlantic coast.

Two little steamboats ply between Pictou town and New Glasgow, and two others between the city of Halifax and the town of Dartmouth.  The legislature granted the sum of $7,700 in aid of steamers, packets, &c., in 1860, and $7,240 in 1861.

Source: Pages 698-699 Eighty Years' Progress of British North America...

1861 July 16,17

Special Royal Trains on the Albion Rail Road

In 1861, HRH Prince Alfred, fourth child and second son of Queen Victoria, visited Albion Mines (Stellarton).  On July 16th, the royal party arrived on the warship St. George, which anchored off Pictou Light because she had too much draft to cross the sandbar at the entrance to Pictou harbour.  The GMA steamship Pluto carried the entourage to Dunbar's Point, Abercrombie.  A special train pulled by Samson carried the royal party from the coal pier at Dunbar's Point to Stellarton.  The next day, when it was time to depart, the process was reversed, beginning with a special train carrying the royal party from Stellarton to Dunbar's Point, and Pluto from there to the warship.

1861 August

Cape Race, Newfoundland

Illustrated London News
London, England
24 August 1861

Cape Race is the terminal point eastward of that remarkable system of telegraph lines which extends throughout the whole of the United States and the British possessions.  The Americans delight in the telegraph, and use it continually for every sort of purpose, and in a way and extent that Europeans have no notion of.  From this lonely rock, standing out in the Atlantic amid fogs and storms, European news is flashed to the most distant parts of America.  From Boston to New Orleans the newspapers have it, print it, and the intelligence is old when the ship arrives at New York, three or four days after passing Cape Race.

As there is no place on this iron-bound coast where ships can touch at, peculiar means must be adopted to catch the European news on its way west.  The Associated Press of America therefore employ vessels to cruise constantly in the neighbourhood of the Cape, and board the outward-bound steamships.  Having got the important intelligence, they hasten to the shore, and forward their dispatch by wires passing through Newfoundland, across the sea between it and Breten Island, and afterwards the Gut of Chanseau, through Nova Scotia, across the head of the Bay of Fundy, to the United States.

This arrangement of telegraph brings Europe practically within seven days of America.  Thus the Cunard ships leaving New York on Wednesday are off Cape Race the following Sunday; being there boarded by the telegraph-boat, they receive the New York news up to that time; on the following Sunday that ship arrives at Cork harbour, Ireland, when its news is instantly forwarded to London.  And the same on the outward-bound voyages.

Since the introduction of the electric telegraph this lonely mass of storm-washed rock, whose existence was scarcely known to any one except the mariner, who sought it only that he might know his whereabout and carefully avoid it, has become as well known and its name as familiar as is that of New York or Boston.  It would be difficult to take up an American newspaper now without finding a paragraph headed "Latest News from Europe, via Cape Race."

On the western side of the States the telegraph ends at the Missouri River; but, as the States on the west side of the Rocky Mountains are as anxious for early news as the Yankees themselves, the latest intelligence from Europe, being passed through to the Missouri, is then taken up by a remarkable line of communication called the Pony Express – a line of small, fleet horses being maintained across the great plains, over the Rocky Mountains, to San Francisco.  On arrival of the telegraph from Cape Race at St. Joseph, on the Missouri, a horse starts at a gallop on its journey west.  Every twenty-five miles a fresh horse is employed to carry the telegraph message.  The journey of two thousand miles is thus accomplished in about nine days, so connecting California with England in little over a fortnight.

Illustrated London News, 14 December 1861

A Joint Project by Sandra J. Still, Emily E. Katt, Collection Management, and
the Beck Center of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

1861 November 12

Cape Sable Lighthouse Begins Operation

On this day, lightkeeper John Hervey Doane lit the lamps for the first time at the top of the first Cape Sable Lighthouse, a 20-metre 65-foot octagonal wooden structure.  A fog alarm building and steam whistle were added to the light station in 1876.

Cape Sable Light by the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society

Cape Sable should not be confused with Cape Sable Island.

The lighthouse is on Cape Sable, a low sandy islet about five kilometres long located a couple of kilometres south from Hawk Point, Cape Sable Island.

At latitude 43°23'N, Cape Sable is the most southerly point in Nova Scotia, and the second most southerly point in Canada.

Cape Sable was mapped by Portugese cartographers as early as 1554.  They named it Beusablom, "a sandy bay".  French explorer Samuel Champlain used the French version of that name, Cap de Sable, and when New England settlers occupied the land in 1761, it became known as Cape Sable.

With ledges and shoals running seaward for seven kilometres south and west from Cape Sable, the area has been a major hazard for ships for centuries.

One of the worst marine disasters in Canadian history

The S.S. Hungarian from Liverpool, England, ran aground here on 20 November 1860; all 205 passengers and crew perished.  This disaster impelled the government of Nova Scotia (then in charge of lighthouses and other navigational aids along our coast) to build a lighthouse on Cape Sable immediately.  The new light began operation just 51 weeks after Hungarian was wrecked.

SS Hungarian: wrecked 1860
Maritime Museum of the Atlanic, Halifax

SS Hungarian

The original lighthouse tower was replaced in 1923-24 with a 31-metre 101-foot tower constructed with reinforced concrete, the tallest lighthouse in Nova Scotia.  The light was automated and de-staffed in 1986.

[The Shelburne Coast Guard, 15 July 2003]

Reference (book): The Wreck of the Steamship Hungarian on the Ledges of Cape Sable Nova Scotia, by Arthur Thurston (1991) ISBN 0921596057

1861 December 14

The North American Frontier

Threatened Invasion from the United States

Illustrated London News
London, England
14 December 1861

The latest intelligence from the United States, although not quite so unsatisfactory as that previously received, still leaves strong grounds for apprehension.  There is no disguising the fact that most of the leading journals, and public opinion in that country generally, are against yielding to any demands that may be made by her Majesty's Government to restore the citizens of the Confederate States recently taken by force from the deck of a West India mail-packet carrying the English flag.  Looking, at the same time, to the opinion and temper of the English people upon this subject, we see such sufficient cause for alarm that our attention is immediately drawn towards the position of the British colonies in North America, and particularly to the boundary line that separates them from the United States.

It would be useless now to discuss the question as to how the frontier line of Canada and New Brunswick has become what it is, or whether it might not have been, by more judicious management, better than we now find it; but it is certain that the boundary line of the States of Maine and New York does so cut into the British territory that United States' armies may encamp within exceedingly short distance of our principal cities and yet be on their own soil.

Newfoundland being an island, and Nova Scotia nearly one, we may safely calculate on our naval supremacy ensuring them protection from molestation; but with the important province of New Brunswick, the Canadas, and the British North-west Territory, our position is by no means so satisfactory, as in many instances in these latter provinces there is no physical boundary whatever, the British possessions and those of the United States being separated by little more than an imaginary line.  The trees have been cut down where it passes through the wilderness, and a few stones have been set up at long distances apart, and that is the only division that marks the territories of two peoples who, though coming of a common stock, speaking the same language, and worshipping God in the same manner, yet are intent only on doing each other the largest possible amount of mischief.  There is yet hope that it may not be so, but the threatening aspect of affairs compels us to look narrowly at our position on the frontier.

The city of Quebec, our great stronghold in North America, is only sixty miles from the United States' territory; and River de Loup, the eastern terminus of the Grand Trunk Railway of Canada, and of the Canadian sytem of railways generally, although 120 miles lower down the St. Lawrence, is within thirty miles of the international boundary line.

Montreal, the capital of the Canadas, is only forty-four miles by railway from Rouse's Point at the head of Lake Champlain – a point where the States of New York and Vermont meet.  Several of the United States' railways focus to this place, and it will become an important position should war break out: it was so in 1814, a great battle being fought in this neighbourhood, the victory being claimed by the Americans.

From Rouse's Point for neary 300 miles eastward are what are called the eastern townships of Canada – districts containing many important towns and much cleared and cultivated land; these abut upon the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, without any marked physical boundary, the St. Lawrence lying on their northern or western edge.

West of Montreal, nearly opposite the Canadian town of Cornwall, the boundary line of the United States hits the St. Lawrence, and the river then separates them from Canada until it receives its waters at the outlet from Lake Ontario, many good towns lying on each side of it.  On the Canadian banks the principal are Cornwall, Morrisburg, Prescott, and Kingston; on the United States' side the principle town is Ogdenburg, exactly opposite Prescott.  These latter are large and important places, situated pretty much as Gravesend and Tilbury Fort are; both are important railway termini.  Prescott is the point of junction of the Grand Trunk Railway with the line to Ottawa, the intended seat of the Government of Canada; while Ogdensburg is connected by railway with Rouse's Point to the eastward and with the New York Central Railway to the southward and westward.

Kingston, in Canada, is situated at the point where Lake Ontario pours its waters into the St. Lawrence through a thousand channels formed by a number of beautiful islands.  Kingston is a fortified place, and adjoins Fort Henry, a military position second only in importance to Quebec.  Fort Henry is built on the site of the old French Fort Frontenac.  In a war with the United States this place would become most important as a depot for troops, as well as a naval station, where craft would be built to act upon Lake Ontario and the upper waters of the St. Lawrence.

On the north shore of Lake Ontario is situated the large, rich, and flourishing city of Toronto, the capital of Western Canada.  It is built close upon the waters edge, is utterly unprotected by art, but nature his done much for it.  It is a peculiar characteristic of Lake Ontario to have formed in particular situations long banks of sand and shingle, locally called beaches.  At a considerable distance from the shore, in front of the city, is a long narrow bank of this description, upon which batteries could be formed with rapidity, that would effectually protect this important city from all attacks on the lake side, while direct railway communication with Fort Henry would secure it landwards.  Toronto , therefore, though apparently so exposed, may be safely expected to take care of itself when the time arrives for its doing so.

At the western end of Lake Ontario is situated another large and important city, Hamilton, and protected from all attacks from the lake by a beach similar to that which lies in front of Toronto.  A single vessel sunk in the canal which connects the waters of Burlington Bay (on the south shore of which Hamilton is situated) with those of Lake Ontario renders it impossible for any vessel to approach within three or four miles of Hamilton...

The international boundary line is up the centre of Lake Erie and through the River St. Clair and Lake St. Clair into Lake Huron.  Between Lakes Huron and Erie the United States and British territory is divided only by a fine navigable river, much like the Thames at Erith; the large American city of Detroit is situated on its west bank and the Canadian town of Windsor opposite to it.  The latter is the western terminus of the Great Western Railway of Canada; the former the focus of a system of railways.  From the upper end of the River St. Clair, the boundary line divides equally the waters of Lake Huron, and enters Lake Superior through the St. Marie.  The larger portion of this lake belongs to the Americans.  From its northern shore the line follows the direction of the water communications until it reaches the parallel of 49° north latitude, along which it is continued across the Rocky Mountains until it reaches the Pacific Ocean.

On the north side of the forty-ninth parallel of latitude, adjoining the State of Minnesota, there exists a very valuable country known as the North-west Territory.  Although in the occupation of the Hudson Bay Company, it is a tract of exceedingly fine land, and contains some settlements known as the Red River or Selkirk settlements.  This is a far-off, outlying property of the British Crown, exceedingly valuable to us, and much coveted by the United States, it has been sadly neglected by its owners, and we may soon find it the most difficult to protect.

Illustrated London News, 14 December 1861

A Joint Project by Sandra J. Still, Emily E. Katt, Collection Management, and
the Beck Center of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

1861 December 28

Defending Canada Against Invasion
from the United States

Illustrated London News
London, England
28 December 1861

The attention of the Canadian people at the present juncture (says the Halifax Reporter) is wisely directed to the all-important question of "national defences." There appears to be a prevalent impression, which is rapidly gaining ground among all classes of people, that they must take immediate measures to provide for the security of the province in case of a sudden invasion from across the borders.

The unsatisfactory state of relations between England and the United States brings home forcibly to every intelligent man the necessity of preparing for any emergency.  According to late Canadian papers, the military authorities are making their preparations slowly and surely; but still it is obvious that, unless the people themselves afford united assistance, Canada, the upper province especially, would in case of war be in a most perilous position.  In Quebec, and other parts of Lower Canada, there are fortifications of an impregnable character; but in Western Canada, with the exception of Kingston, we believe there are none of any importance or strength.  The cities of Toronto, Hamilton, London, and the towns of Niagara, Windsor (opposite Detroit), and a hundred other places, would be in most imminent danger if a war were to break out suddenly – during the winter or spring, for instance.  All the fighting, in fact, in Upper Canada would have to be done in the open field or behind hastily-constructed batteries and earthworks.

The importance, then, of forming a volunteer organisation all through the country is becoming a matter which cannot be disputed by any man of foresight who values the safety of the province.  Already there is a general movement made to establish volunteer companies and we are told that "there is every reason to believe that much will be done to place the militia forces of the country on a better footing than they are at present, and thus to make this arm of the service perfectly reliable in case of emergency."

The militia, we may mention, in Canada, as well as in all the provinces, is almost a nonentity – little else than an undisciplined mob; and, unless steps are taken to drill and discipline it, it would be useless in the field.  This fact is being generally recognised on all sides, and the prospect is that there will soon be a change some way for the better.  In Montreal a general calling out of the provincial militia for drill during the winter is spoken of.  In Toronto the Leader is urging upon the officers of the sedentary militia the propriety of resigning their commissions or else taking immediate steps to become acquainted with their drill, and in many places all over the province it is said there is a desire among the sedentary officers to join with the active volunteers in order to learn their drill.  Still, the impression amongst men of good judgment and discernment is that there is little reliance to be pleased on the militia, and that the best and surest mode of providing for the defence of the province is to form a volunteer regiment in every locality.

In Halifax (says the Reporter) the old militia law has entirely gone out of practice and given place to the volunteer system.  Nowhere in the British provinces, indeed, have the young men responded more heartily to the call to form themselves into corps for defence than in Nova Scotia; and few, if any, of the colonies can present an equal number of well-drilled and organised companies.

Still, however, gratifying as has been the success that has attended the laudable efforts of the promoters of the volunteer movement, a great deal more might be done in the way of increasing the number of the forces all over the country.  Both the Lieutenant-Governor and General Doyle, on the occasion of the recent volunteer inspection, very properly made some observations on the importance of obtaining additional strength to the volunteer ranks; and it is to be hoped that their advice will have some effect with the large numbers of young men who have as yet, all over the province, kept aloof from the movement.  Very lately, in Bridgetown and Pictou, an effort has been made, and successfully too, to form a volunteer company in each of these places; and it would be satisfactory and encouraging to see a similar spirit evinced in every town and village throughout this province.  Let this be done, and we would soon, like the mother country, be in a position to present a body of "living walls" that could successfully repel any force that might invade our shores.

Transportation between Halifax and Quebec
in 1861, in winter

At the present moment perhaps no subject is of so much interest and importance as the facilities for the transport of troops over from Halifax to Quebec.  The following statement, derived from a gentleman who has recently travelled through New Brunswick, from Quebec to Halifax, will be found interesting:

"On disembarking at Halifax the troops can be conveyed by rail to Windsor, Nova Scotia, about sixty miles, from which point they can take steamers across the Bay of Fundy (which, contrary to popular ideas, is never frozen over) to St. Stephen, a distance of about 170 miles.

From St. Stephen, a small town of about 4000 inhabitants, there is a railway open to Canterbury, twelve miles from Woodstock, one of the largest towns in New Brunswick.  From Canterbury to Woodstock the distance can either be marched over a good snow road or performed in sleighs.

From Woodstock a day's journey will convey the troops to Great Falls, a distance of 72 miles, over excellent roads.  From Great Falls the next stage is to Lake Port, a small place on the Temiscouta, and thence by sleigh over a very good new military road (which is kept open by the mail track three times a week, and by the operations of the lumberers), they will arrive at the Riviere du Loup.  Forty-two miles of this latter portion of the journey, and during which the only practical inconvenience that will be experienced is through a forest district called the Portage, involving an ascent of upwards of 1000 feet.  At all the points named the troops could be supplied with refreshments and lodgings in the houses, barns, and outbuildings.  The only scarcity with regard to provisions is in the article of flour, as very little grain is grown in the district over which this route passes.  There is, however, abundance of beef and other provisions.  From the Riviere du Loup the troops will be conveyed by railway, a distance of 115 miles, to Quebec."

Accounts from Kingston, Canada, of the 6th inst., denote much activity in military and warlike preparations.  General Sir Fenwick Willliams, accompanied by Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson, Royal Engineers, and the members of the Staff, had made a thorough inspection of the facilities for fortifying Toronto.  Guns of heavy calibre were to be placed along the margin of the bay in the vicinity of the Nadaud Old Forts.  Workmen were immediately to commence repairing the blockhouses.  The men of the 30th Regiment were busily employed in the use of heavy guns.

A party of Engineers, Sappers and Miners, had gone to Quebec, and a number of them would immediately be dispatched westward.  Mr. S. Cunard had gone to Quebec at the request of the Canadian Government.  The 62nd and another regiment were to be sent to this province; and it was thought some arrangement was likely to be effected with the Cunard Company to bring up these troops at least as far as Riviere du Loup before the close of the navigation.

Illustrated London News, 28 December 1861

A Joint Project by Sandra J. Still, Emily E. Katt, Collection Management, and
the Beck Center of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.


Tour Tickets Available

Beginning in 1862, travellers could buy a long ticket strip allowing them to go from Halifax to Windsor on the Nova Scotia Railway, from Windsor by steam boat to Saint John, then on the European and North American Railway from Saint John through Norton, Sussex, Petitcodiac, Moncton, and Shediac to Point de Chene, thence to Charlottetown by boat, on another boat to Pictou, from Pictou to Truro on Hiram Hyde's Royal Mail Stage Line, and back to Halifax on the Nova Scotia Railway.  In her History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, Marguerite Woodworth reports that sixty-six of these tickets were sold in 1862.


Wiscasset Mining Company

Mining gold in Nova Scotia

In 1862 Captain Richard Holbrook Tucker, an adventurer, was attracted to the suddenly announced report of the presence of gold in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  Captain Tucker was one of the first persons to rush to the gold diggings at Wine Harbor.  In May of 1862, he set up a limited partnership, the Wiscasset Mining Company, for the purpose of promoting the business of gold mining in the Province of Nova Scotia.  An agreement was signed by the following men from the town of Wiscasset: Henry Clark, A.L. Barret, Sullivan Wright, Alfred Lennox, Lorenzo Taylor, Joseph Laiton Jr., and Joseph Tucker, Captain Tucker's brother.

Captain Tucker arranged for an engine, boiler, mill, amalgamator and a Howard crusher to be obtained from W.D. Richards of Boston.  His supplies included quicksilver, a pump, retorts and other fittings for the sum of $2,755, which were transported on his schooner Emblem to the work site in Nova Scotia.  The partners, except Joseph Tucker who did it for his health, hired other laborers to do the actual work in the gold fields.  In addition to working the Wiscasset mine, the company, as well as individuals, purchased portions of the claims worked by other companies, leased claims and bought gold for speculation.

Captain Tucker was born in Wiscasset, Maine, on May 13, 1816, and was an indispensable part of the town of Wiscasset for a many years.  He was politically active in town, county and state government.  In 1861 he served as Chairman of the Board of Selectmen and in the same year was elected State Senator for Lincoln County.  In 1870 he was appointed to the school committee and in 1885 represented Wiscasset in the State Legislature.  He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Wiscasset Savings Bank and for several years was the Director of the First National Bank of Wiscasset.

Captain Tucker was a person of rare wit who would freely express his opinions on public issues of the day with other people including writing letters to the editor of both the Sheepscot Echo and the Seaside Oracle newspapers.

The Sheepscot Echo newspaper of April 6, 1895 reported the death of Captain Richard H. Tucker on April 2, 1895, at Wiscasset.

[The Wiscasset Newspaper, Wiscasset, Maine, 30 September 1999]

The Wiscasset Newspaper website

1862 March

The New Cunard Steamer Scotia

Second largest mercantile steamer in the world

Cunard's last paddle-wheel steam ship

This vessel, the second largest mercantile steamer in the world, was built by Messrs. Napier and Sons, of Glasgow (under the orders of Messrs. Burns, of that city), for the Cunard or British and North American Royal Mail Steam-packet Company.  She was launched in June last; and on the 5th inst.  She made her trial-trip on the Clyde — a highly satisfactory one, notwithstanding the unpropitious state of the weather.  The distances were performed under the following conditions: — Against a strong flood tide, and also against a double-reefed topsail breeze of wind, from the Cloch to Cumbrae Light in 59 minutes; after passing the Little Cumbrae, the Scotia was brought round with great ease, and performed the upward run between the Cumbrae and Cloch Lights, but on this occasion with wind and tide in her favour, in 49 minutes...

...Messrs. Robert Napier and Sons, of Glasgow, to whose eminence as marine architects and engineers it is quite unnecessary to advert, are, as before stated, the builders of the Scotia's hull and engines.  The dimensions are:-Keel and fore-rake, 867 ft.; beam, moulded, 47 ft. 6 in.; depth for tonnage, 31 ft.; gross tonnage, 3871 tons; allowance for propelling power, 1509 tons; registered tonnage, 2362 tons.

The Scotia is propelled by two side lever engines of the nominal power of 1000 horses, with 100-inch cylinders, and a twelve-feet stroke of piston.  She has accommodation for 573 first-class passengers, and can be altered or fitted up at a day's notice to accommodate with ease 1500 troops...

...The paddles measure 40ft. 8in. in diameter over the rings.  She has four large tubular boilers, and two funnels; and we need only speak of her machinery in general as being first-class...

[Illustrated London News, 22 March 1862]

The complete text is available at The Ships List website

1862 April

The New Cunard Steamer China

The China, which is the first screw-steamer built by the Cunard Company expressly for the postal service between this country [England] and America, is an exceedingly handsome and large vessel... The China, like the Scotia and the Persia, is an iron-built ship, very strongly framed, and amply secured by strong water-tight bulkheads... She is propelled by two engines on the oscillating principle, with an aggregate of 560-horse power.  She was built and engined by Messrs. Robert Napier and Sons, of Glasgow, in a manner worthy of their high reputation as marine architects, builders, and engineers... The China started from Liverpool with the New York mails on the 15th ult.,
[Illustrated London News, 12 April 1862]

The complete text is available at The Ships List website

Why did the paddle-wheel
propulsion system for ships
last such a long time?

On comparing the screw steamer of the late 1870s with the best examples of steamers propelled by paddlewheels, the superiority of the former is so marked that it may cause some surprise that the transition from side-wheel steamships to screw-propelled should have progressed no more rapidly.

The reason of this slow progress, however, was probably that the introduction of the rapidly-revolving screw, in place of the slowly rotating paddle wheel, necessitated a complete revolution in the design of their steam engines; and the unavoidable change from the heavy, long-stroke, low-speed engines previously in use, to the light engines, with small cylinders and high piston speed, called for by the new system of propulsion, was one that necessarily occurred slowly, and was accompanied by its share of those engineering blunders and accidents that invariably take place during such periods of transition.

Engineers had first to learn to design such engines as should be reliable under the then novel conditions of screw propulsion, and their experience could only be gained through the occurrence of many mishaps and costly failures.

The best proportions of engines and screws, for a given ship, were determined only by long experience... It also became necessary to train up a body of engine-drivers who should be capable of managing these new engines, for they required the exercise of a then unprecedented amount of care and skill.

Finally, with the accomplishment of these two requisites to success must simultaneously occur the enlightenment of the public, professional as well as non-professional, in regard to their advantages.

Thus it happens that it is only after a considerable time that the screw attained its proper place as an instrument of propulsion, and finally drove the paddle-wheel quite out of use, except in shoal water.

Advances in marine steam technology
in the 1850s to 1870s

Now [1878] our large screw steamers are of higher speed than any paddle steamers on the ocean, and develop their power at far less cost.  This increased economy is due not only to the use of a more efficient propelling instrument, and to changes already described, but also, in a great degree, to the economy which has followed as a consequence of other changes in the steam engine driving it.

The earliest days of screw propulsion witnessed the use of steam of from 5 to l5 pounds per square inch pressure, in a geared engine using jet condensation, and consuming fuel at a rate of perhaps 7 to 10, or even more, pounds of coal per horsepower per hour.

A little later came direct-acting engines with jet condensation and steam at 20 pounds per square inch pressure, with a fuel consumption of about 5 or 6 pounds per horsepower per hour.

The steam pressure rose a little higher with the use of greater expansion, and the economy of fuel was further improved.  The introduction of the surface condenser, which began to be generally adopted some ten years ago, brought down the fuel consumption to about 3 to 4 pounds in the better class of engines.

At about the same time, this change to surface condensation helping greatly to overcome those troubles arising from boiler incrustation which had prevented the rise of steam pressure above about 25 pounds per square inch, and as, at the same time, it was learned by engineers that the deposit of limescale in the marine boiler was determined by temperature rather than by the degree of concentration, and that all the lime entering the boiler was deposited at the pressure just mentioned, a sudden advance took place.

Careful design, good workmanship, and skillful management, made the surface condenser an efficient apparatus; and, the dangers of incrustation being thus lessened, the movement toward higher pressures recommenced, and progressed so rapidly that now 75 pounds per square inch is very usual, and more than 125 pounds has since been attained...

Excerpted from A History of the Growth of the Steam Engine by Robert H. Thurston, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1878
Chapter 5, The Modern (1878) Steam Engine Applied to Ship Propulsion

1862 April

The New Cunarders

The most successful navigation company in the world is the Cunard, and it has been so simply and solely because it has kept pace with the spirit of the age, and although accused of a too obstinate adherence to model, it has never allowed itself to be surpassed in the great requisites of ocean voyaging, viz: speed and safety.  It has recently been adding new wonders to its line, one of which, the China, a propeller, made the voyage from Queenstown, Ireland, to New York in nine days four hours, running time.  She is thus spoken of by a New York paper :

The China is really a magnificant vessel.  She has been built and engined by Robert Napier & Sons, of Glasgow, and her launch, trial trip and ocean performance prove that she has been constructed in a manner worthy of the reputation of that firm.  The dimensions of the China are : Length, 326 feet ; breadth, 40 feet 6 inches ; depth, 27 feet 6 inches ; gross tonnage, 2529 [-?-] ; allowance for propelling power, 989 [-?-] ; register tonnage 1539 [-?-].  The China has two beautifully formed engines, of the collective power of 550 horses, of the oscillating geared description.

The British Board of Trade has certified, according to the act of parliament, that the China can accomodate 1030 passengers, arranged in the following divisions, namely : First class, aft, 208 passengers ; second class, forward, 771 passengers.  The China is suited for either passenger or goods traffic.  She is fitted, like the ordinary mail steamers of the Cunard line, with a dining saloon on deck – the after part for the first cabin, the rest for the fore cabin passengers.  The panels and ceilings of the saloon are handsomely painted, but without any pretension to profuse decoration, and are replete with every requisite for elegance and comfort.

Everything about the vessel speaks of strength and security, and yet on her trial trip, recently made in Scotland, she showed a greater rate of speed, with the relative amount of power to tonnage, than had been obtained from any vessel constructed on the Clyde... On her trial trip the pressure of steam was eighteen pounds. She went round to the Mersey with only twelve pounds pressure...

The same company have also ready for their line, the Scotia, which the London Times thus noticed on her arrival at Liverpool from the Clyde :

The new steamship Scotia, built under special survey expressly for the British and North America Royal mail service, arrived in Liverpool from the Clyde, where she was built, on Thursday afternoon, having made the run from the Cloch lighthouse on the Clyde to the Bell buoy at the mouth of the Mersey, in twelve hours and four minutes. The machinery worked admirably...

Source: Google News Archive
The Daily True Delta (newspaper) New Orleans, Wednesday 30 April 1862.

Note: In April 1862 Louisiana was one of the Confederate States engaged in the bitter civil war between the North and South. This newspaper was written, edited, typeset, proofed and printed in New Orleans at the very time that Commodore Farragut was placing the warships in his fleet in position to bombard the city of New Orleans beginning at "noon tomorrow"... "Our position as a city is one of complete helplessness. The general charged with its defence abandoned it as untenable... It was always understood among men who knew anything, that our city must fall when the fleet of the Federals forced the river or silenced our forts... The forts were passed, our gunboats, or such of them as were fit for service, made a good fight of it, and stood up to their work while they could float..." (This commentary appeared in the same issue on the same page with the item about The New Cunarders.)


Valuable Materials Came to Bermuda
from Nova Scotia During the American Civil War

Much has been written about Bermuda's role during the American Civil War.  It depended greatly on Canadian shipping support and supplies, principally from Nova Scotia.  Bluenose windjammers sailed from Halifax and were never subjected to blockade by the Union Navy en route to Bermuda or the Bahamas.  One reason was that other Nova Scotians were on the Northern side — and very helpful in supplying goods for the Northerners and volunteers for Northern armies, in complete contrast to the strongly pro-South attitudes in Bermuda.  Most of what Nova Scotia ships brought to Bermuda and the Bahamas was supercargo, trans-shipped in Bermuda by the blockade runners for the run to Southern ports.

1862 July 28

Serious Train Wreck on the Albion Rail Road

In a head-on collision between two trains on the Albion Rail Road near New Glasgow, three well-known young women were killed — one of them was Miss Jane Smith, of Truro, a niece of stagecoach tycoon Hiram Hyde, MPP.

H.B. Jefferson wrote: This wreck "caused a tremendous hubbub in the course of which, for the first time since 1827 GMA (General Mining Association) officials were publicly criticized and censured severely by a jury of the local proletariat.

The inquest brought out many titillating details of railroading in those good old days.  The free and easy... manner in which the Albion was run would make the blood of a modern Transport Commissioner run cold... There were no brakes at all on the engines, and only primitive hand lever stage coach type sledge brakes on tenders and some coal cars... There were no cabs or cabooses, and train and engine men worked out in the open rain or shine...

There was no time table, no train dispatcher and no written train orders.  Conductors and engineers were expected to make their own "meets" (two trains going in opposite directions on the single-track line could pass each other only where there was a siding, and there were only two sidings along the line)... Even on the day of the wreck, when both train crews except one man were green at the work, the superintendent said: "You conductors arrange your own meets"...

There were three so-called passenger trains at 8:30am, 12:00 noon, and 3:30pm, in which a small stagecoach type car was pushed ahead of the locomotive of a regular coal train, connecting with the company steamer Pluto which ran a ferry service at those hours between Dunbar's and Pictou.  Such was the organization that was transporting an average of 200 passengers a week... The passenger coach normally held six people in comfort, but on the day of the wreck there were fifteen crammed into it — eight men and seven women..."


Church Maps

In 1864, Ambrose F. Church was commissioned by the Nova Scotia legislature to make a series of maps, one for each of Nova Scotia's eighteen counties, showing the locations of towns and villages, basic topographic features and names of residents.  Mr. Church completed this series in 1888.  Are they available?  Yes.  In 1998, the cost for reproductions is $15.00 per county.  Additional fees include sales taxes of 15% if ordered from within Nova Scotia or 7% from outside the province plus $3.50 for shipping each map.  Where to order (1998):

In person:
Natural Resources NS
1701 Hollis Street (Founders Square)
Library, Suite 301
Halifax NS

By Mail:
Natural Resources NS
PO Box 698
Halifax NS B3J 2T9

By Phone:
They "gladly accept VISA orders"

[Source: Message posted by Chris Young on the LUNEN-LINKS-L@rootsweb.com discussion list 23 Aug 1998]

1864 March

Cunard versus Collins

The average of the passages of the Cunard vessels from Liverpool to Boston, in 1859, was thirteen days, twenty hours; from Boston to Liverpool, ten days and twenty-three hours.  The average of the same line from Liverpool to New-York was thirteen days, three hours; from New-York to Liverpool, ten days, sixteen hours.  Reducing Boston to New-York distance, the average of the passage from Liverpool was thirteen days, twenty-three hours; from New-York, eleven days, five hours; or a mean of twelve days and fourteen hours, outward and inward.

The Baltic, of the Collins line, averaged from Liverpool to New-York, in 1856. twelve days, twelve hours; from New-York to Liverpool, eleven days, eight hours.  The Atlantic, in 1857, made her average homeward passages in eleven days and thirteen hours; and her ontward in ten days and twelve hours.  The Adriatic, in 1860, averaged inward, from Southampton, ten days and two hours; and outward, nine days and nineteen hours.

Source: The New York Times, 20 March 1864, news report titled “Ocean Steam Navigation – Subsidies to American Steamship Lines – The Collins Steamers – The Cunard Steamers – The French System – The Commerce of Great Britain – Decay of our Commerce” based on a report by the New-York Chamber of Commerce.

1864 April 15

Atlantic Telegraph Cable
Renewal of the Work

Mr. Cryus W. Field:
Gentlemen, we are honoured on this occasion by the presence of one to whom both England and America are greatly indebted for his continued, earnest, and sincere exertions during the last three years to maintain peace and good understanding between these two great kindred countries. That gentleman descends from a line of statesmen. His grandfather was considered worthy to be the successor to the Presidential chair of George Washington; his father was the sixth President of the United States; and he himself is the honoured representative of my country in Great Britain. Without another word, I give you the health of His Excellency Charles Francis Adams, the American Minister...

His Excellency the American Minister:
...Although entirely friendly to his scheme, I must confess I am not very anxious it should be carried out immediately.  It is a great object no doubt to bring the two countries together, but I cannot help arguing with myself that if, with the two countries three thousand miles apart, I get so many despatches per week that I can with difficulty attend to them all satisfactorily, what would be my fate if the Cable succeeds, and I had to receive and answer them every day?  Therefore, I shall wish success to the Submarine Telegraph between Europe and America, but that it may happen with just about as little delay as may bring it to the moment when I hope to be back in my native country.

Source:— Report of the Proceedings at an Inauguration Banquet, given by Mr. Cyrus W. Field, of New York, at the Palace Hotel, Buckingham Gate, London, England, on Friday, the 15th April, 1864, in commemoration of the renewal by the Atlantic Telegraph Company (after a lapse of six years) of their efforts to unite Ireland & Newfoundland, by means of a submarine electric telegraph cable. Printed for private circulation only. London, England, 1864

1864 May 2

Merchants Bank of Halifax

On this day, the Merchants Bank of Halifax (later the Royal Bank of Canada) opened for business in Halifax.
[Halifax Daily News, 2 May 2000]

1864 August

Confederate Warship Tallahassee on Rampage

United States Navy blockades Halifax Harbour

The Civil War was almost over when in the summer months of 1864 the Confederate warship Tallahassee, a twin-screw, 700-ton, 200-foot armed cruiser wreaked havoc on Maine shipping.

Using the former blockade-runner as an armed cruiser, the Confederates planned to carry the war directly to the Union's coast.  Tallahassee was a first-class, extremely fast and well-built vessel.  Her two engines could be worked either together or separately.  Colonel John Taylor Wood was the Captain.

Tallahassee in one month's time accounted for the destruction of three ships, three barks, one brig, and twenty schooners.  On August 15th 1864 the Tallahassee seized the fishing vessel Archer out of Southport under the command of Captain Decker of Indian Town.  Captain Decker was placed under restraint.

A short while later on the same day, the schooner Restless of Boothbay, skippered by Captain Levi Blake just returning from the Grand Banks with a cargo of 450 quintals of cod, was also seized, her crew paroled, the vessel plundered and sunk.  Other neighboring fishing vessels were taken by force and destroyed.  In many cases parole saved civilian seamen from being sent to the horrible prisons of the south, and, of course the Confederacy did not have to transport, feed or clothe their prisoners in such situations.  Both sides benefited from the parole system.  It served well when crew members were civilians.

Word spread fast along the coast of Maine, including Wiscasset, that the Confederate armed cruiser was on a rampage attack just off Boothbay Harbor and a short distance from the mouth of the Sheepscot River.

Tallahassee, after raiding shipping off the coastal area, headed to Portland and captured the ship John Brooks and several other small ships.  She then steamed her way to the neutral port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Captain John Taylor Wood was able to secure 120 tons of needed coal and later make a daring night escape from a Union blockade of the harbor.  Captain Wood later became a hero of Nova Scotia for his brilliant war time seamanship.

Colonel Erastus Foote, then collector for the port of Wiscasset, received a warning that the cruiser's captain was planning to return to the Maine coast and invade the Wiscasset harbor and sack the town.  A citizen's meeting was immediately called.  The Honorable Wilmot Wood presided.  An enrollment of Volunteer Home Guard Artillery Company men was raised and the town cannon and ammunition plus supplies were transported to Fort Edgecomb.

The home guard unit was placed under the command of Foote, a well known and respected patriotic citizen who had served his town well on numerous prior occasions.  The guns at Fort Edgecomb were duly fixed at the parapet of the old fort and ranged for effective service.  Daily guards were set and relief for night watch made for about a month until it was known that Tallahassee had been chased away from the Maine coast.

Tallahassee lived out the rest of the Civil War, which had only a few months to run before the surrender of the Confederate army.  She captured and destroyed six more ships off the Capes of Delaware.  Later she was seized at Liverpool, England and returned to American authorities.

Captain Wood retired in Nova Scotia and established a very successful ship merchant trade business.

[The Wiscasset Newspaper, Wiscasset, Maine, 20 April 2000]

The Wiscasset Newspaper website

Considered to be Impossible

In August 1864, after a successful career attacking Union shipping (as many as 35 vessels sunk or captured as far north as Maine), Tallahassee was damaged with a broken mainmast and put in to Halifax for repairs.  Despite official British neutrality, many loyalist Maritimers were sympathetic to the Confederate cause, and when Union cruisers closed in on Tallahassee, a local pilot named Jock Flemming led the ship out through supposedly impassable channels late at night to make an escape.  Tallahassee returned to North Carolina, successfully running the Union naval blockade, and the daring escape made the ship the subject of local legends around Eastern Passage, Halifax County, Nova Scotia.  The aura of mystery surrounding the escape is heightened by the fact that it was locally considered an impossible feat to manoeuvre a 500 tonne steam ship through this narrow channel in the dead of night.

Forty-Eight Hours

In 1864, during the American Civil War, McNabs and Lawlor islands in Halifax Harbour played a small but important role in an incident involving several ships from the Confederate and Union navies.  In the summer of 1864 the confederate raider Tallahassee sailed from Wilmington, South Carolina, and over the next several months attacked many ships destined for northern ports.

On August 17th Tallahassee entered Halifax Harbour to stock up on coal for the return trip to the Confederate port of Wilmington, Delaware.  Under British neutrality laws, the Tallahassee had forty-eight hours to replenish her supplies and repair any damage before leaving harbour.  With two Union ships thought to be guarding the main harbour channel, it seemed inevitable that Tallahassee would be captured or destroyed soon after leaving the sanctuary of Halifax Harbour.

Neither the captain of Tallahassee, John T. Wood, or his crew, though, were willing to admit defeat so easily.  In the dead of night Tallahassee prepared to escape from the harbour by passing through the shallow and dangerous Eastern Passage.  Hidden from the awaiting Union vessels by McNabs and Lawlor Islands, Tallahassee managed to slip out of Halifax Harbour unnoticed.  In fact, Tallahassee need not have worried about slipping out unnoticed as logs show the nearest Union ship was eight hours behind Tallahassee arriving in Halifax.

Perhaps the most famous blockade runner of the war, Tallahassee destroyed 35 ships during the war.  Her captain, a grandson of Zachary Taylor, 12th president of the United States, settled in Halifax after the war and became a member of the city's business establishment.  Interestingly, Captain Wood's son, Charles, was one of the first Canadians killed in South Africa during the Boer War.  The community of Chaswood, Halifax County, is named in his honour.

History of McNab's Island

Confederate cruiser Tallahassee

In 1864, during the American Civil War, the Confederate cruiser Tallahassee made its daring and successful dash for freedom through the Eastern Passage, to the east of McNab's Island in Halifax Harbour.  Tallahassee had slipped out of Wilmington, North Carolina, harried shipping into New York Harbor and sank fifty northern merchant vessels along the coast.  She was chased into Halifax Harbour by the Union cruisers Huron and Nansemond. Under British neutrality laws, Tallahassee had but 48 hours to take on coal and repair any damage before departing.

The lighted Union warships guarded the mouth of Halifax Harbour, waiting for Tallahassee to attempt an escape.  Tallahassee's captain, John Taylor Wood, risked his darkened ship through the narrow, winding and shallow Eastern Passage under the guidance of a local pilot, Jock Fleming.  British Admiral Sir James Hope must have been relieved to see his friend Wood escape destruction by the two Union ships sitting easily within reach of his fleet and fortress guns.

After the Civil War's end in 1865, a number of Confederate officers, the "un-Reconstructed Rebels," settled in Halifax.  Among them were John Taylor Wood and Commodore Josiah "Blood Is Thicker Than Water" Tatnall.  John Taylor Wood, by the way, was the grandson of 12th U.S. President, Zachary Taylor, and a nephew of Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy.  Wood's son Charles graduated from Canada's Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, and was the first Canadian officer to fall in South Africa during the Boer War.  Charles' own son, S.T. Wood, became one of the most notable commissioners of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.


Captain John Taylor Wood

Confederate Lt. John T. Wood was already considered a distinguished navy man early in the Civil War, but with his midnight raids on Union ships he truly won distinction and earned a reputation as a swashbuckling coastal raider.  His first strike, on the Union schooner Frances Elmore on October 7, 1862, marked the beginning of Wood's escapades

Most often, Wood used cutting-out expeditions, in which cutters were hauled overland by wagons and then launched in streams in the middle of the night.  Fifteen to twenty men in each cutter would row up to an enemy boat, overpower her crew "with blazing revolvers and slashing cutlasses," then sail away in the vessel.  Eventually even the mention of Wood's name was enough to strike terror into the hearts of Union boat commanders.

In July 1863, with Union gunboats in the Chesapeake Bay prohibiting blockade running, Wood ambitiously decided to capture two gunboats with his four cutters.  On August 22nd, under a stormy night sky, Wood led his eighty men down the Rappahannock to the bay, where their prey lay waiting.

Wearing white armbands to help them distinguish friend from foe, Wood's men rowed to within fifty yards of the first ship before being sighted.  At that point, one of Wood's men recalled, "Every man put his whole strength to the oars.  Our boat nearly sprang out of the water at every stroke, and shot over the waves with the velocity of an arrow.  In a few seconds the dark hull rose before us... and, as quick as thought, twenty of us were climbing over the nettings upon her decks."  In less than ten minutes, Wood and his men had secured the first ship; soon thereafter, they had the second gunboat.  Wood's prowl continued, and in two days he netted three more vessels.

In February 1864, during a raid on New Bern, North Carolina, Wood captured the gunboat Underwriter.  In August of that year, Wood was given command of the CSS Tallahassee, on which he terrorized the North, from New York to Maine, capturing or destroying 31 Union vessels before his raiding career was through.

In his Chesapeake bay raids, Wood shocked the North, embarrassed the Union flotilla, and seized valuable equipment for the ailing Confederate navy — all without losing a single Rebel.


John Taylor Wood tombstone Halifax

In 1810, Zachary Taylor married Margaret Mackall Smith, the daughter of a Maryland planter.  The Taylors had five daughters and a son.  In 1835, his eldest daughter Sarah married Jefferson Davis, later president of the Confederacy.

John Taylor Wood's uncle, Richard Taylor (1826-1879), only son of President Zachary Taylor (1784-1850), served as a general in the Confederate Army.

Reference (book): Tallahassee Skipper: The Biography of John Taylor Wood, Merrimac Gunner, Soldier At Sea, Guardian of the Confederate Treasury, Adopted Nova Scotian by Arthur Thurston, 434 pages, published in 1981 by Lescarbot Press, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia

Wood Family Closely Linked to RCMP

Herschel Taylor Wood, great-grandson of Captain John Taylor Wood, died on 17 July 1950 as a result of severe injuries received the previous day in an automobile accident in northern Montana.  Herschel Taylor Wood had a rich heritage with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  His brother John Taylor Wood, was a member of the Force.  They were the third generation of the Wood family to serve with the Mounties.  Their father was RCMP and their grandfather, Zachary Taylor Wood, served in the NWMP and the RNWMP from 1885 to 1915 and rose to the rank of Acting Commissioner of the RCMP.  This same Zachary Taylor Wood, was the great-grandson of Zachary Taylor, the twelfth President of the United States, as well as a grand-nephew of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy.

At the time of Herschel Taylor Wood's death, his father, Stuart Taylor Wood, was serving Commissioner of the RCMP.  Herschel's brother, John, retired from the Force in 1988 with rank of Superintendent.

RCMP Veteran's Association — Edmonton Division
K Division Honour Roll website

NWMP — North-West Mounted Police (forerunner of the RCMP)
RNWMP — Royal North-West Mounted Police
RCMP — Royal Canadian Mounted Police

The Mount Wood Expedition


Cpl. Pat Egan was one of the two leaders of the RCMP's Mount Wood Expedition in April 1998.  When he reached the summit of that Yukon mountain on Wednesday, April 29th, the first thing he noticed was a euphoric Dave Olson.  "When I got up, he was sitting there with a grin from ear to ear.  He looked like he had just won the lottery."

Egan was specially happy for his fellow Mountie, because Olson had been with him on the Mount Steele climb back in 1995.  The eight-member team had been too large for the final race to Steele's summit, so the entire group could not join in on the final push.  Olson had missed out.

Things were different on Wood.  For one thing the weather was better.  All six members of the expedition reached the summit.  Olson, Blake Leminski and Chris Pratte arrived there at 3:10pm.  Egan, Paul Randall and Andrew Lawrence joined them five minutes later.  Olson says he will long-remember the moment when they all reconnoitered on the summit.  "All you could see was teeth," he said.  Each of the exhausted climbers was wearing a huge smile.

They didn't have long to savor their euphoria, though.  As Leminski noted, he was immediately struck by the "realization that we shouldn't spend too much time up there, and should get back down before the weather changed."

And it was changing.  Fast.  Off to the South, in the direction of Mount Logan, clouds were building up rapidly, and no one wanted to chance being caught in a storm on top of Canada's sixth tallest mountain.  "Had we left an hour later, we would have been caught in a big lens cloud," says Egan.

"By the time we got back to camp, both Mount Steele and Mount Wood were totally enveloped in these huge lens clouds.  "Lens clouds form when high winds arc over the crests of peaks.  They can be a precursor of moisture."

No one wanted to take the descent for granted either.  It seems like going down should be easier than going up.  However, "statistically more deaths occur on descent," says Egan.  "People become sloppy.  "Anyone will tell you, it's easy for a cat to get up a tree, but very difficult to get down.  And it's the same for climbers."

Back at High Camp, the nearest camp to the summit, Egan made a very special radio-phone call to Bruce Campbell of White Rock, B.C.

Campbell is the grandson of Zachary Taylor Wood, the RCMP assistant commissioner who played such a large role in taming the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Campbell was "absolutely thrilled," says Egan, adding he will long remember "the joy in his voice on hearing from these people who were climbing the mountain in his grandfather's honor."

Paul Randall, the Alaska State Trooper on the team, stressed that memorial aspect of the climb.

The re-dedication of the peak to Zachary Taylor Wood for the 125th anniversary of the RCMP was an especially moving aspect of the ascent for Randall and his Canadian pals.

"People in those days were tougher than people today," the Alaskan said about Wood and Wood's contemporaries,

"Guys like Steele and Wood and Walsh, those guys were tough as nails and it is the least thing we can do, climb to honor their commitment to law enforcement in the north country."

It is obvious from talking to the climbers that little of the mountain-peak euphoria has dissipated.  Big smiles repeatedly expose teeth which contrast with deeply tanned faces.  Egan says he was "gobbing on" a total sun block called Everest Cream throughout the climb, but the intense solar radiation beating down on the glacier created "a big reflector oven." The climbers have wind-burn and frost-bite patches as well.

Talk to any of the climbers and two things are inevitably mentioned.

The first is the good fortune they enjoyed with the weather throughout their twelve days on the 4,842-metre-high mountain.  They encountered one brief blizzard.  Even that was serendipitous.  When it hit, they had just hauled their gear up to Camp Three and were exhausted.  According to Egan, the blizzard's timing was perfect because the climbers needed a two-day rest.  They burrowed in and waited out the storm.

Mount Wood expedition
RCMP Const.  Blake Leminsky of Ottawa takes
one last look up as he and the other members
of the Mount Wood expedition return to their
base camp.  It took them twelve days to climb
and descend the 4,842-metre-high summit
in the St. Elias Range.

As well as getting to the summit ahead of the lens cloud, the team got back to Base Camp just in time to be flown out ahead of bad weather.  "Had we taken three days instead of two to reach Base Camp, we probably would have had to sit there for three or four days, so the timing was great," says Egan.  The other aspect of the climb all the members will long recall is the solidarity, the friendship, the team spirit of their group.  Leminsky calls theirs "the smoothest, most cohesive team."

Randall says he realized the people who shared the experience with him were the most important aspect of the climb, more important than the peak itself.  The other co-leader of the expedition, Const. Chris Pratte, sums it all up — the accomplishment and the ordeal — with one image he will carry in his mind for a very long time: "six team-members hugging on the summit."

Egan and Pratte hope to make a two-man ascent of Mount Constantine, a somewhat more accessible peak, later in the summer.  And they are already working on plans for an expedition up Mount Walsh in the year 2,000.  Walsh is the next-highest peak of the six named after Mounties in the St. Elias Range.  "It will be quite a challenge," says Egan, "and the expedition will be a major event."

Already, the mountaineers are contacting sponsors.  Hyperborean Productions, which created the attractive active website for the Mount Wood expedition, has enthusiastically agreed to maintain the site through all future climbs.  Photos, a map and more details about this year's climb, as well as any new details about forthcoming ascents, can be found at http://www.hyperborean-web.com/rcmpclimb

Everyone will have their work cut out for them — climbers and website designers — as Egan hopes to climb all six peaks in the Kluane region named after members of the RCMP.

Yukon News, 6 May 1998

RCMP 125th Anniversary Mt. Wood Expedition website

Zachary Taylor Wood

Zachary Taylor Wood, great-grandson of U.S. President, General Zachary Taylor, was born at Annapolis Naval Academy, Maryland.  His life reflected his military heritage.  After graduation from the Royal Military College at Kingston, Ontario, he served with the 90th Regiment of Infantry during the Riel Rebellion.  In 1885, he was appointed an inspector with the North-West Mounted Police and held various commands throughout the west.

In September 1897, Wood left Calgary, leading ten members, 84 dogs, nine dog handlers and stores-all en route to the Yukon via Skagway.  Wood had expected to return after the safe delivery of his party, but the Yukon's commissioner, Major Walsh, decided he was urgently needed in the north.  The Yukon was to be Wood's home for the next fifteen years.  For most of the frantic winter of 1897-98, he ran an office out of Skagway.  There he acted as the Force Paymaster, arranged to forward men and supplies into the Yukon, and provided information to the steady stream of travellers.  Of course, the force had no legal authority in Skagway during its lawless heyday, and members wore plainclothes while stationed in the Alaskan town.  On one occasion, Wood's Skagway office was caught in the midst of a gunfight.  The staff hit the floor as bullets whizzed through the walls.

According to another oft-recounted tale, Wood and a small force of men successfully eluded Soapy Smith and his outlaw forces while transporting $150,000 in Canadian customs dues and license fees through Skagway en route to Victoria.

In the summer of 1898, Wood was appointed Superintendent of H Division, in charge of all detachments in the southern Yukon.  Wood became commanding officer for the entire Yukon in 1900, a post he held for two years.  From 1902, he held the rank of assistant commissioner.

His son, Stuart Taylor Wood, grew up in the Yukon and later served as the RCMP Commissioner from 1938 to 1951.

Law of the Yukon (book) by Helene Dobrowolsky, Lost Moose Publishing, 1995

1865 April 28

Death of Sir Samuel Cunard

Sir Samuel Cunard died in England at age 78.  His estate was valued at £350,000 which was a fairly substantial sum in those days.  His last visit to Nova Scotia was in 1864; he returned to England on Scotia, the last paddle-wheel steamer in his fleet.


Western Union Takes Over

The Western Union Telegraph Company took over the leases held in Nova Scotia by the American Telegraph Company, which included all electric telegraph lines and equipment in the province.


The C.G. Swann

Locomotive C.G. Swann, 1866 In 1866, the men of the General Mining Association's foundry and shops at Sydney Mines were given a special assignment.  They were asked to build a locomotive.  Chief Engineer John Elliot and his crew of pattern makers, moulders, blacksmiths, machinists and fitters replicated a machine already in service with the company.  They named it the C.G. Swann after an official of the Association.  A unique achievement, it is thought to be the only steam locomotive ever built on the island.  After a trial run, it was floated on a barge across Sydney Harbour to South Bar and used on the Victoria Mines Railroad for many years.
— Fred Calder, 7 July 1974
Source: Sydney & Louisburg Railway museum website

1866 June 11

Official Opening of Halifax City Railroad

On this day the Halifax City Railroad Company opened its line of horse-drawn street cars for regular traffic.  The north end of the line was on Barrington Street at Richmond Depot, the Intercolonial Railway station.  From Richmond, the track ran southward along Barrington and Hollis, and ended near Morris Street. 

In her book History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, published in October 1936, Marguerite Woodworth gives the date of official opening of the Halifax City Railroad as May 11, 1866, but this is an error.  Original documents included in Murille Schofield's collection, now (1997) in the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, definitively establish the correct date as June 11, 1866.

1866 July

Schooner Escape

When fire swept Canning's main street in July 1866, a small schooner was under construction on the stocks in the Bigelow shipyard.  The wooden ship was ready for launching except for her spars, rigging, and sails.  As the fire drew near, Ebenezer Bigelow saw the tide was high, and made a snap decision to launch immediately.  Quickly, a crowd of people clambered on the vessel's deck, seeking to escape the flames.  Later, the vessel would be named Escape. In 1874 Escape's luck ran out.  She was lost with all on board near Digby Gut, Nova Scotia.
[Source: Stanley Spicer, in The Canning Gazette, Issue #127, July 1998]

Canning is a village in Kings County, Nova Scotia,
about 9km north of Wolfville.

1866 July 2

The Annexation of Nova Scotia, etc.

On this day a bill was introduced in the United States Congress, calling for the admission or annexation of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Lower and Upper Canada.
[Halifax Daily News, 2 July 2001]

Bills and Resolutions, House of Representatives, 39th Congress, 1st Session, Read twice, referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and ordered to be printed.  Mr. Banks, on leave, introduced the following bill: A Bill For the admission of the States of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Canada East, and Canada West, and for the organization of the Territories of Selkirk, Saskatchewan, and Columbia.
U.S. Library of Congress
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

Nova Scotia
New Brunswick
Canada East
Canada West

On 1 July 1867, these four previously independent British colonies were joined together into a single country named Canada.  The close timing of these two events — Canadian Confederation coming into effect only 364 days after the introduction of this Bill into the U.S. Congress — is more than mere coincidence.  The fact that this Bill was being given serious consideration by the United States Government brought home forcefully to all Canadians that they meant business, that there was a real danger that British North America could be nibbled away by the powerful forces south of the border.  This brought a sense of urgency into the Confederation negotiations, and was an important factor in bringing them to a speedy completion.

For the purpose of representation in the U.S. Congress
Prince Edward Island shall be part of Nova Scotia

Newfoundland will be part of Canada East (Quebec)

July 2, 1866: HR 754, page one
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Bill HR 754, page 1
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

July 2, 1866: HR 754, page two
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Bill HR 754, page 2
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

July 2, 1866: HR 754, page three
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Bill HR 754, page 3
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

July 2, 1866: HR 754, page four
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Bill HR 754, page 4
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

July 2, 1866: HR 754, page five
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Bill HR 754, page 5
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

July 2, 1866: HR 754, page six
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Bill HR 754, page 6
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

July 2, 1866: HR 754, page seven
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Bill HR 754, page 7
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

July 2, 1866: HR 754, page eight
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Bill HR 754, page 8
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

July 2, 1866: Congressional Globe, page 3548
United States Congress, July 2nd, 1866
Source: Congressional Globe, page 3548
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

Annexation of British America

Mr. Banks, by unanimous consent, submitted a bill (H. R. 754) establishing conditions for the admission of the States of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Canada East and Canada West, and for the organization of territorial governments; which was read a first and second time, ordered to be printed, and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The Congressional Globe, page 3548, Monday, July 2, 1866
Historical Collections for the U.S. National Digital Library

Nathaniel Prentiss Banks (1816-1894), a Representative from Massachusetts

1866 July 27

Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Completed

On this day, after two failures (in 1858 and 1865) Cyrus W. Field finally succeeded in laying the last section of the first underwater telegraph cable 2,700 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean, between North America and Europe.
[National Post, 27 July 1999]

History of Telegraph and Telephone Companies in Nova Scotia

1866 July 27

Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Completed

The 27th of July 1866 will long be remembered by the inhabitants of Newfoundland as a red-letter day in its history, for on that morning the S.S. Great Eastern, with the living end of the Atlantic cable on board, accompanied by the steamships Medway and Albany, could be seen from the settlement of Heart's Content, two or three miles in the offing; the hopes and fears which had been entertained in reference to this undertaking were then within an ace of being successfully determined.

It is true that some years previously (1858) an attempt had been made to unite Ireland and Newfoundland by a submarine [underwater] cable, which had been landed in Bay Bull's Arm, at the head of Trinity Bay, but its life had been short and at best precarious; the instruments used in its manipulation were cumbrous, while the signals recorded were sluggish, and the working painfully slow.  About mid-day on the date above mentioned [27 July 1866] the shore end of the cable was successfully landed, and from that moment until the present [1895], if we except a few months between November 1870 and May 1871, the communication between Valentia in Ireland, and Heart's Content in Newfoundland, has never for an instant been interrupted.

To connect Heart's Content with the United States, Canada, and the continent of America, lines [electric circuits] had been erected between Newfoundland and Cape Breton — where the wires belonging to the Western Union Company of America had their terminus — the New York, Newfoundland, and London Telegraph Company had been incorporated.  This latter company owed its creation to the almost superhuman efforts of Mr. Cyrus Field, a prominent citizen of the United States, to whose energy and perseverence also the formation of the companies in the United Kingdom, primarily the Atlantic Telegraph Company, and subsequently the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, was at the same time mainly attributable.

The lines of the New York, Newfoundland, and London Telegraph Company consisted of an airline [overhead wire] suspended on poles along the southern shore of the island of Newfoundland terminating at Port-aux-Basques, at its south-western corner; from this point to Aspey Bay, in the island of Cape Breton, a distance of some seventy miles, a submarine cable had previously been submerged, although at the time of the completion of the ocean cable to Heart's Content this short cable was unfortunately interrupted, fast steamers being employed for the time in conveying batches of messages at frequent intervals.  Towards the autumn, however, this short section [across Cabot Strait] was repaired by A.M. Mackay, the General Superintendent in Newfoundland of the New York Company, thus completing telegraph communication between the two great continents, Europe and America...

The Atlantic Cable and Heart's Content
by F. Perry, Superintendent of the Anglo-American Cable Office at Liverpool
as quoted in History of Newfoundland,
by D.W. Prowse, published 1895 in London

For several months in the summer and early fall of 1866, the intercontinental
telecommunications system between Europe and North America was working
across the North Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland, but was not working
between Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland.

The underwater telegraph cable across Cabot Strait was inoperable.

To get messages across this telegraph gap, fast steamships were operated
by the telegraph company, across the Cabot Strait between Newfoundland
and Cape Breton, "conveying batches of messages at frequent intervals."

"Towards the autumn, however, this short section was repaired by
A.M. Mackay, the General Superintendent in Newfoundland" of the New York,
Newfoundland, and London Telegraph Company.
History of the New York, Newfoundland, & London Telegraph Company

1866 August 4

TransAtlantic Telegraph Rates

Printed Circular No. 6

The American Telegraph Company
Halifax, N.S., 4th Aug. 1866

To Managers Offices N.S. District: The following rules will be observed regarding all messages passing over the Atlantic Cable.

Tariff from all parts of Nova Scotia is fixed as follows:

20 words
or less
To Great Britain
and Ireland
$100 $5.00
To other parts
of Europe
$105 $5.25
To Africa, Asia,
and India
$125 $6.25

The first 20 words to include address of sender and receiver, but not to exceed 100 letters, and if the number of letters exceed 100, the excess will be divided by five and each 5 letters or fractional remainder be charged as an additional word.  The letters in all words after the first 20 will be counted and divided by five, each five or fractional remainder will be charged as a word.  Messages in cipher will be charged double the foregoing rates.  All figures intended for transmission must be written in full length, and will be charged as words.  Messages destined for places beyond the telegraphic system will be forwarded by mail.  All messages must be prepaid.

You will keep a totally distinct and separate record of all Atlantic Cable business, forward an accurate statement of receipts and checks, together with all money received on this account, to the Cashier and Auditor at Halifax, by mail at the end of each week.  This business is not to be put in the regular monthly accounts.

In preparing weekly accounts state in detail date, address, signature and number of words in each message.

Alex. E. Hoyt
Asst. Superintendent

[Above is quoted whole, from the original document.]


Four Dollar Bill
Merchants' Bank of Halifax

At the time of Confederation in 1867, the Canadian government allowed banks to continue issuing their own notes (paper money), except for $1 and $2 notes which were reserved for government issue only.  The Bank Act of 1934 began the process of restricting the powers of banks to $4 bill issued by the Merchants Bank of Halifax circulate their own money, and by 1944 Canadian banks were no longer allowed to issue their own currency. 

The ship engraved on this $4 bill appears on all the early bank notes of the Merchants' Bank of Halifax and forms the centrepiece of its corporate seal.  This ship is believed to be a representation of a Cunard ship — partly because William Cunard was one of the Bank's original directors.  The Merchants' Bank of Halifax was organized as a private partnership in 1864 and began lending money to finance business ventures.  It was incorporated in 1869; in 1901 the name was changed to Royal Bank of Canada.


1867 January 1

Construction Begins, Westward from Hantsport

On this day the official sod-turning, marking the beginning of construction of the Windsor & Annapolis Railway westward from Hantsport, was performed.  At this time there was no bridge across the Avon River at Windsor, that could carry a railway train.  This meant that, even when the railway began running trains westward from Hantsport, there would be a gap in the railway between Windsor and Hantsport.  Travellers would have proceed by stage coach across this gap.  "Everything about the W&AR was unconventional.  Construction started in defiance of the Provincial Engineer and the Nova Scotia statute four months before the company was even incorporated.  It had two 'first sod' turnings; one at Hantsport on January 1, 1867, and another at Annapolis Royal on July 20 of that same year to mollify Commissioner Avard Longley of the Nova Scotia Railway, whose wife performed the ceremony."
[The quote is from 99 Years of Dominion Atlantic, by J.B. King, in the December 1968 issue of The Maritime Express, a newsletter published by The Scotian Railroad Society.]

1867 March 29

British North America Act

The Public General Acts of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, 1867, c.3

An Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick together with the Act Authorising a Loan for the Halifax and Quebec Railway

An Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick...
This Act, commonly referred to as the British North America Act, 1867, created the Dominion of Canada.

Source:— Act for the Union of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick together with the Act Authorising a Loan for the Halifax and Quebec Railway — Printed at Halifax, 1867

1867 May 7

Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company

On this day the Act (chapter 36, 1867, 30 Victoria) to incorporate the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company was passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature.

1867 November 2

Construction Begins, Avon River Bridge

On this day, the first pile was driven, for the foundations of the first railway bridge over the Avon River at Windsor.


Nova Scotia Carriage Co. Ltd.

The Nova Scotia Carriage Company was established in Kentville in 1868, to manufacture horse-drawn carriages and sleighs.  The company did well until about 1908, when automobiles began to arrive in the province in some numbers.  In 1911, the company was reorganized by the McKay brothers as the Nova Scotia Carriage and Motor Car Company Limited.


Nova Scotia Railway

Nova Scotia Railway advertisement, 1868
Nova Scotia Railway advertisement, 1868
Source: McAlpine's Nova Scotia Directory for 1868-69

Avard Longley (1823-1884)
Railway Commissioner for Nova Scotia

1868 February 25

Westville Named

On this day, the name of Acadia Village was changed to Westville.
[Halifax Daily News, 25 February 2000]

1868 April 1

3¢ Postage

On this day, the Canadian government set a uniform postage rate of 3¢ for a first-class letter.
[National Post, 1 April 2000]

1868 July 31

First Locomotives Arrive for W&A Railway

The first two locomotives on the Windsor & Annapolis Railway were Joseph Howe and Sir Gaspard le Marchant, which were bought second hand from the Nova Scotia government for $7,000.  They were delivered to the W&AR by ship.  Joseph Howe was landed at Bridgetown on 31 July 1868, and Sir Gaspard le Marchant at Elderkin Creek, one mile east of Kentville, on 8 August 1868.  A little later another second hand locomotive, St. Lawrence, was brought to Bridgetown on the sailing vessel Prince of Wales. These three engines were put to work on the construction of the railway between Grand Pre and Annapolis.

1869 August 13

St. Peter's Canal
Official Opening

On this day, after sixteen years of construction work, the St. Peter's canal was officially opened.  The first operating season closed on 31 December 1869, with the canal having passed 150 large vessels, 111 open boats, 3 rafts, and 2 spars (floated through to their recipient vessels).  In 1876, authorities closed the canal, to enlarge it, and it reopened in October 1880.  It was closed for repairs from 15 December 1894 to 8 November 1895.  The canal is 2,400 feet in length, and connects the south-western end of Bras d'Or Lake with the Atlantic Ocean.  In 2010, it remains in operation — although its commercial traffic has pretty much disappeared it continues to pass significant pleasure boat traffic.
[Excerpted from the Halifax Sunday Herald, 7 June 1998]

1869 August 18

First Train Annapolis to Horton

The official opening ceremony for the Windsor & Annapolis Railway between Annapolis and Grand Pre was held this day.  The first passenger train left Annapolis about 6:00am, Conductor James Kaye, Driver Billie Boyd, Fireman John Phelan, Engine St. Lawrence. The train arrived at Kentville about 3:00pm, and a big banquet was held in what later (1923) was the machine shop.  Then proceeded to Horton Landing.  Thomas Legge drove the engine from Kentville to Horton Landing, with George Donsten, then traffic superintendent, acting as conductor.  For the next few months, passengers travelling between Annapolis and Halifax were carried between Horton Landing and Windsor by stage coach, while railway bridges were being built across the Gaspereaux and Avon Rivers.

The W&AR's "official opening took place at Grand Pre on August 18, 1869, and it began regular train service between that point and Annapolis Royal four months before the line was completed between Horton and Windsor.  Meanwhile, it transported passengers over this missing link in stage coaches it bought and operated until the Avon River railway bridge was ready for service."

[The quote is from 99 Years of Dominion Atlantic, by J.B. King, in the December 1968 issue of The Maritime Express, a newsletter published by The Scotian Railroad Society.]

"J.B. King" was the pseudonym of Mr. H.B. Jefferson (1893-1970), who began his career as a journalist for the Moncton Times & Transcript, and then moved to Halifax in 1917.  He was news editor of the Sydney Record during the Cape Breton labour wars of the 1920s.  After the Post-Record merger as the Cape Breton Post, he ran two weeklies in western Nova Scotia for three years, then worked in Halifax as editorial writer and columnist for the Halifax Daily Star.  In 1939, he was appointed the wartime Atlantic Regional Censor of Publications (press and radio).  In 1954 he was appointed editor of Hansard, the printed record of debates in the Nova Scotia Legislature.  Mr. Jefferson was a well-known writer on the history of railways in the Maritimes; he wrote a series of 191 articles on railway history that ran in the Chronicle-Herald from 1957 to 1961.
Source: Mostly from Mr. Jefferson's obituary
in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 21 May 1970

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