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

Chapter 19
1 January 1940   to   31 December 1949


Fewer Workplace Fatalities in 1939

Fatal accidents in Nova Scotia workplaces totalled 47 in 1939, compared to 65 in 1938.
[60 Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 12 April 2000]


TCA Carried 22,332 Passengers in 1939

Trans-Canada Air Lines carried 22,322 passengers during 1939, according to the company's recently-issued annual report for that year.  Mail carried totalled nearly half a million pounds slightly over 200,000 kilograms, and air express 49,899 pounds 22,580 kilograms.
[60 Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 2 February 2000]

Average 72 passengers each day

Assuming TCA flew six days a week, a total of
22,332 passengers in a year works out to an
average of 72 passengers each working day.

TCA set forth on its inaugural flight on 30 July 1937.
C.D. Howe boarded a Lockheed aircraft in Montreal at dawn,
and more than 17 hours later landed in Vancouver at dusk,
after touching down in five cities across the country.
In 1965, the company's name was changed
from Trans-Canada Air Lines to Air Canada.


CBC School Broadcasts

Radio station CBH began producing and transmitting the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's first school broadcasts in Canada.

1940 February

10,000 Cans of Apple Juice a Day

Berwick Fruit Products Limited recently installed new pasteurizing and filling equipment and is now turning out 10,000 cans of apple juice per day, from several hundred barrels of apples.  The Berwick plant is the only one in the Maritime Provinces making this product.
[60 Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 2 February 2000]

1940 February

Church Sheds Disappearing

Church sheds in Nova Scotia, mute evidence of the old horse and buggy days, are becoming relics of the past.  They were great places to chat.  The drivers would let the women folk and children out at the church door and put their steaming steeds in the shelter.  It was always rather entrancing for youngsters to see the horses taken out of the sheds after the service on a cold winter's day.  Some of them perhaps had had no exercise all week, and "they were up on the bit." There was always a chance that some horse would "act up" and provide a bit of exceitment.  Many drivers took quite a thrill, secretly of course, out of a prancing steed or team.  The men would see what fine fettle the horses were in.
[60 Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 23 February 2000]

1940 March

Application to Discontinue Passenger Service to Weston

For the second time within four years, the Dominion Atlantic Railway has made application for an order granting leave to discontinue regular passenger train service between Kentville and Weston on its North Mountain branch line railway in Kings County, Nova Scotia.  Fourteen miles in length, construction of the North Mountain branch was started in 1913, and the first train in regular service ran in 1916.  Stations along the line are Weston, Somerset, Grafton, Woodville, Lakeville and Billtown.  At Centreville, it joins the Cornwallis Valley Railway's track from Kentville to Kingsport.  The CVR is owned by the DAR.  At the present time, regular passenger service is maintained three days a week, with double runs from December 1st to May 1st.
[60 Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 8 March 2000]

Transport Board Reserves Decision

No official opposition was voiced by Kings County as a whole, or by the district most concerned, when the Dominion Atlantic Railway, at a brief session of the Board of Transport Commissioners, requested permission to withdraw regular passenger train service from the North Mountain branch of the railway.  The Board will announce its decision at a later date.
[60 Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 22 March 2000]

History of the Cornwallis Valley Railway and North Mountain Railway
History of the Cornwallis Valley Railway

1940 April

Three Children Rescued from Runaway Team

In true western-movie style, Fire Chief Whitney West made a spectacular rescue of three little girls from a runaway team on Commercial Street in Berwick.  The three were seated in a wagon behind a two-horse team owned by Merle Magee, Somerset, behind the store of D.B. Burgess, when the horses started around the building and on to Commercial Street.  With no one handling the reins, the horses broke into a run down the street.  The fire chief, observing the danger as the runaway passed his garage, boarded an automobile and, standing on the running board, the chase started.  As they neared Main Street, the car drew alongside the runaway and Mr. West leaped to the wagon, and just before it reached the corner he was able to bring the horses under control.  Undoubtedly, serious injury would have resulted if the team had turned the corner at the pace it was travelling.
[60 Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 5 April 2000]

1940 April

Voted in Every Election Since Confederation

John Cochrane of Pleasant Valley Road maintained an unbroken record when he cast his vote at Somerset in the federal election last week.  He has voted in every election since Confederation in 1867.  Mr. Cochrane, who was born at Ross Corner, will be 94 years old July 5th, and is probably the oldest voter in Western Kings constituency.  He entered the polling booth as spry as any of the younger generation and did not require glasses to mark his ballot.
[60 Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 5 April 2000]

1941 March 16

New Passenger Train Put Into Operation
Halifax to/from Montreal

In an effort to cope with wartime passenger traffic, on this day, The Scotian, Canadian National Railways' new Montreal - Halifax passenger train, began regular service.  Known named passenger trains operated by CN or its predecessors to/from Nova Scotia were:
     Date of
    first run          

    1 Mar 1898    The Maritime Express   Montreal - Halifax
    3 Jul 1904    Ocean Limited          Montreal - Halifax
   26 Jun 1927    The Acadian            Montreal - Halifax
   28 Jun 1929    Down Easter            New York - Halifax
   28 Jun 1929    Pine Tree Acadian      Boston - Halifax
    2 Mar 1930    The Gull               Boston - Maritime Provinces
   16 Mar 1941    The Scotian            Montreal - Halifax
   14 Jul 1956    The Bluenose           Edmonton - Halifax
    1 Jun 1967    The Cabot              Montreal - Sydney
Source: Canadian National in the East, Volume Three (book) by J. Norman Lowe, ISBN 0919487149, October 1985.  Published by the Calgary Group of the British Railway Modellers of North America, 5124 33rd Street NW, Calgary, Alberta T2L 1V4.

1941 March 29

The Great Frequency Change

Electromagnetic Spectrum
International Treaty Allocations

On this day, a new international agreement covering the allocation of radio frequencies in all of North America, came into effect.  Most radio broadcasting stations in the United States changed their carrier frequencies.  Under the treaty, all radio broadcasting stations in Canada were required to comply.

On March 29, 1941, radio stations all over North America changed frequency.

Not one or two at a time.  Most all of them.  On one day.  In fact, 802 of 893 AM stations in the USA changed overnight from one spot on the dial to another.  What was the reason for this? It was the NARBA (North American Radio Broadcast Agreement).  Negotiated among the US, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, this agreement was the result of four years of negotiations...

The Great Frequency Change of 1941 by Barry Mishkind

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this document:
The Great Frequency Change of 1941
by Barry Mishkind

Archived: 1998 December 3

Archived: 1999 November 17

Archived: 2000 December 16

Archived: 2001 November 24

Archived: 2002 June 13

1941 August 13

National Transport Controller Appointed

Appointment of W.J. Lynch of Quebec as transport controller, with "widespread powers over all forms of transportation throughout Canada," was announced this day in Ottawa by Munitions Minister C.D. Howe.  Under the Order In Council authorizing his appointment, Mr. Lynch has complete control over use and operation of transportation companies, with power to establish schedules, and fares to be charged by transport companies.  "The new transit controller has the authority to issue, reissue, or cancel permits or licenses, and to prohibit, restrict, limit, or extend the working of vehicles.  Empowered to stagger working hours to relieve transportation congestion, Mr. Lynch may order any employer to arrange or alter hours of employment of employees in order to assure that such proportions as the controller may fix will, as far as possible, arrive at, or depart from, their place of employment at such times as may be directed."
[Toronto Globe and Mail, 14 August 1941]

1941 August 21

Five Small Electric Power Companies Sold

On this day, the Public Utilities Board gave official approval for the sale of five small electric power companies in Kings County, to the Avon River Power Company of Windsor, then a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nova Scotia Light & Power Company of Halifax.  The companies, and the sale price of each, were: An individual ruling was given for each company; all five were dated 21 August 1941.  In each case, approval was given for the sale of "all of its property and assets of whatsoever nature and wheresoever situate, including the whole of its undertaking".  None of these companies generated electric power; all five bought their electricity wholesale from the electric utility system operated by the Canning Water Commissioners.

Source: Public Utilities Board Annual Report, 1941, pages 82-88

Canning Electric Utility Sold
28 August 1941

On 28 August 1941, the electric power system, owned and operated by the Canning Water Commission, was sold to the Avon River Power Company.  The Canning system was the wholesale supplier of electric power to the five companies sold one week earlier, Habitant, Hillaton, Kingsport, Pereaux, and Woodside.  The Canning electric system did not generate electric power, it got its electricity wholesale from the Avon River Power Company at a point north of Port Williams.

1941 December 12

No More Tires for Automobiles

Beginning on this day, production of tires for passenger automobiles was forbidden in Canada.  This decision was put into effect just five days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th.  The Japanese armed forces were advancing quickly toward Burma and other rubber-producing regions in southeast Asia, and the outlook for a continuing supply of rubber to North America was not optimistic.  No tires were made for use on civilian passenger automobiles for the next thirteen months, until January 1943, when limited quantities of reclaim rubber were released.
[Toronto Globe and Mail, 16 August 1945]
History of Automobiles in Nova Scotia

1942 March

Air Raid Blackout Drill at Wolfville
11 March 1942

Wolfville's first trial blackout, held in the evening of March 11th, 1942, between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m., was reported 100 percent effective.  Fire siren alarms at the Wolfville fire station on Main Street and at Acadia University Hall were sounded.  The community was divided into eleven zones, under the direction of ARP Wardens Karl Nowlan, J.H. Baltzer, C.W. Small, Clarence Brown, R.C. Vanwart, D.R. Cochrane, Harold Bowlby, W.D. Withrow, O.H. Foshay, E. Wickwire, and James Farris.  The Acadia Campus zone was subdivided with Maintenance Superintendent Robie Roscoe in general supervision of all buildings.  Students in residence were grouped in basement common rooms with windows blacked out.  Campus sub-wardens were Bernard Ryan, Miss Marjorie Wickwire, Burton Shaffleburg, L.C. Trites, Dr. Marion Grant, and Miss Ethel Chadwick.
[The Halifax Herald, 12 March 1942]

Air Raid Blackout Drill at Truro
mid-March 1942

The recent blackout drill held at Truro which was a "surprise test" caught some of the wardens miles from their posts.  We happened to be one of those 'stray fellers' about three miles about five km from our post.  With due haste we started to drive the long distance, but met with many reverses.  We had just started to feel confident we could make the journey (we went about a quarter of a mile about half a km) when a big Mountie [R.C.M.P.] was heard to yell “say, where 'ye go'n with them headlights on?'”  We replied “we're A.R.P. (Air Raid Precautions) workers, and heading for our posts.”  “O.K., proceed.”  After being held up with flashlights, some gentle words, others not so gentle, we finally decided it was time to pull into the curb and wait for the “all clear.”  To give an idea of the thorough organization in Truro, we were held up no less than fifteen times in a distance of about one mile about one and a half km.  All this time we were travelling with dim lights on.
[The Halifax Herald, 16 March 1942]

Air Raid Precautions at Canning
15 March 1942

With the purpose of appointing district Wardens, an ARP meeting was held in the Canning Community Hall with Harry North presiding and James Archdeacon as secretary.  Districts represented were Kingsport, Sheffield Mills, Canard, Woodside, Pereaux, Medford, Dalhousie, and Blomidon.  Harry North was appointed Chief Warden, R. Spicer assistant, and Dr. Foley First Aid Officer.
[The Halifax Herald, 16 March 1942]

Air Raid Precautions at Amherst
15 March 1942

A strong ARP (Air Raid Precautions) organization has been formed at the aircraft plant of the Canadian Car & Foundry Company, and plans to co-operate closely with the corresponding organization in the Town of Amherst.  The Chief Warden is George A. Hill, with Percy A. Roome, secretary.  Other officers include G.K. Chapman, M.G. Flett, G.A. Davis, W.A. Brown, Frank Reid, O.E. Lister, George McArthur, William Neal, A.R. Murray, J.C. Murray, Medley Atkinson, and George Ward.
[The Halifax Herald, 16 March 1942]

Local ARP committee mebers in Amherst are making immediate preparations for the blackout which the Minister of Health, Dr. F.R. Davis, has announced for the whole province in the near future.  The mode of signalling has been placed in the hands of G.F. McNeil on instructions of Mayor Kaufman and details will be announced soon.
[The Halifax Herald, 23 March 1942]

ARP supplies are beginning to arrive at Amherst and will be put to use at once in the preliminary training.  The supplies include one hundred steel helmets for the ARP Captains and Wardens, and five stretchers.  It is understood that hose, pumps, and other fire fighting necessities are on the way.  An air raid siren at Robbs was given its first test on the afternoon of Tuesday, March 24th, and other sirens will operate from the Canadian Car & Foundry Company, Enamel & Heating Company, and the Amherst town hall.  The code of signals has not yet been worked out but will be arranged this week.  Special telephone connections are being made to the firemen's room at the town hall which is to be the main quarters for the Wardens.
[The Halifax Herald, 25 March 1942]

The code of signals to be used in the town of Amherst in case of blackouts was announced on Wednesday, March 25th, by the local ARP committee.  Sirens on local factories as well as at the fire station will blow continuously for three minutes.  It was stated in the instructions that all traffic on the streets must stop and park at the curb while pedestrians are to leave the streets and find shelter.  In night alarms no lights are to be shown but street lights will be left on for a few minutes to give the wardens and captains time to reach their posts.  A half-minute blast of the sirens will signalize the expiration of the alarm.
[The Halifax Herald, 26 March 1942]

Air Raid Precautions at Oxford
15 March 1942

At a meeting held in the Oxford town office to further formulate plans in connection with the Civilian Emergency Preparations and ARP, cards were passed out to each Zone Warden, such to be distributed to each householder in town, as well as forms to be filled out by each householder and to be returned to the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) executive.  This will give the central committee much-needed information and will form a basis for immediate completion of the organization.  In the Capitol Theatre next Friday evening, R.C.M.P. will show pictures and give a talk about blackout preparations and the duties of Wardens, Police, Firemen, and citizens in case of an emergency.  Councillor R.G. Hills presided at the meeting, with secretary J.I. Thompson, Chief Warden H.V. Thompson, Assistant Warden H.W. Chase, St. John Ambulance Supervisor R.D. Russell, and Zone Wardens O.E. Hunter, G.R. Gatchell, F.N. Colbourne, C.E. Thompson, T.E. Reid, I.H. Rhindress, present.
[The Halifax Herald, 16 March 1942]

The Capitol Theatre in Oxford was crowded to the doors on Friday evening, March 20th, when R.C.M.P. Alex Campbell gave a comprehensive talk about Civilian Emergency Preparations, and showed pictures of the Blitz of London.  Pictures were also shown of the proper method of dealing with incendiary bombs after they have crashed through the roof of a building.
[The Halifax Herald, 23 March 1942]

The first equipment for Civilian Emergency Preparations arrived in the town of Oxford on Thursday, March 26th, consisting of metal stretchers, first aid supplies, ARP haversacks, etc.  Oxford's first practice blackout will be held Sunday evening March 29th, from 9:30 to 9:45.
[The Halifax Herald, 28 March 1942]

Air Raid Blackout Drill at Annapolis Royal
15 March 1942

The first blackout without warning was sprung on the town of Annapolis Royal about nine o'clock on Sunday evening, March 15th, 1942, the signal being the dimming of the street lightsNOTE 1 three times, followed by the fire truck with siren attached rushing through the streets.  In nine minutes fourteen seconds, the Wardens announced at headquarters a perfect blackout, and the street lights were then turned on.
[The Halifax Herald, 16 March 1942]

“Dimming of the street lights three times”       

NOTE 1:  The phrase “dimming of the street lights three times” may cause
serious puzzlement among people who know how street lights work.
The newspaper reporter wrote “dimming” but what actually happened
was the town's street lights were simply turned off for a few seconds,
then turned on.  Turn them all off at the same time, wait, then turn them
all on at the same time.  Wait.  Then do it twice more.

The important part was that all of the street lights in the community
were to be turned off simultaneously.  Then, after a suitable wait,
all of the street lights were to be turned on simultaneously. 
Three times.  That was the agreed official air raid signal used
in many communities in Nova Scotia in 1942.

Why is this arrangement puzzling?  In modern times it is not possible
to turn any town's street lights on or off as a group, all at once.

It simply can't be done.

This is true for all communities all over the world.  Nowadays, each
individual street light is controlled by its own individual “sun switch”
– a photoelectric sensor that responds to ambient light.  At dusk,
when the sun sets and it gets dark, the “sun switch” turns the street
light on; at dawn, when the sun rises, the “sun switch” turns the
street light off.  No street lights are controlled as a group; each
individual street light is turned on and off by its own individual
“sun switch”.  And these sun switches respond to ambient light;
there is no feasible way for humans to take control.

But in the early days of electric utilities, “sun switches” did not exist.
Photoelectric devices were invented early on, but they were expensive and,
more importantly, they were delicate — by no means able to be installed
outdoors, high on a pole, exposed to the elements, rain or shine, day and
night, summer and winter, with confidence that they would continue to
operate reliably for many years while requiring no maintenance.

For centuries, in progressive cities there was a demand for street lighting.
Recall King Faisal's remark: “In Corboba (Spain) there were miles of street
lights when London was just a village” (about 1000 CE).  For centuries,
progressive cities would install oil lamps along streets; then hire
lamplighters to light each individual lamp at dusk, and return at dawn to
extinguish each individual lamp.  Labour intensive and very expensive,
but some cities were willing to spend that kind of money for street lighting.

The first public street lighting with gas was demonstrated in London in 1807.

Cities and towns would advertise for bids to supply street lighting.  During
most of the 1800s, the lowest-cost way to provide reasonably satisfactory
street lights was to install lamps that produced light by a bright flame,
fueled by oil (usually whale oil, or kerosene after about 1860) or gas
(often gas produced by roasting coal, as was done for decades in Halifax
and Windsor in Nova Scotia).  About 1905, acetylene became available
at a competitive cost, and thereafter was often used for interior lighting of
offices (such as the post office in Canso), railway stations, hotels (such
as the Colonial Arms hotel in Deep Brook, Annapolis County), churches
(such as the Baptist church in Chester), and was sometimes used for
street lights installed in the early 1900s in new locations that would
require new underground pipe to be installed for a gas supply.

All of these street lighting methods required the services of a lamplighter,
to light each individual lamp at dusk and extinguish each individual lamp
at dawn.  Not to mention the required maintenance – the oil lamps
required frequent fuel refills and all flame (combustion illumination)
lamps required frequent cleaning of glass enclosures, and wicks
required attention as well.

In the mid-1880s, it became technically and economically feasible to
generate electric power on a commercial scale.  This was an opportunity for
a new electric company to gain a foothold, if it could devise a way to bring
in revenue.  One attractive revenue source was “traction” – public transit
services in the form of electric streetcars.  The first electric streetcar line
in the United States began operation in Boston in October 1889.  The first
electric streetcar line in the Maritime Provinces, and the third in Canada,
began regular operation on 6 August 1892, in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

Another attractive revenue source for a new electric company was street

The first street in the UK to be lit by electric light was Mosley Street, in
Newcastle upon Tyne, which was lit by Joseph Swan's incandescent
lamp on 3 February 1879.  The first in the United States, and second
overall, was the Public Square road system in Cleveland, Ohio, on
29 April 1879.  Kimberley, South Africa, was the first city in the
Southern Hemisphere and in Africa to have electric street lights,
first lit on 1 September 1882. 

Electric street lights were introduced to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia,
on 6 January 1888.  These were DC (direct current) arc lights (not
incandescent) connected in parallel, working at the generator voltage.
They were suitable for providing lighting for streets and offices in a fairly
compact business district, such as Yarmouth, but could only reach about
three to four blocks in any direction from the power house.  If electric
power was required beyond this area, the only way was to build another
power house (generating plant) about six to eight blocks away from the first.

This system – DC arc lights connected in parallel, fed by a
constant-voltage power supply – was satisfactory for powering
electric street lights within a compact business district, but
excessive voltage drop prevented its use over a larger area.

The solution was to use AC (alternating current) incandescent lamps
connected in series, fed by a constant-current power supply.
This system could easily feed street lights up to a mile or more
(up to about two km) in any direction.

In the 1920s through the 1940s and continuing well into the 1960s,
in most electric utility companies in North America, a typical street
light system was set up with about 20 to 30 lamps in each series circuit.

There was one prominent characteristic of a series circuit that was a
real problem.  If any one incandescent lamp filament “burned out,” it
opened the circuit and all lamps in that circuit immediately went dark.
Electrical manufacturers eliminated this difficulty by selling a special
lamp socket, to be used with each lamp, that included a device to
short-circuit any burned-out lamp, thus keeping the circuit in operation
for the remaining lamps.  The burned-out lamp(s) could be replaced
at the utility company's convenience.

The series street light technology had one big advantage – each
circuit was fed through a single circuit breaker (switch) that controlled
all of the lamps in that circuit.  There was no need for anyone to go to
each individual lamp.  One man at the circuit breaker location at dusk
in a few seconds could turn on all twenty or thirty lamps in that circuit.
One man at the circuit breaker location at dawn in a few seconds
could turn off all twenty or thirty lamps in that circuit.

If the circuit breakers for several street lighting circuits were located
close together, at the power house for example, it would be easy for
one man at that location to turn on or off a hundred or two hundred
street lights in a couple of minutes.

This is the way street lights were operated for decades, from the
early years of the twentieth century through the 1940s – when these
air raid precautions were needed – and continuing into the 1960s.

Then reliable and affordable sun switches became available, and by
the 1980s most of the now-antiquated series street lights were gone.
Also gone was the ability to turn a community's street lights on or off
simultaneously under human control.

Air Raid Precautions at Stewaicke
15 March 1942

A meeting of the A.R.P. committee was held in the Stewiacke town hall Sunday afternoon, March 15th, with R.W. Walker as chairman.  It was decided at this meeting to hold a test blackout on Sunday evening, March 22nd, from 9 to 9:30.  The 16 air raid wardens were given materials as put out by the Provincial Government on blackout rules, to be distributed to homes throughout the town.
[The Halifax Herald, 17 March 1942]

Air Raid Blackout Drill at New Glasgow
19 March 1942

New Glasgow's Air Raid Warden Bannerman has been notified that a surprise district blackout may be called from Halifax at any time and might be expected shortly, also that considerable equipment including sirens, steel helmets, and Bickle pumps have been ordered for Pictou County. A semi-surprise blackout has been under consideration, that is one in which the public would be told one was coming but would not be given the actual time so they would have to stay on alert.  Special instructions will be given all special firemen.  A schedule has been worked out under which groups of men will be taken by experienced hands and shown how to use the hose, fire ladders, and chemicals.
[The Halifax Herald, 20 March 1942]

Bickle motor-driven water pumps, steel helmets, and inch and a half 3.8 cm hose have arrived in Pictou County for ARP firemen.  The sirens have not yet arrived.  Fire Chief Ralph Fraser has called a test for Wednesday, March 25th, to try out the new equipment at the New Glasgow town wharf, which will enable the public to see the demonstration.  ARP firemen will be there to familiarize themselves with the new equipment.  Fire Chief Fraser is considering relocating the regular equipment so if a bomb scored a direct hit it would not wipe out the entire fire protection of the town.
[The Halifax Herald, 24 March 1942]

Principal J.H. MacDonald is now holding regular air raid drills in the South School in New Glasgow and teachers are giving pupils instructions on what to do should an emergency of this kind arise.
[The Halifax Herald, 24 March 1942]

The ARP sirens for Pictou County have arrived at New Glasgow from the United States.  The sirens, two for New Glasgow and one each for the other towns in Pictou County, will not be installed until the arrival of an expert from the manufacturer.  Pending installation, it is not anticipated there will be a blackout drill called.  However, local ARP heads are standing by since word came from Halifax that a province-wide blackout drill might be ordered.
[The Halifax Herald, 1 April 1942]

Province-Wide Surprise Blackout Planned
20 March 1942

A Province-wide blackout test of emergency air raid precaution systems may be called at any time.  It will be the first tryout of the civil defence facilities in the whole of Nova Scotia.  In all districts in the Province emergency systems are being organized rapidly to reach maximum readiness for the initial test.  News of the projected Provincial test was announced on March 20th by Hon. F.R. Davis, Provincial Minister of Health and head of the whole civil defence organization in Nova Scotia.  The Minister has written to all the mayors in the Province, advising them to have their local organizations ready for the surprise blackout test that may come at any time.  The Nova Scotia alarm would be initiated from Halifax and would be flashed throughout the Province, plunging the whole of Nova Scotia into darkness.  Civil defence units in the respective communities, cities, and towns would be expected to function just as if a real air raid were taking place.  All personnel would report to their posts.  Air raid wardens would patrol their beats.  The results of the test, the success of the blackout and the response of personnel, will be reported to those in charge.
[The Halifax Herald, 21 March 1942]

All-Night Blackouts in Halifax
20 March 1942

On March 20th, residents in the Halifax area were advised they must contemplate and prepare for all-night blackouts as an almost certainty in the very near future.  Mayor W.E. Donovan indicated this at a meeting of the Halifax Civil Emergency Committee when he warned "All blackouts will not be announced in advance." He said "We have information that we may run into all-night blackouts, and that before very long."
[The Halifax Herald, 21 March 1942]

Air Raid Blackout Drill at Lunenburg
23 March 1942

At a meeting of ARP workers presided over by Chief Warden D.J. Bourque, final preparations were made for a genuine surprise blackout in the town of Lunenburg, with an air raid warning of which there will be no mistaking or subsequent fault-finding.  Wardens and ambulance drivers have received explicit directions regarding their duites and have been given printed cards to distribute to each household which contains directions for their actions in emergency tests.  One hundred steel helmets have been received for volunteer workers in case of an air raid.
[The Halifax Herald, 24 March 1942]

Air Raid Blackout Drill at Bridgetown
23 March 1942

Bridgetown had its first surprise blackout on the evening of Tuesday, March  24th.  Owing to there having been some confusion in the public mind in regard to raid signals, it was ten minutes in some districts before all lights were out.  The signal this time was a change from the former one when all lights were doused three times (careless newspaper reporting, this means street lights, not “all” lights).  Tuesday night the signal was sounded by the fire alarm and the blowing of horns.  In the Granville Street east district, these sounds were not heard in a number of homes, while in the town proper, some people thought there was a fire and started out to find where it was.
[The Halifax Herald, 25 March 1942]

Air Raid Precautions at Berwick
late March 1942

Corporal Campbell, ARP coordinator, addressed a public meeting in Bligh's theatre in Berwick this week.  There was a good attendance, with Mayor Illsley presiding.  Arrangements have been made for a meeting to appoint Wardens for various town sections.
[The Halifax Herald, 28 March 1942]

Air Raid Blackout Drill at Parrsboro
26 March 1942

Parrsboro's first trial blackout on the evening of Thursday, March  26th, was considered almost 100 per cent effective, according to Chief ARP Warden H.A. Lavers.  All wardens, with their assistants, were at their posts and reported immediately following the all-clear signal.  Firemen were on duty, the first aid station was manned, and all committees fully carried out their instructions.
[The Halifax Herald, 28 March 1942]

Air Raid Blackout Drill at Weymouth
31 March 1942

Weymouth will have its first blackout test at 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday, March  31st.  The church bells will be rung at half minute intervals and after fifteen minutes the all-clear signal will be the ringing of the bells for half a minute.
[The Halifax Herald, 28 March 1942]

Weymouth's first blackout drill, on Tuesday evening, March  31st, was very successful.  Traffic was stopped at designated points.  After the all-clear signal the Deputy Chief Wardens, Weymouth Fire Department, Red Cross, doctors, and other members of the Committee met at the Community Theatre to discuss the blackout.  It was decided that the present alarm system was inadequate and immediate arrangements are being made to install sirens in each district.  The town was completely blacked out, except for an occasional light in outlying districts, apparently due to the inadequate warning.  The second and final blackout drill is to be held on Tuesday, April 14th, at 9:30 p.m., for the duration of one half hour.
[The Halifax Herald, 2 April 1942]

Air Raid Blackout Drill at Clark's Harbor
early April 1942

ARP and Emergency organizations were put to the test in the town of Clark's Harbor this week when the first blackout drill was staged.  Wardens reported the blackout was nearly 100 per cent successful in their first practice and hope to have it complete in the next.
[The Halifax Herald, 4 April 1942]

Province-Wide Air Raid Blackout Drill
2 November 1942

On Monday evening, November 2nd, we had a province-wide blackout test and reports coming in from various sections indicate that we are not yet fully aware of the possibility of an attack from enemy forces.  In Kentville we had a fair response; by that we mean that there were some citizens who had left their homes for the evening leaving lights burning.  We are reliably informed that an ARP Warden left his house with lights burning and that during the blackout men patrolling that district endeavored to secure entrance without success.  It is reliably reported that this Warden was "on the carpet" before the Chief Air Warden, Magistrate Yould, the following morning.  If the blackput is to be a success it is imperative that every householder either put out all lights or provide blinds and curtains to prevent light from being seen from the outside.
[Kentville Advertiser, 5 November 1942]

1942 March 11-17

Canadian Army Train in Nova Scotia

Canadian Army Train in Nova Scotia

1942 April 1

Gasoline Rationing
and Highway Speed Limit 40 mph

On this day, the federal government imposed gasoline rationing throughout the country, and a national speed limit of 40 miles per hour 65 km/h.  These measures were implemented to conserve essential fuel for military purposes during World War Two.
[National Post, 1 April 1999]

1942 April 6

Special Passenger Train from Shelburne

On this day, a special passenger train was operated from Shelburne to Halifax, over the Halifax & South Western Railway.
[The Halifax Herald, 9 April 1942]

1942 October

Bus Trips Limited to 50 Miles

Passenger trips on Canadian bus lines were restricted to not more than fifty miles eighty kilometres from the starting point.  The new regulations allowed a bus passenger to buy a round-trip ticket to a destination up to fifty miles from the departure point, but ruled out any continuous bus journey of more than fifty miles except on routes approved by the government transport controller.
[Sixty Years Ago in the Berwick Register, 30 October 2002]

1942 October 14   2:40am

Ferry Caribou Torpedoed

136 Die

Sailed from North Sydney, Nova Scotia

On this day, 136 people, passengers and crew, died when the ferry Caribou was attacked and sunk by German submarine U69 in the Cabot Strait between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland.  Caribou was on the regular run from North Sydney to Port-aux-Basques.

In 1942 World War Two was well under way. St. John's was bustling with men from all branches of the service and from many countries. Blackout regulations were strictly enforced and on any day of the week many corvettes and merchant supply vessels could be seen at anchor in the St. John's Harbour. In spite of this ominous military presence, most Newfoundlanders felt secure and protected from the deadly confrontations taking place in Europe and other parts of the world. This sense of security and over confidence was badly shaken when news reports on October 14th revealed that earlier that day, just forty miles south west of Port aux Basques S.S. Caribou, a Newfoundland Railway ferry, had been blasted out of the water by a Nazi U-boat.  Caribou was carrying 237 people; 46 crewmembers, 73 civilians and 118 military personnel. Of this number, 136 men, women and children died in the Caribou disaster.

Caribou was a Newfoundland Ferry steamship built in Rotterdam, Holland. It was a large ship, 2222 tons, with a length of 266 feet and a width of 40 feet. Caribou's top speed was 14.5 knots, and she was specially designed for maneuvering in heavy ice. Caribou arrived at St. John's on October 22, 1925, to take up service as a railway ferry traveling between Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and North Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Caribou departed from North Sydney, as usual, at 1900 Atlantic Standard Time on the evening of October 13. On board were 237 people, about 900 bags of mail and 51 head of cattle. Caribou was escorted by a naval ship, HMCS Grandmere. At about 0240 (AST) on October 14, Caribou was hit on the starboard side by a torpedo.  The attack came from a 500-ton German U-boat, the U69.  Approximately four minutes later, Caribou disappeared beneath the dark surface of the Cabot Strait. During this time, Grandmere attempted to ram the submarine, but the attempt was in vain.

Of the crew of 46, mostly Newfoundlanders, 31 were lost, including the master, Captain Benjamin Taverner, and his two sons, Stanley and Harold, the first and third officers. All three men were from Channel - Port aux Basques. Fifteen month old Leonard Shiers was the only survivor of the 15 children on board. With the loss of the majority of the crew, the result in the Port aux Basques area was a total of 21 widows and 51 orphaned children.

U69 was commanded by Kapitänleutnant Ulrich Gräf.  U69 was sunk on 17 February 1943 in the North Atlantic east of Newfoundland at 50° 36' N, 41° 07' W by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Fame, 46 dead (all hands lost).  [Some sources report that U69 was sunk by HMS Viscount, but Viscount's attack on 17 February 1943 sank U201 in the North Atlantic at 50° 50' N, 40° 50' W.]

Excerpted from:
Halifax Daily News, 14 October 1999
National Post, 30 October 1999
Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 14 October 2002

The sinking of the SS Caribou, in the Cabot Strait, with the loss of 135 lives in October 1942...

When Nazis Sailed the St. Lawrence, an excellent overview of
the Battle of the St. Lawrence from the summer of 1942 to the
winter of 1944, by Peter C. Newman, appeared in The National Post
on 30 October 1999.  Mr. Newman wrote: "At a ceremony next Friday
(5 November 1999) on Parliament Hill, that little-known and
less remembered sea battle will be commemorated for the first time,
55 years after the event." Mr. Newman mentioned the "definitive
account" of this battle, the book U-Boats Against Canada,
by Michael Hadley, 1985, McGill - Queens University Press,
Montreal - Kingston.  ISBN 0773505849 or 0773508015.

Sinking of the Caribou

It Happened in October - Lundrigan
A Sad and Bitter Tale related
by Mr. J. Lundrigan, a survivor...

It Happened in October - Strickland
The Tale of Mr. William Strickland and
the loss of his wife and two children...


Fire on Ammunition Ship in Halifax Harbour

During 1943, while Captain O.C.S. Robertson was serving as King's Harbour Master in Halifax, he averted a second Halifax Explosion through daring leadership. The SS Volunteer, an American ammunition carrier, had caught fire in Bedford Basin and been abandoned by its crew. "Long Robbie" led a fire fighting party that successfully navigated the time bomb clear of the harbour, grounded it, and extinguished the deadly blaze. His daring leadership won him the George Medal. In July 1945 there was an explosion and fire at the Naval Magazine in Bedford. Once again, Robertson was placed in charge of quelling the inferno. After four tense days, he led his team to success and averted an unthinkable disaster.

Robertson retired from the navy a Commodore in 1962.  Attached to the United States Navy for polar operations, he was in the crew of Blimp ZTG-2 during its voyage to Arctic Ice Island T-3 in 1958. Then he served as Ice Pilot for the submarine USS (United States Submarine) Seadragon during its submerged transits of the Northwest Passage in 1960. He thus became the first naval officer-in-command to transit the Northwest Passage and circumnavigate North America, and the first person to transit the Northwest Passage both on the surface and submerged. Robertson's lifetime achievements would win him appointment as an officer of the Order of Canada. Commodore O.C.S. Robertson, OC, GM, CD, died on 22 November 1994.

Excerpted from HMCS Labrador: First Warship to Circle North America
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1944 July 7

Radio License Fees

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was organized as a "non-commercial" national radio system — in the public interest.  To keep it "non-commercial," the public is taxed, each radio receiver owner having to pay an annual license fee of $2.50.  Six years ago the CBC got permission to sell a "limited" amount of time to advertisers in order to finance improvements and avoid increasing the radio license fee.  The "limit" was fixed at $500,000 per year, and Hon. C.D. Howe then told the Commons: "It is not the desire or intention of the corporation at any time to obtain a revenue of over $500,000 per year from commercial sources for reasons that are obvious" — the public interest.

Last year the CBC grossed $2,930,000 from advertising.  And last year it increased its take from the public by $88,851 for a total in license fees of $3,787,886.

[Toronto Globe and Mail, 7 July 1944]

1944 September 10

Winston Churchill Arrives

On this day, Winston Churchill arrived in Halifax en route to Quebec.
[Halifax Daily News, 10 September 1999]

1944 September 29

Cape Breton Bus & Tram Company Limited

On this day, Cape Breton Bus & Tram Co. acquired all the property of Cape Breton Tramways Ltd.

1945 May 12-13

U-190 Surrenders at Halifax,
U-889 Surrenders at Shelburne

German submarine U-190, Type IXC/40, was launched on 8 June 1942, and commissioned on 24 September 1942.  Surrendered at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 12 May 1945 under Oblt Hans-Edwin Reith. It was used for tests, and was sunk southwest of Newfoundland on 21 October 1947 by gunfire from the Canadian destroyers HMCS Nootka and New Liskeard.

German submarine U-889, also Type IXC/40, commissioned on 4 August 1944, surrendered at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, on 13 May 1945 under the command of Kptlt. Friedrich Braeucker. Transferred to the U.S. Navy on 10 January 1946 at Halifax, and was scuttled late in 1947 after torpedo trials off New England.

U889 at Shelburne, 13 May 1945
U-889 off Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 13 May 1945
[National Post, 29 May 2001]

U-889 was the second U-Boat to surrender to Canada, 250 miles off the Flemish Cap. Two days after receiving the message ceasing hostilities, U-889 was overflown by a Liberator from the Royal Canadian Air Force. It took two low passes before a flag was seen — the Liberator had been arming the depth charges and setting the bombsight when the submarine surrendered. The Liberator stood by until HMC Ships Rockcliffe, Dunvegan, Saskatoon and Oshawa arrived on the scene. Twenty four hours after the interception, U-889 was turned over to HMC Ships Inch Arran and Buckingham and escorted to Shelburne, Nova Scotia where formal articles of surrender were signed on the 13th of May. The following day His Majesty's Canadian Submarine U889 was formally commissioned in the Royal Canadian Navy.


1945 July 18

Ammunition Dump Explodes

Fires and explosions continued most of the day at the Bedford magazine.

1945 August 15

Gasoline Rationing Ended

Tire Rationing Continues

Gasoline rationing and all restrictions on the use of fuel oil in Canada were lifted this day.  Similar action was taken a short time before in the United States.  In knocking down the first of the consumer rationing rules, put into effect on 1 April 1942, all branches of the federal government joined (unofficially) in offering happy peace-day felicitations to all who are stuck with black market coupons.

The government also lifted all transport control restrictions on the operation of taxis, buses, and drive-yourself cars, but warned that rationing of tires must continue until stocks become available.  Transport controls had prohibited sightseeing tours, restricted taxis to operations within a 15-mile 24km radius of the community in which they ordinarily operated, limited the use of drive-yourself cars to certain specific purposes and prohibited the use of buses for charter trips.

Tire rationing cannot be abolished until the switchover from military production can be accomplished and sufficient stocks become available.  However, the list of vehicle owners eligible for new tires would be broadened as soon as possible.  Production of tires for passenger automobiles was forbidden in Canada five days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th, 1941, and no such tires were made for civilian use until January 1943, when limited quantities of reclaim rubber were released.  In making the announcement, Munitions Minister C.D. Howe said: "I am pleased that supplies in stock and forward position warrant the discontinuance of gasoline rationing in its entirety, and of all restrictions on the supply of fuel oil." He said the government owed to Oil Controller Q.R. Cottrelle and his staff "a debt of gratitude which can never be repaid."

The first year of rationing cut consumption by more than 150,000,000 gallons 680,000,000 litres. Throughout the war, the tempo of the fighting was closely reflected in stocks on hand.  The first curtailment in distribution was made in 1941 when the United States and Canada were called upon to furnish tankers to supplement supply for the United Kingdom.  First there was an appeal for voluntary curtailment.  But by 1942 the Dominion was down to a hand-to-mouth basis.  Canada pioneered on the continent in gasoline rationing.  Fuel oil was also in short supply.  It became necessary in the late summer of 1942 to eliminate the use of oil for heating except for bona fide dwellings containing apartments for not more than two families.  Canadian gasoline ration coupons had a value of four gallons 18 litres.

[Toronto Globe and Mail, 16 August 1945]

1945 November

Transit Figures Show Decrease

Nova Scotia's public transit systems carried 4,361,147 passengers during the month of November 1945, 172,000 fewer than the same month of 1944.  The electric cars lead other vehicles with 2,740,814 paying fares, followed by the urban motor bus system with 1,424,168 passengers.  The interurban and urban services burned 122,546 gallons 556,360 litres of gasoline and 1,587 gallons 7,205 litres of diesel oil, while travelling 1,134,371 miles 1,825,200 km .  Revenue from both systems amounted to $369,206.
[The Halifax Herald, 3 April 1946]

1945 November 13

CFAB Begins Broadcasting

Radio station CFAB, at Windsor, went on the air this day.  It was organized and managed by Willard Bishop.  Canadian Press carried the story, referring to Willard as "Canada's youngest program director at age 19." A year later CFAB went to 250 watts, and plans were being laid to expand coverage to more of the Annapolis Valley. In 1948, a second transmitter, CKEN Kentville, went on the air and studios were added there in 1949.  In 1951 CKEN's transmitter power was increased to 1000 watts.
Willard Bishop, member of CAB Hall of Fame
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1945 December

Freight Loading Decreases

Revenue freight loaded at railway stations in Nova Scotia and received from foreign connections during December 1945 was 484,188 tons, according to the monthly report of railway traffic issued by the Dominion Bureau of Statistics.  The Nova Scotia figures showed a drop of 112,559 tons when compared to the total for November 1945, and 85,567 tons less than December 1944.
[The Halifax Herald, 3 April 1946]

1946 February 10

The ocean liner Mauretania docked in Halifax on this day, carrying 943 war brides and children from England.
[The National Post, 10 February 2000]


1946 March 30

Truro's Last Horseshoeing Shop Closes

The closing this week, of Ira D. Thompson's blacksmith and horseshoeing shop, marks the end of the last horseshoeing shop in Truro.  Completing 55 years in the horseshoeing and blacksmith business in Nova Scotia, the last 40 years during which he was located in Truro and took only two weeks holidays, Mr. Thompson has retired.  He has sold the blacksmith shop to W.T. Frechette.  Mr. Thompson has been horseshoeing continually for 55 years, having been associated with his father, L.A. Thompson of Caledonia in Queens County, and his uncle, C.W. Thompson of Bridgewater, before coming to Truro.

He arrived in Truro on April 1st, 1901, having bought the blacksmithing property on Waddell Street from the late Harry Wright.  On April 3rd, 1901, he opened for business, and has completed 45 years of service at the same stand.  Through the years, Mr. Thompson has seen many changes in his line of work.  When he started there were four blacksmith shops on Waddell Street alone, with many others in the town and nearby countryside.  The first horse shod when the shop opened was driven by James Millar, Mount Pleasant, who has been a steady patron all through the 45 years with his own farm horses.  Several other old friends remain, who have continued to make regular visits to Mr. Thompson's smithy.

[The Halifax Herald, 3 April 1946]

1946 April 10

Kentville "Fast" Time Dates May be Changed

Daylight Saving Time for the Town of Kentville was again before the Town Council in monthly session tonight, but apparently it was only a question of the dates on which it should start and end.  At a previous Council meeting, "fast time" for the period April 27 to September 28 was adopted by a 4-2 vote. Tonight when it came to the matter of issuing an official proclamation to that effect Mayor Gladys Porter suggested a change in the dates.

Her Worship pointed out that trains would still operate on Standard Time, therefore students along the Cornwallis Valley Railway line (Kingsport to Kentville) who attend Kings County Academy here, would arrive an hour late for classes.

In view of this situation, that a change in the period of "fast time" might be of benefit, Mayor Porter proposed that the dates be altered to June 3 to September 3.  A motion to that effect was made by Councillors G.L. Caulkin and B.R. Wade. Immediately Councillors R.D.L. Bligh and Roy Rottler, who voted against Daylight Time several weeks ago, advocated the whole matter be reconsidered.  Such action, it was pointed out, would require a two-thirds vote of Council. After much discussion, in which Councillor Wade said he was agreeable to a plebiscite if it was felt necessary, the subject was adjourned to a special meeting Friday night.  This was due to the absence of Councillor Roy Grant from tonight's session. At the previous meeting he voted for Daylight Time.

[The Halifax Herald, 11 April 1946]

History of the Cornwallis Valley Railway and North Mountain Railway
History of the Cornwallis Valley Railway

1946 December 6

Max Ferguson Begins Working at CBH

On this day, Max Ferguson worked his first shift as a CBC staff announcer at CBH, the CBC's 100-watt radio station in Halifax, then an AM [amplitude-modulated] station transmitting on a carrier frequency of 1240 kHz, from studios located at the south-east corner of Sackville Street and North Park Street.  One of his earliest assignments was After Breakfast Breakdown, a 30-minute country music program.  Ferguson disliked hillbilly music, and disguised his voice so his friends would not recognize him.  Then he started making fun of the music he was playing.  Thus, quite by accident, Old Rawhide came into being.  After Breakfast Breakdown soon became immensly popular, and was known to all as The Rawhide Show.  Ferguson stayed with the CBC for 51 years 274 days, until the last broadcast of The Max Ferguson Show on 5 September 1998.  The last broadcast originated from the CBC main studios in Toronto, and was carried on the CBC Radio 2 network; in Halifax it was broadcast from CBH, by now an FM [frequency modulated] station transmitting on 102.7 MHz, with 92 kW, still located at the south-east corner of Sackville Street and North Park Street.
[Excerpted from the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 3 September 1998, and other sources.]

1947 April 14

Radio Station CHNS
Increases Transmitter Power

Radio station CHNS, Halifax, put into operation a new 5,000 watt transmitter; the old 1,000 watt transmitter was kept as a standby.  Both transmitters used vacuum-tube technology.

1947 September

Radio Stations in Operation

This is a complete list of all "commercial broadcast" radio stations (defined as those operating with a carrier frequency in the range 540 kHz to 1600 kHz, which was the legal tuning range of ordinary radio receivers used in homes and automobiles) and their associated shortwave (high frequency) stations, in operation in Nova Scotia at this time.  All of them are AM (amplitude modulation) stations; in 1947 there were no FM (frequency modulation) stations, and no television stations.  The third column FREQ is the transmitter carrier frequency in kHz (kilohertz) [of course, the modern measurement unit for frequency, the "hertz", did not come into use in Canada until the late 1960s — the contemporary unit was "cps" meaning cycles per second]. The carrier frequency is the number shown on the tuning dial of radio receivers.  The fourth column POWER is the transmitter power in watts.

Commercial Radio Stations
in Nova Scotia
September 1947

CBH   Halifax 1240   100  
CFAB   Windsor 1450   250  
CHNS   Halifax 960   5,000  
CHNX   Halifax 6130   500  
CJCB   Sydney 1270   5,000  
CJCH   Halifax 920   5,000  
CJCX   Sydney 6010   1,000  
CJFX   Antigonish 580   5,000  
CJLS   Yarmouth 1340   250  
All of these stations were AM (amplitude modulated)

1947 October

Area Code 902 Assigned

The original system of allocating telephone number area codes in North America was decided upon in October 1947.  It was then that area code 902 was assigned to the Maritime Provinces.

Newfoundland wasn't yet part of Canada in October 1947.  It is not known for sure how Newfoundland fitted into the original plan, but it does seem possible that the original NPA 902 (which at that time also served New Brunswick, in addition to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) also served Newfoundland & Labrador. In the mid-1950s, NB and NF-LB split from 902 (which was retained for NS and PEI), into their own 506; and then in 1962, NF-LB split off from 506 (which was retained for NB), into its own 709.  [NPA : Number Plan Area]

which has lots of information about telephone numbering systems and other telephone technology.  A brief sample:
The Original 1947 Area Code System
How Telephone Numbers Are Assigned
Exchanges in the 902 Area Code
Guide to Special Prefixes/Numbers

For additional information, see Linc Madison's Telephone Area Codes and Splits
which has details about the 86 original area codes assigned in 1947:
Map showing the original 1947 area code assignments
Table showing the original 1947 area code assignments

Note that 902 was then (1940s to 1980s) considered to be a very undesirable area code, because it had two "long dial pull" digits.  In 1940s - 1960s, when all telephone dials were just that — rotary dials — the lower digits such as 2, 3, or 4 were "short dial pulls", while 8, 9, and 0 were "long dial pulls" which took significantly longer times to rotate back to the rest position.

Numbers containing several long-pull digits were unpopular because they took irritatingly long times to pulse through.  Short-pull area codes were assigned to high-traffic regions such as New York City 212, Los Angeles 213, Dallas 214, Philadelphia 215, Chicago 312, Detroit 313, St. Louis 314, and Pittsburgh 412, which had short-pulls for all three area code digits. Populous states such as New Jersey 201, District of Columbia 202, Connecticut 203, Maryland 301, Delaware 302, and Rhode Island 401, had two short-pull digits out of three.  416 was assigned to southern Ontario, including Toronto.  514 was assigned to western Quebec, including Montreal.

In contrast, the Maritime Provinces were assigned two long-pull digits out of three in the area code 902, because we generated a relatively small calling volume.

If you measure "dialling effort" by the number of degrees the dial had to turn to accomplish the input of the three-digit area code, the highest "dialling effort" of all the original 1947 area codes assigned in North America, were 902 which then covered the Maritime Provinces, South Carolina's 803, North Carolina's 704, and South Dakota's 605. (506, 407, 308 and 209 were not then assigned.) These area codes required more total rotation than any other area codes of that time.

Of course, when rotary dials were replaced by touch-tone buttons, the disadvantage of long-pull digits became merely an historical curiosity, long forgotten by almost everyone.

1947 December 22

Halifax Company Buys Cargo Fleet of 58 Vessels

Purchase by Acadia Overseas Freighters Limited of 58 Fort class 10,000-ton freighters from the Canadian Government will make Halifax the home port of one of the largest — "if not the largest" — cargo-carrying fleets in the world, Harry Mathers, 32-year-old president of the company, said today.  Purchase of the 58 Crown-owned steamships, to be delivered some time in 1950, was confirmed by Reconstruction Minister C.D. Howe, who said the deal involved $15,000,000.  Mr. Mathers, however, said Mr. Howe's figure was "way low." At present the company operates twelve ships, one more is scheduled to be added next spring, and nine more are due from Britain next summer.  So far, Mr. Mathers said, no definite trade routes have been mapped out for the new ships.
[Toronto Globe and Mail, 23 December 1947]

The following is an excerpt from Spurgeon G. Roscoe's manuscript Radio Stations Common?  Not This Kind a history of marine communications, written in 1982:

...Each of these one hundred seventy ships that survived World War Two has a very interesting personal history.  (Two other Parks were lost from the normal hazards associated with working such a large fleet to the limits). Like many of the warships these Parks came up on the auction block for disposal as soon after termination of the war as possible. The most difficult part of trying to describe these one hundred seventy ships is that on termination of the war everyone was so glad to see the end of such a horrible existence that the Fort class merchant ships and the Parks, which were the same ship, were all lumped together and sold from the same auction block. Many of the ships which I have been told over the years were Parks, were actually Forts.

The two are so intermarried that in order to do an accurate description, you would have to take each individual hull and trace it through from beginning to end.  Canada produced 456 merchant ships during this war and at least ninety were Fort Class, supposedly sold to the United States who in turn loaned them to the United Kingdom on lend-lease.  Some Forts started out as Parks and some Parks started out as Forts, and it can be confusing.

Possibly the largest portion of these ships was purchased by a well known and established shipping firm in Halifax.  The records of many of our sailing vessels indicate a number were named for members of this family.  I.H. Mathers and Son Limited purchased sixty-five of these Park/Fort ships.  They retained fifteen, named them for counties and operated these fifteen through a branch company named Acadia Overseas Freighters Limited.  The other fifty were operated under the flag of the United Kingdom with British crews...

This fleet lasted only long enough for half of them to get published in the International List of Ship Stations, but nonetheless was an honest attempt at becoming a Canadian fleet...

Acadia Overseas Freighters Limited

(The left-side column shows each ship's radio call letters.)

1947 December 24

Long Bus Ride to Annapolis Valley

"On the morning of December 24, 1947, light snow had commenced to fall in the Halifax area and by bus departure time, a respectable amount had accumulated on the ground." The Acadian Lines bus "departed on time with all seats full and with about 12 to 18 standing, as was the custom in those days.  Only when the bus was out of the city did it become apparent it was heading into a real, old-fashioned Nova Scotia blizzard.  About one hour out of Halifax, somewhere near Mount Uniacke, all traffic stopped and there the bus was to stay until about two o'clock on Christmas morning, when a snowplow opened the road and escorted the bus into Windsor."

"In Windsor, the decision was made by Acadian Lines to return the bus to Halifax and the passengers were given two options: to return to Halifax on the bus or to wait in the Windsor train station for the DAR (Dominion Atlantic Railway) train, due in about 10am.  Most, including myself, chose the train option and arrangements were made to open the train station to accommodate the stranded passengers. There was no free breakfast offered in those days.  The train arrived... The trip was rather pleasant by train, after the bus experience.  Without any other problems, I arrived at my destination in Round Hill, Annapolis County, just about 24 hours after I had left Halifax."

"Being a teenager at the time made the bus part of the trip a fun experience.  I still remember the kind truck driver who, stopped in front of the bus, as he opened his truck and donated a crate of oranges to the passengers; and the very kind family in the Mount Uniacke area who made and delivered sandwiches to the bus passengers.  There were about fifty passengers on the bus..."

"As I think back, I don't remember anyone complaining that night — even about the weather ... The exact spot where the bus and all other Valley-bound traffic became immobilized by a snowstorm, I was never able to exactly determine on subsequent Valley bus trips..."

"The following year on Christmas Eve, I travelled home on the DAR night train and as I was the only passenger that night for Round Hill, the conductor stopped the train at the lower Round Hill crossing instead of at the Round hill station.  This kindness saved me a long walk, and I remember his cheery 'Merry Christmas' as he helped me off the train..."

[The quotes are from an account written fifty years later by one of the passengers on that trip, Vernon M. Spurr, then living in Dartmouth, and published in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on 24 December 1997.]

1948 June 14

TV Channel One

In the 1960s through the 1990s, this question was frequently asked:

Why is there no Channel 1 on the television?

A Globe reader sent in this explanation: Actually, there were two channel ones.  The first one was removed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1940 to make room for FM radio (between 42 and 50 MHz).  In 1945, the second channel one was reserved (this time between 44 and 50 MHz) for community television stations operating with no more than one kW of power (compared to a maximum of 50 kW for commercial stations).  FM broadcasters were given some time to move to 88-108 MHz, but unfortunately the FCC also had agreed to allow land mobile radio a share of the entire TV spectrum.  As TV grew, there were interference problems, and the ham operators began clamouring for a primary frequency band of their own.  So, on 14 June 1948, the FCC gave them channel one's frequencies and decided not to renumber the other channels.

Because Canada's electromagnetic spectrum allocations had to be closely coordinated with the USA allocations, and because the electronic equipment markets in the two countries were closely linked, with equipment manufactured in one often being imported to the other (this was in the late 1940s, when the USA dominated the manufacturing of practically all electronic apparatus, including television equipment) it was perceived to be impractical for Canada to differ from the USA in its allocated television frequencies.  Thus the FCC decision was adopted in Canada.

[Excerpted from The Globe and Mail, 1 June 1998]

1948 August 12

TCA DC-4 Crashes at Sydney

On this day, a DC-4M1 Argonaut operated by Trans Canada Air Lines crashed at Sydney, Nova Scotia, with 17 people on board, 11 passengers and 6 crew.  No fatalities.
Source:   Aviation Safety Network website at http://aviation-safety.net/
and http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/9575/1948.htm#480812-0
and http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/9575/c.htm

1948 November 19

First Commercial Microwave Link

Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company put into regular operation the first commercial microwave communications link in the world, between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

1949 January 14

First Non-Stop Trans-Canada Flight

On this day, the first non-stop trans-Canada flight, from Vancouver to Halifax, was completed.
[Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 14 January 2002]
[Halifax Daily News, 14 January 2002]

1949 March 26, Saturday

Last Electric Streetcar Service
in Downtown Halifax

This was the last day of operation of electric streetcars in downtown Halifax.  During the night of 26-27 March, the overhead wire which had supplied electric power at 600 volts DC to the streetcars was taken down by crews of the Nova Scotia Light & Power Company, which owned and operated the transit system in Halifax; the overhead system to supply the replacement trolley coaches had previously been installed about one foot about 30cm above the old streetcar overhead.

A few streetcars continued to operate for a few weeks, on five outlying routes: route 3 on Gottingen Street north of Cunard, route 3 on Barrington Street north of Cogswell, route 5 on Quinpool Road west of Oxford, route 6 on Oxford Street south of Coburg, and route 9 on Tower Road south of Inglis.  Over the next few weeks, these "orphaned" streetcar routes were converted one at a time to trolley coach operation.

1949 March 27, Sunday

First Electric Trolley Coach Service
in Downtown Halifax

The first day of operation in downtown Halifax of electric trolley coaches, which replaced the old electric streetcars on the four downtown routes, 1, 2, 7 and 8.  Traffic was two and a half times the normal volume for a Sunday, and even with 33 trolley coaches in operation they were crammed to capacity most of the day.  The rubber-tired coaches were powered by 600 volts DC supplied through two overhead wires.

The cash fare was 10 cents, the same rate that had been in effect since 1925 and was to remain in effect until 1957.  A lower fare was available by buying three tickets for 25 cents, or lower yet at 14 tickets for one dollar.  Passengers could also buy a weekly pass, good for unlimited riding for seven days, for $1.25.

1949 April 28

Last Electric Streetcar Service

The last transit route in Nova Scotia on which the public could ride an electric streetcar was the Richmond line in Halifax, route 3 on Barrington Street, north of Buckingham Street, which was the last survivor of the five outlying streetcar routes "orphaned" when the downtown area was converted to trolley coach operation one month earlier.

April 28th was the last day of operation of the Richmond line.  The next day, trolley coaches took over, and the last streetcar was towed over the abandoned track, to the car barn on Lower Water Street.

1949 September 25

Halifax - Windsor - Kentville - Digby - Yarmouth
Yarmouth - Digby - Kentville - Windsor - Halifax

Passenger Train Service

Dominion Atlantic Railway
Passenger Train Schedule

Effective on and after 25 September 1949

Atlantic Standard Time
read down
read up
Station Train
8:00pm 2:35pm 7:45am Dp.   Halifax   Ar. 6:20am 12:20pm 5:35pm
10:30pm 5:10pm 9:50am Windsor 4:15am 10:10am 3:50pm
10:50pm 5:29pm 10:08am Hantsport 3:36am 9:29am 3:18pm
11:22pm 5:57pm 10:32am Wolfville 3:11am 9:03am 2:53pm
12:15am 6:15pm 11:05am Kentville 2:55am 8:45am 2:35pm
1:35am   12:20pm Middleton 12:55am   1:20pm
2:10am   12:54pm Bridgetown 12:15am   12:54pm
3:00am   1:20pm Annapolis Royal 11:40pm   12:30pm
4:10am   2:35pm Digby 10:25pm   11:40am
7:00am   4:50pm Ar.   Yarmouth   Dp. 7:30pm   9:00am
These trains were powered by coal-burning steam locomotives.
Detailed version of above timetable, showing all stations
Source: Dominion Atlantic Railway Public Timetable
taking effect 12:01am, Sunday, September 25, 1949
— Thanks to Mr. Harold Woodman, Wolfville

1949 September 25

Kings County

Kingsport - Canning - Centreville - Kentville
Kentville - Centreville - Canning - Kingsport

Passenger Train Service

Dominion Atlantic Railway
Passenger Train Schedule
Effective on and after 25 September 1949

Atlantic Standard Time

Daily except Sunday
7:30am Dp.   Kingsport 1:15pm
7:39am Canning 1:24pm
8:10am Centreville 1:42pm
8:30am Ar.   Kentville 2:00pm
Return Trip
11:30am Dp.   Kentville 4:00pm
11:46am Centreville 4:16pm
12:05pm Canning 4:35pm
12:15pm Ar.   Kingsport 4:45pm
These trains were powered by
coal-burning steam locomotives.
Detailed version of above timetable, showing all stations

DAR Public Timetable taking effect 12:01am, Sunday, September 25, 1949

1949 September 25

Kentville - Windsor - Kennetcook - Truro
Truro - Kennetcook - Windsor - Kentville

Passenger Train Service

Dominion Atlantic Railway
Passenger Train Schedule
Effective on and after 25 September 1949

Atlantic Standard Time

Saturday only
read down
read up
6:00am Dp.   Kentville   Ar. 9:05pm
6:15am Wolfville 8:48pm
6:40am Hantsport 8:23pm
7:05am Windsor 8:05pm
8:14am Kennetcook 6:45pm
9:30am Ar.   Truro   Dp. 5:30pm
These trains were powered by
coal-burning steam locomotives.
Detailed version of above timetable, showing all stations

DAR Public Timetable taking effect 12:01am, Sunday, September 25, 1949

1949 December 25

Bakelite Earphones and Meccano No. 10

Ghosts of Christmas past
Some childhood memories are impossible to beat

By Brian Flemming

The ten-year-old boy had to be extra careful this Christmas Eve.  A few days before, his Dad had tripped on the wire he'd strung from his bedroom to the copper pipe behind the family bathtub.  Tonight, he'd shoved the wire well under the upstairs hall runner.  His crystal set worked far better since he'd grounded it on the pipe, and shinnied out onto the porch roof to get his aerial as high as possible.  Mom, Dad and Nanny had gone off to midnight mass.  Because this was to be the last year the boy was to believe in that great and good adult lie — Santa Claus — he could hardly sleep.

Clear reception

New York radio stations WOR and WQXR were broadcasting through his bakelite earphones.  They came in extraorinarily clearly on winter nights, when international broadcasting treaties required coastal American stations to turn their antennas east towards the ocean — and Nova Scotia.  The Green Hornet and The Fat Man were his current favourites, after Uncle Mel had finished reading his preferred comic strips, Mandrake the Magician and Tim Tyler's Luck, on CBC. 

What time of night would Santa actually land on the roof?  Would his Dad's recent blocking off of the living room fireplace and the installation of an electric fire keep the Great Elf from getting through?  The boy crossed his fingers and wished hard.  His letter to Santa had been long this year.  It was headed by a No. 10 Meccano Set.  The boy already had smaller sets, but this year he wanted the biggest one so he could cobble together large cranes and ships.  If he was really lucky, he'd get the Deluxe No. 10 with the electric motor to bring his creations to life.

Sales on his Liberty magazine route had been brisk in December, surpassing 100 a week.  He'd hoarded these earnings to buy the best gifts ever for mom and dad.  Newspapers were pushing silver Ronson "table lighter sets." Unfortunately, no one at his west-end home smoked, so he'd had to pass on these glittering gadgets.  His mother would get a mother-of-pearl compact from Leon Neima's and dad would get an LP (long-play 33rpm vinyl) of Annie Get Your Gun, starring Ethel Merman, from Bligh's.  (Thirty years later, the boy would attend Merman's last concert in New York.)

His own present

In case Santa disappointed him, the boy had backstopped the situation by buying a Monogram balsa airplane model along with the Lepage's glue and X-Acto tools needed to assemble it.  (For the rest of his life, he would annoy his family by always buying Christmas gifts for himself and putting cards on them reading: "To Brian, with love from Brian.")  Footsteps on the stairs woke him with a start.  He'd nodded off.  Now, everyone was home from church.  He stowed his crystal set under his bed just before his parents opened the door a crack to ensure he was asleep.  As he met Morpheus, he heard the attic trap door open and the fold-up ladder being lowered.  He didn't know it then, but Santa had just "arrived."

The Christmas dawn flooded into his east-facing window.  He threw off his Hudson's Bay blanket and crept, commando-like down the creaking stairs, praying no one would stir.  Beside the chimney, there it was — a Deluxe No. 10!  Seizing it, he ran to the dining room table and flipped through the wonders Mr. Meccano would soon let him build.  Nothing could be better, he thought, before slipping back upstairs.  Later that morning, the boy donned soutane and surplice for High Mass.  St. Agnes's choir always sang the Gregorian Mass of the Angels on Christmas Day.  It boasted the great, and politically diverse, voices of tenor Harold Connolly and baritone Richard Donahoe, singing in harmony.

Before the huge turkey was carved, the boy's family gathered around the Philco radio to hear the King's Christmas message to the Empire.  Fortunately, it was brief because George VI was a less-than-inspired speaker.  When dusk fell, and the boy had nearly built a Meccano submarine, he was frog-marched, protesting vehemently, to the family's first car, a green Pontiac Chieftain.  It was time for him and his sisters to see the Halifax Christmas lights, whether they wanted to see them or not.

As the boy finally fell asleep, listening to the Ford Radio Theatre, he wondered whether any Christmas would be better than Christmas 1949, at the Flemming home at 88 Poplar Street, Halifax.

Perhaps not.

[Halifax Daily News, 22 December 1999]

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