History of Nova Scotia with special attention given to Communications and Transportation (1870 to 1879)

with special attention given to
Transportation and Communications

Chapter 11
1 January 1870   to   31 December 1879

Index with links to the other chapters

1870 January 28

Passenger Steamship City of Boston Disappears

On this day, the steamship City of Boston sailed from Halifax for London and was never again heard from.
[The Bridgetown Weekly Monitor, 31 January 1900: “Thirty years ago last Sunday…”]
[100 Years Ago in the Bridgetown Monitor, 1 February 2000]

SS City of Boston

A Mystery at Sea: Anxiety for the Safety of the City of Boston
The Ships List

Hon. Charles Tupper, the President of the Privy Council
of the Dominion of Canada, was a passenger on the lost
steamer  on  her  last  trip  from  New  York  to  Halifax.
He remarked that the passage was unprecedentedly short,
being only about  forty-eight  hours  in duration.  As far as he
could judge, everything about the ship was in  good  condition;
and this fact and the  steadiness  and  attention  of the Captain
and officers to their duty made him very unwilling to believe that
the ship had been lost, or to give up hopes of hearing from her.
The City of Boston Libel Suit brought by the Inman Steamship Company
Interesting Evidence

The Ships List

The Loss of the City of Boston 1870
Liverpool Mercury, 8 February 1913

SS City of Boston, Inman Line
Norway Heritage


Birth of F.G. Creed

Frederick George Creed was born in Mill Village, Queens County, Nova Scotia in 1871. In 1878 he moved with his family to Canso, Guysborough County, Nova Scotia, and by 1885 was employed by the Western Union Telegraph Company in that town.

He learned Morse Code and telegraphy and soon formed the idea that one should be able to built a machine that would be able to send a telegraph message by the operator typing it on a standard typewriter keyboard (instead of performing the usual telegraph keying), and the machine then would convert the message to Morse Code, a series of dots and dashes.  To receive the message, Creed’s machine would connect the telegraph system and a typewriter in reverse order.

Creed set out to invent a means to convert the alphanumeric characters on the keyboard of the ordinary typewriter so that when any particular key is pressed, the Morse Code representing that particular character is produced automatically, and transmitted via the telegraph system. Creed developed this system during the nine years (1888-1897) he worked for the South American Telegraph and Cable Company in Peru and Chile.  At this time, he invented a series of electromechanical devices that he combined into what he called the “High Speed Automatic Printing Telegraph System.”

In 1897 he went to Scotland, to perfect and complete his invention. He started work in a garden shed in a suburb of Glasgow. With the aid of an old typewriter, bought for 15 shillings in the Sauchiehall Street market, his ideas began to take shape. His machine was operated by compressed air and the first order for a quantity of 12 came from the British Post Office in 1902. Next, Creed produced a receiving perforator, what we now call a reperforator. From the received signal it produced a tape identical to the transmitting tape. Then he designed a printer that took the tape and printed plain characters on a paper tape. And so the Creed high speed automatic printing telegraph was born. It could run at the astonishing speed of 200 words per minute.

After he had demonstrated that his system was indeed a major breakthrough in communications, he established a company in London, England, where he began manufacturing the Creed Telegraph Printer.  In 1898, Fred Creed demonstrated that he could transmit the Glasgow Herald newspaper to London via telegraphy at a rate of sixty words per minute. By 1913, his system was being used routinely to transmit London newspapers to other major centres in Great Britain and Europe.

Creed Teleprinters were sold to Denmark, Sweden, India, Australia and South Africa, and provided almost instant printed communications between heads of state. In 1923, he demonstrated that his system was also applicable to ship to shore communications, and it therefore became a valuable life saving system for ships in distress.  Creed continued to be involved in the technology he had invented by serving on the Board of Directors of ITT (International Telegraph & Telephone Company).

Adapted from:

A Tough Problem

All telegraph codes have their strengths and their weaknesses. For instance, one of the strengths of Morse code is that commonly used letters have short codes, making them easier to send. Whereas one of its weaknesses is the difference in length between the code for the shortest character “E”, and the code for the longest character “0” (zero), which takes 19 times as long to transmit. This vast difference in length made the Morse code difficult, but certainly not impossible, to mechanise. For example, the Creed Morse printer, developed in the early 1900s, read a perforated Morse tape, and printed the message in plain language, at speeds of up to 100 words per minute.
Source: Alan G. Hobbs, President of British Amateur Radio Teledata Group

Frederick Creed (1871-1957)

Coding messages into punched tape was a boring and laborious job for the overworked telegraph operator. So Fred Creed devised his own ideas for a revolutionary, high speed machine.  He moved his original factory from Glasgow to Croydon in 1909, and received a huge boost just three years later when the Daily Mail became the first newspaper in the world to adopt his telegraph system. After the First World War, during which his communications equipment assisted the French landing, news agencies such as the Press Association, Central News Agency, and Exchange Telegraph, found his innovation indispensable. Fred Creed continued devising original ideas from his Croydon home until his death aged 86.
Source: Croydon City Council website (Croyden is a suburb of London, England)

Sixty Words per Minute

In 1922, Frederick George Creed in Croydon designed a start-stop receiver, and a few years later produced a combined transmitter and receiver having a typewriter-style keyboard. This machine, known as the Model 3 and operating at 65.3 words per minute, printed the messages directly onto a gummed paper tape and was widely adopted for the British Post Office Public Telegram service. The year 1931 saw the introduction of the first Creed Model 7 page printing teleprinter, operating at the now standard speed of 66.6 words per minute.
Source: Alan G. Hobbs, President of British Amateur Radio Teledata Group

Creed Model 75 teleprinter

Creed Model 75 Teleprinter
Source: Early Technology Ltd., Edinburgh, Scotland
Creed model 75 Teleprinter (shown in photo with its cover off),
part of a set of Creed tape editing equipment as used on
the Parsons Peebles Pegasus 1 Computer (1955-1962)…

Creed Model 75 Teleprinter capacity 100 wpm (words per minute)

Creed & Company of Croydon

In 1901, the firm of Creed & Company of Croydon, founded by F.G. Creed (1871-1957), developed a receiving reperforator which enabled telegraph signals to be received and recorded in the form of perforations in a paper tape at speeds of up to 200 words a minute. It saved manual work at the receiving station and made re-transmission of messages easier.
Source: Chronology of Telecommunications History, British Telecommunications PLC

Creed and Company Limited

In 1897 the founder, the late Frederick George Creed, then a young man of 26, came to Scotland with an idea for a revolutionary telegraph machine. Born in Mill Village, Nova Scotia, in 1871, Mr Creed began his career as a check boy for the Western Union Telegraph Company at Canso, Nova Scotia, where he taught himself cable and land line telegraphy. He later accepted a job as a telegraph operator with the Central and South American Telegraph and Cable Company in Peru. This in turn led to a transfer to that company’s office in Iquique, Chile, where, as a practical and often overworked telegraph operator, he found the equipment far from perfect and resolved to do something about it.

Those were the days of hand-operated Morse key circuits and Wheatstone telegraphy. The latter system was speedy on the lines, being automatic in operation and based on the use of punched tape. Coding the message into punched tape for subsequent transmission was a boring and laborious job, however. The perforator was provided with three operating plungers – one for the dot, one for the dash, and one for the space. The operator, by striking these plungers with small rubber tipped mallets, one in each hand, made the appropriate perforations in the tape. Thus, he not only had to punch out each element of a Morse code combination separately, but had to supply the energy to move the tape as well. Moreover, only operators with a thorough knowledge of the code could be employed to work such a machine. This slow and wearysome method of coding messages led Mr Creed to the idea of a typewriter style machine that would enable complete Morse code signals to be punched in the tape simply by operating the corresponding character keys.

Fired with enthusiasm, he threw up his job and set sail for Britain, determined to put this and other ideas into practice. Working in a garden shed in a suburb of Glasgow – with the aid of an old typewriter bought for fifteen shillings in a Sauchiehall Street auction sale – his ideas began to take shape. Although he had no engineering training, and despite repeated advice to “return to your key”, he persevered and finally came up with a prototype keyboard perforator. When the late Lord Kelvin saw this first effort, he told Mr Creed there was no future in the idea, even though at that time morning newspapers were covering week-old foreign events as current news, due to the poor communications of the day. Disappointed but undeterred, Mr Creed pressed on, and what eventually emerged was a tape perforator operated by compressed air and controlled by a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter.

Its superiority over the “stick perforator” then in current use attracted the attention of the GPO, who in 1902 placed an order for 12 machines. By now Mr Creed had turned his thoughts to the development of equipment that would improve message handling on the receiving side…

A big boost came in 1912 when the Daily Mail became the first newspaper in the world to adopt the Creed System. In a very short time the entire contents of the newspaper were being transmitted daily from London to Manchester for simultaneous publication. Other newspapers shortly followed this lead and export business began to develop with orders from telegraph administrations and companies in Denmark, India, Australia, South Africa and Sweden…

In July 1928, Creed & Company became part of the International Telephone & Telegraph Corporation (ITT)…

Site #1 — Creed and Company Limited: The First Fifty Years by Alan G. Hobbs

Site #2 — Creed and Company Limited: The First Fifty Years by Alan G. Hobbs

The Wayback Machine has archived copies of this document:
Creed and Company Limited:
The First Fifty Years Archived: 2000 November 19
Archived: 2001 July 19
Archived: 2002 August 18
Archived: 2003 October 01
Archived: 2004 August 05
Archived: 2005 April 04
Archived: 2006 May 09
Archived: 2007 April 29

These links were accessed and found to be valid on 18 March 2010.

1872 January 1

First Through Train, Annapolis – Halifax

The first Windsor & Annapolis Railway passenger train ran through from Annapolis Royal to Halifax, using newly-granted “running rights” over the track, owned by others, between Windsor and Halifax.  Until this day, no passenger train ran past Windsor — all trains in both directions stopped there and passengers had to get off one train and board another to continue their journey.  The W&AR operated trains between Windsor and Annapolis, and the Nova Scotia Railway operated trains between Windsor and Halifax.  The Windsor station had three tracks: one for use by the NSR, one for use by the W&AR, and the one in the middle for either to use as needed.

1872 March 12

Numerous Telegraph Offices in Operation

On this date, 53 telegraph offices were in operation in Nova Scotia.

1872 October 8

First Train on the ICR, Truro – Amherst

On this day, the first train ran all the way between Truro and Amherst on the newly-built track of the Intercolonial Railway.  This same track is now (2011) part of the main line of CN (Canadian National Railway) between Halifax and Montreal.

Of course, “the same track” means the modern railway track is
located along the same route, not that the same track structure
— rails and ties and ballast and bridges — is still in service.

1872 November 9

ICR Formally Opened, Truro – Amherst

On this day, the Intercolonial Railway between Truro and Amherst was opened for regular traffic.  This completed the Halifax – Saint John route, so that a passenger could now ride all the way between these two cities in a railway carriage.

1872 December 4

The brigantine Mary Celeste, built at Spencer’s Island, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, is found abandoned at sea.
[The Halifax Daily News, 4 December 1999]

1873 January 9

Sold to Western Union

Advertisements appeared announcing the sale of the Nova Scotia Electric Telegraph Company system to Western Union.

1873 April 1

Atlantic Wrecked

The large passenger steamship Atlantic was wrecked when it ran on rocks close to Meagher’s Island, near the small village of Prospect, on the shore of Nova Scotia.  Atlantic, on its way from Liverpool, England, to New York, had encountered much heavier seas and head winds than was usual on that route, and was running low on coal, the fuel needed to run the engines.  The chief engineer, who was responsible for the operation of the engines, was worried that there was not enough coal for the ship to reach New York safely if more storms were ahead.  On his advice, the captain decided to stop at Halifax for more fuel.  562 people died in the icy waters of the North Atlantic that day (another source reports 574).  About 400 were buried at Prospect, in three cemeteries that, in the 1990s, are still maintained by the people of Prospect.  Atlantic was operated by The White Star Line, the same company that later built Titanic.
Contemporary rendition of the scene at the wreck location
The Toronto Globe, 16 April 1912
The Globe and Mail, 4 September 1998
The Halifax Sunday Herald, 13 September 1998
The National Post, 1 April 1999
Steam at Sea: Two Centuries of Steam-Powered Ships, by Denis Griffiths, published by Conway Maritime Press, London, 1997, ISBN 0851776663

S.S. Atlantic 1873: memorial at Sandy Cove Terence Bay, Nova Scotia

S.S. Atlantic 1873: memorial at Star of the Sea cemetery Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia

1873 April 30

Town of Dartmouth Incorporated

On this day, Dartmouth was incorporated as the first Town in Nova Scotia.
[The Halifax Daily News, 30 April 2000]

1873 July 14

Transatlantic Telegraph Cable Crisis

“At this moment all telegraphic enterprise is paralyzed so far as the laying down of new lines is concerned.  Out of three wires crossing the Atlantic, only one is, at this date, in working order.  The tariff has been raised to six shillings a word; the last wire may break tomorrow, and it is impossible for any new company to begin to construct a cable by which such a catastrophe might be anticipated and the tariff reduced to reasonable rates, unless the Government of Newfoundland will clearly declare whether it means to exercise its right of pre-emption or not…”

[Excerpted from a letter dated 14th July 1873, signed by L. Oliphant, which is reproduced in a report Reserved Pre-emption Right of the Government of Newfoundland 1873.]

1873 August 23-24-25

The Great Nova Scotia Cyclone

The Great Nova Scotia Cyclone, August 1873:
This catastrophic hurricane claimed about 500 lives as it swept across Cape Breton Island on Canada’s east coast. The storm also claimed 1,200 vessels, 900 buildings and numerous bridges before dying out. But the destructive nature of the storm helped change the way weather was monitored in Canada. Toronto had tried to warn Halifax but the telegraph service was interrupted due to the storm. From 1871 to 1879, Washington, DC transmitted storm warnings to Toronto. The weather bulletins were sent by telegraph to the areas in danger. The devastating effects of the hurricane motivated politicians to implement a better storm warning system, which was later put into use in the Maritimes.

On Saturday evening, 23 August 1873, a great storm swept into the Bay of Fundy area. On Prince Edward Island, the wind had been blowing from the south – southwest, bringing pleasant 70°F temperatures. On Sunday morning the 24th of August 1873, the wind shifted to the north, and by evening had increased to a fresh breeze from the northeast, which rapidly developed during the night into a furious gale, with heavy rains. Temperatures plunged to 47°F, and heavy seas pounded the night-black coast. In the whole history of maritime disasters, only the Yankee Gale of 1851 wreaked greater havoc on Prince Edward Island. The 1873 August gale cost upwards of 1,000 lives across the Maritimes…
Source: The Island Magazine, Fall/Winter 1992

Remembered in weather chronicles as the Great Nova Scotia Cyclone, a calamitous hurricane swept over Cape Breton Island on August 25, 1873. The storm was unusual at that time in having travelled so far to the east after leaving the tropics. Its destructive power was also extraordinary. Ravages of the storm included 1200 vessels, 500 lives, 900 buildings, and an untold number of bridges, wharves, and dykes. Property losses were conservatively estimated at $3.5 million, an amount equivalent to $70 million in 1990. At the height of the storm, gale-force winds were reported at Halifax, Sydney, and Truro. Also noted in the weather records for these stations were observations of an intense thunderstorm and heavy rainfalls of 50 mm or more. The Sydney weather observer remarked that this was the worst gale since 1810.

Frederick Vogler was a sea captain. He and his brothers William and Philip, and a nephew, all of Petite Riviere, Lunenburg County, were drowned 24 August 1873 en route from Labrador, 24 souls aboard, leaving 7 widows and numerous bereaved families. The vessel was later found, partly submerged, masts gone, and 4 bodies in the cabin…

Was this a Perigean Syzygy?
Did the storm of 24 August 1873
coincide with a Perigean Syzygy?
The storm of 24 Aug 1873 did not occur at a Perigean Syzygy.
There was a New Moon at 5:31am AST on 23 Aug 1873, so the
storm the next day did coincide with a syzygy, but this was
not a Perigean Syzygy.

The Moon was at apogee (not perigee) at 9:36am AST on 24 Aug 1873,
which meant the Moon’s tide-raising force was significantly weakened.
And this apogee was the maximum (greatest Moon-to-Earth distance)
for the whole year 1873, further weakening the Moon’s tide-raising force.
Also, this apogee and syzygy were 28 hours apart.  The relevant
astronomical forces were not especially strong at the time of this storm.

(Two weeks later, there was a genuine Perigean Syzygy, and a whopper
— the closest perigee of the entire year 1873 came at 12:14am AST
on 7 Sep 1873, followed just 56 minutes later, at 1:10am AST, by a
Full Moon syzygy.  This is not relevant to the storm two weeks earlier.)

ICS (2 July 2003)

1873 September 22

Western Counties Railway,
First Sod Turned

On this day, the official sod-turning ceremony, marking the beginning of construction of the Western Counties Railway, was held at Lovitt’s Wharf, Yarmouth.  The plan was to build a railway between Yarmouth and Digby.


First Street Lamps in Hamilton, Bermuda

In 1874, the Corporation of Hamilton acquired its first street lamps for Hamilton — Bermuda’s largest town. Two were ordered from Halifax, Nova Scotia, at a cost of $17.25 each. Erected on ten-foot 3 metre posts, they burned kerosene and gave off a light equal to fourteen candles. They proved so satisfactory that the Corporation later increased the order, to illuminate Front Street intersections.

1874 February 16

Beacon Lighthouse Begins Operation

On this day, the Beacon Lighthouse in Yarmouth Harbour, was lighted for the first time in regular operation.

1874 April 25

Birth of M.G. Marconi

On this day, Marchese Guglielmo Marconi was born in the family home, Villa Grifone, in Bologna, Italy.  In 1894, he came across an article on the electromagnetic waves discovered eight years earlier by H.R. Hertz, and it occurred to him that these might be used in signaling.  He began experimenting with Hertzian waves in the attic of Villa Grifone.  By the end of 1894 he was able to ring a bell at a distance of ten metres with no wire or any metallic connection.

“Gradually, Marconi improved his instruments, grounding both the transmitter and receiver, and using a wire, insulated from the Earth, which served as an aerial or antenna to facilitate both sending and receiving … As time went on, he sent signals across greater and greater distances.” In 1895, he sent one over a distance of two kilometres.

“In 1896, he went to England (his mother was Irish and he could speak English perfectly) and sent a signal fifteen kilometres.  He then applied for and obtained the first patent in the history of radio.”

From 1902 to 1945, Marconi’s company was a major employer in Glace Bay and Louisbourg, on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

[The quotes are from Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science & Technology, 2nd revised edition, 1982, by Isaac Asimov.]

Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology

1874 May 7

Windsor Kerosene Gas Light Company
Windsor Gas Light Company

On this day, the name of the Windsor Kerosene Gas Light Company was changed to the Windsor Gas Light Company.

In March 1852, 15 Victoria chapter 44, An Act to Incorporate the Windsor Kerosene Gas Light Company, had been passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature.  The name change in 1874 was authorized by 37 Victoria chapter 84.

1874 September 2

Western Counties Railway,
First Rail Laid

The first rail of the Western Counties Railway was laid during a ceremony near Lovitt’s Wharf in Yarmouth.  The first spike was driven by George B. Doane, President of the Company.

1874 October 20

Western Counties Railway,
First Locomotive Arrives

The Western Counties Railway’s first locomotive, Pioneer, arrived in Yarmouth on this day.  It ran under its own power on October 27th.

1875 January

The Halifax Morning Herald Begins Publication

“The Herald, as it is commonly known, had its humble beginnings as The Morning Herald on a snowy January morning in 1875.  Reporters, editors, and printers produced a mere 800 copies of the first issue of the new newspaper that went head-to-head with five other dailies in a city of only 30,000.

The Herald, as a feisty upstart, quickly became identified with the causes of the average Nova Scotian — the miners, farmers, and fishermen found throughout the province.” Four years later, in 1879, the same company established the Evening Mail to cover the afternoon market.

Competition for readers was fierce with their main rivals, the Chronicle and the Star, but by 1949, the Herald and Mail triumphed and merged their publications, creating The Chronicle-Herald and The Mail-Star, now [1998] the dominant newspapers in the region and the flagship publications of The Halifax Herald Limited. 

The Chronicle-Herald is a morning publication sold in the greater metropolitan area and throughout Nova Scotia.  The Mail-Star is an afternoon newspaper which circulates mainly in the metro area.  In 1998, “these newspapers are among a very few dailies in Canada to escape chain ownership.  They are independently owned by the Dennis family of Halifax, whose members have been actively involved in newspapering in Nova Scotia for four generations.”

[Volume 1 Number 1 of The Sunday Herald, Halifax, 19 April 1998]

1875 June 30

Change of Gauge

Beginning in the evening of Wednesday, June 30, 1875, and continuing through the night, many work crews accomplished the task of changing the gauge of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway, between Windsor Junction and Annapolis, from 5 feet 6 inches 167 cm to 4 feet 8½ inches 144 cm.

This was a complicated job, which included changing all track and all switches to the new gauge.  Extensive preparations had been made in advance; a spike was driven inside to the new gauge on every other tie and inside spikes were pulled from alternate ties of the broad gauge, so that when the time came to make the change it was only a matter of removing the remaining inside spikes on the broad gauge and sliding the rail over to the new gauge, and driving new outside spikes on every other tie.  Only one rail was moved, with the other remaining in its original location.

Marguerite Woodworth, in her 1936 book History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, wrote: The whole work was “done in a little over ten hours, with no disruption of train service.” After trains resumed running on the new gauge, track crews went back and completed the work by driving all missing spikes.

All rolling stock, including locomotives and freight and passenger cars, had to be converted to run on the new gauge.  The Dominion Government exchanged the old, broad-gauge locomotives for nine standard-gauge engines, and, in exchange for similar quantities of broad gauge equipment, the Government provided 14 pairs of standard gauge passenger trucks and 145 pairs of freight car trucks.  Rolling stock was converted at Kentville by lifting each car, then removing the old broad-gauge trucks, and placing new standard-gauge trucks.

The Agreement of 20 June 1875

On the 20th day of June, 1875, an agreement was entered into between Her Majesty Queen Victoria, represented by the Minister of Public Works for the Dominion of Canada, and the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company, which agreement included the following:

  • Whereas the Company was on the 1st day of January 1875 indebted to the Government of Canada in a large sum of money, being one-third of the accrued gross earnings of the Windsor Branch of the Intercolonial Railway, worked and managed by the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company, under an agreement entered into by them with the Government of Canada, dated the 22nd day of September 1871, granting the said Branch to the Company for twenty-one years, from the 1st day of January 1872;
  • And whereas the Company have made certain claims against the Government of Canada, by way of set-off to such indebedness, but which claims have not been recognized or admitted;
  • And whereas it is found to be desirable that the gauge of the rails on the said Branch should be changed from their present 5 feet 6 inches 168 cm gauge to the standard gauge of 4 feet 8½ inches 144 cm;
  • This document witnesses that the Company, for consideration hereinafter described, do hereby contract and agree to and with Her Majesty, that the Company shall and will, at their own cost and charge, on or before the 1st day of July next, in a proper, substantial and workmanlike manner, but subject to the approval of the Minister or officer appointed by him, change the gauge of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway, and make it conform to the present standard gauge above named, and deliver over to the Minister or whom he may appoint for that purpose, at such place or places as may be decided
        9 broad gauge locomotive engines
        14 sets of broad gauge passenger-car trucks, and
        145 sets of broad gauge freight-car trucks
    and also execute and deliver a release of all claims and demands whatsoever against Her Majesty, or the Government of Canada, up to the 1st day of July 1875;

    In consideration whereof Her Majesty, represented as aforesaid, doth promise and agree to and with the Company;
  • That upon the said change of gauge being effected, in the manner hereinbefore described, all debts and liabilities accrued, owed by the Company to the Government of Canada, in manner aforesaid up to the first day of January 1875 shall be discharged and extinguished;
  • That the Minister will deliver to the Company, at Windsor Junction, Nova Scotia:
        9 standard gauge locomotive engines (3 new and 6 converted ones)
        14 sets of standard gauge passenger-car trucks, and
        145 sets of standard gauge freight-car trucks
  • That the said nine standard gauge engines shall be and remain the property of the Government of Canada;
  • And it is hereby distinctly understood and agreed between the parties herto, that nothing herein shall in any way (except as to discharging the indebtedness and claims herein above mentioned), alter, vary or interfere with the terms of the agreement under which the Company hold the Windsor Branch Line; but that all moneys accrued due, as being one-third of the gross earnings of the Windsor Branch, from the 1st day of January 1875, shall be paid by the Company to the Receiver-General of Canada on or before the 31st day of July 1875, and hereafter those accruing shall be paid monthly, as provided in the agreement under which the Company hold and work the Windsor Branch.

This Agreement was prepared under the direction of the Minister of Justice of Canada, executed (signed) by the Ministry of Public Works, and accepted and acted upon by the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company, and on the faith of it, they changed the gauge of their railway and delivered to the Minister the locomotives and trucks specified in the Agreement, and incurred a very large expense in making arrangements to carry out their part of the Agreement.

Source: pages 294-296 of The Equity Decisions of The Hon. John W. Ritchie, Judge in Equity of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1873-1882 (book) edited by Benjamin Russell, M.A., Official Reporter to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia; 1883, published by A. & W. MacKinlay, Halifax.

ICS comments (written 5 July 2000):
Obviously, the planning and work required for the change of gauge was begun well before this agreement was signed on 20 June 1875 — just ten days before the work had to be completed.  Changing the gauge of a railway is a complex, expensive, and time-consuming project, requiring careful planning and competent management.  There can be no doubt that this project was pretty far along in preparations by the time the legal agreement was signed. 

This agreement gives us a clear idea of the rolling stock in service on the Windsor and Annapolis Railway at this time: 9 locomotives, 14 passenger cars, and 145 freight cars — box cars, flat cars, gondola cars, vans (cabooses cabeese?) and other miscellaneous types.  The six “converted” locomotives were originally manufactured as broad-gauge engines, and were converted to standard gauge by fitting new slightly-shorter axles (probably re-using the original driving wheels) and adjusting the position of the cylinders to match; the frames, boilers, fireboxes, cabs and controls, etc., were unaffected.  (This conversion would have been considerably simplified if these locomotives had been specified, at the time of original purchase, to be designed with a view to later conversion to standard gauge — I don’t know if this was done, but the need for eventual conversion to the “standard” or Stephenson gauge had been clear for years before the change was carried out.)

According to Benjamin Russell’s book, after the successful change of gauge on the night of June 30 – July 1, 1875, the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company continued to operate the Windsor Branch and paid the rent as set out in the agreement, “until the 1st August 1877, when the Superintendent of the Government Railways, without the consent of the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company and against their will, took forcible possession of the Windsor Branch and removed the Company’s trains therefrom, and prevented them from using the said Branch … and from running any train thereon, and the Windsor Branch … continued to be operated by the said Superintendent and his subordinates until the 24th September 1877, when the Windsor Branch was formally transferred to the Western Counties Railway Company, who took possession and (as of March 11th, 1878) continue to hold and operate it…” On October 9th, 1877, an attempt was made by the Windsor and Annapolis Railway Company to run an engine from Windsor towards Windsor Junction, but they were forcibly prevented from doing so by the Western Counties Railway Company.

In July 2000, the Windsor Branch remains in daily use for freight trains.  It is owned by Canadian National Railway, but is leased, maintained, and operated by the Windsor and Hantsport Railway Company.  This is the railway track that runs from Windsor through Three Mile Plains, Ellershouse, Mount Uniacke, South Uniacke, and Beaver Bank, to Windsor Junction.

ICS update (written 20 January 2011): After the above comment was written the Windsor Branch continued to carry freight trains but traffic was declining and soon was reduced to one round trip eack week between Windsor and Windsor Junction.  Track maintenance was minimal, not much more than replacement of the occasional broken rail.  The track condition was such that there was a permanent slow order (railway parlance for a track speed lmit) of ten miles per hour, and as low as five miles per hour for some sections.  The last train over the Windsor Branch operated on 2 November 2010. Last Train to Windsor Junction
2 November 2010

Last Train on the Windsor Branch

1875 July 10   (OS)
1875 July 22   (NS)

Extract from the
International Telegraph Convention

Signed at St. Petersburg, July 10/22, 1875

Article 1

The High Contracting Parties concede to all persons the right to correspond by means of the international telegraphs.

Article 2

They bind themselves to take all the necessary measures for the purpose of insuring the secrecy of the correspondence and its safe transmission.

Article 3

They declare, nevertheless, that they accept no responsibility as regards the international telegraph service.

Article 5

Telegrams are classed in three categories:
    1.   State telegrams: those emanating from the Head of the Nation, the Ministers, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Naval forces, and the Diplomatic or Consular Agents of the Contracting Governments, as well as the answers to such telegrams.
    2.   Service telegrams: those which emanate from the Managements of the Telegraph Service of the Contracting States and which relate either to the international telegraph service or to subjects of public interest determined jointly by such Managements.
    3.   Private telegrams.
In the transmission, the State telegrams shall have precedence over other telegrams.

Article 6

State telegrams and service telegrams may be issued in secret language, in any communications.
    Private telegrams may be exchanged in secret language between two States which admit of this mode of correspondence.
    The States which do not admit of private telegrams in secret language upon the expedition or arrival of the same, shall allow them to pass in transit, except in the case of suspension defined in article 8.

Article 7

The High Contracting Parties reserve the right to stop the transmission of any private telegram which may appear dangerous to the safety of the State, or which may be contrary to the laws of the country, to public order or good morals.

Article 8

Each Government also reserves the right to suspend the international telegraph service for an indefinite period, if deemed necessary by it, either generally, or only over certain lines and for certain classes of correspondence, of which such Government shall immediately notify all other Contracting Governments.

Article 11

Telegrams relating to the international telegraph service of the Contracting States shall be transmitted free of charge over the entire system of such States.

Article 12

The High Contracting Parties shall render accounts to one another of the charges collected by each of them.

Article 17

The High Contracting Parties reserve respectively the right to enter among themselves into special arrangements of any kind with regard to points of the service which do not interest the States generally.

Thomas White’s valuable website on the History of Radio
Articles and extracts about early radio and related technologies…

The appearance of the double dates — OS and NS — in the above document occurred because this International Telegraph Convention was signed by many countries, most of which used the Gregorian calendar but when this document was signed in 1875 a few still used the Julian calendar for civil purposes.

By 1875 most of the countries in the world had adopted the Gregorian calendar, but Russia and a few other countries such as Turkey, were still using the Julian calendar.  Because some of the signatory countries were using the Julian calendar (OS meaning Old Style) and others the Gregorian (NS meaning New Style), international treaties were dated in both calendars.

During the 1800s there was a difference of twelve days between the two calendars.  Since March 1900 the difference has been thirteen days.  (Russia converted to the Gregorian calendar in 1917, during the Russian Revolution, and Turkey converted in the mid-1920s, also as the result of a revolution.)

Today (2011) the Julian Calendar is still running, and is still widely used used for certain religious purposes, but — as far as I know — it is not used anywhere for any civil purposes (such as dating legal documents, or scheduling the operations of businesses, government departments, transportation, radio or television stations, etc.).

Regionalism and National Communications Policies:
Canada and the United States in North American Telecommunications Governance

Communications Regulation:
The Role of the International Telecommunication Union

International Telegraph Union

History of International Telecommunications Treaties — The very first international telecommunications conference held among service providers occurred at Dresden in July 1850 among the States of Austria, Prussia, Bavaria and Saxony.  The conference drafted the first intergovernmental treaty pertaining to telecommunications, which established a regime consisting of norms, regulations, standards, and a continuing institution in the form of a German-Austrian Telegraph Union … In 1865, fifteen years after the Dresden Conference, France’s Louis Napoleon convened the original four Dresden parties plus fifteen additional European States to adopt the International Telegraph Convention of Paris.  Most of the Dresden treaty provisions were adopted almost verbatim, and the institutional name became the International Telegraph Union … The provisions of the 1865 Paris Conference were replicated by subsequent conferences of the International Telegraph Union: Vienna 1866; Rome 1871; St. Petersburg 1875; London 1879; Berlin 1885; Paris 1890; Budapest 1896; London 1903, Lisbon 1906; Paris 1925; Bruxelles 1928; and Madrid 1932… 

Legal System Challenged by Rapidly-Changing Technology

Though international law has no regime of incorporation comparable to that in a state’s legal system, it is clear that international organizations can be created with an independent international legal personality, separate from the sovereign states creating them. Such organizations began to develop in the 19th century, as international relations advanced from reliance on bilateral treaties and conventional diplomatic contact between states to other forms of cooperation.  The Congress of Vienna in 1815 introduced a new era of international conferences and multinational treaties which developed international administrative unions for political and economic purposes … An example may be seen in the international response to the rapid growth of telegraphic and telephone communication during the second half of the 19th century. The first international telegraph line was built in 1849 between Trieste and Hamburg following a bilateral agreement between Austria and Prussia. By 1865, various national telegraphic associations had been merged and expanded to create the International Telegraph Union, established by an international convention signed by member states, and an International Bureau in Berne, Switzerland.  In 1875, in St. Petersburg, two international conventions were signed which outlined standards for international telegraph lines…

Global Regulation of the Internet

Global Regulation of the Internet:
History of the Global Regulation of Technology

1876 – 1890

The K Ships

Among the thirty sailing vessels built by Ebenezer Cox in Kingsport, Nova Scotia, was a series known as the K ships.  These were:

  • Barque Kingsport 951 tons, launched in 1876.  Peter R. Crichton, Kingsport majority shareholder.  Sold Ireland 1876.  Destroyed by German U boat 1916.
  • Barque Kentigerm 825 tons, launched in 1877.  Peter R. Crichton, Kingsport owner.  Burned by German U boat North Sea 1916.
  • Ship Kingsport 1161 tons, launched in 1878.  Peter R. Crichton, Kingsport majority shareholder.  Wrecked near Buenos Aires 1897.  Condemned and sold there.
  • Barque Kelvin 1099 tons, launched in 1879.  Peter R. Crichton, majority shareholder.  Condemned and sold Buenos Aires 1899.
  • Barque Katahdin 1145 tons, launched in 1880.  Peter R. Crichton, shareholder.  Abandoned at sea 1904 while under Norwegian flag.
  • Barque Kedron 1160 tons, launched in 1880.  C. Rufus Burgess, Wolfville majority shareholder.  1894 under Norwegian flag.
  • Barque Kelverdale 1132 tons, launched in 1881.  Peter R. Crichton, majority shareholder.  1903 under Spanish flag.
  • Ship Kambira 1952 tons, launched in 1882. C. Rufus Burgess, Wolfville majority shareholder.  Abandoned at sea off Uruguay 1905.
  • Ship Karoo 2031 tons, launched in 1884.  C. Rufus Burgess, majority shareholder.  1905 under Norwegian flag as the Atlantic.
  • Barque Kings County launched in 1890.
[Source: “A Seafaring Vignette: The K Ships of Kingsport” by Stanley Spicer of Spencer’s Island, in The Canning Gazette, Issue #129, September 1998]

1876 March 7

Patent No. 174,465

On this day, United States Patent number 174,465 Improvement in Telegraphy was awarded to Alexander Graham Bell.  “Be it known that I, Alexander Graham Bell, of Salem, Massachusetts, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Telegraphy, of which the following is a specification…”  This is the basic patent for the invention we now know as the telephone.
[The National Post, 7 March 2000]

Text of U.S. Patent 174,465

1876 April 4

Halifax and Cape Breton Railway & Coal Company

On this day, the Halifax and Cape Breton Railway & Coal Company was incorporated by chapter 74 of the Acts of 1876 of the Nova Scotia Legislature, for the purpose “of constructing, maintaining and operating a railway from some convenient point on the existing railway between Truro and Pictou Landing to a suitable point on the Strait of Canso…”

This was generally known as the Eastern Extension Railway, because it was extended eastward from the existing railway at New Glasgow with the ultimate aim of reaching Sydney.  This line of track was built, and carried heavy traffic for many years first as part of the ICR (Intercolonial Railway) and, from 1923 to 1993, as part of the CNR (Canadian National Railways).  In October 1993, this track was sold to the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway.

Today (July 2000) this railway track is still in use by ten trains a week in winter — twelve in summer, with the once-a-week round trip of the VIA passenger train — as the main line, between New Glasgow through Antigonish to Havre Boucher, of the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway.  The original Eastern Extension ran from New Glasgow through Antigonish to Mulgrave (the “suitable point on the Strait of Canso”), and the Mulgrave track was in daily use by main line trains until 1954, when the Canso Causeway was opened and the Truro-Sydney main line track was relocated through Havre Boucher and Aulds Cove.

1876 Summer

Scheduled Passenger Services
in the Annapolis Valley

In Marguerite Woodworth’s book, History of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, published in October 1936, on page 84 she describes the scheduled services available for the convenience of travellers in the Annapolis Valley in the summer and autumn of 1876: “The regular two trains a day, east and west, handled passengers and freight, while three times a week a through train with passengers only made connections” with the wood-hull side-wheel steamer Empress at Annapolis.  “Stage connections with the train gave access to other points: A daily stage service operated between Newport and Brooklyn, between Port Williams station and Canning, between Annapolis and Liverpool, and between Annapolis and Yarmouth.  Twice a week, a stage operated between Kentville and Chester.” She adds: Passenger traffic on the Windsor & Annapolis Railway continued to increase.  During the week 1st-6th October 1876, during the Provincial Agricultural Exhibit held in Kentville, “over 9000 passengers were carried on the line.”
[It is believed that “the regular two trains a day, east and west” means one train each way each day.]

1876 August 1

Barnum’s Circus Parade

P.T. Barnum brought Halifax its first circus parade on this day. As the parade passed by, a thief stole $21,000 from the head office of the Bank of Nova Scotia.
[The Halifax Sunday Daily News, 1 August 1999]

1877 February

Excitement in Nova Scotia

The Great Seal of State
Illegal Use of an Old Seal

All Marriages Since 1869 Declared Void

A special dispatch from Halifax says the question of precedence having arisen between certain Queen’s counsel, an affidavit was read in the Supreme Court Saturday, setting forth that the seal attached to the Commission of Queen’s counsel appointed by the local Government was not the great seal of the province, but the old seal which had been ordered to be returned by the Imperial Government in 1869.  The Premier of the local Government admitted the Government had been using the old seal.  The court expressed astonishment at such contempt for Her Majesty’s authorized and expressed opinion, and said that all acts requiring the great seal done since 1869 were totally void.  This state of affairs leaves Nova Scotia today without a Parliament and without a Government, with all grants of marriage licenses, and consequently marriages, and all commissions since 1869, totally void.  The greatest excitement prevails in consequence.  The Chief Justice, after intimating that it would require Imperial legislation to rectify the matter, adjourned the court for 10 days for a full inquiry.
—  News item in The New York Times, Monday, 27 February 1877

Chaos in Nova Scotia

Headline in The New York Times
Tuesday, 28 February 1877

The Great Seal of Nova Scotia
How it Happened that the Old Seal
Was Not Returned

Headline in The New York Times
Friday, 2 March 1877

Note: The Great Seal of Nova Scotia is an obscure legal artifact which most citizens have never heard of, but in February and March 1877 the Great Seal of Nova Scotia was in newspaper headlines all over North America.  A decision by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, issued on 26 March 1877, invalidated all Acts passed by the Nova Scotia Legislature between December 1869 and March 1877.  Also invalidated were all public works contracts awarded by the Nova Scotia government, all official documents authorizing the borrowing of money by the Province, and all marriages performed in the Province during the same time.

By this decision, the Great Seal in use is by three out of five of the Judges [of the Supreme Court] declared to be illegal…
—  Letter signed by Adams J. Archibald, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, at Government House, Halifax, N.S., dated 28th March 1877, and addressed to the Secretary of Sate in Ottawa.
—  Source: Correspondence relating to the great seal of the Province of Nova Scotia Being Affixed to Documents Requiring the Same (book) printed by Order of Parliament, Ottawa, 1877

My Lord,— I have been in communication with the Law Officers of the Crown concerning the vailidity of Acts done under the Great Seal, in use in the Province of Nova Scotia… in 1869 it was thought desirable that new Seals should be prepared for the Dominion of Canada, and for the four Provinces then included in the Dominion.  New Seals were accordingly prepared, and on the 7th of May [1869] a Warrant was passed under the Queen’s Sign Manual and Signet, addressed to the Governor-General of the Dominion, authorizing and directing that the said Seals should, respectively, be used for the sealing of all things, whatsoever, which should pass the Great Seals of the Dominion of Canada and Provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and requiring and commanding the return of the old Seals.  This Warrant does not appear to have been obeyed in the case of Nova Scotia, where the use of the old Seal has been continued, notwithstanding Her Majesty’s instruction; and I learn that it has lately been contended in Nova Scotia that, in consequence of such use of the old Seal, all documents which have passed the Great Seal since receipt of the new Seal, are invalid… [boldface emphasis added]
—  The Earl of Carnavon, Secretary of State for the Colonies in a letter to the Earl of Dufferin, Governor General of Canada, dated at Downing Street, London, England, 29th March 1877.
—  Source: Correspondence relating to the great seal of the Province of Nova Scotia Being Affixed to Documents Requiring the Same (book) printed by Order of Parliament, Ottawa, 1877

1877 July 1

Springhill & Parrsboro Railway

First run of the Springhill & Parrsboro Railway was on July 1st, 1877.  During the railway’s first year of operation there were 900 ships loaded with Springhill coal at Parrsboro.
Source: https://www2.nova-scotia.com/nova-scotia/parrsboro/trivia.html

1877 August

First Telephones in Nova Scotia

In August 1877, Gardiner Greene Hubbard, Alexander Graham Bell’s father-in-law, himself took the first two telephones to Nova Scotia.  These were installed in the Caledonia colliery at Glace Bay, the first telephones to be used in a mine, anywhere.
[Source: Page 108, Long Distance Please: The Story of the TransCanada Telephone System (book) by E.B. Ogle, Collins Publishers, 1979, ISBN 0002161672]