History of Nova Scotia with special attention given to Transportation and Communications (1900 to 1904)

Chapter 15
1 January 1900   to   31 December 1904

Index with links to the other chapters


Proposed Cantilever Bridge over Strait of Canso

Would have been the world’s longest bridge span

Elevation of Proposed Arched Cantilever Bridge
over Strait of Canso at Port Hastings Source: page 330, Cape Breton, Canada, at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, (book) by C.W. Vernon, Nation Publishing Company, Toronto, 1903. Thanks to H.M.B., Wolfville.

This was an ambitious proposal. The main span of this Strait of Canso bridge would have been 1800 feet, longer than the Brooklyn Bridge at 1595 feet, and longer than the Firth of Forth bridge at 1710 feet. Up to 1917, these two bridges had longer spans than any other in the world.

The Brooklyn Bridge in New York was completed in 1883, with one suspension span of 1595 feet, then the longest bridge span of any kind in the world. The Firth of Forth bridge in Scotland was completed in 1890, with two cantilever spans of 1710 feet each — the longest cantilever spans in the world until 1917, when the Quebec Bridge’s 1800-foot span was completed. If it had been built, this Canso Strait bridge would have been the world’s longest cantilever span, and in 2002 would still have been tied with the Quebec Bridge as the world’s longest cantilever span.
View of the Firth of Forth Bridge the Canso Strait bridge would have looked much like this

World’s Longest Bridge Spans

Chronology (Progressive Record) of the World’s Longest Bridge Spans

World’s Longest Bridge Spans National Steel Bridge Alliance

There is no date on this drawing, which appears in a book published in 1903.  Preliminary investigations of the feasibility of a bridge across the Strait of Canso, to eliminate the expense and delay associated with the ferry crossing, began soon after the completion of the railway to Sydney in 1890, and this drawing likely was prepared some time in the 1890s as part of these investigations.

A bridge across – perhaps even a tunnel under – the Canso Strait, continued to be discussed more or less continuously until the mid-twentieth century — the discussion becoming most active during election campaigns or after an unusually-long ferry delay due to a severe winter storm.  There was general agreement that replacing the Canso Strait ferry with a bridge or tunnel was highly desirable, but the great cost kept the project from being built.

Finally, on 9 June 1951, Nova Scotia newspapers reported that the plan to build a bridge across the Strait of Canso had been officially abandoned, and “within a few weeks” tenders would be called to “fill in” the Strait.  This was the decision to build the Canso Causeway.

Numbers of People Killed
on Steam Railways in Canada

1888 – 1915
Year Passengers
Killed Employees
Killed Others
Killed Total
Killed 1888-1889 57 196 188 441 1890 11 83 124 218 1891 13 65 118 196 1892 14 110 109 233 1893 11 72 133 216 1894 12 67 132 211 1895 9 51 123 183 1896 11 46 103 160 1897 6 76 130 212 1898 5 96 164 265 1899 20 119 144 283 1900 7 123 193 323 1901 16 118 183 317 1902 14 152 164 330 1903 53 186 181 420 1904 25 192 178 395 1905 35 208 225 468 1906 16 139 206 361 1907 70 259 269 598 1908 28 224 184 436 1909 36 209 260 505 1910 62 295 258 615 1911 28 227 236 493 1912 48 234 288 568 1913 41 324 377 742 1914 27 224 349 600 1915 17 115 247 379 Totals 692 4,210 5,266 10,168

Source: The Canada Year Book 1915, published 1916 by the Department of Trade and Commerce, Ottawa
Note 1:   The category “others killed” consists mostly of trespassers, but also includes a few non-trespassers such as express and postal employees.
Note 2:   The railway reporting year ended June 30th, and the above figures are for the twelve months ending June 30th of the year stated. For example, the figures in the row “1900” are for the period from 1 July 1899 to 30 June 1900.
Note 3:   In total, there were 35,582 miles 57,251 km of steam railway track in operation in Canada on 30 June 1915, with 1,593 miles 2,563 km under construction.
Note 4:   The number of employees of steam railways in Canada were:
1910 June 30:   123,768
1911 June 30:   141,224
1912 June 30:   155,901
1913 June 30:   178,652
1914 June 30:   159,142

Numbers of People Killed
on Electric Railways in Canada

1894 – 1915
Year Passengers
Killed Employees
Killed Others
Killed Total
Killed 1894-1899 1 2 9 12 1900 0 0 2 2 1901 3 1 11 15 1902 9 1 22 32 1903 10 7 22 39 1904 10 3 40 53 1905 30 3 23 56 1906 11 2 34 47 1907 27 7 37 71 1908 18 6 43 67 1909 11 7 50 68 1910 14 13 68 95 1911 11 8 83 102 1912 16 8 86 110 1913 17 12 44 73 1914 9 13 42 64 1915 14 6 44 64 Totals 211 99 660 970

Source: The Canada Year Book 1915, published 1916 by the Department of Trade and Commerce, Ottawa
Note 1:   The electric railway reporting year ended June 30th, and the above figures are for the twelve months ending June 30th of the year stated. For example, the figures in the row “1914” are for the period from 1 July 1913 to 30 June 1914.
Note 2:   On pages 485-86, The Canada Year Book 1915 lists the names of 63 electric railways in operation in 1915 in Canada. These electric railways consisted mostly of public transit operations, such as the street railways in Halifax, Yarmouth, Trenton-New Glasgow-Stellarton-Westville, Glace Bay-Sydney, and North Sydney in Nova Scotia; Moncton, Saint John, and St. Stephen in New Brunswick; and similar operations in other provinces.
Note 3:   Computed as single track, there were 2,103 miles 3,384 km of electric railway track in operation in Canada on 30 June 1915, compared to 2,052 miles 3,302 km twelve months earlier.
Note 4:   On 30 June 1915 there were 14,795 employees in the service of electric railways in Canada, compared to 16,195 twelve months earlier.

Miners Killed at Work
1863 – 1958

brought to mind the following incomplete tally of miners killed in Nova Scotia:

        60 miners killed   1863   Pictou
        40 miners killed   1866-1872   Nova Scotia
         6 miners killed   1878   Sydney Mines
        49 miners killed   1880   Pictou
         7 miners killed   1881   Vale colliery
        13 miners killed   1885   Vale
       125 miners killed   1891   Springhill
        11 miners killed   1899   Caledonia
         5 miners killed   1903   Reserve
        10 miners killed   1905   Port Hood
        65 miners killed   1917   New Waterford
        88 miners killed   1918   Stellarton
        21 miners killed   1938   Sydney Mines
        19 miners killed   1952   Pictou
        39 miners killed   1956   Springhill 
        76 miners killed   1958   Springhill
        26 miners killed   1958   Trenton

[Letter in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, 15 February 2000]

Archived Copies of Old Nova Scotia Newspapers

Available in Fogler Library, Orono, Maine
as of August 2001

Acadian Recorder, Halifax, N.S.
      Jan. 4, 1817 – Dec. 31, 1869 (Some missing issues)

Chronicle-Herald, Halifax, N.S.
      microfilm subscription, Jan. 1953+

Digby Courier, Digby, N.S.
      1874 – Dec. 30, 1948

Halifax Gazette, Halifax, N.S.
      March 23, 1752 – Dec. 30, 1800

Halifax Herald, Halifax, N.S.
      Jan. 2, 1892 – Dec. 31, 1952

Morning Chronicle, Halifax, N.S.
      Tri-weekly edition, Jan. 1, 1862 – Dec. 29, 1864
      Daily edition, Jan. 2, 1865 – Dec. 31, 1879

Morning Herald, Halifax, N.S.
      July 22, 1884 – Dec. 31, 1891

Nova Scotia Royal Gazette, Halifax, N.S.
      March 19, 1801 – Dec. 26, 1870

Novascotian, Halifax, N.S.
      Dec. 29, 1824 – Dec. 26, 1870

Source: (viewed 27 August 2001)
Fogler Library, University of Maine, Orono, Maine

Archived Copies of Old Nova Scotia Newspapers

Available in Queen Elizabeth II Library, St. John’s, Newfoundland
as of August 2001

British Colonist, Halifax, N.S.
      1848 – 1874

Cape Breton Post, Sydney, N.S.
      1901 – 1913, [1914], 1915 – 1972

Chronicle Herald, Halifax, N.S.
      1949 – 1959

Citizen, Halifax, N.S.
      1870 – 1877, 1919 – 1950

Colonial Standard, Pictou, N.S.
      1862 – 1873

Digby Courier, Digby, N.S.
      1937 – 1948

Digby Weekly Courier, Digby, N.S.
      1874 – 1937 (Shelved with Digby Courier)

Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, N.S.
      1866 – 1873

Evening Express, Halifax, N.S.
      1858 – 1874

Halifax Citizen, Halifax, N.S.
      1863 – 1870 (Shelved as Citizen)

Halifax Evening Mail, Halifax, N.S.
      1894 – 1938

Halifax Herald, Halifax, N.S.
      1892 – 1948 (Shelved with Chronicle Herald)

Halifax Morning Sun, Halifax, N.S.
      1862 – 1864

Halifax Reporter, Halifax, N.S.
      1860 – 1864, 1867 – Oct. 1879

Morning Chronicle, Halifax, N.S.
      1862 – 1879

Morning Herald, Halifax, N.S.
      1875 – 1891 (Shelved with Chronicle Herald)

Nova Scotia Gazette and Weekly Chronicle, Halifax, N.S.
      March 23, 1752 – March 6, 1766
      Jan. 3, 1769 – Aug. 30, 1774, Sept. 6, 1774 – 1800

Nova Scotia Miner,
      Dec. 14, 1929 – Jan. 23, 1932

Novascotian, Halifax, N.S.
      Dec. 29, 1824 – Dec. 26, 1870

Sun and Advertiser, Halifax, N.S.
      1865 – 1877
      (Aug. 8 – Dec. 30, 1864 on reel with Halifax Morning Sun and shelved with that title.)

Times, Halifax, N.S.
      June 3, 1834 – Jan. 2, 1849

Unionist and Halifax Journal, Halifax, N.S.
      [1854] – 1859, 1862 – [1869]

Yarmouth Herald, Yarmouth, N.S.
      Aug. 1833 – Dec. 1873

Source: (viewed 27 August 2001)
Queen Elizabeth II Library, University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland

1900 January 31

Stone Crosswalks to be Installed in Bridgetown

The town will have stone street crossings next spring.
[Bridgetown Weekly Monitor, 31 January 1900]
[100 Years Ago in the Bridgetown Monitor, 1 February 2000]

1900 February 14

Poor Ice Harvest

The weather has been so mild that little has been done towards filling the local ice houses. The ice harvest in the Annapolis Valley will probably be a poor one, but there is said to be good thick ice on some of the North Mountain lakes.
[Bridgetown Weekly Monitor, 14 February 1900]
[100 Years Ago in the Bridgetown Monitor, 15 February 2000]

1900 February 21

Firewood in Short Supply

Bridgetown is suffering from a firewood famine. Dry cordwood is almost unobtainable and the price jumped last week from $3.00 to $3.75 per cord.
[Bridgetown Weekly Monitor, 21 February 1900]
[100 Years Ago in the Bridgetown Monitor, 22 February 2000]

The Cord
In Nova Scotia in the 1800s, and continuing into the 1990s and beyond, the universal measure for quantities of firewood was the cord. The legal definition of the cord was (and still is) one cord   =   128 cubic feet of wood, as stacked in the normal manner. This measurement was usually performed by using a wooden frame enclosing a rectangular space four feet wide by eight feet high. When this frame was filled with four-foot lengths of firewood piled in the usual way — all lengths parallel to each other — the overall volume was 128 cubic feet, or one cord. This volume consisted partly of wood and partly of air between the stacked logs.

The cord was not a highly precise measure of wood volume, but had two big advantages — it was easy to understand and easy to use. one cord   =   128 cubic feet   =   3.62 cubic metres

1900 February 21

Highway Traffic on the Sidewalks

The property owners on the South Street in Bridgetown, having frequently remonstrated with those who drive teams on the sidewalk to the destruction of their property, before taking active measure to prevent further destruction, again request that the road be used for the purpose for which it was constructed, thereby making it safe for people on foot on the sidewalk. For what work is a road master appointed unless it is to keep the roads in a passable condition; and why, when there is snow on the road, is snow on the sidewalk preferred?
[Bridgetown Weekly Monitor, 21 February 1900]
[100 Years Ago in the Bridgetown Monitor, 22 February 2000]

1900 March 30

Cape Breton Electric Tramway & Power Company

The Cape Breton Electric Tramway & Power Company was incorporated on this day. It operated a local street railway service in Sydney, and a separate (not physically connected) 6 mile 10 km line from North Sydney to Sydney Mines. CBET&P Co. also operated a ferry service across Sydney Harbour between Sydney and North Sydney. The company’s name was later changed to Cape Breton Electric Company.
Go to:  Historical notes about the Cape Breton ET&P Co.

1900 May

Horse Shipped from New York to Bridgetown

Mr. C.H. Dewitt is sending his horse, Dash, from New York to Bridgetown, in the schooner Helen Shafner, which is expected to arrive here today. Mr. and Mrs. Dewitt and family will probably arrive this month on their annual visit.
[Bridgetown Weekly Monitor, 2 May 1900]
[100 Years Ago in the Bridgetown Monitor, 2 May 2000]

1900 May

Traffic Hazards in Bridgetown

“And now the boys play ball in the streets and cycles are ridden on the sidewalks, to the annoyance of those who drive teams (of horses) and those who walk.”
[Bridgetown Weekly Monitor, 2 May 1900]
[100 Years Ago in the Bridgetown Monitor, 2 May 2000]

1900 October 20

New Steam Pumps Begin Operation

The pumps of the Yarmouth Water Company’s system were driven at first by DC electric motors supplied with power by the Yarmouth Street Railway Company. The positive feed was from the Main Street trolley wire, and the negative return wire was strung along Brunswick Street. The Street Railway supply was used until 1900, when the Town decided to install its own steam-driven pumps. A new boiler house was built, and the new steam pumps started working this day.
[Excerpted from Yarmouth Reminiscences, by J. Murray Lawson, 1902]

ICS (webmaster): This was an exceptionally rare event. It is easy to find numerous historical reports of machinery of all sorts being converted from steam power to electric, but conversions the other way, from electric motors to steam engines, are very unusual. Offhand, I cannot recall any other such conversion.

1901 January 1


First Day of the
New Century

1901 December 11

North Sydney Should be on Alert

Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Works
May Go to Sydney Mines

North Sydney’s Concessions Not Sufficient,
No Free Site Having Been Offered by the Town

Special despatch to The Herald

Sydney Mines, December 11 — The Herald’s correspondent is in a position to say tonight that the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company may possibly establish their steel works at Sydney Mines in conjunction with the coke plant, the concessions offered by North Sydney not being as favourable as expected. The company was expecting a free site for their works. The town council here are ready to exempt the company from taxation for a long term of years, and as the company own the property here a site would not cost them anything. Should Sydney Mines be selected no doubt the plant will be erected near the Princess pit.
[Halifax Herald, 12 December 1901, page 1]

1901 December 12

I&RR Main Line Connected to ICR Main Line

Lines of Steel Now Are Joined

The first through car from Broad Cove, Inverness County, went out over the Inverness & Richmond Railway today, this being MacKenzie and Mann’s private car Atikokan. In the morning it was shunted from Point Tupper to Point Tupper Junction, where the car was attached to a special engine of the Inverness and Richmond Railway and run to Broad Cove. On board this car were Messrs. William MacKenzie and Donald Mann; Mr. Sinclair, the general manager of the road; Charles Fergie, of Westville, Pictou County; Mr. Wallace, a Toronto capitalist; and Mr. Bristol, solicitor for the company. Heretofore the cars going over this road were transferred between Mulgrave and Hastings by ferry. Now they will be taken across from Mulgrave to Point Tupper on the ferry service which carries the ICR main line traffic. Completion of the track between Hastings and Tupper gives the through train service from Sydney to Broad Cove. The ferry service between Hastings and Mulgrave will be discontinued permanently. The object of the present visit of Messrs. MacKenzie and Mann is to examine the progress of the work at Broad Cove. Mr. MacKenzie feels confident that with the introduction of improved methods of mining and shipping facilities which they propose introducing they will be prepared for an output of a quarter of a million tons by the close of next season.
[Halifax Herald, 13 December 1901, page 1]

The community at the northern terminal of this railway was named Broad Cove, but  1901 the name was officially changed to Inverness. In December 1901, when this newspaper article was written, the name Inverness was still new, and many people still used the former name Broad Cove. Both names refer to the same community.

Note: In 1901, Point Tupper Junction, about one km east of Point Tupper, was the junction of the Inverness & Richmond Railway’s main line with the ICR main line between Sydney and Truro. Now, in 2002, this same railway junction still exists, and is the location of a small yard beside the main line of the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway. Rail cars coming from Truro to the Stora mill at Point Tupper are dropped off the daily CB&CNSR Truro to Sydney freight train at this yard, and are then taken by a switch engine to the Stora mill. Cars from the Stora mill, destined for Truro and beyond, are brought to this yard, to be picked up by the Sydney to Truro freight train.

1901 December 19

Edison Believes Marconi Will Succeed

LONDON, Dec. 19 — Mr. Thomas Edison believes that Signor Marconi will achieve commercial success with wireless telegraphy across the Atlantic. Sir W.H. Preece, K.C.B., Professor Silvanus Thompson, Professor Ramsay, and Sir T. Lauder Brunton, all eminent electricians, also hold optimistic views in regard to the trans-Atlantic operations.
Sydney, Australia Morning Herald, 21 December 1901
Electric Chronicle

Marconi Doubling Power at Cornwall

LONDON, Dec. 27 — Signor Marconi is doubling the power of his wireless telegraphy stations at Cornwall. He is establishing stations at Cape Breton (Canada) and Cape Cod (Massachusetts, U.S.A.).
Sydney, Australia Morning Herald, 28 December 1901

1901 December 26

Marconi Arrives at North Sydney

On this day, Guglielmo Marconi first set foot on Nova Scotia territory. “Signor Marconi arrived in North Sydney this morning from Newfoundland.”

Fourteen days earlier, on 12 December, he had received the first transatlantic radio signal, consisting of the letter “s” repeated over and over, at Signal Hill in St. John’s Newfoundland. Four days after that, on 16 December, the Anglo-American Telegraph Company had officially notified Marconi that it would take legal action against him unless he immediately ceased his wireless experiments and removed his equipment from Newfoundland. (Anglo-American had a fifty-year monopoly on electrical communications in Newfoundland, which had begun in 1858 and had only a few more years remaining, but it was determined to do everything it could to hinder the development of radio telegraphy, which it correctly believed was a serious threat to the lucrative transatlantic electric telegraph business operated by submarine cables.)

Marconi preferred to set up his wireless equipment in eastern Newfoundland, because that location was closer to Ireland than any other in North America, but he did not want to spend months — more likely years — in legal wrangling. He quickly decided to move his base of operations to Cape Breton Island, which was the next best choice of site, and where there were no legal hindrances to impede his work.

On 26 December, Marconi arrived at North Sydney. He conferred with Nova Scotia Premier George Murray, William Smith of the Canadian Post Office, Mayor Mckenzie of North Sydney, and the Honourable J.N. Armstrong, a prominent local politician and member of the Nova Scotia cabinet of the day.

“Signor Marconi said that the selection of a site here would be for the erection of a permanent station for the receiving and transmission of messages across the Atlantic. The station would involve four masts about a hundred and fifty feet about 45 metres high with wire netting between. An altitude of from one hundred to two hundred feet about 30 m to 60 m is necessary, but not over three hundred feet 90 m. Signor Marconi, in an interview with The Mail, said he was quite satisfied with tests made in Newfoundland as far as they went. He says he will not return there to conduct any more experiments. Marconi says it would take from three to four months to complete the erection of a permanent station such as he may establish in Cape Breton … He will leave for Ottawa in a day or two.” [The quotes are from “Marconi At North Sydney”, dated 26 December, printed in Halifax Herald of 28 December 1901.]

Go To:   Marconi Wireless Telegraph in Nova Scotia

Go To:   Cape Breton Wireless Heritage Society

Go To:   Timeline of the First Thirty Years of Radio

1901 December 27

Marconi Continues Site Explorations

On this day, Marconi sailed along the coast of Cape Breton from Glace Bay to Louisbourg on the Dominion Coal Company tug Douglas H. Thomas, inspecting sites for a wireless station. He returned from Louisbourg to Sydney on a special S&LR train. Banquet that night in Sydney. There were now four sites under active consideration, Table Head in Glace Bay, North and South Heads in Port Morien, and Burying Point, Louisbourg.

1901 December 28

Marconi Departs for Ottawa

On this day, Marconi departed Nova Scotia, going to Ottawa to confer with government officials.


Mackenzie, Mann & Company

Mackenzie & Mann had been doing business for several years as a private partnership, but as time went by there was increasing pressure to alter the legal structure of the organization. Mackenzie, Mann & Company Limited was incorporated as a joint stock company in 1902, to engage in the business of railway contracting and financing. There were three shareholders: Donald Mann held 50% of the shares, William Mackenzie 45%, and his son Roderick 5%. There were five directors: the three shareholders, Zebulon A. Lash, and David Blythe Hanna. Most of the business transactions of Mackenzie, Mann & Company dealt with railways elsewhere, but this firm was the owner, and the driving force behind, the Halifax & South Western Railway Company, which built and operated 404 miles 650 km of railway in southwestern Nova Scotia.
Portrait of William MacKenzie

Portrait of Donald Mann

1902 January 1

DAR Ferry Services on Bay of Fundy

Beginning on Wednesday, 1 January 1902, there was a seasonal change in the ferry services operated across the Bay of Fundy by the Dominion Atlantic Railway. From this day, S.S. Prince Rupert performed a tri-weekly ferry service across the Bay of Fundy, leaving Saint John for Digby at 7:00am on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays; returning, leaving Digby at 1:00pm on the same days. On the same day, the S.S. Evangeline, running between Kingsport and Parrsboro, was withdrawn for the remainder of the winter.
[“S.S.” means steam ship.]
[Halifax Herald, 30 December 1901]

1902 January 2

Streetcar Company Profitable,
Pays Dividend

On 18 December 1901, the Halifax Electric Tramway Company Limited declared that “Quarterly Dividend No. 20, at the rate of 5 per cent per annum on the Capital Stock of this Company”, will be paid to each stockholder on 2 January 1902.
[From a paid notice on page 10, Halifax Herald, 20 December 1901]

1902 February 2


1902 March 20

Marconi Back in Cape Breton

On this day, Marconi arrived back in Cape Breton, intending to make the decision about the site for his transatlantic wireless station.

1902 March 23

Marconi Announces Table Head Decision

On 21 March, Marconi was taken by special train to Glace Bay and Louisbourg, looking at prospective sites. On 22 March he made his final inspections of sites being considered. On 23 March he announced the choice of Table Head, within the Town of Glace Bay, as the site for his transatlantic wireless station. The Glace Bay Town Council agreed not to build any electric railway within a third of a mile half a kilometre of the station (to minimise electrical interference with the receiving station’s operations).
Historical Notes about the Marconi Wireless Telegraph in Nova Scotia

1902 March 27

Egerton Tramway Company

A New Electric Streetcar Company

On this day, the Legislature passed an Act (chapter 137, 1902, 2 Edward VII) to incorporate the Egerton Tramway Company Limited, head office in New Glasgow, with capital of $500,000 divided among 5,000 shares of $100 each, to construct, acquire, own, operate, and maintain “an electric tramway, or railway, in New Glasgow, Stellarton, Westville, Trenton, Ferrona, and Thorburn, in the county of Pictou” and between any two or more of these places; and to operate a public electric utility for “manufacturing, distributing or supplying electricity for lighting, heating, power and other purposes”.

The founding shareholders were William P. McNeil and G.A. Grant of New Glasgow, and Charles Fergie of Westville. While running along streets and highways the Company’s streetcars had the right of way over all other traffic — “The cars shall have a right to the tracks as against any persons, carriage, or vehicle … put, driven, or being thereon.” At that time in Nova Scotia, the rule of the road was to drive on the left hand side — “All switches and turnouts shall be arranged so that cars shall pass on the left” and passengers were to be allowed to enter and leave the streetcars only “on the left side”.

Historical Notes about the Egerton Tramway Company

1902 May

Federal Government Support for Marconi Station

The Federal Government approved $80,000 to support Marconi’s experimental work at Table Head. This sum was split in two parts, with $70,000 to be paid in one fiscal year and $10,000 in the next.

1902 July 1

Halifax & South Western Railway Company
Buys the Nova Scotia Central Railway

On this day, the Nova Scotia Central Railway, which owned and operated the railway from Middleton through Springfield, New Germany, Bridgewater, and Mahone Bay, to Lunenburg, was bought by the Halifax & South Western Railway for $525,000. The Mahone Bay to Bridgewater section of the NSCR main line became a link in the Halifax to Yarmouth main line of the H&SWR.

1902 October

Sydney and Glace Bay Railway Company

The Sydney and Glace Bay Railway Company was a joint ownership venture of the Cape Breton Electric Company and the Dominion Coal Company. The S&GBR operated from Sydney via Reserve Junction and Dominion to Glace Bay. Beginning on 7 January 1908 it operated local streetcar service in Glace Bay which continued under successive operators until 1938. The S&GBR Co. merged with Cape Breton Electric in 1911, Dominion Coal taking CBE stock in exchange for its share of the S&GBR.
All Time List of Canadian Transit Systems (Nova Scotia section) by David A. Wyatt

1902 November 1

Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company

The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada was registered this day as an Ontario company with head office in Toronto. The name was later (1920s?) changed to the Canadian Marconi Company. Also on this day, Marconi arrived in Glace Bay with Luigi Solari and George Kemp and 14 boxes of specially-designed wireless telegraph equipment.

1902 December 15

First TransAtlantic Radio Message

On this day, Gugleilmo Marconi transmitted the first radio (wireless telegraph) message across the Atlantic Ocean, from Table Head in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, to

Poldhu, Cornwall, England. A year earlier, on 12 December 1901, Marconi had been on Signal Hill in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and had received a transatlantic test signal consisting of the letter “s” repeated over and over.

There is a distinction between a “test signal” and a “message” — in both cases a radio wave has travelled from one location to another, but a “message” contains meaningful information while a “test signal” does not. The difference is important; people would pay only for the transmission of messages, not for test signals.

On 15 December 1902, an official message carried greetings from Gilbert John Elliot, Earl of Minto, and Governor-General of Canada, to King Edward VII using Marconi’s radio system at Table Head in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia; this was the first transatlantic radio message (other than test transmissions).
[The National Post, 15 December 1999]

1903 March 3


1903 April 11

Halifax & South Western Railway Company
Buys the Nova Scotia Southern Railway

On this day, the Nova Scotia Southern Railway was bought by the Halifax & South Western Railway. The NSSR had no track built, but it did have a charter under which 22.1 miles 35.6 km of track were built in 1903 by the H&SWR to Caledonia in Queens County from New Germany in Lunenburg County.

1903 October 12

Midland Railway Passenger Train Schedule

The Wolfville Acadian, 8 April 1904

The Midland Railway Company
On and after October 12th, 1903,
passenger trains will run as follows,
connecting at Truro with Intercolonial Railway trains and
at Windsor with trains of the Dominion Atlantic Railway.
Leaves Truro at 7:00am, arrives in Windsor at 9:05am
Leaves Truro at 3:15pm, arrives in Windsor at 5:25pm
Leaves Truro at 5:15am, arrives in Windsor at 9:00am
Leaves Windsor at 7:35am, arrives in Truro at 10:10am
Leaves Windsor at 10:45am, arrives in Truro at 2:45pm
Leaves Windsor at 5:45pm, arrives in Truro at 7:55pm
H.V. Harris
General Manager

(These trains were powered by coal-burning steam locomotives.)

Midland Railway
location elevation
  Lower Truro33.010.1
  McNutt Creek34.810.6
12.119.5Princeport Road212.064.6
15.625.1Green Oaks85.326.0
16.827.0(Shubenacadie River Bridge)51   16   
17.428.0South Maitland31.49.6
47.776.7Scotch Village135.141.2
54.187.0(St. Croix River Bridge)39   12   
54.287.2St. Croix39   12   
55.489.1Dimock33   10   
Note 1:   Distance between stations was measured along the track centerline.
Note 2:   All elevations were measured from mean sea level to the top of the rail.

Source:   Altitudes in the Dominion of Canada, second edition, by James White, Assistant to the Chairman and Deputy Head of the Commission of Conservation, published by the Dominion Government, Ottawa, 1915
pages 20-21 (station locations) and page 584 (elevations)

1904 March 21   2:04am

Earthquake, Magnitude 5.9

A strong earthquake was felt throughout the Maritime provinces, the St Lawrence Lowlands and the New England states, at 2:04am local time on March 21st, 1904. This event, centered in the Passamaquoddy Bay region, is the largest historically reported event in the area. The total felt area covered most of New England, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, approximately 400,000 square kilometres. There were several light shocks near the origin a few hours after the main earthquake.

This map shows the estimated intensity values, the epicentre of the earthquake and the IV isoseismal. Minor damage to buildings was reported from several communities along the coasts of New Brunswick and Maine and chimneys were thrown down at St. Stephen in southwestern New Brunswick, and Calais and Eastport in southeastern Maine. Using the area within the IV isoseismal, Leblanc and Burke (1985) estimated a felt area IV magnitude of 5.9, although there is a lack of intensity information from the Atlantic Ocean to the south. However, the earthquake has been given a magnitude of mN = 5.9 in the Canadian National Seismological Database.
Halifax Daily News, 21 March 2000
Historical earthquake activity in New Brunswick

Earthquake History of Maine

Earthquakes in Eastern Canada

Seismicity Map of Nova Scotia and vicinity, 1568 to 1988

Seismic Zoning Map of Canada
peak horizontal ground acceleration contours

Determining Magnitudes of Historical Earthquakes

1904 April-May

Six Cents a Pound for Lobster

An old ledger found nearly a century later, by Elias Huskins in a home in Oak Park, revealed that fishermen were being paid six cents per pound thirteen cents per kilogram for lobster in 1903. Huskins says the catch record of Everett Goreham, Woods Harbour, Shelburne County, indicates he was a “highliner” fisherman, grossing $96.06 for the month of April 1903, and $107.34 for May 1903, while the records for other fishermen show they made an average of about $50 a month. Huskins says the landed price for lobster, six cents a pound, remained the same until 1922.

         April 1903                 May 1903
       Date     Pounds           Date     Pounds
       11th       250             2nd       191
       13th       122             3rd       147
       15th       366             4th       124
       18th       164             7th       148
       20th       119             9th       152
       21st       119            10th       140
       22nd       164            11th       141
       27th        55            12th       141
       28th       108            13th       172
       29th        86            17th        98
       30th        43            19th       128
                                 20th        86
                                 21st        98
                                 28th        25

          barrel of bait            90¢
          bundle of laths           75¢
          20 lbs. cork           $1.80
          5 lbs. twine           $3.02
          50 swivels             $2.25
          gasoline (per gallon)     47¢
          oil (per quart)           22¢

[Shelburne Coast Guard, 19 September 2000]

Gasoline — 47¢ a gallon is equivalent to 10.3¢ per litre.
Lubricating oil — 22¢ a quart is equivalent to 19.4¢ per litre.
Cork (for flotation) — $1.80 a pound is equivalent to $3.96 per kg.
Twine — $3.02 a pound is equivalent to $6.65 per kg.

1904 April 4


1904 April 8

Single-Digit Telephone Number

Telephone number 5

Wolfville Acadian, 8 April 1904

1904 July 1

First Train to Caledonia

On this day, the Nova Scotia Central Railway opened its new branch line railway from New Germany, Lunenburg County, through Hemford, Pleasant River, Brookfield Mines, and South Brookfield, to Caledonia, Queens County, 22.1 miles 35.6 km by running its first passenger train to Caledonia and return. The NSCR was controlled by the Halifax & South Western Railway Company, which in turn was controlled by Mackenzie & Mann. Trains continued operating over the Caledonia branch line into the 1970s.
Historical notes about the Nova Scotia Central Railway Co.

1904 July 3

New Passenger Train Put Into Operation
Halifax to/from Montreal

On this day, The Ocean Limited, the Intercolonial Railway’s new Montreal – Halifax passenger train began regular service. Limited meant this train did not stop at all the small stations along the route; it stopped only at selected stations which generated most of the passenger traffic. This train remained in operation for many decades — Canadian National continued this service after the ICR became part of CNR. In January 2001 The Ocean, now operated by VIA Rail and no longer Limited, still runs six days a week between Halifax and Montreal. Known named passenger trains operated by CN or its predecessors to/from Nova Scotia are:

     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.]

1904 August 15-17

Vitagraph Motion Pictures

Curlers’ Theatre, New Glasgow
N.W. Mason, Manager

Three Nights, August 15, 16, 17

Return Engagement of
American Vitagraph Popular Concerts

First Appearance of the
Also — World’s Fair
and 10,000 feet of New Subjects

Halifax Pictures will be shown at every concert.
Entire change of programme otherwise.

Prices, 25, 35 and 50 cents
[Display advertisement in The Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 12 August 1904]

The American Vitagraph Company gave three excellent performances of moving pictures in the Curlers’ Theatre this week. The audiences were not large, but the entertainment was of a good sort. The moving pictures recently taken in Halifax were particularly interesting.
[Eastern Chronicle, 19 August 1904]

In 1897, J. Stuart Blackton and his partner Albert E. Smith formed the American Vitagraph Company in New York City, and operated first in competition with and later as a licensee of the Edison Company. Smith and Blackton continued to operate Vitagraph into the 1920s, most of the time with spectacular success. However, by the mid-1920s both had wearied of the constant turmoil of the motion picture business. In February 1925, they sold American Vitagraph to Warner Brothers.
The Vitagraph Company

Jack L. Warner (1892 – 1978)

1904 August 17

New Glasgow’s Dark Ages

(Letter to the Editor) Dear Chronicle: I have just returned home from a walk along Provost Street, up McLean Street, across Temperance Street and down the Kirk Hill, and except for the last mentioned thoroughfare I could imagine myself in the dark ages of New Glasgow, when we had to adopt the “heather step” over the old wooden sidewalks to save ourselves in the dark from some fell disaster. And this is progressive New Glasgow, aspiring to a tramway and with sufficient taxation to equip us with first-class streets and certainly with some illumination. Two philanthropic citizens on Temperance Street turned on their private lights for the benefit of the public, otherwise it would have been total darkness. Can’t you do something to encourage the city fathers to remedy this state of affairs? Can we not have new sidewalks on Provost Street — not patched ones, they are so rough, and won’t you use good influence for electric light on dark nights… Taxpayer
August 17
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 19 August 1904, page 5]

1904 August 19

Excursions to Mulgrave

Two large excursion trains carried picnic parties to Mulgrave from New Glasgow this week.
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 19 August 1904, page 1]

1904 August 19

Bank of Montreal Private Car

Mr. Clousten, President of the Bank of Montreal, went through New Glasgow yesterday evening on his way to Sydney Mines, on his private railway car Eva. He was joined here by Senator McGregor and Messrs. Thomas Cantley and Harvey Graham.
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 19 August 1904, page 1]

1904 August 25

Maccan Railway Station Tender

(Paid advertisement) “Sealed tenders, addressed to the undersigned, and marked on the outside ‘Tender for Maccan Station’ will be received up to and including Thursday, the 25th day of August, 1904, for the construction of a Station building at Maccan, Nova Scotia. Plans and specification may be seen at the Station Master’s Office, Maccan, N.S., and at the office of the Chief Engineer, Moncton, N.B., where forms of tender may be obtained. All the conditions of the specification must be complied with.
D. Pottinger,
General Manager Railway Office, Moncton, N.B.
August 12, 1904
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 19 August 1904, page 5]

1904 August 31

Harvest Excursion

The Canadian Pacific Railway advise that the Harvest Excursion to the Northwest will be on August 31, 1904, from stations east of New Glasgow, and on September 1 from New Glasgow and stations west. Judging from the number of enquiries to date there will be a larger number than ever from this section of the country. There was something like 100 from this section alone last August and the C.P.R. was severely taxed to provide accomodation for the whole contingent. A large number were held over at Saint John and found and fed at the expense of the C.P.R. It is hoped that the railway management will be better prepared for a large number this time than they were last year. It is also hoped that the weird tales from along the route of fighting, stealing, blood, and carnage will be lacking this year.
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 12 August 1904, page 8]

1904 September 15

Unloading Rails at Bridgewater

Shipment of rails unloading at Bridgewater

Steamer Nether Holme 1285 tons hailing from Maryport, Great Britain, Captain Gorley, arrived at Bridgewater with a cargo of rails, on September 15, 1904. The rails were for the construction of the Halifax & South Western Railway in Nova Scotia. This photo was taken as the rails were being unloaded at the Railway Wharf on the east side of the LaHave River, at Bridgewater.

The photo was donated by Reid Whynot and scanned for the Internet by Joe Mailman.
Source:  https://www.tallships.istar.ca/shipping/holme.jpg

1904 September 23

Plank Sidewalks

Main Street, Stellarton, is being rapidly put into shape, trees have been cut down and the street widened. We might suggest that now street commissioners turn their attention to plank sidewalks on McKay Street and south end streets…
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 23 September 1904, page 8]

1904 October 1

Price of Oil

“I paid 36 cents per gallon for oil in 1896 and today, Oct. 1st, I got oil for 26 cents per gallon.”
[Letter to the editor of the New Glasgow Eastern Chronicle, 14 October 1904, page 8]

This probably refers to the price of kerosene oil for lamps. One Imperial gallon (the legal gallon in Canada in 1904) was equal to 4.545 litres. Expressed in modern measure, these oil prices would have been 7.9 cents per litre in 1896, and 5.7 cents per litre in 1904.

1904 October 7

Early Telephone Scam

Five of the Family Now Under Arrest

Halifax, N.S. Oct. 3 — For the past three months Halifax merchants have been victimized by two young girls, Hazel and Irene Gray, aged 18 and 16 respectively, whose home is at Prince’s Lodge, by a very ruse. They would telephone into the city from Bedford or Rockingham to various stores using names of residents of repute in the vicinity and have goods sent out on the suburban train and dropped off by the on-train baggage master at Birch Cove or some other small unstaffed station. Residents of Bedford and vicinity have received bills which were repudiated and the merchants commenced to think something was wrong.

Today Mahon Bros. and G.M. Smith, leading dry goods stores, received orders for goods to be sent to Birch Cove station, the name of Mrs. Kerr and Mrs. Gorham being used. The firms had heard rumours of what had happened to other city firms and before sending the goods consulted the chief of police, who put Detective Power on the case and he in company with two other officers went out on the train, bogus parcels being sent along and put off at the station as directed.

The police then laid in wait and in a short time two girls came and took the parcels. The police then jumped out, but the girls ran screaming into the woods and were finally captured, but not without a desperate fight. The prisoners were brought to the city and locked up. Both are handsome girls and come of most respectable families.

The arrest on Monday of the two young Gray girls on the charge of victimizing City merchants, caused a mild sensation yesterday, Oct. 6th, when it became known who the parties were. Several of the merchants who lost goods held another conference with the police yesterday and as a result warrants were issued and three more arrests were made. Those who were taken into custody yesterday were Alfred Gray aged 19, Daisy Gray aged 22 and Mabel Gray. This makes five members of the one family arrested for complicity in the affair.

In addition to the firms previously mentioned as having been victimized, several other business men called on the police yesterday and reported that they had lost goods. E. Wright, grocer on Campbell Road recently received a rush order by telephone for a case of baked beans, the person stating that a lady intended giving a bean supper to some friends. The goods were sent, but no money was paid. Maling & Co. on Barrington Street also sent out roast beef and beefsteak on a telephone order. J.J. O’Brien, hair dresser sent out two costly pairs of switches. They were taken to the party at Bedford by one of Mr. O’Brien’s staff only to find that the person did not order them and in consequence they were not delivered. It is thought that a lot of the goods has been sent out of the City, to another relative of the family.

From information obtained by the police it is alleged that Alfred carried on operations with the aid of a boat on Bedford Basin, taking delivery of the goods from his sisters after they removed them from the station platform, and then taking them to a place of safety. All five persons were arraigned in Court yesterday afternoon and remanded until Friday morning for trial before Stipendary Fielding. The prisoners have been released on bail. [Eastern Chronicle, Friday, 7 October 1904, page 8]

ICS Comment:
In the original newspaper article, the store names were spelled Mahone Bros. and Mailing & Co. On 1 September 1998, I was told by Mr. W.J. Phillips, of Halifax, that his recollection is that the correct spellings are Mahon Bros. and Maling & Co. Bill Phillips grew up in Halifax, and he has personal memories extending back to the 1930s. The Eastern Chronicle’s typesetters and proofreaders lived in or near New Glasgow, and likely were not familiar with these Halifax store names; errors in spelling could easily have occurred. In the above, I have used the spellings suggested by Bill Phillips.

1904 October 7

Stage Driver

The home of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Reid, Point 44, Little Harbour, was the scene of a most happy event on Tuesday evening, Oct. 4th, when nearly one hundred friends and neighbours assembled to celebrate the 50th marriage anniversary of the worthy couple … By our older readers, Mr. Andrew Reid will be remembered as one of the old stage drivers who drove out of Pictou.
[Eastern Chronicle, 7 October 1904, page 8]

1904 October 11

1200 Passengers

The electric cars carried twelve hundred passengers on Tuesday (11 October 1904) between Stellarton and Trenton…
[Eastern Chronicle, 14 October 1904]

1904 October 14, Friday

Egerton Tramway Official Opening

The formal opening ceremony of Egerton Tramway Company’s streetcar line in Pictou County was held this day. Regular operations, carrying passengers, began three days earlier, on Tuesday, 11 October 1904. Streetcars continued operating until 7 May 1931.
[In the early 1900s, this type of public transit, using electric-powered passenger vehicles running on rails, was known as “trams” or “tramways” or “tram cars”. Later, in the 1930s and 1940s, it was generally called “streetcars” for a system that operated mainly within an urban district, and “interurbans” (or, in Ontario, “radials”) for lines between two or more urban districts. In the 1980s and 1990s, the term “light rail” is widely used. All these names apply to the same technology.]
Historical Notes about the Egerton Tramway Company

1904 October 14

New Glasgow Telephone Building

Mr. William McKenzie, contractor, is rushing up the new Telephone building at a great rate. There are only eight or ten days since he began the contract and the walls are being run up with fine speed.
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 14 October 1904]

1904 October 25

Intercolonial Railway

Windsor Railway Station Tender
(Paid advertisement)

“Sealed tenders, addressed to the undersigned, and marked on the outside ‘Tender for Windsor Station’ will be received up to and including Tuesday, the 25th day of October, 1904, for the construction of a Passenger Station at Windsor, Nova Scotia. Plans and specification may be seen at the office of the Station Master, Windsor, N.S., and at the Chief Engineer’s office, Moncton, N.B., where forms of tender may be obtained. All the requirements of the specification must be complied with.”
D. Pottinger,
General Manager Railway Office, Moncton, N.B.
11th October, 1904
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 18 October 1904, page 4]

Q: Why is the ICR building a railway station in Windsor?  (Remember, the ICR never operated any trains, passenger or freight, anywhere near Windsor.)

A: The “Windsor Branch” railway track, between Windsor and Windsor Junction, was owned by the ICR, not the Dominion Atlantic Railway.  The DAR operated the trains, but the track was leased.  The Windsor Branch, then owned by the ICR and now, in 2010, owned by CN, included the right-of-way property and the railway track between Windsor Junction and Windsor.  The ICR ownership included the station at Windsor, and extended a short distance beyond the station, far enough to allow an empty train to move out of the station.  When a new Windsor station building was needed, it was designed and built by the ICR, and leased to the DAR for an annual rental fee.

1904 October 27

Intercolonial Railway

Double-Tracking Tender
(Paid advertisement)

“Sealed tenders, addressed to the undersigned, and marked on the outside ‘Tender for Double Tracking’ will be received up to and including Thursday, the 27th day of October, 1904, for the Grading, etc., to Widen the Present Roadbed for a Double Track between Stellarton and New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. Plans and specification may be seen at the Station Master’s office, at New Glasgow, N.S., and at the Chief Engineer’s office, Moncton, N.B., where forms of tender may be obtained. All the conditions of the specification must be complied with.”
D. Pottinger,
General Manager Railway Office, Moncton, N.B.
12th October, 1904
[Eastern Chronicle, New Glasgow, 18 October 1904, page 4]