walking trail you will be following on this
self-guided tour will introduce you to the
beginning or harbour section of the Shubenacadie
Canal, Nova Scotia's 115km long inland waterway,
which once links Halifax Harbour and the Bay
of Fundy. This water corridor is composed
of seven lakes and the Shubenacadie River,
a legacy of the last ice age. The waterway
has been the defining feature of Dartmouth
since its inception.
walk begins at the Ferry Terminal
you leave the Terminal you will follow the
walkway to your right (South). Follow the
redbrick walkway which runs to the left of
the railway track. You will see "Canal"
signs which mark the way. The first stop is
about 100 meters along the trail where you
will see several wooden benches.
the year is 1862, the second year of the Canal's
operation. What remains of that period? What
would you have seen if you were to have walked
this route over a century and a quarter ago?
the harbour you can see a small section of
the grassy slope of the Citadel. The Citadel
would have been the most prominent feature
at that time. Less prominent but still of
importance is George's Island (the island
closest to you) which housed fortifications
to complement those of the Citadel and others
at Fort Clarence which was located on the
site of the Esso Refinery which you can see
further out the harbour. Further to the South
is McNabs Island where the remains of three
forts are still standing.
a harbour bustling with craft of many descriptions.
By the 1860's steam power was common but sails
would still have been abundant.
the trail to the East. As the trail turns
you will see the Dartmouth Marine Slips and
the Coast Guard facilities (the red and white
vessels on the far side of the cove). You
are entering the area known as Dartmouth Cove.
Much of this area has been filled in and where
you are presently standing would have been
was here, in this cove, that small vessels,
such as barges and scows, gathered in preparation
for their entry to the Shubenacadie Canal
and an inland journey to communities such
as Waverly, Enfield, Shubenacadie, and Maitland.
They would likely be carrying supplies for
merchants to stock their stores with or tools
for the many mills along the Canal. You might
also have seen other barges laden with wood,
gypsum, gravel, or bricks which had just arrived
via the Canal from one or more of the inland
communities. These cargoes would likely be
bound for one of the wharves on the Halifax
the trail past the Dartmouth Marine Slips
and along the paved parking lot along the
stream and around the back of the white and
green Canal Interpretive Center. Now cross
the small bridge over the stream and make
your way along the gravel path around the
Curling Club to Mill Lane. Mill Lane existed
during the time the Shubenacadie Canal was
in operation but there are no buildings remaining
from that time, and the grist mill is long
left on Canal St. and make your way to St.
James Church which is directly ahead. St.
James Church is a key landmark which stood
while the Canal was operating. This is, in
fact, the second St. James building. The foundation
for the first one was constructed by the stone
masons working during the first construction
period of the Canal in the late 1820's.
stone wall at the front of the Church is constructed
of stone blocks from one or more of the five
locks which were constructed during the first
phase of construction but were never put to
use. On some of the stones you will be able
to make out the marks made by the masons indication
who had prepared the stone. You will also
notice a photograph mounted on a wooden post.
Using this larger image locate the position
of the bridge which crossed Portland St.
the Canal was in operation a Marine Railway
ran under the bridge extending out to deeper
water in Dartmouth Cove. The purpose of the
marine railway was to transport vessels from
Dartmouth Cove to Sullivan's Pond (you will
see the pond in a few minutes) a distance
of about 500 meters (1250 yards). Such a marine
rail system was referred to by Canal workers
as an Inclined Plane or simply a Plane.
St. James Church you will proceed along Prince
Albert Rd. Immediately on your left is the
path of the inclined plane, the route which
would have been followed by the vessels as
they were hauled from the Cove on their journey
to Sullivan's Pond. The last of these structures
is known as the Starr building and was in
existence at the time of the Canal and it
was here the famous Starr skates were manufactured.
get a better sense of the Inclined Plane and
the route followed by the vessels, cross Prince
Albert Rd. and walk to a point where you are
able to view the lands in back of the low-rise
buildings. From this point the slope of the
Inclined Plane is clearly visible. Imagine
it is 1862 and you are viewing a set of tracks
running up the slope and a vessel on a wheeled
carriage making its way along the route. To
assist in this musing you will see a silhouette
of the famed steam powered tug, Avery in the
up the Plane there would have been a Wheelhouse.
This small building sat on top of a round
stone underground chamber at the bottom of
which was a metal turbine. This turbine was
powered by water which flowed from Sullivan's
Pond through a wooden chute called a penstock.
The action of the turbine turned a metal drum
on which a wire cable was wound. It was this
cable which pulled the carriage and the vessel
secured to it. The Inclined Plane was based
on a design in use at the time on the Morris
Canal in New Jersey.
not visible, the remains of the stone turbine
chamber lie intact beneath ground. Segments
of the Wheelhouse structure have also been
your way along the sidewalk to Sullivan's
Pond. Once you have reached the upper end
of the Incline. Imagine the elevated wooden
penstock running down the route from the pond
which is hidden from view by the service station.
before you reach the intersection of Prince
Albert Rd. and Ochterloney St. you will see
the pond named after a Mr. Sullivan, a Canal
Navie who worked on the waterway during the
early period 1826-1831.
your way across Ochterloney St. to the sidewalk
which is part of the HRM multi-use trail bordering
Sullivan's Pond. You are now standing on top
of the remains of the Great Circular Dam built
by Sullivan and his co-workers to form the
Pond by backing up the stream which flowed
from Lake Banook. You may also be interested
to know that at this point as the vessel floated
off the carriage and the Inclined Plane into
Sullivan's Pond it had ascended 17 meters
(55ft.) above the level of the water in the
your left (North West) you will see that the
land rises up from the Pond. Above the Pond
was the site of Irishtown, a cluster of log
and stone huts where the Irish canal workers
lived during the late 1820's.
the trail around the far side of the Pond.
At the North end of Sullivan's Pond you will
see two interesting stone structures known
as "guide pylons". These served
to guide vessels towards Lock One and Lake
Banook. There were a number of sets of these
pylons along the Canal system and remnants
of one are still visible in Lake Charles.
this point you have reached Hawthorne St.
Cross the street and enter Findlay Park named
after the lock keeper, Henry Findlay, who
assisted vessels on their passage from the
harbour to Waverly, a distance of about 20km
(12 miles). Findlay St. and the Findlay Center
not far from here are named after the same
small park is the site of a seasonal Mi'kmaq
encampment which was used for years prior
to, and even following the Canal construction.
Passersby at that time would have seen one
or more birch bark wigwams as well as birch
bark canoes in which the Mi'kmaqs journeyed
to and from the provinces's hinterland.
One is now visible. Make your way along the
cut which in 1862 would have had a minimum
depth of 1.2 meters (4ft.). This lock was
required to lift the vessel approximately
3.4 meters (11ft.) to the level of Lake Banook.
at the downstream end of the Lock you will
notice the opening is now filled in and the
lock serves as a water control gate for the
lake. When in operation you would have seen
two wooden doors hinged to allow them to be
opened and closed. As our imaginary vessel
approaches the Lock the doors are open and
the vessel is able to make its way inside.
Once inside the Lock Chamber the doors are
closed. This would have been done by Findlay
with assistance from one or more of the crew.
continue around the Lock to the small bridge
which serves as an excellent viewing platform.
Let's again imagine our vessel inside the
Lock, water from Lake Banook has filled the
chamber and thus raised the vessel to the
level of the lake. Now the upper gate is lowered
and our vessel can journey into the lake on
its way North.
on either side of Lock One is a smaller version
of the Great Circular Dam at Sullivan's Pond.
Prior to the installation of the dam the level
of Lake Banook would have been several feet
lower than it is today.
is the end of the self-guided trail. During
your walk from the harbour you, along with
your imaginary vessel have ascended approximately
19 meters (65ft.). At the end of Lake MicMac
two more locks (Locks Two & Three) are
required to lift vessels the remaining 8 meters
(25ft.) to Lake Charles which is the highest
of the lakes in the system. On the downward
journey from Lake Charles a second, but smaller,
Inclined Plane and six additional locks served
to lower vessels to the level of the tidal
waters of the Shubenacadie and the Bay of
invite you to visit the Shubenacadie Canal
park where you can see the Locks Two and Three,
the remains of the Canal Workers Camp and
a wealth of additional resources.