The first street grid of downtown Dartmouth, built on traditional and unceded Mi'kmaq territory, was marked out in 1750 by Charles Morris.
"The town plot as laid out in 1750 comprised 11 oblong-shaped blocks, mostly 400 feet long by 200 feet wide. Each building lot was 50 by 100 feet ... all the streets running north and south, lead to the Point, which is the front part of the settlement. The northern boundary ... seems to be the present line of North Street. The southern boundary is the present Green Street, if it were produced through to Commercial St. All the area from
that line to the Point would be the 10 acre grant of Benjamin Green ... The eastern boundary is at Dundas Street, and from there the present Queen Street extends through the middle of the plot to Commercial St. But Portland and Ochterloney Streets come to a dead end at King Street. (No street names appear on first plan). (page 78-79, The Story of Dartmouth).
For the arrival of Quaker whaling families from Nantucket Island, Massachusetts in the mid-1780s, the 1750 Dartmouth town grid was heavily modified.
"When the town was re-plotted for the Nantucket whaling families in 1783, Portland and Ochterloney were extended through to Commercial Street, and the blocks were squared to have 240 feet on each side, as at present. The three oblong-shaped blocks still standing in downtown Dartmouth have a driveway at the ends of Prince Street and of Green Street, which suggests that all blocks of the new town were intended to be square-shaped" (page 83, The Story of Dartmouth).
The origins of street names are a fascinating topic. Dr. John Martin, late Town Historian, has left us with a wealth of information on the history of downtown Dartmouth street names within the confines of the first old town plot.
"Up to the end of the 18th century, only a few of Dartmouth streets had names. On property descriptions of that time, Wentworth Street and Dundas are marked 'Fourth' and 'Fifth' Streets respectively, as if they were numbered easterly from the harbor. As Portland Street fronted the Cove, it was called Front St. Commercial Street was 'Rockingham Street', a name chosen perhaps by Sir John Wentworth to honor England's late Prime Minister Lord Rockingham, whose family was closely related to the Wentworths. So were the Fitz-William families." (100-101).
"The firm of Warner and Harrison was given the contract for painting the names of streets on corner lamp-posts. There were only about a dozen of these at that time..." (page 400).
Alderney Drive flows, from the intersection of Portland Street and Prince Albert Road, to Park Avenue at Windmill Road. Alderney Drive is named for the ship that brought the early British settlers to what is now known as Dartmouth on the eastern side of Halifax Harbour in 1750.
Dundas Street runs from Green Street (near Alderney Drive) to North Street. According to John Martin, on page 537 of The Story of Dartmouth, "Dundas Street was Fifth St., Sherbrooke Street and Wallace St. (The block from Queen to Ochterloney St., was Hawsey Lane.)"
Edward Street stretches from Queen Street to a forgotten section of Church Street. According to John Martin, on page 537 of The Story of Dartmouth, "Edward Street from Queen St., to Park Avenue was Prince Edward St., but the block between Ochterloney and Queen was long known as Chapel Lane."
Green Street, parallel to Portland Street, continues from lesser known Cheltonham Court to just beyond an intersection with Alderney Drive. Green Street is likely named for Benjamin Green (1713-1772), a member of the first governing council of Halifax in 1749, who had a land grant in the area of Dartmouth Point.
King Street reaches from Alderney Drive to Park Avenue. "King Street is King William St., on some plans." "King William Street is on a plan of the Tremain property 1831. It extends from Canal St., to Maitland St., and is midway between Portland St., and the old bathing beach fronting the Molasses Factory. (The whole area was later 'the Hamilton fields.')" (p. 538, The Story of Dartmouth).
North Street, extending, on and off, from Dundas Street to below Alderney Drive, is named for being on the northern edge of the first town plot of Dartmouth, on an elevation historically called the North Range.
Ochterloney Street, located from below Alderney Drive to Prince Albert Road, is named for Alexander Ochterloney, according to John Martin:
"The Maroons, deported from the island of Jamaica, arrived in this port in the summer of 1796. For a time they were employed by the Duke of Kent on the Citadel fortifications at Halifax. Later, most of the band were settled at Preston where their superintendents Colonel William D. Quarrell and Alexander Ochterloney bought some 5,000 acres of land with funds furnished by the Government of Jamaica. More was purchased on the Windsor Road near Sackville. In addition, Colonel Quarrell secured several properties in the town-plot of Dartmouth ... 'The names of Ochterloney and Quarrell were commemorated by streets in downtown Dartmouth" (The Story of Dartmouth, 99-100).
Portland Street runs from Alderney Drive, to where Caldwell Road becomes Dorthea Drive and Portland Street becomes Cole Harbour Road. "Portland Street was Front Street, Princess Charlotte Street and Hartshorne Street, At the lower Canal Bridge, Portland Street followed the route of the present Prince Albert Road, and continued northerly as such to the Town boundary at Carter's Pond" (page 537, The Story of Dartmouth).
According to page 538 of The Story of Dartmouth, "Portland Street from Prince Albert Road to Burton's Hill (Five Corners), was Bishop Street" and "Portland Street from Canal St., to Burton's Hill was Eastern Passage Road."
Prince Street links Portland Street to Alderney Drive and is named for Prince Edward. "In 1894 the first street signs were put up, and certain changes made in street names. The southern section of Prince Edward Street was changed to Prince Street, and the northern part changed to Edward Street" (The Story of Dartmouth: 452).
Queen Street connects Alderney Drive with Irishtown Road. "Queen Street was Quarrell St. and appears to be unchanged from its location of 1750" (The Story of Dartmouth, page 537).
Victoria Road starts at downtown Portland Street and ends at Windmill Road in Burnside. According to John Martin, on page 537 of The Story of Dartmouth, "Victoria Road from Portland to Ochterloney Street was East Street, Warren's Land and Wilson's Lane. Victoria Road from Park Avenue to Albro Lake was Common Road and Wilson St. Near Woodland Avenue, it was Kenny Road." Victoria Road is named for Queen Victoria.
Wentworth Street, proceeding today from Green Street to Park Avenue, was once named Fourth Street, Tremain Street and Fitzwilliam Street and is named for Governor John Wentworth.
David Jones is an archaeologist and historian from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Thursdays at Noon, David has a weekly thirty minute history segment on The Rick Howe Show, NEWS 95.7.