Tour Notes

These tour notes start at the Alderney Ferry Terminal, and assumes visitors arrive by ferry from Halifax. The waterfront boardwalk at the Alderney Terminal in Darmtouth has some interpretive signs and has some of the most scenic views of Halifax Harbour.

Safety

  • Pedestrians should always be vigilant and attentive walking on urban streets, using sidewalks and crosswalks where possible.
  • Should you require emergency help due to injury or illness, the Emergency response phone number in Nova Scotia is 911.
  • The paths of Dartmouth Common may not all be plowed and maintained during winter months. Always be cautious in walking along uneven pathways.
  • While walking along the park pathways it is advisable to keep aware of bicycles that may come around the corner unexpectedly. The geology of this area is interesting, but it is best to keep aware of bicycles, playing children, and dog walkers who use the park frequently.

Begin Walking

From the Ferry Terminal parking lot – walk out to Alderney Drive and using the crosswalks, and follow the route by walking east on the northerly side of Alderney Drive. After walking only a few blocks you come to the entrance of Leighton Dillman Park, Dartmouth Common.

Noteworthy: Leighton Dillman worked as the caretaker of the Dartmouth Common for many years of dedicated service to the community, the park was named in his honour .

Park Entrance

From the inside of the gate walk the path on the right up the first slope, looking up the hill beyond the vibrant flower beds of the lower gardens. Approximately half-way up the slope was the location of the historic Cleaverdon Mine.

Cleaverdon Mine Site

Photograph from 1953 Report of Dartmouth Common shows workers repairing the drystone retaining wall. The area where historic Cleaverdon Mine was located (white arrow) – and the Park Street School (now gone) is visible on the horizon.

Learn more about the Cleaverdon Mine (Mining Association of Nova Scotia)

Turning left on the pathway along the bottom of the hill, you can observe the first examples of freestone retaining walls. Some exotic stone is used in this area – but walls in other areas of the park use only the underlying Halifax Formation shales.

Walking along the pathway provides other opportunities to look out the Halifax Harbour. This part of the Dartmouth Common park has been used as a family gathering place for many years. A photograph from 1930 (???) shows the view from this pathway. Notice how the scene has changed.

Stairs Street View 1930s

Noteworthy: One of the buildings shown in the historic photos was the site of the Stair Street School, a segregated school for African Nova Scotia children that was established in 1879 and closed in 1915. Learn more.

Continue along the path and leave the side gate to see the Anchor near the Dartmouth Common parking lot.

Ship Anchor

The ship anchor displayed in the parking lot was donated to City of Dartmouth in 1967. The anchor was retrieved from 25 feet of water off Cranberry Point, Liscomb Island, by the Canadian Coast Gaurd Ship the AUK during a buoy laying trip. The anchor weighs approx. 1500 lbs and thought to be from sailing vessel of 500-700 tons used between 1845 and 1850.

Noteworthy: The site where the anchor is located was where the Park Street School had been rebuilt after the original wooden school was destroyed by the Halifax Explosion. The brick building was later the Dartmouth Museum and Library.

Halifax Explosion Memorial

Continuing to walk along the path near the anchor, you will see one of twelve Halifax Explosion monuments that have been installed around the Halifax Harbour. This monument pays tribute to the Mi’kmaq encampment at nearby Turtle Grove.

From the monument, walk toward the sidewalk of Wyse Road. Across the road you can see the Dartmouth Skate Park – which was the site of the original Park Street School. Renter the park through the gates, walking up along the tree lined path.

Dartmouth Alderney Cairn

Having reached the top of the hill you will come across a stone cairn, originally built in 1941 commemorating the landing of 353 settlers from the Ship Alderney, to found the Town of Dartmouth in 1750. The cairn is made of beach cobbles from a local rocky beach of the Atlantic coast. Originally the cairn had been topped with an urn made of Scottish granite, but has been missing since the cairn was rebuilt in 1995.

Glacial Erratics

Near the cairn, and continuing along the walking route you will see large glacial erratics surrounded by flowers. These have been part of the Dartmouth Common landscape since the last glacier dropped them here about 15,000 years ago.

It was on one of these glacial erratics that was depicted as the sitting stone in the 1843 view of Halifax Habour.

A 3D model of one of these glacial erratics

From this second glacial erratic, continue walking along the walking path toward the ball diamond next to Bicentennial School. It is behind this ball diamond that you can observe small outcrops of glacial striated bedrock.

Glacial Striations

Having reached this highest point of the walking tour – there are several small exposures of glacial striated bedrock behind the ball diamond.

Continue to walk a loop of the track or just turn around to return to the glacial erratic. Taking the path to the left of the glacial erratic you descend the hill.

Outcrop

At the top of the hill you can observe a small exposure of Halifax Formation bedrock. These mudstone shales are of Cambrian-Ordovician age, … add more info.

Descending the hill you will see more retaining walls made from cobbles of bedrock. At the bottom of the hill, near a public oven and garden area there are three fragments of granite grindstones.

Grindstones

The 2000 pound old mill stones were found in the summer of 1969 while dredging along the Dartmouth side of the Halifax Harbour. They were taken by the Dartmouth Historical Society. These mill stones are grey granite, similar to the outcrops exposed at nearby Purcells Cove .

The broken millstones contain large dark inclusions of pre-existing rock (xenoliths) which are common in local granite. The original use of the wheels is not clear: they could have been used for grinding grain (grist mill) or crushing gold ore (Chilean mill).

Brown, Devanney and Donohoe, 1988

Leaving the park by these lower gates, carefully cross the road at the crosswalk and walk along north along Park Ave. This street used to be called Stair Street. Turn right at Wentworth and continue walking through some of the original Dartmouth neighbourhood.

At the crest of the hill you will see another outcrop of bedrock, which is also well exposed along the edge of the church property.

Be careful of traffic in this area – the road has a blind crest.

Turn right when you reach Ochterloney – and as you walk down this street, imagine how the view of this historic street and vantage point of the Harbour has changed.

Quaker House

As you walk down Ochterloney you will pass by the Quaker House, a nationally registered heritage property. Note that the historical foundations of the buildings in the neighbourhood are made of the Halifax Formation shales that we observed in the Dartmouth Common.

Continue to walk down Ochterloney and use crosswalks to reach the end of the walking tour, returning to the Alderney Ferry Terminal.

Learn More and References