A History of Nova Scotia Page

Book #3: TOC
The Road To Being Canada
Chapter 10, Modern Conveniences

I quote from Paul Johnson's wonderful book, The Birth of the Modern:

"Improvements affected everyone. The Argand, the Atral, and other patent oil lamps replaced candles in countless homes. Efficient cooking stoves replaced the slow and labor-intensive business of cooking over open fires. Mass-produced chairs, selling at 30 to 75 cents each, doubled the number of chairs per household from 1800 to 1830, and from 1820 many households began to acquire sofas. By 1830 inventories for probate showed that nearly a quarter of American households now had carpets. Cheap Lancashire cottons, which transformed the appearance of working-class women in the years 1815-30, were joined by cheap, mass-produced shoes - by 1835 American manufacturers were turning out 15 million pairs a year; during the 1820's, indeed, most children and all adults acquired shoes. ...
Instead of every room having beds, there were now distinct bedrooms, and the sharing of beds, universal until the second decade of the 19th century, became increasingly rare, except among married couples and children. Travelers, notably lawyers and salesmen, were no longer prepared to share beds, or even bedrooms, with strangers in hotels which advertised themselves as first class."1
"As early as the year 1804, a demonstration of the use of gas for the purpose of lighting was given at the Lyceum Theatre, and three years later the first public street lighting was introduced in Pall Mall. By 1816 gas-lamps were common in London streets, in public buildings, as in the bigger shops. But it was not ordinarily used in private houses until after 1860, partly because of the danger from careless pipe-laying, partly because, until the introduction of the Argand burner, and, in the nineties, of the incandescent mantle, it was not a really satisfactory illuminant."2
While London first had it in 1817; it was 1842 before Halifax was first using gas lighting.3 With gas installed insurance premiums dropped. Oil lamps disappeared. One could read in the papers in late May of 1844 that "Dr. Gesner, the inventor of coal-oil, was scheduled to lecture on his favorite subject, geology, at the Mechanics' Institute." Incidentally, Gesner received his patent on kerosene, as was issued from U.S. patent Office, on June 27th, 1854.
"In December 1849 Crabb Robinson sent his brother as a present a safety razor. The gift was accompanied by a page of careful directions as to its use, thus proving that the instrument was a new device. The following passage tells us something about the donor as well as about his gift: 'I hope that before you receive this you will receive the Razor that will cut off the hair and will not cut the flesh. I hope you will have been able to use it. You will at once perceive that the principle on which the Razor is framed is this - that it can be used only when it is almost flat and that if the Razor be put in another angle, then the points of the comb interpose and prevent its cutting at all."4
At this time Dartmouth, the city of lakes, was known for its ice. Money was made in ice.5 It was cut in the winter and stored for the summer. People paid money for ice when they could get it in the summer.6 Dartmouth became quite the manufacturing town, indeed, the first ice skates were made there.

NEXT: [Chapter 11, Medicine]


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Peter Landry