South Street to Marlborough Woods: The Oaklands and Belmont Estates
The Oaklands Estate
In 1908, The Oaklands Estate occupied about forty acres in several parcels. The entrance was located at the iron gates on Robie Street. The gatehouse is still standing at the northwest corner of Oakland Road and still being used a s a residence in 2001.
The largest parcel, including a water lot, was originally owned by William Taylor under grant from the Crown in 1786. It was subsequently transferred to his granddaughter Mary E. Brenton in 1802, then to Richard Tremain in 1815. Tremaine acquired additional land, a section of the old commissioner's farm, or Belmont, from John Howe, Jr. in 1816.
In 1861, the Tremaine heirs conveyed the property to William Cunard, the second son of Sir Samuel Cunard. In 1862 he added 9 acres from John W. Ritchie, then another part of original Belmont from Robert Davis in 1863. Mr. Cunard built the Oaklands residence during the U.S. Civil War, and purchased most of the building materials in the U.S.
In 1871 the estate was transferred to Hon. P. C. Hill, Premier of Nova Scotia. (Mrs. P. C. Hill was a daughter of Enos Collins.)
About 1890, Sir Sanford Fleming, owner of the Dingle, made an offer for the purchase of the northern part of Oaklands, having in view the possibility at some future time of bridging the Northwest Arm at this point In 1904 Roderick MacDonald of MacDonald & Co., Ltd., of Halifax, purchased the northern part of the property and leased it to the Halifax Amateur Boating Club. In 1906 he acquired the residence and the balance of the property.
The Belmont Estate
The owners of the Belmont Estate were judges, naval officers and merchants. In 1843, the property comprised 90 ½ acres. It had originally been acquired by Commander Henry Duncan, R.N. He had been commissioner of the Halifax Dock Yard during the Revolutionary War, so the estate was known as "Commissioner's Farm". "Belmont" was the name of the family ancestral home in Dundee, Scotland.
Edward B. Brenton, a barrister and Judge Advocate, purchased the property from Duncan. It was bought by John Howe, Jr., half-brother to Joseph Howe, in 1815. Subsequent owners were Henry H. Cogswell and William Clark. It passed to Judge J. W. Ritchie in 1857, and in 1908 was the property of Thomas W. Ritchie and George Ritchie and the Misses Ritchie.
See "The Old Marlborough Woods and the Rise and Fall of the North West Arm Land Company" for the story of the subsequent attempts to develop the southern section of the Belmont estate.
(See overview maps from 1878 Halifax Atlas.)