HISTORY OF NATAL DAY
Natal Day is a popular civic holiday celebrated in the Halifax-Dartmouth region every year on the first Monday of August. The festivities are marked with parades, fireworks, races, cake-cutting ceremonies, concerts, and more.
Natal Day was first celebrated on June 21, commemorating the founding of Halifax in 1749. The town historian Dr. John P. Martin wrote about how Natal Day celebrations shifted to August in his book “The Story Of Dartmouth.” The first annual Natal Day started in the summer of 1895. For many years, Dartmouth observed Natal Day of Halifax on June 21 — most shops were open only until noon, and schools were closed for the day. Dominion Day would mostly pass unrecognized, while June 21 was celebrated jubilantly.
The townsfolk decided to have their own Natal Day, with the holiday date coinciding with the inauguration of the first train arriving on the new railway line in the area. As the new railway branch was scheduled to be completed by August of 1895, preparations to host a summer carnival began earlier in the same year. Special fares were requested to be issued so out-of-town visitors could visit Dartmouth and observe the area’s residential and industrial potential, as well as witness the beautiful scenery surrounding Dartmouth Lakes.
By June, it was evident that the railway branch would not be finished that year. The locals and the Dartmouth Committee went ahead with their celebration plans for Natal Day at First Lake in August. In 1906, a half-holiday was declared by Halifax on the same day as Dartmouth’s Natal Day.