by Shannon Baxter
This is the fourth in a series of articles that will focus on Dartmouth’s Starr Manufacturing Company. Established as a nail factory in 1861, Starr Manufacturing soon began making its famous Starr skates and selling millions of pairs around the world from 1863 to 1939. The plant also played an important role in the sale of the first hockey sticks and excelled in other areas such as the production of the golden gates to Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park.
These skates were once owned by prominent Dartmouthian Charles Francis Bell.
Charles Francis Bell (b. April 3, 1901, d. October 24, 1985), was the son of Charles W. and Minnie (Wolfe) Bell. His father was a descendant of early Scottish settlers in Dartmouth area.
Charles F. Bell was born in the family home at 91 Queen Street, Dartmouth. He was educated in the Dartmouth public school system, graduating from Halifax County Academy in 1921. He later attended Dalhousie University and Nova Scotia Technical College (1921-1923) taking courses in engineering. In 1924, in August and September, he was a draftsman for Starr Manufacturing Co. After that until 1927, he was a self-employed electrician. By 1930 he was employed with the Nova Scotia Power Company until his retirement when he started a second career as an Industrial Arts teacher with the Dartmouth School Board.
His community service included being a founding member of the Dartmouth Museum Society. He was also a member of the Union Protection Company (U.P.C). He was the secretary of various clubs in Dartmouth including the Men’s Club in the 1930s and the Alpha Social Club.
He was also a member of the Banook Canoe Club so it is no surprise he was active in sports with a strong interest in ice skating; the skates he bequeathed to the museum as part of a larger donation are an excellent example of local Starr skates and especially interesting given their lineage.
Watch for Shannon’s next article in the Starr series, entitled ‘Brennan Family Skates’.