Dartmouth, NS, Metropolitan Area, population (including Cole Harbour) 89 163 (2011c), 87 886 (2006c). Dartmouth is located on the eastern side of Halifax Harbour in Halifax Regional Municipality (incorporated in 1996).
Founded in 1750, the community developed slowly, its early importance being to supply farm produce to HALIFAX. The agricultural base was later diversified, beginning in 1826 with construction of the Shubenacadie Canal system, intended to connect Halifax Harbour with the Bay of Fundy. The scheme subsequently failed, but the availability of waterpower led to the establishment of some light industry by mid-century.
Although a sugar refinery (1883) and an oil refinery (1916) were precursors, rapid development did not begin until after World War II. A ferry service crossing Halifax Harbour has operated continually since 1752, but the completion of the first cross-harbour bridge in 1955 (a second was opened in 1970) greatly facilitated access from Halifax. This coincided with the expansion of several existing industries and resulted in a housing boom and new industrial development.
Since the 1970s, Dartmouth has taken advantage of geographic and economic factors to become the light industrial and commercial centre of the Maritimes. Burnside Business Park, opened in 1968, is the largest such complex in Atlantic Canada, catering predominantly to sales and service as well as warehouse and distribution industries.
The BEDFORD INSTITUTE OF OCEANOGRAPHY is a world-renowned research facility, and the NOVA SCOTIA RESEARCH FOUNDATION CORPORATION and the Nova Scotia Hospital are also located in Dartmouth. A modern highway network circumvents the revitalized downtown core and connects Dartmouth's growing residential and industrial districts. Excellent medical, educational, recreational and shopping facilities make the metropolitan area a popular place in which to live and work.