This is a Dominion Atlantic Railway Lantern, made by Dietz.
The Dominion Atlantic Railway operated from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Along with the railway, the DAR operated hotels, steamships and ferries as well. Their premier train was the ‘Flying Bluenose”. The DAR began operating in 1894, and remained independent until 1914, when it was purchased by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Even though the DAR was owned by CPR, it remained relatively independent. Retaining its branding, names on locomotives and cars as well. The DAR was widely popular as a tourist operation and catered heavily to tourists. They developed tourist destinations, ran special tourist excursions and marketed heavily to the tourist market. Nova Scotia’s tourism industry can be attributed partly to the DAR. The Dominion Atlantic Railway Digital Preservation Initiative has done a wonderful job preserving the DAR. You can view the DARDPI it here.
The lantern was made sometime between 1900 and 1914. After the CPR takeover, all hardware used on the railway was CPR branded. The only DAR lanterns I’ve seen are these Dietz No.6 lanterns. The Dietz No.6 was bell bottom lantern named because it used a 6 inch tall globe, rather than the shorter No.39 globe at around 5 and a half inches.
The lantern has been wonderfully preserved, covered in much of its original tin plating. Unfortunately, the lantern does not have a DAR marked globe, although I have seen one. I’d love to get one eventually.
While admiring the lantern one night, I noticed something incredible I hadn’t seen even after owning the lantern for months. A name was scratched into it on the underside of the bell, “J. Simmons”. With the help of some others, I found out the original owner was James Simmons.
James was born 1870 in Halifax County and soon after moved to Kentville. He began his career with the Dominion Atlantic Railway, I assume as a baggage handler, in 1892. James was married January 1898 and at that time was the Baggage Master of the DAR Kentville station. In the 1901 Canadian census, he is still listed as the Baggage Master, however by 1907, he was promoted to conductor. In the 1924 seniority list, James is listed as the 6th highest ranking conductor.
After 41 years working for the DAR, James retired as a conductor in 1933. James passed away a short time later in 1936, at age 66. He had a son who passed away at age 8. They’re buried at St. Josephs cemetery in Kentville.
This lantern is in absolutely stunning condition, which is the reason the name survived. Had this lantern lost more of the tin plating, it’s likely the faint name scratched into the lantern would be gone.
One of the things I would love is a photo of James Simmons. If you happen to have one, please get in contact.