The presence of coal in Sydney Mines was noted by Nicolas DENYS in 1672 and strip-mined coal was shipped out as early as 1724. Large-scale operations began in 1826 when the General Mining Association (GMA) took over the mines. Shafts were sunk, ironworks established and railway tracks laid.
The Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company succeeded the GMA in 1900, later expanding operations and building blast furnaces. The town enjoyed a period of prosperity and expansion until 1920 when the blast furnaces shut down. The last mine, Princess Colliery, closed in 1975. There is no other industry, and unemployment is high. The "Princess" was once a museum where visitors could descend in a mine that at one time operated as far as 8 km out below the ocean floor.
Author HEATHER MACDONALD
Links to Other Sites
Cape Breton Regional Municipality
The website for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia.
Cape Breton Fossil Centre
The website for the Cape Breton Fossil Centre, where visitors can examine 300-million-year-old plant fossils from the rich deposits of the Sydney coal field. Sydney Mines is one of eight important fossil sites in Nova Scotia, and is known internationally for excellent examples of plant fossils.
About visiting heritage sites in the Sydney Mines region. From the website for the Breton Education Centre.
Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce
The website for the Atlantic Provinces Chambers of Commerce (APCC), formerly the Maritime Board of Trade. Formed in 1896, this organization promotes and supports business and economic development in Atlantic Canada. Click on "Chambers" for links to local Chambers of Commerce.
Nova Scotia: Community Profiles
Search for statistical profiles of communities in the Province of Nova Scotia.