First settled in the mid-1700s, the island experienced a drastic change in its economy in the 1890s, when iron-ore mining was begun there. The mine site at Wabana in the north became its largest community. Nova Scotia Steel first operated the mine but ownership eventually passed to Dominion Steel Corp and finally to Hawker-Siddeley Canada.
Until the beginning of operations in Labrador, the Bell Island mine was the largest producer of iron ore in Canada; during its life it was the world's most extensive submarine iron mine. The ore was smelted at SYDNEY, NS, until competition and declining markets led to the cessation of mining on Bell Island in 1966. The island suffered economic difficulties and a loss of residents as a result; many of the work force now commute to nearby St John's.
Author ROBERT D. PITT
Links to Other Sites
Bell Island History
Articles and anecdotes about the history of Bell Island. From the bellisland.net website.
Bell Island Mining History
An illustrated history of the rough and tumble mining industry on Bell Island. From the Virtual Museum of Canada.
The Submarine Miner
View selected issues of the "Submarine Miner," a monthly publication of the Dominion Wabana Ore Ltd. From the bellisland.net website.
East Coast Exodus
This CBC feature focuses on hardships endured by the local community following the closing of the mine on Bell Island.
Living on the edge
A news story about the colourful history of Bell Island, located in Newfoundland and Labrador. From thestar.com.