Discovering New Waterford, Nova Scotia: A Blend of History and Culture
New Waterford, Nova Scotia, is an urban community nestled in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality of Canada. Known in the Irish language as Port Lairge Ùr, this town offers a rich blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.
The Geography of New Waterford, Nova Scotia
Originally known as Barrachois, meaning small port, lagoon, or pond, New Waterford likely derived its present name from the Irish seaport Waterford, the origin of many early settlers. Coal mining began in the vicinity as early as 1854 at Lingan and later at Low Point in 1865.
Located northeast of Sydney, Nova Scotia, New Waterford is near the ocean and bordered on one side by cliffs. The town features a rather flat terrain and several fresh water lakes nearby.
Demographics of New Waterford, Nova Scotia
The town has a high number of senior citizens due to a long-running unemployment problem and government economic development plans focused on supporting older declining industries. This situation worsened employment prospects for younger workers, resulting in a large migration from New Waterford to other areas of the country with better opportunities.
The Eight-Thirty Whistle Tradition in New Waterford, Nova Scotia
Every day at 8:30pm, the local fire department sets off its siren, a tradition with a long history. The original intent of the whistle was for curfew, and this practice continues today.
The Rich History of New Waterford, Nova Scotia
The first inhabitants of the area were the Mi'kmaq, whose lifestyle centered around hunting and fishing. The historical industry in New Waterford has been coal mining, which began as early as 1854. The Dominion Coal Company started operating in New Waterford in 1907, drawing in many workers mainly from Irish and Scottish Catholic backgrounds. The town was incorporated in 1913.
The No. 12 Colliery Mine Explosion in New Waterford, Nova Scotia
On July 25, 1917, an explosion in the Dominion Company No.12 Colliery resulted in the death of 65 people, making it the worst coal mining disaster on Cape Breton Island to date. A monument was erected in 1922 to commemorate the lives lost and the courage of those who assisted in the rescue effort.
The Coal Strike of 1925 in New Waterford, Nova Scotia
In the 1920s, the British Empire Steel Company controlled most of the coal mines in Nova Scotia. The declining global demand for coal led to wage cuts and restrictions on miners' ability to unionize and strike. The strike of 1925 marked the largest deployment of the Armed Forces for a domestic conflict since the Northwest Rebellion of 1885.
New Waterford, Nova Scotia in Popular Culture
The town was the setting for the 1999 comedic coming-of-age film "New Waterford Girl" and the #1 bestseller “Fall on Your Knees” by Canadian author Ann-Marie MacDonald. The song 'Auction Days' by Canadian artist Jon Brooks is also set in New Waterford.
Celebrations and Events in New Waterford, Nova Scotia
Coal Dust Days in New Waterford, Nova Scotia
Coal Dust Days is a week-long community celebration that takes place approximately the third week of July. The event features a parade, Plummer Avenue Day, a tavern tour, and a fireworks display.
Davis Day in New Waterford, Nova Scotia
Davis Day commemorates the death of Cape Breton miner William Davis, who was shot dead by the coal company security force during a mining strike on June 11, 1925. This day is also known as Miners Memorial Day.
The Coal Bowl in New Waterford, Nova Scotia
New Waterford is the site of the annual Coal Bowl Classic basketball tournament, which brings in teams from all across Canada to compete in a week-long event. The tournament, first held in 1982, takes place at Breton Education Centre in early February.