Discover Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia: A Community Rich in History and Culture
Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, known in Mi'kmawi'simk as Klmuejuapskwe'katik and in Scottish Gaelic as Mèinnean Shidni, is a community with a rich history and cultural heritage. Once a bustling town in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia, Canada, Sydney Mines was founded in 1784 and incorporated as a town in 1889. It was a significant player in coal production, although mining activities have now ceased.
The Historical Significance of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia
The area of Sydney Mines was originally called Klmuejuapskwe'katik, or "place of the coal" in Mi'kmawi'simk. The British used the coal mines of Sydney Mines during the American Revolution to supply the British loyalists in Boston and Halifax. The mines were so vital that American and French ships made great efforts to interrupt this supply line.
On November 1, 1776, John Paul Jones, the father of the American Navy, set sail in command of Alfred to free hundreds of American prisoners working in the area's coal mines. Although winter conditions prevented the freeing of the prisoners, the mission did result in the capture of Mellish, a vessel carrying a vital supply of winter clothing intended for John Burgoyne's troops in Canada.
Major Timothy Hierlihy and his regiment on board HMS Hope worked in and protected from privateer attacks on the coal mines at Sydney Cape Breton. Sydney Cape Breton provided a vital supply of coal for Halifax throughout the war. The British began developing the mining site at Sydney Mines in 1777. On 14 May 1778, Major Hierlihy arrived at Cape Breton. While there, Hierlihy reported that he “beat off many piratical attacks, killed some and took other prisoners.”
The Industrial Legacy of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia
Sydney Mines was once a major coal-producing community. Mining began locally in 1766, and in 1830 systematic operations were undertaken. One of the area mines extended about 5 miles (8 km) out under the sea. The last mine was closed in 1975.
Upon the success of coal mining operations, the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company constructed a steel plant in Sydney Mines in 1902. The plant, alongside the steel plant in Sydney owned by the Dominion Iron and Steel Company, combined to produce more than 50% of Canada's steel during World War I. The plant was later sold to the British Empire Steel Corporation and ceased operations years later.
The Climate of Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia
Sydney Mines experiences cool summers and cold, windy, wet, snowy, and very stormy winters. Despite its low latitude compared to the rest of Canada and its proximity to the ocean, Sydney Mines borders the very cold Labrador ocean current. This results in a cold and very snowy winter. Daytime highs during the winter usually stick around minus 2 degrees Celsius, but the fact Sydney Mines lies around the polar jet stream causes it to experience arctic outbreaks and very warm thaws.
Landmarks in Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia
Sydney Mines is home to several notable landmarks. In front of Jubilee Elementary on Main Street, there is a bronze statue of Johnny Miles in a running pose, commemorating the dates he won the Boston Marathon. In front of the John J. Nugent Firemen's Centre on Elliot Street, there is a firefighter statue which represents all the past fire chiefs of the Sydney Mines Volunteer Fire Department.
Sydney Mines was also the filming location for the 1981 horror movie My Bloody Valentine, adding a touch of Hollywood to this historic community.