At one time, Sydney Mines was called "Lazytown." A map of 1863 actually showed the area as "Lazytown".

 

This less than flattering name came from local farmers who would arrive in town in the morning to find a few people up and about. This was due to the shift work employed by the local mines. The coal miners and their wives would wake at dawn and get ready for the day shift. After the men went off to the pits, the wives would return to bed for some extra sleep. No one was awake to greet the farmers coming to sell their milk, eggs and produce.

 

Sydney Mines (pop. 8,501) grew up around the rich coal fields of Sydney Harbor and one pit - Princess Colliery - operated continuously for 100 years, from 1875 to 1975. In that time, Princess produced 30 million tons of coal.

 

The first mining took place in 1766 along the exposed seams of the harbor cliffs. When the General Mining Association took over Cape Breton coal mining in 1827, the area was simply known as "The Mines." Sydney Mines' first house, owned by R. Brown, dates from this era (1829) and still stands at 32 Brown St.

 

By the turn of the century, Sydney Mines was one of the top coal producing communities in North America. Workers came from Italy, Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Austria, England, Scotland and Wales to work in the mines.

 

A steel plant opened in 1902 and much of the town's infrastructure - sewer, water, electricity, paved streets - was established at that time.

 

In 1932, Sydney Mines' population peaked at 10,000.

 

There are no coal mines operating in the town today, but many of the workers at nearby Prince Mine at Point Aconi live in Sydney Mines.

 

The town has downtown shopping area with grocery stores, pharmacy, bakery, banks, restaurants, service stations, town police and library.

 

A sport's complex on Brown St. has ballfields and tennis courts. There is an undeveloped beach at the end of MacLean St. fronting Sydney Harbor.

 

A miners' monument located on Main St., pays tribute to the men who perished at the local collieries, including 22 miners who were killed by a runaway man-rake (train) in 1938.

 

The town's most visible artifact is a red, sandstone town hall, built on a downtown corner in 1904 as a federal post office. The building was renovated in 1989 and registered as a provincial heritage property.

 

Another Sydney Mines landmark is Gowrie House, a two-storey, wooden mansion on Shore Rd.  Overlooking the harbor, Gowrie House was built in 1834 by Samuel Archibald whose family and descendants maintained residence there for a century and a half. Marble fireplaces, extensive grounds and outbuildings reflected the prosperity of the family. Gowrie House is now a four-star country inn, offering accommodations and gourmet meals year-round. In 1990, international recording artist and performer Rita MacNeil filmed a television special at Gowrie House.

 

Historic Images

c/o: Sydney Mines Heritage Society

 

Important Historical
 Dates for the town of Sydney Mines

c/o: Sydney Mines Heritage Society
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1784
Major F.W. Desbarres, Lieutenant Governor of Cape Breton encourages many United Empire Loyalists to come and settle on the Island. Some settled here in what is now known as Sydney Mines.

1802
(August 16) Ship with 300 Gaelic speaking people arrived in Sydney Mines

1815
(June 25) First Mass celebrated

1820
42 men employed in mining

1827
General Mining Association of Great Britain takes over mining operations

1829
First house built in Sydney Mines

1832
(August 4) First steamboat arrived in Sydney Mines with load of pig iron

1834
Gowrie House built

1842
(May 17) Reverend Matthew Wilson took charge of congregation in Sydney Mines

1842
St. Andrew's Manse built

1850
First school built

1853
Immaculate Conception became a parish

1854
First locomotive brought over from England

1854
Jacob Pit opened

1854
Queen Pit opened

1860
Prince of Wales visited the town

1862
Chapel Fort erected

1864
Map of Cape Breton Island showed Sydney Mines listed as "Lazytown"

1867
Shaft for "Winning Pit" sank

1886
Locomotive "C.J. Swann" built in Sydney Mines at company shops

1889
Town was incorporated; first Town Council meeting was held

1892
Rev. c.F. MacKinnon became pastor of Immaculate Conception Church

1893
Nut coal sold for $1.50 per ton

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