NORTH SYDNEY THEN...
North Sydney, incorporated in 1885, was actually settled as early as
1785 by European and Loyalist settlers. The community has
traditionally been a seaport throughout its history, being a major
transport point for the nearby coal industry that was quickly
developing. The fishery has also played a vital role in the economy.
In addition to the fish plants along the waterfront, many inshore and
offshore fleets hailed North Sydney as home.
Around the mid 1800's, the town was affectionately known as Bar Town,
due to the large sand bar at indian Beach that made its way deep into
the harbor. By the turn of the century, the community had reached its
peak of growth and activity. In fact, it was the fourth largest port
in Canada dealing in ocean going vessels. The first ferry service to
Newfoundland was started from North Sydney in 1898, a service carried
on today by Marine Atlantic.
In the early part of this century, North Sydney was an important
communications centre. The Western Union Cable Office on September 19,
1909, announced to the world Admiral Perry had reached the North
Pole. In 1914, the Cable Office was considered to be so vital to the
war effort an entire regiment of troops was assigned to guard it.
Because of the Cable Office, North Sydney learned of and celebrated
the Armistic November 10, 1918, a full day before the rest of the
During both World Wars, North Sydney was a key assembly area for
convoys carrying troops and supplies across the North Atlantic.Sydney
harbor was heavily defended and the concrete bases of the gun
emplacements can still be seen along Shore Road between North Sydney
and Sydney Mines. On October 14, 1942 the S.S. Caribou was sunk by a
German U Boat, while en route to Newfoundland from North Sydney.
North Sydney today is a charming blend of the old and the new. The
community is filled with many tree lined streets featuring stately
homes that have stood almost as long as the community itself.
Commercial Street, formerly called Water Street is the central
business district of the Town. Visitors will be impressed by the wide
variety of products and services offered by the downtown merchants,
just steps away from the Newfoundland ferry.
The town has a number of park areas and lookoffs, including Indian
Beach, Munroe Park, and Smelt Brook Park, all of which offer a variety
of recreational and leisure activities. Next to Smelt Brook a museum,
established by the North Sydney Historical Society is a must stop to
explore the heritage and pride of one of Nova Scotia's oldest towns.
The Ballast Grounds, situated in the heart of Downtown, offers the
tourist a panoramic view of the harbor. Here, one can walk out on a
400 metre boardwalk, or just rest on one of the benches and watch the
many vessels that ply the harbor. It also features a small craft
Further along the harbor, in upper North Sydney, is the Northern
Yacht Club with docking facilities and boat launch. The area is a
popular windsurfing location. Adjacent to the Yacht Club is Munroe
Park with picnic area, harbor lookoff, children's playground and
North Sydney is also home to the largest passenger ferries on the
east coast of North America. The MV Caribou and its sister ship, the
MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood, regularly cross between North Sydney
and Newfoundland. The newer high-speed ferry shown in the picture above
can make the crossing in an amazing 2.5 hours.
Besides the Newfoundland ferry service, North Sydney has an active
fishing fleet taking mostly lobsters in the spring of the year. The
fishing boats tie up at the Ballast Grounds in the centre of town.
Ballast Grounds Park features a wooden boardwalk around the
anchorage, park benches, picnic area and parking lot. The spot is a
great place to watch the activity along the busy waterfront.
North Sydney celebrates its heritage every summer with Bartown Days
in early July. The Cape Breton County Exhibition is held in