Community’s long history seen as a gift by residents – by Elizabeth Patterson (Cape Breton Post – July 8, 2017)

SYDNEY MINES – If you offered Sheila MacCormick a chance to buy a brand new house, she probably wouldn’t be that interested. MacCormick lives in a brick and stone home that was built in 1853 for a mine office manager by the name of Sutherland who worked for the General Mining Association. It comes complete with hardwood peg floors, five fireplaces and uneven windows and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I just love old buildings and old things,” MacCormick told The Cape Breton Post at a heritage display and storytelling session at Holy Family Church hall on Saturday. “It’s got a lot of history and I just love it.”

MacCormick is just one of about three dozen people who attended the session held to mark Heritage Day in Sydney Mines. While the morning event, an outdoor heritage hunt, didn’t attract a lot of people mainly due to poor weather, many instead came in the afternoon to hear a discussion led by Ronald Labelle, Cape Breton Regional Library’s storyteller-in-residence.

For Labelle, the session was a good way to bring some of this community’s history out into the open. “This is where the whole industrial revolution started in Canada almost, with all the mines that opened up in the early 19th century,” said Labelle. “Even the way the town was developed with these row houses for the workers, it’s the kind of thing that you’d see in 19th century England but you don’t see anywhere else in Canada. That was part of the life here and the place has such a long history.”

Saturday’s sessions were organized by Jesslyn Dalton and Nicole Baker but the original idea came from the late Father Greg MacLeod, who grew up in Sydney Mines. “Father Greg insisted on this and getting the community involved to keep its legacy alive,” said Baker, adding the amount of history to be found in Sydney Mines was “amazing.”

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