Glace Bay, Nova Scotia

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 Nova Scotia / 189 views

Glace Bay As early as the 1720s the French inhabited the area to supply Fortress of Louisbourg with coal.[1] They named the location baie de Glace (literally, Ice Bay) because of the sea ice which filled the ocean each winter. In 1748, after the capture of Fortress Louisbourg, the British constructed Fort William at Table Head in order to protect a mine that produced coal to supply the Louisbourg garrison. The fort itself was a blockhouse, brought from Boston, with a palisade. When Cape Breton Island was returned to French control, Fort William continued in service until 1752 when it was destroyed by fire.

More permanent settlement of Glace Bay probably can be dated from 1818 when Walter Blackett obtained a grant of land on the south side of the Bay. Coal mining existed on a small scale until the 1860s when four mines were in operation within the future town boundaries. These included the Hub, Harbour, Caledonia and Glace Bay Collieries. The first large mine, the Hub Shaft of Glace Bay opened in 1861 and a total of 12 mines in Glace Bay were in operation.[2] Following the formation of the Dominion Coal Company in 1893, the coal mining industry expanded significantly in what was to become Glace Bay with the opening of several new mines. In 1894, the government gave exclusive mining rights to the Dominion Coal Company.

Small communities grew up around the mines and by 1901 they came together to form the Town of Glace Bay. At the time of incorporation, the population was 6,945.[3] By the 1940s, the figure exceeded 28,000 and Glace Bay became Canada’s largest town (in population).[3] At one time, the town had 12 collieries but none remain. The industrial decline has seen the core population decrease to 16,984 as of 2001[4] and has been dissolved since municipal amalgamation in 1995 which formed the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.


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