WHERE THE WHISTLE BLOWS
New columnist proud of his local roots
Check out Jeremy Fraser’s new column on life in New Waterford.
Have you heard the 8:30 p.m. whistle blow?
Growing up in New Waterford, the historic whistle is one I’ve heard thousands of times. The nightly whistle has become a trademark in the community and on the rare occurrence when it doesn’t ring through the town, it’s noticeable.
Like many communities in Cape Breton, New Waterford has its unique features that make it a great community to live.
The population of the community isn’t near where it was when the coal mines were in operation, but regardless of where you live now, if you were born and raised in the town, New Waterford will always be home, a place you’re proud to talk about with your friends near and far.
If you’re not from New Waterford, it’s hard to explain what it’s like growing up in the community, known to many outsiders as “Dodge City,” but you try your best to make people understand your personal experiences, as funny as they may seem at times.
I had the pleasure of growing up in New Waterford for 22 years, a community I still call home today. Growing up in New Waterford, for me, consisted of two seasons, summer and winter.
My summer months consisted of playing road hockey with friends at the parking lot on Mahon Street, or playing baseball at the Tuckers Ball Field or soccer at “The Turf.”
If you had your license, the days consisted of “shooting the drag” on Plummer Avenue on a Friday night, or simply parking at Young’s Car Wash chatting with friends for countless hours because you didn’t have enough money to put gas in the car to drive around all night. Yes, some may ask, how a person could spend so many hours parking in town? Well, speaking from experience, let’s just say, without stirring the pot too much, there is never a dull moment in New Waterford, something I’m sure many will agree with.
During the winter months, the place to be was the New Waterford and District Community Centre. I grew up playing hockey for New Waterford Minor Hockey, an association I was loyal to, spending my whole minor hockey career playing for the Sharks. For many others, if it wasn’t spending time at “The Rink,” it was time spent practising and dreaming of the day you would step on the court at Breton Education Centre in front of a full gym playing in the Coal Bowl Classic.
Although my days of playing organized sports have come and gone, I still stay active in the sports community, officiating hockey during the winter months, as well as coaching baseball and organizing tournaments in the summer. Sports had a major influence in my life in New Waterford, and my spare time is used giving back to these associations.
The best part of New Waterford has to be the residents. The community isn’t known as “The Friendly Town” for nothing. The residents are friendly and always willing to help someone in need. For example, every November, the town holds its annual Combined Christmas Giving telethon, where former and current residents make donations to help those less fortunate in the town at Christmas time. The telethon continues to be successful each year, and the organizers and residents are the ones to be thanked for its success.
Without leaving any organization out, if it wasn’t for volunteers, who knows where New Waterford would be today. The community has some of the best volunteers, many of whom don’t ask for recognition for their efforts, simply saying they volunteer to make New Waterford a community people want to live and raise a family.
In my monthly column “Where the Whistle Blows,” referring to the 8:30 p.m. whistle nightly, I will look at the past, the present and the future of the New Waterford and surrounding communities of Scotchtown, River Ryan, Lingan and New Victoria. We will look at the community and sports history, and the people, as well as the issues and conversations surrounding the area.
I’m proud to be from New Waterford, and with that I look forward to sharing the history, the people, as well as the issues and conversations in columns to come.
This is how New Waterford’s Plummer Avenue looked, back around 1940.