Syd­ney Mines memo­rial park holds prom­ise

Cape Breton Post - - Editorial -

The com­mit­tee that has taken on the work to es­tab­lish At­lantic Memo­rial Park in Syd­ney Mines has faced in­dif­fer­ence and some bad vibes in their ef­forts.

But they are not put off. The com­mit­tee is con­tin­u­ing to work on the big­gest project in Syd­ney Mines since Princess Col­liery shut down in 1975.

Cer­tainly their ef­forts will be of great eco­nomic ben­e­fit to this once-pros­per­ous min­ing town that has had its fi­nan­cial base eroded in the past few decades be­cause it holds the prom­ise of draw­ing tourists to an area that has not drawn them pre­vi­ously, ex­cept those tak­ing the fos­sil tours.

But we just can’t put a dol­lar sign on a plan to bring the past to the present and have ac­tual his­tory re-cre­ated and re-in­vented for tourists, sure, but as well for the young people to have a solid un­der­stand­ing of just what Syd­ney Mines meant.

I re­call as a kid tak­ing the bus from North Syd­ney to the Princess Col­liery stop and walk­ing down the hill to swim at the beau­ti­ful lit­tle beach at Lloyd’s Cove where the sand was tinted black.

We saw where the Western Union cable came ashore there to feed the mes­sages from Western Europe into the cable of­fice in North Syd­ney and have those mes­sages trans­ferred to New York by the won­der of the tele­graph.

And in the Sec­ond World War there was the look­out on top of the cliffs, on guard for en­emy subs seek­ing kills among the convoy ships.

On the other side of the per­ceived park there was the pi­lot sta­tion at the foot of Cran­berry’s cliffs, not far from gun em­place­ments.

And, of course, there was Princess, “The Big Pro­ducer,” that em­ployed so many Syd­ney Mines men for over 50 years. There is also the lo­ca­tion where Cape Bre­ton’s first steel plant was.

To cre­ate a park here is a grand plan and de­serv­ing for a com­mu­nity so hard hit by the loss of prime in­dus­try.

Syd­ney Mines pro­duced fine cit­i­zens, in­clud­ing for­mer mayor Michael Dwyer who be­came the prov­ince’s first la­bor min­is­ter in the govern­ment of An­gus L. Macdon­ald and quit that to be­come pres­i­dent of Nova Sco­tia Steel and Coal and even then to be elected mayor of Now Glas­gow after he moved there.

Then there was Dr. Tom McKeough who was 17 years in the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture and held the most im­por­tant posts in govern­ment, in­clud­ing fi­nance, and was the man who saved the Syd­ney steel plant after it was aban­doned by its own­ers.

Then there was Bob Muir who served the com­mu­nity so hon­or­ably for 40 years in the Par­lia­ment of Canada. We have other out­stand­ing towns-per­sons, from marathon run­ner Johnny Miles to mu­si­cians Bruce Goutho and the Barra MacNeils, and glo­ri­ous ath­letes who played base­ball at Brown St. Park, both be­fore and after the Sec­ond World War.

But re­claim­ing and re­ac­ti­vat­ing a new park, which will in­cor­po­rate the vi­tal­ity of Syd­ney Mines, will mean that we re­mem­ber a town that con­trib­uted so much to its people and its prov­ince.

The great Joseph Howe said it best: “A wise na­tion pre­serves its

records, gath­ers up its mu­ni­ments, dec­o­rates the tombs of its

il­lus­tri­ous dead, re­pairs its great pub­lic struc­tures, and fos­ters

na­tional pride and love of coun­try by per­pet­ual ref­er­ences to the sac­ri­fices and glo­ries of the past.” This ap­plies so much to our town within a greater mu­nic­i­pal­ity. It can’t af­ford to for­get our past and the cre­ation of a park that en-cap­tures the past while pro­vid­ing a con­stant re­minder with trips down me­mory lane and even dogs can run off-lease is a real fu­ture for our com­mu­nity.

Ron MacDon­ald Syd­ney Mines

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