Frozen in time

Time cap­sule of­fers glimpse into North Syd­ney’s past

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY ERIN POTTIE

A yel­lowed news­pa­per, stamps, a wal­let and a mes­sage to pro­tect democ­racy have been re­leased from a North Syd­ney time cap­sule.

The relic was opened Thurs­day by mem­bers of the North Syd­ney his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety.

The small me­tal box was dis­cov­ered af­ter de­mo­li­tion of Thomp­son high school’s 70-yearold build­ing in June.

The cache re­mained sealed un­til his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety pres­i­dent Joe Meaney popped its me­tal cas­ing

Thurs­day morn­ing.

“I said ‘I’m not go­ing to look at it, in case it’s mush,’” Meaney said

with a laugh. “I didn’t even peek.”

Former school prin­ci­pal Alex Gilchrist pulled items from the box in front of a cap­ti­vated crowd at the North Syd­ney mu­seum.

The cap­sule was dis­cov­ered in­side the build­ing’s cor­ner­stone by stone masons work­ing to re­fur­bish the slab over the sum­mer. The stone was first laid by town mayor A. Charles Thomp­son on July 20, 1949.

Gilchrist said he remembers talk of the stash upon his ar­rival at Thomp­son school in 1957.

“When word came out that the school was go­ing to be de­mol­ished we de­cided, or men­tioned it, to the his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety here,” Gilchrist said.

“At the time, teach­ers would tell me that there were news­pa­pers and some his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments that were put in, but of course you never know what you’re go­ing to find.

“There was a lot of his­tory in that time cap­sule — there’s no two ways about it.”

Jean­nie Keep­ing, a former prin­ci­pal at Thomp­son ju­nior high, said she felt a strong con­nec­tion to the ar­ti­fact.

“It’s very mov­ing to me hav­ing been a part of the school for so long,” she said. “I worked there for 32 years, plus I was a stu­dent there. When they were read­ing some of the items I got goose­bumps.”

North Syd­ney res­i­dent Joe Hillier said he at­tended Thomp­son high school in the 1950s.

He was sur­prised Thurs­day by how well the news­pa­per and other writ­ten ma­te­ri­als stood the test of time.

“It’s quite a thing,” Hillier said.

An­other lo­cal res­i­dent, Bobby An­drea, said he used to com­pete against Thomp­son in school hockey.

“My chil­dren went there,” he said. “It’s won­der­ful; that’s why I’m here. It’s your his­tory.”

The cer­e­mony was at­tended by Chuck Thomp­son, grand­son of the school name­sake, A. Charles Thomp­son.

“I was sur­prised that some of that stuff sur­vived be­cause ap­par­ently the his­tory of all these time cap­sules is over that pe­riod of time they turn to mush — just from the mois­ture and the ex­po­sure — but ev­ery­thing is well pre­served.”

In­cluded in the cap­sule was a let­ter from the lo­cal ladies aux­il­iary that stated: “With honor, we, the moth­ers, wives, daugh­ters

and sis­ters of the men who served in the Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945; en­close this script, with the hope that with the lay­ing of this cor­ner­stone of an Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tu­tion, that the fu­ture Stu­dents shall strive al­ways to main­tain a true and free Democ­racy; which so many have fought and died to pre­serve; so that they, the Stu­dents and all peo­ples of the Bri­tish Em­pire could re­tain their Demo­cratic ways of life.”

Ad­di­tional items found in­side the cap­sule in­cluded var­i­ous de­nom­i­na­tions of Cana­dian

money in­clud­ing a sil­ver onedol­lar coin.

A short para­graph in the news­pa­per of the day de­tailed the lay­ing of the cor­ner­stone, which is de­scribed as mark­ing progress “to pro­vide North Syd­ney with one of the finest high schools in east­ern Canada.”

Sev­eral houses on former Thomp­son prop­erty were moved to new lo­ca­tions to make way for its con­struc­tion.

An ad­di­tion was built in 1964 and to house the grow­ing num­ber of stu­dents, 17 por­ta­ble class­rooms were added in 1972,

six of which were placed down the street from the school.

When Memo­rial High School in Syd­ney Mines opened in 1976, Thomp­son be­came a ju­nior high school and later a mid­dle school.

The build­ing closed per­ma­nently in 2016.

Ac­cord­ing to the prov­ince’s school cap­i­tal plan, a new mid­dle school is slated to be built over the next five years in the North Syd­ney-Syd­ney Mines area.


Ann Thomp­son, from right, Joe Hillier, and Alex Pen­der­gast browsed through the pages of a Post-Record dated Tues­day, July 19, 1949. The news­pa­per’s North­side page in­cluded a short para­graph on the lay­ing of the Thomp­son school cor­ner­stone.


Thomp­son school’s time cap­sule, shown left, was opened Thurs­day at North Syd­ney mu­seum. The small me­tal box con­tained items such as a July 19, 1949 news­pa­per, a wal­let, coins and pa­per money.


Yel­lowed pa­pers from nearly seven decades ago were spread out on a ta­ble at the North Syd­ney mu­seum af­ter lo­cal his­tor­i­cal so­ci­ety mem­bers opened the sealed box in front of a crowd of res­i­dents.

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