United Empire Loyalists from New York State settled Sydney in 1785, following the American Revolution. Known originally as Spanish Bay, the town was renamed in honour of the British colonial secretary, Lord Sydney. The town was the capital of the Cape Breton colony from 1875 to 1820, when it was absorbed by Nova Scotia. The are attracted large numbers of Scottish settlers in the 1800s, and when the coal mine and steel plants were opened early in the 1900s many from Eastern Europe also settled here, creating a very ethnically diverse population.
Sydney’s 26,000 residents make it Nova Scotia’s third largest city. Wentworth Rotary Park features a pond which is home to ducks, pigeons and swans, along with a bandshell, a central waterfront plaza, boardwalk and exhibition space. Sydney celebrates Canada Day (July 1) with fireworks and events, and Sydney’s ‘Action Week’ (August) is a full week of special events.
The north end of the city contains six 18th century buildings and two others which are almost as old. There are 12 buildings constructed between 1840 and 1885 and another 15 built before 1938. On the Esplanade, a street which parallels the waterfront, there are monuments and plaques which commemorate some of the city’s famous people and events.
This community is on the north shore of Sydney Harbour and the terminus for all Newfoundland ferries, to either Port-aux-Basques on the southwest corner of the island and Argentia on the southeast corner.
North Sydney Attractions
54 Charlotte St
This 1786 two-storey building highlights changes in family living over two centuries. The basement features a 1700s kitchen, the ground floor features Victorian antique furnishings, and he second floor rooms contain themed displays, including an apothecary, and a maritime room featuring seafaring history and model ships. Allow 1 hour. Open Mon-Sat 10 am to 4 pm, may 15 – October 30. Admission by donation,
St. George’s Anglican Church
55 Old Kings Road
This was the British garrison church when Sydney was founded.
75 Charlotte St
Built in 1878, Cossit House is probably the oldest house in Sydney. It was home to Cape Breton’s first Anglican Minister and first rector of St. George’s Church, the Rev. Rana Cossit. The period furnishings are based on a inventory of Cossit’s estate in 1815. Allow 30 minutes. Open Mon-Sat 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, Sundays from 1 – 5:30 pm, from mid-June to Labour Day. By appointment the rest of the year. Admission by donation.
St. Patrick’s Church Museum
On the Esplanade, across from the Government Wharf, is the old stone St. Patrick’s Church Museum. This is the oldest standing Roman Catholic Church on the island (1828) and it now houses a collection of early Sydney artifacts. It is the starting point for guided walking tours of the historic north end. Open Mon-Sat 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, from mid-June to Labour Day. Tuesday-Friday 10 am to 4 pm, Saturday 1 pm to 4 pm the rest of the year. Admission by donation.
Cape Breton Centre for Science and Heritage
Lyceum Building, 225 George St
Jost House is a 200 year-old building, which illustrates the evolution of a wooden dwelling house in Sydney. There is an authentic cooking fireplace and bake-oven and special displays on local marine artifacts and an apothecary shop. There is a museum shop with books of local interest, souvenirs and jewellery. Discovery Corner offers special exhibits for children. Allow 30 minutes. Open Mon-Sat 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, Sundays from 1 – 5:30 pm, from mid-June to Labour Day. By appointment the rest of the year. Admission by donation.
The Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church
51 West Street
The only one of its kind east of Montreal and is richly decorated with Byzantine-style holy pictures, icons and scrollwork. St. Mary’s Parish Church has a white gothic pulpit decorated with Poland’s national symbol – the eagle.
St. Phillips Orthodox Church
St. Phillips is the only African Orthodox Church in Canada and was originally founded by West Indians who settled in Cape Breton. The three churches are open for regular services and all found in Whitney Pier.
481 George Street,
PO Box 1510,
Sydney, NS, B1P 6R7
Built to celebrate the city’s bicentennial, this versatile convention, exhibition, sports and entertainment facility hosts a variety of special events. The Cape Breton Summertime Revue, an extremely popular music and comedy revue-style show which tours the country performs each summer in Sydney and Glace Bay.
Casino Nova Scotia
525 George St
902-563-7777 Fax: 902-563-7776
Attached to Centre 200 is Sydney’s newest entertainment feature, The Sheraton Casino. There are slot machines, gaming tables, stage performances, and the All Star Grille. Open Mon-Thurs 10 am to 4 am and 24 hours Friday to Sunday. Closed Dec 25th.
Two Rivers Wildlife Park
4581 Grand Mira North Rd, Huntington, NS B1K 1V5
Marion Bridge (30 km south on route 327)
View North American wildlife along a 1.5 km trail. Animals displayed include moose, red deer, cougars, barrel owls, bald eagles and arctic foxes. Picnicking permitted. Open 9 am to 8 pm July-August, and 9 am to 7 pm in the shoulder season from mid-May until mid October, and 9 am to 4 pm the rest of the year. Admission fee.
Sydney Tar Ponds
Just east of town centre
Sydney’s infamous tar ponds are well documented as North America’s largest toxic waste site. The 235 acres of “ponds” contain over 700,000 tonnes of toxic sludge, including an estimated 50,000 tonnes contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The “tar ponds” are actually not ponds at all, but rather an accumulation of toxic waste in a tidal estuary, which sends PCBs to the ocean with every tidal cycle. Some souorces estimate that the tar ponds contain over 35 times the amount of toxic sludge contained in New York’s infamous Love Canal.