24 October 2013: Sydney, Nova Scotia

Old Times Not Forgotten

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

To me, one of the appeals of Sydney, Nova Scotia is that it is mostly frozen in the 1950s, a simpler and more innocent time—at least in my memory.

It is one of the only places in North America where I could direct you to a cobbler to have your shoes resoled.

Or a seamstress or tailor..[whohit]-SYDNEY24Oct-[/whohit]

Or old Doc Archibald with his office in an old Victorian behind a white picket fence.


The fiddle at the Sydney Cruise Terminal. Photos by Corey Sandler

From 1784 to 1820, Sydney was the capital of the British colony of Cape Breton Island. The colony was merged with neighboring Nova Scotia when the British decided to develop the abundant coal fields surrounding Sydney Harbor.

By the early twentieth century Sydney was home to one of the world’s largest steel plants, fed by the coal mines of the Dominion Coal Company.

By the late 1960s both coal and steel industries were failing, and were taken over by federal and provincial governments. That lasted until late in 2001 when they could not be sustained any further.

Today the economy is not exactly booming, although the region benefits greatly from the lure of the Louisbourg Fortress nearby, a faithful reconstruction of the great French citadel erected to fend off the British. That didn’t quite work, and the Brits eventually captured and then knocked down the thick stone walls. But in the 1960s, federal and provincial governments, along with private money paid for the reconstruction of the fortress.

It is an astounding site; I wrote about it in an earlier blog posting.

In another direction is Baddeck on the Bras d’Or (the Golden Arm), which most of the Anglophone locals insist on pronouncing something like “brass door.” This lovely Lakeland was the summer home of Alexander Graham Bell, and the museum erected there is an amazing peek into the mind of a true genius. Bell worked on the phone, of course; we’ll forgive him for that but consider also his accomplishments in aeronautics, metal detectors, sound recording, photoelectric cells, solar heating, and even air conditioning produced by directing fans across ice harvested from Lake Bras d’Or and stored in the basement of his estate.

On this visit, we stayed in town. I was conducting a digital photography workshop and I set myself the assignment of finding as many possible ways to capture images of the oversized fiddle that stands outside the cruise terminal. The fiddle is the symbol of the Nova Scotia ceilidh, a foot-tapping barn dance.


All text and photos copyright 2013 by Corey Sandler. If you would like to purchase a copy, please contact me.