Glace Bay

Glace Bay (Scottish Gaelic: Glasbaidh) is a community in the eastern part of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia, Canada. It forms part of the general area referred to as Industrial Cape Breton.

Formerly an independently incorporated town (1901–1995), the municipal government in Glace Bay was dissolved and the community has been amalgamated into the larger regional municipality. Prior to amalgamation, Glace Bay had been the province's fourth largest urban area and was the largest town in Nova Scotia (in population).

Neighboring communities include: Reserve Mines, Dominion, Tower Road.

Glace Bay

Gaelic: Glasbaidh
Glace Bay is located in Nova Scotia
Glace Bay
Glace Bay
Location of Glace Bay in Nova Scotia
Coordinates: 46°11′49″N 59°57′25″W / 46.19695°N 59.95698°W
Provinces of CanadaNova Scotia
Regional MunicipalityCape Breton Regional Municipality
Incorporated City1901
DissolvedAugust 1, 1995
 • Total35.15 km2 (13.57 sq mi)
Sea level to 56 m (0 to 183.72 ft)
 • Total19,076
Time zoneUTC-4 (AST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-3 (ADT)
Canadian Postal code
Area code(s)902
Telephone Exchange849, 842


As early as the 1720s the French inhabited the area to supply Fortress of Louisbourg with coal.[1] They named the location baie de Glace (literally, Ice Bay) because of the sea ice which filled the ocean each winter. In 1748, after the capture of Fortress Louisbourg, the British constructed Fort William at Table Head in order to protect a mine that produced coal to supply the Louisbourg garrison. The fort itself was a blockhouse, brought from Boston, with a palisade. When Cape Breton Island was returned to French control, Fort William continued in service until 1752 when it was destroyed by fire.

Census Population
1891 2,459
1901 6,945
1911 16,562
1921 17,007
1931 20,706
1941 25,050
1951 25,586
1956 24,416
1961 24,186
1971 22,440
1981 21,466
1986 20,467
1991 19,501
Urban Area
2001 21,187
2006 19,968
2011 19,076

More permanent settlement of Glace Bay probably can be dated from 1818 when Walter Blackett obtained a grant of land on the south side of the Bay. Coal mining existed on a small scale until the 1860s when four mines were in operation within the future town boundaries. These included the Hub, Harbour, Caledonia and Glace Bay Collieries. The first large mine, the Hub Shaft of Glace Bay opened in 1861 and a total of 12 mines in Glace Bay were in operation.[2] Following the formation of the Dominion Coal Company in 1893, the coal mining industry expanded significantly in what was to become Glace Bay with the opening of several new mines. In 1894, the government gave exclusive mining rights to the Dominion Coal Company.[2]

Small communities grew up around the mines and by 1901 they came together to form the Town of Glace Bay. At the time of incorporation, the population was 6,945.[3] By the 1940s, the figure exceeded 28,000 and Glace Bay became Canada's largest town (in population).[3] At one time, the town had 12 collieries but none remain. The industrial decline has seen the core population decrease to 16,984 as of 2001[4] and has been dissolved/deincorporated since municipal amalgamation in 1995 which formed the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.


Mine charbon Glace Bay 1930
Coal mine, Glace Bay, NS, 1930
Goelettes Glace Bay 1914
Schooners, Glace Bay, 1914

Glace Bay was once a coal mining town. In 1860 the Glace Bay Mining Company was formed and it operated two mines. The first large colliery, the Hub Shaft, opened in 1861. Large-scale mining commenced in 1893 after exclusive mining rights were granted to the Dominion Coal Company. Glace Bay was incorporated as a town nine years later. At its high point the company operated eleven mines in all, and was responsible for 40% of Canada's coal production. Coal was transported on the Sydney and Louisburg Railway to both of those ports for shipping. The S & L Railway's main operations, including the roundhouse and machine shops were located in Glace Bay. Glace Bay's extensive coal and rail operations made the town the industrial center of Cape Breton. As coal mining became less important, the mines were closed until, in 1984 Colliery No. 26 was closed by the Cape Breton Development Corporation. Many residents of Glace Bay started to work at the two other coal mines in the area: Prince Colliery in Point Aconi and Phalen Colliery and Lingan Colliery in Lingan. However, coal mining continued its decline with Lingan closing in the mid-1990s, followed by Phalen in 1999, and Prince in 2001.

Fishing was also an important industry throughout the 20th century. However, by the 1990s fish stocks were so depleted that the fishery was closed. Some fish processing still occurs here.

Present day

Glace Bay North Breakwater Light
Glace Bay North Breakwater Light

The former town of Glace Bay has a population of slightly fewer than 20,000 people. In 2001, a call centre operated by Stream Global Services, using post-industrialization subsidies opened.

The Swiss mining consortium Xstrata was the primary partner in the Donkin Coal Development Alliance, which won the rights to develop an abandoned mine site in the nearby community of Donkin. Currently, the mine is owned by Kameron Collieries, a subsidiary of Cline Group LLC which purchased the operation in 2014-2015. Coal production commenced in February of 2016 and by the fall of 2018, the mine had 120 employees.[5]

Historical features and places

Marconi National Historic Site

The Marconi National Historic Site of Canada is located at Table Head in Glace Bay.[6] Parks Canada maintains an interpretive centre at the site honouring the role of Guglielmo Marconi in the development of radio communications. In December 1902, Marconi transmitted the first complete messages to Poldhu from stations at Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.[7]

Marconi chose this site for its elevated flat expanse and unobstructed view out over the ocean. Some of the concrete footings for the massive towers can still be seen on the grounds. Marconi built a much larger wireless site west of here then known as Marconi Towers. In 1907 he initiated the first permanent transatlantic wireless service from Marconi Towers to its companion site in Clifden, Ireland.



The local landscape is heavily forested and hilly. Some of the low-lying areas at the bottom of hills consist of marshes and bogs. There are rocky cliffs around the ocean along most of the coast and erosion continues to be a problem in some areas; part of North Street fell into the ocean due to erosion and the street was split into Upper and Lower North Street.

South Street Glace Bay Nova Scotia
Glace Bay shoreline

Many areas surrounding former coal mines are experiencing subsidence as the old mine shafts collapse. There are several brownfields around the community at former industrial sites.

Flora and fauna

Glace Bay has a large amount of forests and swamp surrounding the town and within the town limits. Mammals present in Glace Bay include squirrels, rabbits, fox, deer, mice, muskrats, cats, dogs, and coyotes. Bird species include ducks, great horned owls, Canada geese, crows, seagulls, and pigeons. Pheasant are occasionally seen around wooded areas. Smaller birds such as robins, black capped chickadees, and sparrows are also present. Frogs, salamanders, and snakes are also common in Glace Bay.

Glace Bay and the surrounding areas are heavily forested. Common deciduous trees in Glace Bay include poplar, maples, and birches. Oaks, elms and beech trees are also present but they are less common. Common conifers include spruce and balsam with some pine and tamaracks present as well.

The introduced Asian plants of Japanese and Giant Knotweed are common throughout the town and surrounding woodlands and are colloquially known as "elephant ears".


Glace Bay experiences a cool summer, and windy, wet and stormy winter, version of a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) that is significantly moderated by the community's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.[8] The highest temperature ever recorded in Glace Bay was 36.7 °C (98 °F) on 18 August 1935.[9] The lowest temperature ever recorded was −31.7 °C (−25 °F) on 31 January 1873, 29 January 1877 and 15 February 1916.[10][11][12]

Because of its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, Glace Bay, like all of Cape Breton Island, experiences strong seasonal lag. The ocean does not reach its maximum temperature until mid August. It usually stays there until early September. This makes August the hottest month in Glace Bay rather than July which is usually the hottest in most northern continental climates. February is also the coldest month on average rather than January.

Climate data for Sydney Airport, 1981–2010 normals, extremes 1870–present[Note 1]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high humidex 18.2 19.0 25.0 26.0 36.8 43.4 41.8 41.9 38.9 30.4 25.5 18.5 43.4
Record high °C (°F) 16.9
Average high °C (°F) −1.1
Daily mean °C (°F) −5.4
Average low °C (°F) −9.6
Record low °C (°F) −31.7
Record low wind chill −42.6 −41.1 −34.3 −21.4 −11.3 −6.1 0.0 0.0 −5.1 −10.5 −19.3 −31.3 −42.6
Average precipitation mm (inches) 152.5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 80.5
Average snowfall cm (inches) 74.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.2 mm) 20.6 16.5 16.6 15.8 14.5 14.0 11.7 12.7 13.5 15.9 18.1 21.0 191.0
Average rainy days (≥ 0.2 mm) 8.4 7.3 9.5 13.0 14.1 14.0 11.7 12.7 13.5 15.8 15.4 11.5 146.9
Average snowy days (≥ 0.2 cm) 16.6 12.6 11.0 5.6 0.83 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.62 5.4 14.2 66.8
Average relative humidity (%) (at 15:00 LST) 72.5 72.0 69.8 69.7 65.0 64.9 65.2 65.2 67.6 70.5 74.2 75.9 69.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 91.0 111.6 132.9 141.0 198.0 224.6 246.9 228.4 167.1 130.1 77.0 68.2 1,816.7
Percent possible sunshine 32.4 38.3 36.1 34.7 42.7 47.7 51.8 52.0 44.3 38.3 27.1 25.3 39.2
Source: Environment Canada[15][13][9][10][12][16]


Federally, Glace Bay is located in the riding of Cape Breton–Canso, currently held by Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner, who has represented the riding since 2000. Provincially, the riding of Glace Bay, which is formed by the former town boundary is currently held by Liberal MLA Geoff MacLellan who won a by-election on June 22, 2010. The riding had been held for ten years by Liberal MLA Dave Wilson until his resignation in March 2010.

Mayors of Glace Bay

While Glace Bay was a town, the following people were its mayor:

  • David M. Burchell 1901-1907
  • John Carey Douglas 1907-1910
  • Henry MacDonald 1910-1912
  • Gordon S. Harrington 1912-1915
  • Dan Cameron 1915-1916
  • Angus J. MacDonald 1917
  • Alonzo O'Neil 1918-1920
  • E. MacK Forbes 1920-1921
  • Dan W. Morrison 1921-1933
  • Charles MacVicar 1933-1934
  • Dan W. Morrison 1934-1950
  • Dan A. MacDonald 1950-1970
  • Dan A. Munroe 1970-1981
  • Bruce A. Clark 1981-1988
  • Donald MacInnis 1988-1995

Notable people from Glace Bay


See also



  1. ^ Based on station coordinates provided by Environment Canada, climate data was collected near downtown Sydney from January 1870 to March 1941,[13] and from April 1941 to the present day at Sydney Airport.[14]


  1. ^ "A Brief History of Glace Bay". Town of Glacier Bay. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Mining in the Region: Introduction". The History of Mining in Cape Brenton. Cape Brenton Miners' Museum. Archived from the original on February 8, 2005. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b CBNET.NS.CA Archived October 18, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ CBRM.NS.CA
  5. ^ Montgomery-Dupe, Sharon (3 January 2019). "UPDATED: Donkin mine operations suspended after roof collapse". The Chronicle Herald. Donkin, NS. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  6. ^ Marconi National Historic Site of Canada. Canadian Register of Historic Places. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
  7. ^ "Guglielmo Marconi - Biographical". Nobel Media AB. 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2017.
  8. ^ Deibel (2012).
  9. ^ a b "August 1935". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. September 22, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "January 1873". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. September 22, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  11. ^ "January 1877". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. September 26, 2016. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "February 1916". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. September 22, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Sydney". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  14. ^ "Sydney A". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  15. ^ "Sydney A Normals". Canadian Climate Normals 1981–2010. Environment Canada. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  16. ^ "March 2012". Canadian Climate Data. Environment Canada. Retrieved April 7, 2016.

External links

Coordinates: 46°12′N 59°58′W / 46.200°N 59.967°W

Daniel Petrie

Daniel Mannix Petrie (November 26, 1920 – August 22, 2004) was a Canadian television and film director.

Dave Wilson (Cape Breton politician)

Harold David "Dave" Wilson (born November 4, 1955) is a former Canadian politician and radio personality. He represented the electoral district of Glace Bay in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly from 1999 to 2010. He was a member of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party. He resigned his Glace Bay seat on March 11, 2010, amid controversy, refusing to meet with the provincial auditor general about his MLA expense claims.Prior to entering politics, Wilson worked in the Cape Breton media for 24 years. He worked for 950 CHER radio, CTV Television, and CJCB Radio, where he hosted the popular "Talkback" radio program.

Del Bissonette

Adelphia Louis Bissonette (September 6, 1899 – June 9, 1972) was an American first baseman, manager and coach in Major League Baseball.

Glace Bay (electoral district)

Glace Bay is a provincial electoral district in Nova Scotia, Canada, that elects one member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly.

The Member of the Legislative Assembly since 2010 is Geoff MacLellan of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.

It was created in 1933 when the district of Cape Breton was divided into five electoral districts, one of which was named Cape Breton East. In 2001, the district name was changed to Glace Bay. In 2003, the district lost a small area at its southern tip to Cape Breton West.

Glace Bay Heritage Museum

The Glace Bay Heritage Museum or the Old Town Hall is located in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, in the one-time town hall.

The town's memorial to its deceased coal miners is located on the museum grounds.

Some items contained in the museum are:

Central School "1988" Time Capsule

Joey Mullins' (Olympic Runner 1960 Olympics) original running shoes

Extensive mining photographs and artifacts

Collection of yearbooks and yearly almanacs

Fishing artifacts

Glace Bay High School

Glace Bay High School is a high school in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada. The school was built in 1989 and is located on Reserve Street.

Gordon Sidney Harrington

Gordon Sidney Harrington (August 7, 1883 – July 4, 1943) was a Nova Scotia politician and the province's 11th Premier from 1930 to 1933.

He was mayor of Glace Bay from 1913 to 1915 when he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force fighting in World War I. He was elected a Conservative MLA in 1925 representing Cape Breton Centre and his support from miners helped ensure the Conservative Party's victory in that election. Harrington became Minister of Labour in the government of Edgar N. Rhodes and became Premier of Nova Scotia when Rhodes left provincial politics to enter the federal cabinet in 1930.

During Harrington's term he was able to end ongoing labour disturbance among miners in Cape Breton which had afflicted the previous two premiers. He improved the provincial department of mining, fought for the coal and steel industries in Ottawa, and passed legislation calling for a national policy on coal and steel.

However, his government was unable to combat the Great Depression and was defeated by the Liberals in the 1933 election. Harrington remained in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly until 1937. His government was the last Conservative government until Robert Stanfield was able to take power in 1956.

HMCS Glace Bay (K414)

HMCS Glace Bay was a River-class frigate built for the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 1943. Commissioned in 1944 she served in the Battle of the Atlantic until the end of the Second World War. After the war she was sold to the Chilean Navy and renamed Esmeralda.

Glace Bay was ordered as HMCS Lauzon in June 1942 as part of the 1943-1944 River-class building program. She was laid down on 23 September 1943 by G T Davie Shipbuilding Ltd. at Lauzon, Quebec and was launched on 26 April 1944. Her name was changed to Glace Bay and she was commissioned into the RCN on 2 September 1944 at Lévis, Quebec.

HMCS Glace Bay (MM 701)

HMCS Glace Bay is a Kingston-class coastal defence vessel that has served in the Canadian Forces and Royal Canadian Navy since 1996. Glace Bay is the second ship of her class which is the name for the Maritime Coastal Defence Vessel Project. She is the second vessel to use the designation HMCS Glace Bay. She is assigned to Maritime Forces Atlantic (MARLANT) and is homeported at CFB Halifax.

Henry Poole MacKeen

Henry Poole MacKeen, (June 17, 1892 – April 20, 1971) was a Canadian lawyer and the 23rd Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia from 1963 to 1968.

Born in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, the son of former Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia David MacKeen, he served during World War I as an artillery officer, reaching the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and was wounded in 1916. After the war, he received his LL.B in 1921 from Dalhousie University. He was a practicing lawyer and served during World War II as the commanding officer of the Halifax Rifles 2nd Battalion from 1945 to 1946. He was also the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel from 1948 to 1960. He helped to defend Kurt Meyer, Canada's only jailed war criminal. In 1933 he was appointed a King's Council by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia.

He was appointed Lieutenant Governor in 1963 and served until 1968. After, he became the first Chancellor of Acadia University.

In 1969, he was awarded the Medal of Service of the Order of Canada,. The Medal of Service of the Order was converted to the Officer level of the Order of Canada in 1972, however as MacKeen died in 1971 his Medal of Service was never converted to an OC. MacKeen's papers are held by the Nova Scotia Archives.

A portrait of MacKeen by Brenda Bury hangs at Government House Halifax. Another portrait of MacKeen hangs in the Halifax office of law firm Stewart McKelvey which is the successor firm to Stewart MacKeen & Covert where MacKeen practised law.

In 1928, he married Alice Richardson Tilley, the daughter of Leonard Percy de Wolfe Tilley. They had two children: Judith Tilley MacKeen and Henry David MacKeen.

Kameron Jr. Miners

The Kameron Junior Miners are a Canadian Junior ice hockey club from Membertou, Nova Scotia. They are members of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League and are 1989 and 1997 Don Johnson Cup Maritime Junior B champions and 1976 and 1977 Eastern League Junior A Champions. The team was located in Sydney, Nova Scotia up until 2005.

Little League World Series in Canada

Little League Baseball has been played in Canada since 1951. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Vancouver, British Columbia were the first leagues outside the United States. Approximately 500 leagues now operate in Canada, making it the second-largest country in Little League participation. In 1952, Montreal, Quebec was the first foreign entry in the Little League World Series. In 1953, Little Mountain Little League of Vancouver advanced to the World Series as representative of the Western Region. In 1958, Canada was given an automatic berth in the LLWS and have since participated in every tournament, with the exception of 1975. Until 1965, the Canadian region consisted of only teams from Ontario and Quebec. Prior to 1966, the western provinces participated in tournament play with American teams in the original West Region, while the Maritime provinces were excluded. In 1965, Canada began play as a full region.

Canada has never won the series, but in 1965 Stoney Creek Optimist Little League of Ontario reached the final. Valleyfield Little League (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield) is the league with the most championships (8); the Whalley LL of Surrey, British Columbia has six; and Glace Bay LL,and Trail are third with five.

Marconi Trail

The Marconi Trail is a scenic roadway in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

Located in eastern Cape Breton Island, the route is entirely within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and runs from Louisbourg to Glace Bay along the island's eastern coast.

The Glace Bay terminus is at the Marconi National Historic Site, which marks the location of the first radio transmission from North America to Europe, made by Guglielmo Marconi in 1902.

The Marconi Trail measures approximately 70 km in length along Route 255.

Margaret's Museum

Margaret's Museum is a 1995 British–Canadian dark drama film, directed by Mort Ransen and based on Sheldon Currie's novel The Glace Bay Miners' Museum.

Nova Scotia Route 255

Route 255 is a collector road in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

It is located in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality beginning in Glace Bay at Trunk 28 and continuing along Commercial Street through the downtown area then southeast on Brookside Street exiting the town. Route 255 continues through the communities of Port Morien, Homeville, and Mira Gut, where it turns in a westward direction through Hornes Road to link with Trunk 22. Route 255 is part of the Marconi Trail which runs from Glace Bay to Louisbourg.

Nova Scotia Trunk 28

Trunk 28 is part of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia's system of trunk highways. The route runs from Sydney to Glace Bay, a distance of 39 kilometres.

From near downtown Sydney, Trunk 28 takes Victoria Road northward through the Whitney Pier neighbourhood, continuing along Sydney Harbour through South Bar and New Victoria to New Waterford. Trunk 28 turns south towards Lingan Bay, then east through Dominion entering Glace Bay in the Bridgeport area and following Main Street and terminating downtown at the intersection with Commercial Street.

Reserve Mines

Reserve Mines (2009 pop.: 2,402) is a community in Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

It is located immediately west of Glace Bay and 10 kilometres northeast of Sydney. The J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport is located in the western part of the community.

The Antigonish Movement aided Reserve Mines in the mid-1930s when Father Jimmy Tompkins, Moses Coady and Mary E. Arnold helped the small town with education, housing and the first credit union. Reserve Mines is known for coal mining from 1860 to mid-1950 and the mines were called Dominion 5 and Dominion 10 Colliery. Later they were used for an airshaft and escape passage from Number 26 Colliery in Glace Bay.

Reserve Mines is also known as the home of harness racing grand circuit winner Lambert Todd with a lifetime mark of 2.02.1 in the early 1920s.

Rodger Cuzner

Rodger Trueman Cuzner (born November 4, 1955) is a Canadian politician, who has been the Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of Canada as the representative for the riding Cape Breton—Canso or its predecessors since 2000. For most of 2003, he served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister under Jean Chrétien. He is currently the Parliamentary Secretary for Employment, Workforce Development and Labour in the Trudeau government.

Walter Mackenzie

Walter Campbell Mackenzie, (August 17, 1909 – December 15, 1978) was a Canadian surgeon and academic.

Born in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Mackenzie received his BSc in 1927 and MD in 1932 from Dalhousie University and was honoured as one of two Malcolm Honour Society Medal winners. He began surgery training at McGill University then moved to the Mayo Clinic in 1933 to complete his MSc. From 1940 to 1945 served in the Royal Canadian Navy where he was promoted to surgeon-commander.He was a professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine. From 1959 to 1974, he was dean of the Faculty of Medicine.In 1949, he was a founding director and shareholder of the Edmonton Eskimos.

In 1970, he was made an officer of the Order of Canada "for his contribution to surgery and medical education". In 2014, he was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.The Walter C. Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, is named in his honour. The centre was opened under the Conservative government of Peter Lougheed.

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