Glace Bay Harbour

Glace Bay – Glace Bay is a community with a rich and long history.

The growth and development of the town is linked to the coal
industry.  At its peak, the town had the world’s largest
underground coal mining operation with a number of active
mines scattered in different areas of the town.  Record of
people inhabiting the town and the region around it go back as
far as the 1720’s when the French mined coal in the Port
Morien area for fuel at the Fortress of


A Snug Harbour Indeed

This web site is intended to provide a brief history on certain
aspects of the town and is certainly not a thorough study of
the town’s rich history.  

Grade 8D class of Morrison
Junior High is responsible for the research and development
of this page with the assistance of Mr.
McKinlay, grade 8
Social Studies Teacher.  We would like to acknowledge the
assistance of Mr. Howard MacKinnon of the Glace Bay
Historical Society, the staff of the Glace Bay Heritage
Museum, the Technical Department of the
Cape Breton-
Victoria Regional School Board
, and Mr. Spencer, principal
of Morrison Junior High School.

Glace Bay Harbour 1914 – Note the double lobster traps – man killers



Children working in the Coal Mines – Note the Pit Pony



As young as 10 and Girls were employed in Mines as well


Coal Mining – You cannot  talk about the history of Glace Bay

Without discussing the number of coal mines throughout the town.  


Another Idle Pit
Early mining was extremely difficult and dangerous with many miners
losing their lives in the depths of the mine.  Each mine in the mid
1880’s was independently owned with its own facilities to ship
coal.  All of the early mines were located close to the shoreline to
allow for transportation of the coal to other markets.  As the coal
mines developed, thousands of men and their families moved to
Glace Bay and the surrounding towns to work these mines.  The
following list gives an idea on the number of mines operating in
the Glace Bay area over the last century:
1857 – The first commercial coal mine was located on the north
side of present day Glace Bay Harbour.
1863 – The Glace Bay Mining Company was formed with the
opening of the Hub Pit and the Sterling Pit.
1865 – The Caledonia Mining Co. was formed and opened the
Caledonia Mine.
1890-1901 – The Dominion Coal Company was formed taking in
all other mining companies.  At this point there were 11 active
mines in the town including the No.1-B Colliery, the No. 3
Colliery in Passchendale, the No. 8 Colliery in Bridgeport, and
the No. 26 Colliery which operated until an explosion forced it to
close in 1984.
Sadly, the coal mining industry has come to an end with the last
working mine being closed in the year 2001.  It will always;
however, be a very important part of who we were and who we
are as a community.



Number 26 Mine

 Mayors of Glace  Bay


Since Glace Bay offically became a town in 1901 the following mayors have been in
David M. Burchill 1901-1907
John C. Douglas 1907-1910
Henery 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
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         



Dan “Willie” Morrison was a cheif magistrate from Cape North to Cape Sable.
He became mayor of Glace Bay in 1921. He was the son of Angus Morrison.
They elected him president of District 23, the United Mine Workers of America.
For many years he was check- weightman, a functionary whose duty was to
record the output of each miner. He was also town councillor. When he was
elected as mayor he was sent to the Province House at Halifax in 1920.
D.M. Burchill was the first mayor of Glace Bay from 1901-1907. Burchill
doubled the current population to 8,000, coupled with an equal amount from
Reserve Mines and Dominion, added the 4,000 new miners the town would
eventually need, and spoke of Glace Bay as soon having 21,000 people. Burchill
was very proud that Glace Bay could boast one of the largest retail stores east of
Montreal and that all stores were stocked with an excellent quality of gold.In 1996, the town of Glace Bay was incorporated into the Cape Breton Regional
with a mayor and elected councilors that govern the entire industrial
region of Glace Bay.  The former mayors of Glace Bay all played an important
part in moving the town ahead to becoming what was once the largest town in the





John Bernard Croak V.C.


John Bernard Croak, Victoria Cross (V.C.) was born on May 18th, 1892.  He grew up on West Avenue, New Aberdeen and attented St. John’s School.  At age 14, Croak left school and started working at the the No. 2 Mine in
Dominion to help support his family.  In 1911, at age 19, he left the
mine to work out west in the wheat fields.  In 1915, he joined
the army. When
WWI broke out in 1914, Croak went overseas to defend his country.  


Croak was born in Little Bay, Newfoundland, on May 18, 1892 to James and

Cecelia Croak.[2] The family moved to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia when Croak

was two years old. He attended school there and then began work as a coal miner.

Croak enlisted in the military in 1915. He was a private in the

13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force.

On August 8, 1918 at Amiens, France,

Croak performed a deed which earned him the Victoria Cross. He was wounded

 in the act, and died shortly thereafter at the age of only 26.


For most conspicuous bravery in attack when having become separated from his

 section he encountered a machine gun nest, which he bombed and silenced, taking

the gun and crew prisoners. Shortly afterwards he was severely wounded, but

 refused to desist. Having rejoined his platoon, a very strong point, containing

several machine guns, was encountered. Private Croak, however, seeing an

 opportunity, dashed forward alone and was almost immediately followed by

 the remainder of the platoon in a brilliant charge. He was the first to arrive at the

 trench line, into which he led his men, capturing three machine guns and bayonetting

 or capturing the entire garrison. The perseverance and valour of this gallant soldier,

who was again severely wounded, and died of his wounds, were an inspiring example

to all.

—The London Gazette, No. 30922, September 24, 1918
Croak was involved in many famous battles during WWI such
as The Somme, Vimy Ridge, Arras, Hill 70, Passchendale, and
Amiens.  Amiens was dubbed Canada’s 100 Days.  On August 8th,
1918, Croak breeched enemy lines. He captured an entire machine gun
crew single handedly. He was seriously injured and later died from
these injuries.  His mother was awarded the Victoria Cross for her
son’s acts of bravery.  To honour his memory there is a school  and
park bearing his name in Glace Bay.


This is a picture of the new ship, HMCS Glace Bay. HMCS GLACE BAY (2010)


The HMCS Glace Bay was launched on April 26th, 1944 and commissioned at
Levis, Quebec, on September 2, 1944. The crew included 3 officers and 133 men
initially, which in time rose to 8 officers and about 150 men.Following her commissioning in September 1944, she sailed from Quebec City        

 to Sydney N.S., arriving on September 20. The following day an “Official Inspection
Day” for the people of the town of Glace Bay was proclaimed, and the ships log
notes that the same evening, September 21, the ‘Ships’ Company (personnel) went
into  Glace Bay for entertainment.
From Sydney she sailed for Halifax, arriving September 23. She carried out
workups in Bermuda in mid-October and on her return was assigned to EG, C 4
 (Escort Group), Londonderry, Ireland. She left St. John’s for that port on
November 17, escorting a number of U.S. built sub-chasers destined for the
Russian Navy. The Glace Bay was employed continuously on escort convoy duty
until VE-Day. In October, she made a round trip to Bermuda and on her return
was paid off on November 17, at Sydney. She lay in reserve at Shelbourne until
sold in 1946 to the Chilean Navy and renamed ESMERALDA and then, in 1952, BACQUEDANO. She was broken up in 1968.
Glace Bay Sports
Glace Bay has a long and rich history in sports.  Below are
some of the athletes and teams that have achieved success
over the years in sports.

Joey Mullins was an Olympian in the 1952 Summer Games. He
was from Glace Bay and was in track and field. He broke every Nova
Scotia High School record and was on the Bronze Medal Relay

The Caledonia Rugby Team in 1929, won the Canadian Rugby
Championship and was awarded the prestigious McArthur Shield.

The Cape Breton Colliery Baseball League was a popular five
team league. It included the Glace Bay Miners. Del Bissonette, a
Miners player, went on to coach the Boston Braves.

A dentist from Glace Bay was the backup goalie for the 1917
Stanley Cup Winning Team, The Toronto St. Pats. When he came
back he was offered $1.00 a game to play with the Sydney Millionaires
but he refused this. He helped build the Glace Bay Miners Forum
where they sold programs for $0.25.
If you held on to your program you would be eligible for a $35.00
In this forum the Glace Bay Miners played teams such as  the
Russians, the Fins, the Ottawa Senators (old team that won seven
Stanley Cups) and the NY Rangers.
Louis Siderski was born in 1888 and died in 1981. Louis was
one of the earliest great Glace Bay Athletes. His early exploits as an
English Rugby player are recorded in the Dalhousie University
archives. Lou was also a great baseball player and was selected by the
Chicago Cubs. He was one of the first boys from eastern Canada to
try out for the Major Leagues.
He was also a track star in short sprints and long jumping. On of his
feats was to kick a football from the centre of the field over the
crossbar. No one has done this in 100 years. He is an original
inductee of the NS Hall of Fame.



Gugliemo Marconi was born at Bologna, Italy on
April 25th, 1874.  He was the second son of Guisippe
Marconi, an Italian country gentleman, and Annie Jameson,
daughter of Andrew Jameson of Ireland.  He was educated
privately at Bologna, Florence and Leghorn University.
Glace Bay played a crucial role in the history of
communication as it served as one of the main hubs for the
first transatlantic radio communication.  This was truly the
start of the first wireless network that are taken for granted
today.  Marconi built two large radio stations in Glace Bay
and one in Louisbourg.  If one was viewing these structures
in the early 1900’s they would see an impressive tower over
two-hundred feet high along the banks of what is now
referred to as Table Head in Glace Bay. Two structures were
located in Glace Bay with a third being built in Louisbourg.
museum dedicated to this technological advancement is
now located in the Table Head area of Glace Bay.


  (Special thanks to the Internet for much of the foregoing material)




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