GLACE BAY – BRIEF HISTORY
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 Louisbourg.
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.
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:
side of present day Glace Bay Harbour.
opening of the Hub Pit and the Sterling Pit.
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.
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
Municipality 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.
Cecelia Croak. 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
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
—The London Gazette, No. 30922, September 24, 1918