SYDNEY – CAPE BRETON PT II

Old Sydney Town “Down Memory Lane”

 

Welcome to Sydney – Cape Breton

 

(I did not grow up in Sydney but when I boot legged coal I visited about every part of the city in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. I came to know it well and its people who I always found to be honest and extremely friendly.  What I will present here are comments better made by them then me about what they remember about Sydney, its places of fun and its people.  I hope you enjoy it whether you are from Sydney or are wannabe Sydney types. I printed the following as it appeared in the article including the errors in spelling. – CAPER)

    The most wonderful store in Cape Breton closed its doors several years ago. And, to make matters worse, the owner of this treasure, Mr. Stewart Hickey, passed away prematurely a few months back.
    I remember Crowell’s when I was a little gaffer living on the Esplanade and my mother would send me uptown to Crowell’s to pick up a parcel that she had called in earlier. As a kid I was always fascinated by the alcoves at the front of the store where women would park their baby carriages while shopping. And, the pneumatic tube system that took your money to the mezzanine where change was made and a switchboard handled calls.
And don’t ask me about MacLeod’s Bookstore, The Vogue Theatre, Ike’s Deli, McCurdy’s or Buckley’s Pharmacy [yes, those Buckleys..]     Eric Macdonald Keys formerly of 548 Esplanade

Do you remember the great donut machine in the Metropolitan store in Sydney?
    It dropped the donuts in the fat and as they rotated and were partly cooked the machine flipped them over. It was like a space ship to us as kids in the 40’s. and the smell of freshly cooked donuts was out of this world.    Robert G McNeil

Does anyone remember the California Fruit Store on Charlotte St. I think Abe Goldman ran it.
    It was not as appealing to a young kid as the Sugar bowl with all its candies cascading toward the front of the glass display cases.
     What about other Charlotte Street businesses, Harshman’s Drug store, MacIntyre’s book store and Joe Joseph’s Tailor Shop where you got your pants cuffed for a couple of bucks and a non-stop narrative from Joe. If you needed a haircut you could go to Bert Shannon’s shop near the corner of Charlotte and Townsend where there were at least five chairs going flat out.
     Christmas was really special on Charlotte St. the sidewalks jammed with shoppers and everyone seemed to know everyone. Its fun to hear of some of these old places that I’ve almost forgotten about.     Ed MacDonald 


    Heart of Sydney – Charlotte Street – Courtesy Juanita MacDonald

 I lived on the Esplanade at the north end. Part time during our high school years, my sister worked at Crowell’s and I worked at Dave Epstein’s across the street. Christmas on Charlotte St. was unbelievable during those years. You could hardly move on the sidewalks and there were traffic jams on Charlotte St. from Dorchester to Townsend Sts. Four to five buses at a time would roll into the stops at each corner along Charlotte loading and unloading Christmas shoppers.

     The Diana Sweets was a special spot, especially for high school kids on Sunday afternoon. It was hard to get a seat it was usually so full. This was also usually the case after the YMCA dance for high schoolers on Friday nights, with Emilo Pace’s orchestre; and on Saturday nights after the Venetian Gardens dance with Gib Whitney. Charlotte St. was certainly special for me. My second Great-grandfather worked on and owned a business on Charlotte St. in 1830. One hundred and thirty years later I worked there as well.      Bob Leonard 

    The most wonderful store in Cape Breton closed its doors several years ago. And, to make matters worse, the owner of this treasure, Mr. Stewart Hickey, passed away prematurely a few months back.
    I remember Crowell’s when I was a little gaffer living on the Esplanade and my mother would send me uptown to Crowell’s to pick up a parcel that she had called in earlier. As a kid I was always fascinated by the alcoves at the front of the store where women would park their baby carriages while shopping. And, the pneumatic tube system that took your money to the mezzanine where change was made and a switchboard handled calls.
And don’t ask me about MacLeod’s Bookstore, The Vogue Theatre, Ike’s Deli, McCurdy’s or Buckley’s Pharmacy [yes, those Buckleys..]     Eric Macdonald Keys formerly of 548 Esplanade

Do you remember the great donut machine in the Metropolitan store in Sydney?
    It dropped the donuts in the fat and as they rotated and were partly cooked the machine flipped them over. It was like a space ship to us as kids in the 40’s. and the smell of freshly cooked donuts was out of this world.    Robert G McNeil

Does anyone remember the California Fruit Store on Charlotte St. I think Abe Goldman ran it.
    It was not as appealing to a young kid as the Sugar bowl with all its candies cascading toward the front of the glass display cases.
     What about other Charlotte Street businesses, Harshman’s Drug store, MacIntyre’s book store and Joe Joseph’s Tailor Shop where you got your pants cuffed for a couple of bucks and a non-stop narrative from Joe. If you needed a haircut you could go to Bert Shannon’s shop near the corner of Charlotte and Townsend where there were at least five chairs going flat out.
     Christmas was really special on Charlotte St. the sidewalks jammed with shoppers and everyone seemed to know everyone. Its fun to hear of some of these old places that I’ve almost forgotten about.     Ed MacDonald

     I lived on the Esplanade at the north end. Part time during our high school years, my sister worked at Crowell’s and I worked at Dave Epstein’s across the street. Christmas on Charlotte St. was unbelievable during those years. You could hardly move on the sidewalks and there were traffic jams on Charlotte St. from Dorchester to Townsend Sts. Four to five buses at a time would roll into the stops at each corner along Charlotte loading and unloading Christmas shoppers.

     The Diana Sweets was a special spot, especially for high school kids on Sunday afternoon. It was hard to get a seat it was usually so full. This was also usually the case after the YMCA dance for high schoolers on Friday nights, with Emilo Pace’s orchestre; and on Saturday nights after the Venetian Gardens dance with Gib Whitney. Charlotte St. was certainly special for me. My second Great-grandfather worked on and owned a business on Charlotte St. in 1830. One hundred and thirty years later I worked there as well.      Bob Leonard

Sydney Cape Bretoner approaching the Rockies

     The bowling lane in the basement on Charlotte was called Hashem’s, and they had a “pin-boy” to set up the pins. As for the Metropolitan, my Dad says he always knew it as the “five and dime”.
     For some time, the family lived just next door to Ideal Ice Cream on Prince St., and when the popsicles came out misshapen, he and his friends could wait at the back door where the cast-offs were distributed.
     In the 50’s when Dad wanted to go to the movies, he had to bring two of his sisters along with him. The movie cost 15 cents, the popcorn and pop were 5 cents each and he would have to pay for himself and the girls with his own money.

     He was quite entrepreneurial and found ways to make up the 75 cents.
     He would take a flour bag from Lynch’s Bakery and fill it with kindling, collect coal from the trestle into bran bags from McCoubrey’s Feed and Grain on Prince St. – each bag would bring him 50 cents.
     Then he and his friends would sell these things door to door until they made enough money for the movies. Some Saturday mornings if he was still a bit short, Dad would go down to the corner of Johnson and Pit to the Ironworker offices and pick up some papers to sell to make up the difference.
     Other times, selling pop bottles would bring 1 cent for the small and 2 cents for the large bottles. Somehow he managed to make the matinee almost every Saturday to see the serials, often it was Flash Gordon, and then the main features: Jungle Jim, or the Three Stooges, even Shane in “panorama”.     Fran Morrison

     Did anyone notice the tram on the Dorchester Street postcard? Any memories of this transit service? ……… Ann Capstick
    For those interested in the location of the Esplanade, the tram in the picture just came off the Esplanade and is heading up Dorchester……… Bob Leonard

     My mother, whose father was Captain William Dawson Livingston of Big Bras d’Or, told me of her annual summer trips from Big Bras d’Or to her mother’s home at Bridgeport.
     They would travel to North Sydney, take the ferry, mastered by a cousin, Dan MacDonald, to Sydney and then take the tram to Bridgeport, travelling through most of Glace Bay, including No. 2 New Aberdeen on the way there.
     Bridgeport is between Sydney and Glace Bay. I think there must have been a track along present-day Reserve Street from Reserve Mines, through the main town of Glace Bay, and then through No. 2 by way of Connaught Avenue to Bridgeport, then through present-day Dominion to Reserve Mines and back to Sydney. …….. Ann Capstick
    The Dorchester St. picture is of particular interest to me; I haven’t seen it before. My grandfather had a horse drawn taxi operation and he apparently parked at the “Bank Corner” on Charlotte St. facing South.
    In your picture there is a horse and carriage parked at that very spot. (Not the one in the foreground but the one behind with the canopy that’s harder to see.) It would be something if it was my grandfather’s…….. Bob Leonard

     Courtesy of Carol MacLean

O’CALLAGHAN & MACKENZIE, Painters, 191 Charlotte
My Grandfather ran a shop “O’Callaghan and MacKenzie” also on Charlotte Street, down by the Post Office. There were 3 banks, one on each corner and the Post Office on the other.
    I was told the story about how one day he finished his lunch and went to the corner and stood and looked up at the Big Clock on the P.O. and was just standing there looking and pretty soon a few more people joined him, all looking at the clock. Finally he looked around and said “What are all you damn fools looking at?” Then walked away laughing. I wish I had known him as he sounded like a great guy. Now I know where I get my mischevious streak from.
    The O’Callaghan was my Grandfathers shop but by 1935 was run by Art, who lived next door to us at 8 Beacon and Dad worked with him. The Margaret was my Aunt Maggie who worked at Eatons and also Aunt Annie worked with her and Tess Graham was their housekeeper.

    Center 200 is about where the old coal depot used to be. I can clearly remember the last of the horse and wagons/sleighs that used to haul coal from that yard. The Y is still in the same place it has been for years but now has an addition. The capitol theatre actually caught fire and burned. It later was rebuilt but became the paramount.
    Yes, I swam at the reservoir but couldn’t hold my breath long enough to get to the bottom at the dam. I can remember Nelga Beach and swimming there as a kid. Little did we know is was so polluted. It was closed around 1953.
    Rita I’ll bet you went up south Bentick Street and across the brook to get to the Cromarty courts. and I’ll bet the restaurant at the Seven Mile Bridge was the Chic-A-Dee……had lots of good times there…… Ed MacDonald

    Never did get to the bottom of the Dam, running across the top and jumping into the water at the spillway was as brave as I got. From the map I printed off of Sydney it looked as if Center 200 was on Charlotte St. Can’t remember the coal yard, but then I was a girl and our coal was delivered by wagon, and I wouldn’t have been interested in the yard.
    I remember the beach had lots of jelly fish and one guy was acting smart one day and did a cannon ball off the end of the warf right into one and he came up screaming his head off. A couple of guys had to jump in and pull him out and then people were everywhere tending to him.
    Yes it was South Bentick St., and it was Cromarty Courts. I only played there a few times as I could never coordinate my swings with the ball, same as in baseball, but I sure could play hockey.
    My Uncle Con and Aunt Polly lived on South Bentick St. Her brother was Officer Goldie and he wore a brown uniform with knee high shiny brown boots and directed traffic at the corner of George and Cottage Road during “rush” hour.
    The Chic-a-dee it was and lots of fun. Bernie Campbell from the corner of Brookland and Union Street (I think) was a very tall guy and if we wanted to find out if someone was there we would holler to Bernie and he would stretch a bit and tell you if they were there…..Rita Offer

    Seeing Dorchester St. and the horses reminded me of the jokes that circulated for years about a policeman in Sydney by the name of Hugh R. MacDonald (Hughie R.)
    Apparently one day Hughie R. was patrolling along Dorchester St. and he came across a dead horse in the middle of the street. Hughie R. couldn’t read or write very well, and didn’t know how to write Dorchester; but he had to write up a report on the incident. He thought for a while and as usual came up with a solution. He could write Pitt St., which was a block away, so he pulled the dead horse over to Pitt St. and completed his report…… Bob Leonard

     My litle connection was Hagen & Farquhar Plumbing on The Esplanade, with Frank Farquhar of Tain Street being that part of the business.   When members of a U-boat crew were captured in WWII. taken to Point Edward base, they were brought over to land directly below The Isle Royale, then marched down to a prison train. One young fellow was really cute — celebrated his 15th birthday on the train — now lives almost next door to my brother in Liverpool. Nova Scotia was the only real “home” he knew. Just an old printer from the former Post-Record,     Muriel M. Davidson.

     I didn’t live on the Esplanade but I did live Up George Street, and you forgot one very important place “The Diana”, where we could get a hot hamburger sandwich for $.75 and sit in the booth for about 3 hours. I worked at Crowell’s and I remember those tubes well.
     The Vogue Theatre was my baby-sitter every Saturday afternoon, as my sister would take me there and then leave me alone while she sat in the back with her boy friend, then would chase me home as I’d Holler “I’m telling Mom” and she’d threaten to beat me if I told, great sibling fun.

     I also worked at Ike’s for awhile, but I balked at the “chocolate covered ants”, Ugh that was it for me. You forgot Eatons and what about Jacobson’s, Ray and Harry lived right next door to us on Beacon Street.

     My two spinster Aunts were Seamstresses at Eatons. The last time I was in Sydney I noticed quite a few of the old familiar places have gone. Has anyone done a Book on the Old businesses of Sydney and some of the old Houses.
     I forgot about Joe Joseph, he went to our church and he walked so fast his feet were almost a blurr. There was Pollett’s Drug Store also, where I learned how to do the “drug store wrap” as not all things went into a Bag like they do today.
     There was also a bowling lane in the basement of one building on the left side of Charlotte when you were facing the Post Office. Don’t know what it was called.
     I would imagine some would remember the “Empire Business College” on the third floor of a building close to Eatons. Boy those steps were long and I still type without looking at the keys, as the keys on the typewriters were blank so you had to memorize the keys.

Sydney Steel Plant
    

Dad went to Berts for a haircut, no one cut hair like Bert and he always came home with all sorts of “News”.
     What was the name of the Chinese Restaurant that was near the Post Office corner, on the left hand side of Charlotte, or was that the London Grill.
     Boy, I love these nostalgia things, brings back many happy memories of when the Steel Plant was thriving. Who remembers the dances at the Y and the Venetian Gardens and Skating at the “Rink” and of course “Curling” and Bowling. We knew how to spend our spare time .
    What about the Bakery down and across from the Vogue Theatre, just down from the Y. No one could resist the smell and all those nice buns, eclairs and cakes in the windows.
    Remember the “Chip Wagon” in the Garage Parking lot down by the Anglican Church. You could get chips in a paper bag and drip vinegar all the way home, or walk further up the street to George and get the chips from the Restaurant on the corner, across from the Bank. They made their own fries.
    There was also a garage on the same corner and I think one across from it also corner.      Rita Offer

     Let’s not forget Miles groceteria, Polletts Drug Stores (Charlotte St and North end) Arthur Pollett just passed away last week. Then there was Nardoccios shoe repair, Freds Creamery Renzie’s Shoe Repair. The Eatmore Lunch.
     Remember going to the Oak Hall to buy your First Cub’s Uniform and later on, a scout’s uniform. Your fathers probably shopped at Yazers or Spinners especially for a suit. The best shoes in the world were at Bishops and right next door MacAulay’s Men’s Wear. Wrights Furniture and Bonnell’s

A point of interest is the old Royal Bank Building that appears with the large cupola asymetrical with the cupola that was on the Sydney Hotel. The latter was replaced by the Isle Royale Hotel long before my arrival in Sydney. On opposite corners were the smaller stone banks of the Commerce and Montreal. They were smaller but no less interesting for their architecture. Rita Offer

     Who remembers when Sobey’s store was on the corner of Falmoth and Charlotte where Joe’s Wharehouse is today, that’s before they moved to Prince Street and right across the street was Canadian Tire, they later moved into the old Sobeys. Hasham’s Bowling Alley and of course the Tea Garden


     Although not on Charlotte St, what about the Esplanade Grill.? and James’ restaurant…….      Ken
    Ask your Dad if he remembers the newspaper “The Steelworker”. I remember selling that as a youngster especially in the summer.     Wilf Morley

     Does anyone have anything on a “Grand Hotel” being in Sydney on Dodd St. in the early 1900s? It was a boarding house from my information.      Thom McCabe

Other things:      Ah now – there are some magical words for me “Butternut Bakeries”. My grandfather, Victor Bagnall, worked for them for must be 30 years or so. I have an old photo of him driving one of their trucks in a parade in Glace Bay. A close friend of my Mom’s, Malcolm McQueen, used to work there as well even after it became Eastern Bakeries. He used to take me in there with his kids – all sorts of “seconds” magically appeared to appease us all.

Gone Forever – Cig Ads and Ronnie

     Nothing of course beat spending my summers in Marion Bridge and going out to Gabarus to the beach and to visit all the relatives. One of them, Mid (Grant) Gray, used to have the telephone exchange in her house. Now that was fascinating to a kid let me tell you!

     My grandmother’s home at 87 Kings Road with it’s back staircase and sliding wall panels that fascinated a 10 year old.

     Do you remember:ÝAtlantic Spring & Machine Shop next to Harris & Harris Excavating at “Bummer’s Corner” where Kings Rd becomes the Espanade. St Andrew’s United Church organ and its incredible sound. The Royal Hotel at 347 Esplanade. …. Jennifer Witham

    

Sydney Harbour – 1905

Chappell’s Lumber Yard at 62-80 Brookland Street, advertising Pratt and Lambert Paint and Varnish on the backside. Dad was a house painter and swore by P&L, said there was no other paint to use. I was always going to Chappells for shavings for my hampster which I bought with money I made from buying “plaster of paris” from Chappells and making plaster figurines( I bought the rubber molds from a Craft Store and paints and brushes from MacLeods Book Store), which I painted and sold door to door. But didn’t become an independantly wealthy enterpeneur.

     Wish I had a nickel for all the 50 and 75 cent entrance fees I paid to the “Sydney Forum” we skated Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and then played hooky from school to skate on Wednesday, then legally Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I loved the swoosh, swoosh of the skates on the ice, and being asked to skate with “Beaver Hillman” was an extra special treat, especially if you had a strong heart and we able to keep up with him. Today they play every kind of music under the sun and you can’t keep up a smooth skate at all.

Sydney Harbour – Marine Cruiser
    

Even enjoyed standing at the tracks at George and Trinity Avenue and counting the cars as they sped past, must have been all of 5 miles an hour, then they shuddered and backed up and everyone groaned. The Christmas lights in Wentworth Park that were donated by Jack Minard who used to live on the corner of George and Shandwick Street. How his display in the front yard used to hold up traffic when he lit everything up at night, it was awesome with the reindeer with real hides and his stuffed Santa, oh for those childhood times again.

     The Bakery I remember was Romard’s, as supplied by Ed, the lady was a master at getting your attention with the smells.

     The Vogue Theatre was on Charlotte Street right across from the old YMCA where we danced to Pache’s Music. The Manager lived upstairs from My Aunt on Falmouth Street. I believe the Sobeys Store later was built just across the street.

     I believe Centre 2000 is where the Y was. Yes the Chinese restaurant was “The Strand” and If I remember was close to “The Strand” Theatre, now there was a dark whole in the ground, even the entrance was dark and creepy.

The Capitol I believe had a name change when it became one of the “Famous Player Theatres” anyone remember that??

Retired Locomotives – Sydney
    

Did anyone awim at the “Reservoir” it was up Old Mira Road, which is now called Rotary Drive and the Reservoir became Rotary Park. Boy you could get some terrible foot cuts in there as ther was always broken bottles on the bottom. We didn’t know it was part of the City Water system and often P’d in the water, he he he. We swam at Nelga Beach and also over in Westmount, but had to take the little Ferry to get there. Swimming was also done at the “Y” on Saturdays, that was our winter exercise.

     In summer we played tennis at the courts that we used to access from Shandwick street, we went through the trees and across a brook rather than around by the paved streets, but can’t remember the name of it.

     We danced at St. Anthony Daniel Church Hall, The Y, Venetian Gardens and out at the 7 mile bridge, there was a restaurant there with a Dance floor and could it get packed. You could either dance or Ice Skate every night of the week, some nights we did both, oh to have the energy back. Rita Offer

Do you remember the Sugar Bowl? It was run by Pop Magee. It was just a few steps from the Vogue theatre and in the same building as the Nova Hotel.. One the next corner was the London Grill…. Wilf Morley

THE HAGELL BLOCK in ASHBY
     The Davenport Estate was located at the south end of Davenport Road, in Sydney, Nova Scotia. A brick/steel Gated Entrance was located at the end of Davenport Road, where it met Prince Street. The estate was destroyed at the end of the 19th century, with only the foundation remaining for many years.
     The Ross family purchased a portion of the estate in 1886, and resold it to Alfred Hagell in 1901…. at the height of the steel boom beginning in Sydney. On this property he erected apartment, rental properties…. on the property now owned by Faith Baptist Church.
     Lavinia Postlethwaite, the granddaughter of Alfred, lived in an apartment from 1912 to 1926 and is the source of much of this information. The writer of this piece, who lived across the street from the Hagell Block for 25 years, has also contributed about the block and the folks who lived there.
     Lavinia, now in her mid 80’s, has clear remembrances of living here in her younger years. The tenants in the larger building #1 were the George Anderson, the Lauchie MacDonald and the Floyd families.
     The 3 smaller buildings were rented to the Beverley family, a MacDonald family, with Lavinia and her parents living in the other.
     A large apartment to the north of the Hagell Block was known as the Union House, and Henry Morley, his wife and daughter Margaret were tenants. Margaret later married Cliff LeCouter, a prominent Sydney personality and newspaper man.
     Lavinia remembers well that her father, Percy Hagell built the first radio in Sydney, long before Sydney had its own CJCB. She recollects listening to KDKA in the USA.
     There was no indoor plumbing in the apartments…outdoor outhouses did the trick….altho she tells us,”mighty cold in winter”.
     The grandfather moved to Halifax and his son Percy and his wife (nee Cann from Forchu) took over maintennance and rental collections. Up to this time the property was well maintained by the Hagells.

     The apartments were sold to a Mr. Mac Lean in 1928, he being a druggist from Orangedale, Cape Breton. Absentee ownership began the downfall of the block, and for the next 30 years the property began its downward trend to self destruction.
     Absentee ownership was the start of the end… My name is Lloyd Mac Donald and I was born on Davenport Road, directly across the street from the Hagell Block, and for 25 years was an important part of my life. I played street hockey, softball, hide & seek with all the kids that lived there during this period. We played in the nearby woods, went to town together and schooled together either at Ashby School or Constantine School. We bought candy at Toby English’s and Mrs. Goss stores located nearby, and picked up groceries at Clem LeBlanc’s and Moffatt’s Grocery stores for our mothers. Our secret meeting place was in the woods behind Ashby School, at a location called “4 corners”. The Hodgson and Lotherington families were there during most of my years. In the Big Block #1 were the Redquest, MacLean, Sutherland and Brown Families. Joe Sutherland is back in Cape Breton, living in Glace Bay, and brother George in Sydney. Myrtle Brown lived with her grandmother and Angus. Myrtle joined the Lynch Circus and disappeared from our view. Angus and his friend Jessie lived at Breton Bay for many years, and passed away there. The Rhymes (Flowers) family lived in the block for several years, along with the Tobin family. Harry Tobin is still here in Sydney. Joan Dawe and her son Wayne lived in #4 for many years. The Hawco family were tenants in #1, and Jake (John) has contributed his memories to these pages. These buildings were heated by free standing, Quebec heaters and coal was the heat source, with chimneys extending thru to the roof. In winter the stoves were heated to red hot, but fortunately there never was fire damage to the buildings. Rent varied from $14.00 to $17.00 monthly, and when the MacLean family became owners hired Burchell Agencies to collect the rentals. Ashes from the stoves were collected and used as insulation at the bottom of the buildings, which were sitting on the ground. No basements in those days…….. Lloyd MacDonald

 As I think back to my younger days, a remember walking over the overpass from the pier with a childhood friend, Bernard Reppa. We walk along the banks of tar ponds run off brook, down the steel plant road to Prince St. and then up to Crowells, where we would go to ride on the elevator. Gee the ladies there must have been very patient then, because we did this a couple of times while in the store. Little did they know that they were helping in creating a memory. And now today my son works for Otis Elevators in Halifax, and I have to wonder what elevator company had installed the one in Crowells? …..Liz MacEachern

     The bowling lane in the basement on Charlotte was called Hashem’s, and they had a “pin-boy” to set up the pins. As for the Metropolitan, my Dad says he always knew it as the “five and dime”.

     For some time, the family lived just next door to Ideal Ice Cream on Prince St., and when the popsicles came out misshapen, he and his friends could wait at the back door where the cast-offs were distributed.
     In the 50’s when Dad wanted to go to the movies, he had to bring two of his sisters along with him. The movie cost 15 cents, the popcorn and pop were 5 cents each and he would have to pay for himself and the girls with his own money.

     He was quite entrepreneurial and found ways to make up the 75 cents.
     He would take a flour bag from Lynch’s Bakery and fill it with kindling, collect coal from the trestle into bran bags from McCoubrey’s Feed and Grain on Prince St. – each bag would bring him 50 cents.
     Then he and his friends would sell these things door to door until they made enough money for the movies. Some Saturday mornings if he was still a bit short, Dad would go down to the corner of Johnson and Pit to the Ironworker offices and pick up some papers to sell to make up the difference.
     Other times, selling pop bottles would bring 1 cent for the small and 2 cents for the large bottles. Somehow he managed to make the matinee almost every Saturday to see the serials, often it was Flash Gordon, and then the main features: Jungle Jim, or the Three Stooges, even Shane in “panorama”.     Fran Morrison

     Did anyone notice the tram on the Dorchester Street postcard? Any memories of this transit service? ……… Ann Capstick
    For those interested in the location of the Esplanade, the tram in the picture just came off the Esplanade and is heading up Dorchester……… Bob Leonard

     My mother, whose father was Captain William Dawson Livingston of Big Bras d’Or, told me of her annual summer trips from Big Bras d’Or to her mother’s home at Bridgeport.
     They would travel to North Sydney, take the ferry, mastered by a cousin, Dan MacDonald, to Sydney and then take the tram to Bridgeport, travelling through most of Glace Bay, including No. 2 New Aberdeen on the way there.
     Bridgeport is between Sydney and Glace Bay. I think there must have been a track along present-day Reserve Street from Reserve Mines, through the main town of Glace Bay, and then through No. 2 by way of Connaught Avenue to Bridgeport, then through present-day Dominion to Reserve Mines and back to Sydney. …….. Ann Capstick
    The Dorchester St. picture is of particular interest to me; I haven’t seen it before. My grandfather had a horse drawn taxi operation and he apparently parked at the “Bank Corner” on Charlotte St. facing South.
    In your picture there is a horse and carriage parked at that very spot. (Not the one in the foreground but the one behind with the canopy that’s harder to see.) It would be something if it was my grandfather’s…….. Bob Leonard

     O’CALLAGHAN & MACKENZIE, Painters, 191 Charlotte
My Grandfather ran a shop “O’Callaghan and MacKenzie” also on Charlotte Street, down by the Post Office. There were 3 banks, one on each corner and the Post Office on the other.
    I was told the story about how one day he finished his lunch and went to the corner and stood and looked up at the Big Clock on the P.O. and was just standing there looking and pretty soon a few more people joined him, all looking at the clock. Finally he looked around and said “What are all you damn fools looking at?” Then walked away laughing. I wish I had known him as he sounded like a great guy. Now I know where I get my mischevious streak from.
    The O’Callaghan was my Grandfathers shop but by 1935 was run by Art, who lived next door to us at 8 Beacon and Dad worked with him. The Margaret was my Aunt Maggie who worked at Eatons and also Aunt Annie worked with her and Tess Graham was their housekeeper.

    Center 200 is about where the old coal depot used to be. I can clearly remember the last of the horse and wagons/sleighs that used to haul coal from that yard. The Y is still in the same place it has been for years but now has an addition. The capitol theatre actually caught fire and burned. It later was rebuilt but became the paramount.
    Yes, I swam at the reservoir but couldn’t hold my breath long enough to get to the bottom at the dam. I can remember Nelga Beach and swimming there as a kid. Little did we know is was so polluted. It was closed around 1953.
    Rita I’ll bet you went up south Bentick Street and across the brook to get to the Cromarty courts. and I’ll bet the restaurant at the Seven Mile Bridge was the Chic-A-Dee……had lots of good times there…… Ed MacDonald

    Never did get to the bottom of the Dam, running across the top and jumping into the water at the spillway was as brave as I got. From the map I printed off of Sydney it looked as if Center 200 was on Charlotte St. Can’t remember the coal yard, but then I was a girl and our coal was delivered by wagon, and I wouldn’t have been interested in the yard.
    I remember the beach had lots of jelly fish and one guy was acting smart one day and did a cannon ball off the end of the warf right into one and he came up screaming his head off. A couple of guys had to jump in and pull him out and then people were everywhere tending to him.
    Yes it was South Bentick St., and it was Cromarty Courts. I only played there a few times as I could never coordinate my swings with the ball, same as in baseball, but I sure could play hockey.
    My Uncle Con and Aunt Polly lived on South Bentick St. Her brother was Officer Goldie and he wore a brown uniform with knee high shiny brown boots and directed traffic at the corner of George and Cottage Road during “rush” hour.
    The Chic-a-dee it was and lots of fun. Bernie Campbell from the corner of Brookland and Union Street (I think) was a very tall guy and if we wanted to find out if someone was there we would holler to Bernie and he would stretch a bit and tell you if they were there…..Rita Offer

Relaxing in Sydney

 

    Seeing Dorchester St. and the horses reminded me of the jokes that circulated for years about a policeman in Sydney by the name of Hugh R. MacDonald (Hughie R.)
    Apparently one day Hughie R. was patrolling along Dorchester St. and he came across a dead horse in the middle of the street. Hughie R. couldn’t read or write very well, and didn’t know how to write Dorchester; but he had to write up a report on the incident. He thought for a while and as usual came up with a solution. He could write Pitt St., which was a block away, so he pulled the dead horse over to Pitt St. and completed his report…… Bob Leonard

     My litle connection was Hagen & Farquhar Plumbing on The Esplanade, with Frank Farquhar of Tain Street being that part of the business.   When members of a U-boat crew were captured in WWII. taken to Point Edward base, they were brought over to land directly below The Isle Royale, then marched down to a prison train. One young fellow was really cute — celebrated his 15th birthday on the train — now lives almost next door to my brother in Liverpool. Nova Scotia was the only real “home” he knew. Just an old printer from the former Post-Record,     Muriel M. Davidson.

     I didn’t live on the Esplanade but I did live Up George Street, and you forgot one very important place “The Diana”, where we could get a hot hamburger sandwich for $.75 and sit in the booth for about 3 hours. I worked at Crowell’s and I remember those tubes well.
     The Vogue Theatre was my baby-sitter every Saturday afternoon, as my sister would take me there and then leave me alone while she sat in the back with her boy friend, then would chase me home as I’d Holler “I’m telling Mom” and she’d threaten to beat me if I told, great sibling fun.

     I also worked at Ike’s for awhile, but I balked at the “chocolate covered ants”, Ugh that was it for me. You forgot Eatons and what about Jacobson’s, Ray and Harry lived right next door to us on Beacon Street.

     My two spinster Aunts were Seamstresses at Eatons. The last time I was in Sydney I noticed quite a few of the old familiar places have gone. Has anyone done a Book on the Old businesses of Sydney and some of the old Houses.
     I forgot about Joe Joseph, he went to our church and he walked so fast his feet were almost a blurr. There was Pollett’s Drug Store also, where I learned how to do the “drug store wrap” as not all things went into a Bag like they do today.
     There was also a bowling lane in the basement of one building on the left side of Charlotte when you were facing the Post Office. Don’t know what it was called.
     I would imagine some would remember the “Empire Business College” on the third floor of a building close to Eatons. Boy those steps were long and I still type without looking at the keys, as the keys on the typewriters were blank so you had to memorize the keys.
     Dad went to Berts for a haircut, no one cut hair like Bert and he always came home with all sorts of “News”.
     What was the name of the Chinese Restaurant that was near the Post Office corner, on the left hand side of Charlotte, or was that the London Grill.
     Boy, I love these nostalgia things, brings back many happy memories of when the Steel Plant was thriving. Who remembers the dances at the Y and the Venetian Gardens and Skating at the “Rink” and of course “Curling” and Bowling. We knew how to spend our spare time .
    What about the Bakery down and across from the Vogue Theatre, just down from the Y. No one could resist the smell and all those nice buns, eclairs and cakes in the windows.
    Remember the “Chip Wagon” in the Garage Parking lot down by the Anglican Church. You could get chips in a paper bag and drip vinegar all the way home, or walk further up the street to George and get the chips from the Restaurant on the corner, across from the Bank. They made their own fries.
    There was also a garage on the same corner and I think one across from it also corner.      Rita Offer

     Let’s not forget Miles groceteria, Polletts Drug Stores (Charlotte St and North end) Arthur Pollett just passed away last week. Then there was Nardoccios shoe repair, Freds Creamery Renzie’s Shoe Repair. The Eatmore Lunch.
     Remember going to the Oak Hall to buy your First Cub’s Uniform and later on, a scout’s uniform. Your fathers probably shopped at Yazers or Spinners especially for a suit. The best shoes in the world were at Bishops and right next door MacAulay’s Men’s Wear. Wrights Furniture and Bonnell’s

A point of interest is the old Royal Bank Building that appears with the large cupola asymetrical with the cupola that was on the Sydney Hotel. The latter was replaced by the Isle Royale Hotel long before my arrival in Sydney. On opposite corners were the smaller stone banks of the Commerce and Montreal. They were smaller but no less interesting for their architecture. Rita Offer

     Who remembers when Sobey’s store was on the corner of Falmoth and Charlotte where Joe’s Wharehouse is today, that’s before they moved to Prince Street and right across the street was Canadian Tire, they later moved into the old Sobeys. Hasham’s Bowling Alley and of course the Tea Garden


     Although not on Charlotte St, what about the Esplanade Grill.? and James’ restaurant…….      Ken
    Ask your Dad if he remembers the newspaper “The Steelworker”. I remember selling that as a youngster especially in the summer.     Wilf Morley

     Does anyone have anything on a “Grand Hotel” being in Sydney on Dodd St. in the early 1900s? It was a boarding house from my information.      Thom McCabe

Other things:      Ah now – there are some magical words for me “Butternut Bakeries”. My grandfather, Victor Bagnall, worked for them for must be 30 years or so. I have an old photo of him driving one of their trucks in a parade in Glace Bay. A close friend of my Mom’s, Malcolm McQueen, used to work there as well even after it became Eastern Bakeries. He used to take me in there with his kids – all sorts of “seconds” magically appeared to appease us all.

  Sacret Heart  Church – Sydney

   Nothing of course beat spending my summers in Marion Bridge and going out to Gabarus to the beach and to visit all the relatives. One of them, Mid (Grant) Gray, used to have the telephone exchange in her house. Now that was fascinating to a kid let me tell you!

     My grandmother’s home at 87 Kings Road with it’s back staircase and sliding wall panels that fascinated a 10 year old.

     Do you remember:ÝAtlantic Spring & Machine Shop next to Harris & Harris Excavating at “Bummer’s Corner” where Kings Rd becomes the Espanade. St Andrew’s United Church organ and its incredible sound. The Royal Hotel at 347 Esplanade. …. Jennifer Witham

     Chappell’s Lumber Yard at 62-80 Brookland Street, advertising Pratt and Lambert Paint and Varnish on the backside. Dad was a house painter and swore by P&L, said there was no other paint to use. I was always going to Chappells for shavings for my hampster which I bought with money I made from buying “plaster of paris” from Chappells and making plaster figurines( I bought the rubber molds from a Craft Store and paints and brushes from MacLeods Book Store), which I painted and sold door to door. But didn’t become an independantly wealthy enterpeneur.

     Wish I had a nickel for all the 50 and 75 cent entrance fees I paid to the “Sydney Forum” we skated Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and then played hooky from school to skate on Wednesday, then legally Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I loved the swoosh, swoosh of the skates on the ice, and being asked to skate with “Beaver Hillman” was an extra special treat, especially if you had a strong heart and we able to keep up with him. Today they play every kind of music under the sun and you can’t keep up a smooth skate at all.

     Even enjoyed standing at the tracks at George and Trinity Avenue and counting the cars as they sped past, must have been all of 5 miles an hour, then they shuddered and backed up and everyone groaned. The Christmas lights in Wentworth Park that were donated by Jack Minard who used to live on the corner of George and Shandwick Street. How his display in the front yard used to hold up traffic when he lit everything up at night, it was awesome with the reindeer with real hides and his stuffed Santa, oh for those childhood times again.

     The Bakery I remember was Romard’s, as supplied by Ed, the lady was a master at getting your attention with the smells.

     The Vogue Theatre was on Charlotte Street right across from the old YMCA where we danced to Pache’s Music. The Manager lived upstairs from My Aunt on Falmouth Street. I believe the Sobeys Store later was built just across the street.

     I believe Centre 2000 is where the Y was. Yes the Chinese restaurant was “The Strand” and If I remember was close to “The Strand” Theatre, now there was a dark whole in the ground, even the entrance was dark and creepy.

The Capitol I believe had a name change when it became one of the “Famous Player Theatres” anyone remember that??

     Did anyone awim at the “Reservoir” it was up Old Mira Road, which is now called Rotary Drive and the Reservoir became Rotary Park. Boy you could get some terrible foot cuts in there as ther was always broken bottles on the bottom. We didn’t know it was part of the City Water system and often P’d in the water, he he he. We swam at Nelga Beach and also over in Westmount, but had to take the little Ferry to get there. Swimming was also done at the “Y” on Saturdays, that was our winter exercise.

     In summer we played tennis at the courts that we used to access from Shandwick street, we went through the trees and across a brook rather than around by the paved streets, but can’t remember the name of it.

     We danced at St. Anthony Daniel Church Hall, The Y, Venetian Gardens and out at the 7 mile bridge, there was a restaurant there with a Dance floor and could it get packed. You could either dance or Ice Skate every night of the week, some nights we did both, oh to have the energy back. Rita Offer

Do you remember the Sugar Bowl? It was run by Pop Magee. It was just a few steps from the Vogue theatre and in the same building as the Nova Hotel.. One the next corner was the London Grill…. Wilf Morley

THE HAGELL BLOCK in ASHBY
     The Davenport Estate was located at the south end of Davenport Road, in Sydney, Nova Scotia. A brick/steel Gated Entrance was located at the end of Davenport Road, where it met Prince Street. The estate was destroyed at the end of the 19th century, with only the foundation remaining for many years.
     The Ross family purchased a portion of the estate in 1886, and resold it to Alfred Hagell in 1901…. at the height of the steel boom beginning in Sydney. On this property he erected apartment, rental properties…. on the property now owned by Faith Baptist Church.

Aerial View of Sydney
    

Lavinia Postlethwaite, the granddaughter of Alfred, lived in an apartment from 1912 to 1926 and is the source of much of this information. The writer of this piece, who lived across the street from the Hagell Block for 25 years, has also contributed about the block and the folks who lived there.
     Lavinia, now in her mid 80’s, has clear remembrances of living here in her younger years. The tenants in the larger building #1 were the George Anderson, the Lauchie MacDonald and the Floyd families.
     The 3 smaller buildings were rented to the Beverley family, a MacDonald family, with Lavinia and her parents living in the other.
     A large apartment to the north of the Hagell Block was known as the Union House, and Henry Morley, his wife and daughter Margaret were tenants. Margaret later married Cliff LeCouter, a prominent Sydney personality and newspaper man.
     Lavinia remembers well that her father, Percy Hagell built the first radio in Sydney, long before Sydney had its own CJCB. She recollects listening to KDKA in the USA.
     There was no indoor plumbing in the apartments…outdoor outhouses did the trick….altho she tells us,”mighty cold in winter”.
     The grandfather moved to Halifax and his son Percy and his wife (nee Cann from Forchu) took over maintennance and rental collections. Up to this time the property was well maintained by the Hagells.

     The apartments were sold to a Mr. Mac Lean in 1928, he being a druggist from Orangedale, Cape Breton. Absentee ownership began the downfall of the block, and for the next 30 years the property began its downward trend to self destruction.

“Taken the Buzz Bye”

     Absentee ownership was the start of the end… My name is Lloyd Mac Donald and I was born on Davenport Road, directly across the street from the Hagell Block, and for 25 years was an important part of my life. I played street hockey, softball, hide & seek with all the kids that lived there during this period. We played in the nearby woods, went to town together and schooled together either at Ashby School or Constantine School. We bought candy at Toby English’s and Mrs. Goss stores located nearby, and picked up groceries at Clem LeBlanc’s and Moffatt’s Grocery stores for our mothers. Our secret meeting place was in the woods behind Ashby School, at a location called “4 corners”. The Hodgson and Lotherington families were there during most of my years. In the Big Block #1 were the Redquest, MacLean, Sutherland and Brown Families. Joe Sutherland is back in Cape Breton, living in Glace Bay, and brother George in Sydney. Myrtle Brown lived with her grandmother and Angus. Myrtle joined the Lynch Circus and disappeared from our view. Angus and his friend Jessie lived at Breton Bay for many years, and passed away there. The Rhymes (Flowers) family lived in the block for several years, along with the Tobin family. Harry Tobin is still here in Sydney. Joan Dawe and her son Wayne lived in #4 for many years. The Hawco family were tenants in #1, and Jake (John) has contributed his memories to these pages. These buildings were heated by free standing, Quebec heaters and coal was the heat source, with chimneys extending thru to the roof. In winter the stoves were heated to red hot, but fortunately there never was fire damage to the buildings. Rent varied from $14.00 to $17.00 monthly, and when the MacLean family became owners hired Burchell Agencies to collect the rentals. Ashes from the stoves were collected and used as insulation at the bottom of the buildings, which were sitting on the ground. No basements in those days…….. Lloyd MacDonald

Holy Angels Convent and High School

 As I think back to my younger days, a remember walking over the overpass from the pier with a childhood friend, Bernard Reppa. We walk along the banks of tar ponds run off brook, down the steel plant road to Prince St. and then up to Crowells, where we would go to ride on the elevator. Gee the ladies there must have been very patient then, because we did this a couple of times while in the store. Little did they know that they were helping in creating a memory. And now today my son works for Otis Elevators in Halifax, and I have to wonder what elevator company had installed the one in Crowells? …..Liz MacEachern

(Special appreciation to National Library of Canada and the Cape Breton Genealogical and Historical Association web site – CAPER)

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nancy Gauthier (Jessome) on January 9, 2011 at 22:54

    Well done … very interesting !

    Reply

  2. Posted by Frank Coffin on February 26, 2011 at 11:48

    Great article on old time Sydney–I remember quite well the many stories that my dad told me about downtown Sydney, especially the building on the north-east corner of Charlotte and Falmouth. For a period of time my dad’s parents rented an apartment on the top floor of that building and he recalled how he and his brothers would use a long rope to haul small buckets of coal/wood up from the yard to a window rather than carry the buckets up the three flights of stairs. Frank Coffin–Lower Sackville

    Reply

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