Industrial Influences

Aerial View of Sydney NS
On the home front during wartime During the First and Second World Wars, there were more than just soldiers involved. Even without fighting overseas, people would find a way to dedicate their time to the war effort. In Cape Breton, people often helped by mining coal or working in the steel plant. The area around Sydney was often seen as the heart of industrial operations in Eastern Canada, due to the proximity to Europe and the ability to produce necessary resources.


The Steel Plant By 1912, the steel plant was producing almost 50% of Canada’s steel, and surpassed all in shell manufacturing during World War 1. Between the two world wars, demand for steel slumped, but surged again during World War 2. During this time, Sydney’s Steel Plant produced one third of the steel and iron used by Canada, including shells and the celebrated big guns. This made Sydney a high value location for the war effort, and one that would need to be defended. It is also worth noting that during the Second World War, approximately 3,000 women were working in the Sydney Steel Plant, making up nearly half of the workforce between 1939-1945. It was one of the many ways the women of Canada took part in the war.


coal mines
 Another driving force in Cape Breton were the coal mines, which would play a major role in the war effort. During the First World War, the coal mines would produce nearly 6 million tons of coal per year, which was about 50% of all the coal produced in the country. Lesser amounts were produced during the Second World War, however they still made a great contribution. Coal was the basic fuel that powered Canada’s industrial outputs throughout both wars, and Cape Breton was a major source of that. The coal mines and steel plant would also provide jobs for soldiers returning from war, despite work in the coal mines meaning they would be putting their lives at risk again. In 1938, a cable break in the Princess Mine in Sydney Mines, resulted in the death of 20 men while 31 had been left with serious injuries, some of whom were veterans of the First World War. This was only one of many disasters to happen in Cape Breton’s coal mines between 1873 and 1992. This memorial park project will be sure to honor those lives in addition to those lost during the war.