Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Local History at the Old Sydney Society

When my good friend and colleague, the late and lamented Robert Morgan of Windsor, Ont, moved to Sydney, Nova Scotia in the 1960s to teach at the little college that then represented higher education on Cape Breton Island, he found there was no local history society. He and others founded the Old Sydney Society. I wrote some years ago about their achievements, and it all seemed like a shining example of the work history societies do for communities all over Canada
Morgan first went to Cape Breton Island in 1962 to teach history at the local college, now Cape Breton University. There was a strong local culture, but no local history courses, no local history societies, not a single local museum or heritage property on the island.

The society rallied support from local notables and successful expatriates, and the supportive local MLA became a cabinet minister, and the movement snowballed. “I think we have forty historical societies on the island now, and 25 museums," Morgan says.
My still flourishing friend and colleague Ken Donovan reports that on January 28 the Old Sydney Society will mark its fiftieth year of monthly public talks on Cape Breton history when historian Andy Parnaby of Cape Breton University (the little college has grown) speaks on "The Antigonish Movement and the Sydney Steel Crisis of 1967."
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