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History of Sydney, Nova-Scotia

things to do in Sydney Nova Scotia

In creating our Sydney NS Tourist Scavenger Hunt, we dug into the city’s history so as to properly contextualize our tour. It is important for us. At most of the 20 stops along the tour, we explain the history of a site, monument, or person. This allows us to fully show you their significance.

Sydney is a port city on Cape Breton Island on the east coast of Canada.

Ancient History of Sydney and Cape Breton

things to do in Sydney Nova ScotiaAncient-first nations’ encampments can be traced as far back as 10,600 years ago. These natives who hunted caribou became the Mi’kmaq.

The Mi’kmaq have called Cape Breton Island Mi’kma’ki for thousands of years. The Mi’kma’ki region included Cape Breton, Nova Scotia in its entirety, part of the American state of Maine, Newfoundland, and the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec.

The French were the first Europeans to settle here, calling it Acadia. The control of the region twirled between the French and the English during the 17th and the beginning of the 18th century. In 1713, France finally obtained the official control of the Royal Island (Cape Breton) by the Treaty of Utrecht.

In 1719 they built Fort Louisbourg, which the English captured but returned to France. But during the Seven Years’ War, the English conquered him definitively. They expelled its inhabitants and destroyed the fort. Then, in 1763, Ile Royale finally changed its name to Cape Breton.

Sydney, founded in 1785 by the British, incorporated as a city in 1904. Sydney was the capital of the Cape Breton colony in 1785 until it merged with that of Nova Scotia in 1820. At this time, the capital transferred to Halifax. Sydney takes its name in honor of Thomas Townshend, 1st Viscount Sydney who was the British cabinet secretary in 1785.

Recent History

The original population consists of British and loyalist Americans who fled the state of New York after the revolution. Among these loyalists are David Mathews, the former mayor of New York under the British.

Between 1900 and 1945, Sydney lived mainly in the steel industry. She had significant participation in World War II. Several Canadian ships were based here. After the war, the main industry, steel, and coal had a difficult time. The companies withdrew, forcing the government to privatize the factories to maintain the level of employment in the region.

In 1995, the city dissolved to join the agglomeration of surrounding municipalities, forming the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

In 2001, the coal and steel plants were closed permanently. Since then, we find mainly telephone call centers and tourism.

Scavenger Hunt

Our scavenger hunt is a self-guided walking tour of the see you can do on your smartphone. Over 2 hours, it’ll take you to all the significant sites, teach you some history, and challenge you with puzzles and various questions.

Find out more about our Sydney NS Tourist Scavenger Hunt on the info page.

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Things to do in Sydney, Nova-Scotia

things to do in Sydney Nova Scotia

Are you looking for things to do in Sydney, Nova-Scotia? This Scavenger Hunt takes you on a self-guided walking tour, with challenges through the heart of the city.

See all the sights while having fun and learning some history! You will walk from the City Hall to the Port of Sydney and its giant fiddle while taking numerous side trips to discover more sites while taking on various challenges. Our Sydney NS Tourist Scavenger Hunt was developed and tested in August 2018.

You will start your adventure either in front of the Cape Breton City Hall (start location 1) or at the Sydney Cruise Terminal (start location 2). Follow the instructions on your smartphone to solve challenges and get instructions to your next destination. The challenges are varied in difficulty and types to keep you entertained. They’re good for all ages.

You should plan a good 2 hours for this activity, wear comfortable shoes and be certain your phone is fully charged. As well, you’ll need a data plan as WiFi will not be enough. Further, a street map and bottled water could come in handy.

things to do in Sydney Nova ScotiaThings to do in Sydney? See the sites!

Over your 2-hour adventure through the city, you will see:

  • Merchant Mariner Monument
  • Old Sydney Society
  • George’s Anglican Church & Graveyard
  • Patrick’s Church Museum
  • Crossit House Museum
  • Jost Heritage House
  • Highlands Art Theatre
  • Sydney Waterfront Boardwalk
  • Port of Sydney
  • Cape Breton City Hall
  • And more

Scavenger Hunt

Our scavenger hunt is a self-guided walking tour of the see you can do on your smartphone. Over 3 hours, it’ll take you to all the significant sites, teach you some history, and challenge you with puzzles and various questions. You’ll never walk more than 5 minutes between stops. Take as long, or as little, as you wish as you’re in control of your page on this adventure. Above all, we hope you have fun!

Learn more about the Sydney NS Tourist Scavenger Hunt on our description page.