Sydney Mines, NS, Urban Community, population 14 135 (2011c), 15 315 (2006c). Sydney Mines is located on the north side of Sydney Harbour, 19 km from SYDNEY. First incorporated as a town in 1889, it later lost this status in 1995 when it was combined into CAPE BRETON REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY.
The presence of coal in Sydney Mines was noted by Nicolas DENYS in 1672 and strip-mined coal was shipped out as early as 1724. Large-scale operations began in 1826 when the General Mining Association (GMA) took over the mines. Shafts were sunk, ironworks established and railway tracks laid.
The Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company succeeded the GMA in 1900, later expanding operations and building blast furnaces. The town enjoyed a period of prosperity and expansion until 1920 when the blast furnaces shut down. The last mine, Princess Colliery, closed in 1975. There is no other industry, and unemployment is high. The "Princess" was once a museum where visitors could descend in a mine that at one time operated as far as 8 km out below the ocean floor.