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The Jost House, 54 Charlotte Street, Sydney, Nova Scotia


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"New Settlement on the Island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia in the Year 1785"

Founding of Sydney by Lt. William Booth, 1785

[Cape Breton Centre for Heritage and Science]


Lieut. W. Booth's Description of Sydney, August 1785 ...

August 4th, Arrived at Spanish River, at one oClock in the Forenoon. At the Entrance is a spacious Bay, and about 2 miles from the mouth of the River, is a Bar of Sand, and Beach, with a Beacon upon it, and two, or three Huts, with a small wharf. It is necessary to take notice, that before you arrive off this Bar, ... At the distance of Eight Miles, according to the opinion of some, and nine by others, is the commencement of the new settlement, Sydney; at this part of the River you have 7, and 8 fathoms Water. and that, close to the shore, which renders it very commodious for Shipping during the Spring and Summer. The Town of Sydney will stand on an Isthmus of three quarters of a mile broad, and one and a half miles in length, according to ye Governor's plan - below the Ground, and immediately under the Town, is a projecting beach, that they say is designed for Dockyard, or rather, that one is intended to be made there, This part of the River, I understand, is frozen up Four Months in the Year. The Eminence, when covered with Houses, and Inhabitants, according to their expectations. will, certainly form a beautiful appearance, as it cannot be doubted, but that they will possess many advantages, having a good soil around them, easily clear'd, together with Three Rivers, abounding with Fish. At present there are not a dozen Families, besides the six Companies of the 33rd Regt. encamp'd and Hutted, on this new Settlement. 'tis given out, that 150 Families are daily expected. I am sorry to find that the settlers, who venture into these unknown regions do not meet with the encouragement that they, with just reason, might look for ... At 4 oClock We dined with Governor DeBarres, &t his half finished Hut, & which he says is merely Temporary; but that when the Ground shall be cleared, he means to build a good House, in one of the principal streets. We remained, off Sydney, till the 8th in the morning, when we weighed Anchor, and moved down to the Coal Mines, at the entrance of this river. We here met the Governor, who had an elegant dinner prepared for us. Before dinner the General examined the ground and the state of the Coal Works. Great exertion has been used to clear the shafts of the water, but without complete effect. When this grand object shall be obtained, the produce must be very valuable, as the Wines appear Rich in many parts, and some of the veins, or Strata's, tolerably good. At the usual hour for dinner, we attended, and had the pleasure of meeting the Governor, his Daughter, and two of his Sons: one of the sons is of the Council. All the principal officers were at Table. I must observe, that on the General's landing, they endeavor's to shew him every respect in their power, due to his rank by a Salute of 15 Guns, from the Battery on the edge of the rock, above the Road. and tho' these Guns were, seemingly, served by Coal-heavers, and Blacksmiths, and fired with red-hot pokers, yet, the duty was well conducted. Having dined, and drank Several Loyal Toasts, we took our leave, and were attended by the whole party to the Barge.

C. Bruce Ferguson (editor), Uniacke's Sketches of Cape Breton and Other Papers Relating to Cape Breton and other Papers Relating to Cape Breton Island (Halifax: Public Archives of Canada, 1958), pp. 143-144.


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