New Waterford, Nova Scotia

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New Waterford
New Waterford is located in Nova Scotia
New Waterford
New Waterford
Location of New Waterford, Nova Scotia
Coordinates: 46°15′08″N 60°05′38″W / 46.25222°N 60.09389°W / 46.25222; -60.09389Coordinates: 46°15′08″N 60°05′38″W / 46.25222°N 60.09389°W / 46.25222; -60.09389
Provinces of CanadaNova Scotia
Regional MunicipalityCape Breton Regional Municipality
Incorporated Town1913
DissolvedAugust 1, 1995
 • Land20.81 km2 (8.03 sq mi)
From Statistics Canada
 • Total6,500
 • Density429.7/km2 (1,113/sq mi)
 • Change (2006-11)
Time zoneUTC-4 (AST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-3 (ADT)
Canadian Postal code
Area code(s)902
Telephone Exchange862

New Waterford is a Canadian urban community in Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Regional Municipality.


Formerly known as Barrachois (from barachois, meaning small port, lagoon or pond), its present name is likely derived from the Irish seaport Waterford, from which many early settlers came.[1] Coal mining in the vicinity began as early as 1854 at Lingan and later at Low Point in 1865. New Waterford is located northeast of Sydney, Nova Scotia. It is located near the ocean and is bordered on one side by cliffs. New Waterford has a rather flat terrain and has several fresh water lakes located nearby.


Census Population
1921 5,615
1931 7,745
1941 9,237
1951 10,423
1956 10,381
1961 10,592
1971 9,579
1981 8,808
1986 8,326
1991 7,695
Urban Area
2001 10,185
2006 9,661
2011 8,942

|- style="text-align:right;" |2016 |6,500 New Waterford is a fishing port and former coal-mining community that has been in economic decline in recent years. There are ongoing efforts to revitalize the area's economy including a slow but steady increase in jobs in the technology sector. Many residents had been reliant on the coal and steel industries, which are now closed. The last local mine closed in 2001.


Senior citizens make up a disproportionate number of town residents due to a long running unemployment problem and the economic development plans of the government which focused on propping up older declining industries. This had the effect of worsening employment prospects for younger workers resulting in a large migration of these younger workers from New Waterford to other areas of the country where opportunities were available.

Eight-thirty whistle[edit]

At 8:30pm every day the local fire department sets off its siren. This has a long history, and continues in tradition to this day. The original intent of the whistle was for curfew. The only time the whistle does not go off is when the staff are on call since the whistle is pulled manually


On July 25, 1917, 65 people were killed in a coal mine explosion at New Waterford's No. 12 Colliery.[2]

Mining Disaster at New Waterford Nova Scotia Photo A
Mining Disaster at New Waterford Nova Scotia Photo A

In popular culture[edit]

The town was the setting for the 1999 comedic coming-of-age film New Waterford Girl.

New Waterford Girl is a dark comedy about Moonie Pottie, a gifted teenager, who dreams of life beyond her small town. She becomes inspired when a 15-year-old girl from New York moves in next door. Starring many local actors and mostly Canadian talent, it is set in the mid 1970s. Most of the scenes in the movie were actually filmed in the town of North Sydney.[3]

Canadian author Ann-Marie MacDonald set her #1 bestseller “Fall on Your Knees” in New Waterford, set in the early 20th century.

Events and celebrations[edit]

Coal Dust Days[edit]

Coal Dust Days is a week-long community celebration that takes place approximately the third week of July. The Coal Dust Days parade, Plummer Avenue Day, the tavern tour, and fireworks display are some of the many events that take place during the week.[4]

Davis Day[edit]

Davis Day is a commemoration of the death of a Cape Breton miner, and father of 10, William Davis. He was shot dead by the coal company security force at Waterford Lake during a mining strike on June 11, 1925. Davis was not participating in the protest, which took the form of a march from the company power plant (by Waterford Lake) and ended by the railroad tracks between Daley Road and May Street. He was shot along with two other men, who survived. Davis Day is also known as Miners Memorial Day.

Coal Bowl[edit]

New Waterford is the site of the annual Coal Bowl Classic basketball tournament, which brings in teams from all across Canada to compete in a week long event. The tournament, first held in 1982, takes place at Breton Education Centre in early February. In 2009, the Breton Education Centre Bears won the tournament for the first time lifting the "Coal Bowl curse".[5][6]


  1. ^ "Place-names and Places of Nova Scotia". Nova Scotia Archives. Province of Nova Scotia. Retrieved 16 September 2017.
  2. ^ "1917 New Waterford Mine Disaster". The Disaster Song Tradition. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  3. ^ "New Waterford Girl". IMDb.
  4. ^ "Coal Dust Days". Coal Dust Days.
  5. ^ "Bears reverse the Coal Bowl curse". Cape Breton Post. 9 February 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  6. ^ Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board. "2009 Coal Bowl Winners". Retrieved 1 November 2012.[dead link]