History of Coal Mining in Nova Scotia
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Louis Frost
History of
Remarks on
in Pictou

The Louis Frost Notes 1685 to 1962

History of Pictou Coal Field

It is commonly reported that coal was first discovered in Pictou County at Stellarton in the year 1798 and that in 1807 the first license to dig for coal was issued to John McKay. Certain it is that, in 1817 Adam Carr obtained a lease from the crown to mine and export coal. In 1825, through the perrogative of the Crown, the then Duke of York obtained a lease of all the mineral rights of Nova Scotia, with the exception of a few small areas already leased or held under grants, made without any mineral reservations. Messrs. Rundell, Bridge & Rundell of London, received a transfer of the Duke's lease which they subsequently transferred to a Company known as the General Mining Association.

In 1827, the General Mining Association came to Pictou County, purchased Adam Carr's lease and sunk the Store Pits on the Foord Seam.

By 1829 they had completed a railway six miles long, connecting the mines to the loading wharf at Abercrombie. It is worthy of note that the first steam locomotive on the American continent ran on this line.

In 1849 the rights of the minerals were vested in the Province of Nova Scotia and in 1857 the original lease of the General Mining Association was abrogated. As part compensation for loss of their original rights, the General Mining Association was permitted to select and retain certain limited areas and amongst these four square miles were retained surrounding the town of Stellarton.

It had been the intention of the General Mining Association to work the iron deposits as well as the coal and a blast furnace was erected at the Albion Mines and iron ore was sent in from the Springville district. Their efforts at iron smelting proved unsuccessful and the project was soon abandoned.

As it was now possible for other companies to obtain coal leases, the Acadia Coal Company was organized in 1864, who, securing leases adjoining those of the General Mining Association, sunk the Thorn pit on the MacGregor Seam in the year 1866. This pit was soon abandoned as the Acadia seam, which held out better promises, was discovered about two miles to the westward at a point which is now the site of the Town of Westville. The working of this seam was successful and led to the formation of the Intercolonial Coal Company, who acquired leases to the south of the Acadia areas and sunk the Drummond slope to work the Acadia seam. This Company is still in existence.

In 1871 the Nova Scotia Coal Company was formed, who, leasing coal lands to the north of the Acadia areas, sunk the Black Diamond Slope, also on the Acadia Seam. This latter area was sold to the Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company, Limited, in 1889, who finally sold it to the Acadia Coal Company in 1893. In 1872 the Vale Coal & Iron Manufacturing Company was organized, who purchased leases of coal lands at Thorburn and began operations in the MacBean seam.

In the same year, 1872, the Halifax Coal Company was formed, who purchased all the mining rights of the General Mining Association in Pictou County.

In 1886, the Acadia Coal Company, the Halifax Coal Company and the Vale Iron & Manufacturing Company all amalgamated under the title of the Acadia Coal Company, Limited.

In 1900 the Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company Limited, who had secured the leases of coal lands between New Glasgow and Thorburn, sunk the Marsh Mine on the MacKay Seam.

In 1919, the Acadia Coal Company was purchased by the Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company and thus came into the merger of the British Empire Steel Corporation in 1921.

A brief description of the mines of the Acadia Coal Company follows: -

Attached plans:

(6) General Section of Seams in Pictou Coal Field.

(7) Plan showing area leased by Acadia Coal Company and Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Company in Pictou County.

(8) A Geological Map of the Coal Areas in Pictou County.

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Last Modified: 98-03-21

Authored by: Louis Frost

The information contained on this site is not provided for the purpose of factual
representation. Instead, it is provided in an historical context. Every effort has
been made to ensure that this information represents the actual content of the
original document authored by Louis Frost for the Dominion Coal Company
on or around 1962. Nevertheless, no warranties are provided in any respect.

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