Lower River Inhabitants Coal

Nova Scotia coal was first mined in Sydney in 1672. The first commercial coal mining venture in Canada was established by the French in 1720 in Cow Bay, Cape Breton, to supply the Fortress of Louisbourg. Coal still provides half of Nova Scotia’s electricity.

There were several small historical coal mines in the Whiteside/Lower River Inhabitants area in the 1800s and early 1900s. Records are a bit spotty and even contradictory (mine names and dates can be inconsistent) but the mines appear to have included the following:

  • The Sea Coal Brook Mine started in the early 1860s at River Inhabitants Basin.
  • The Richmond Colliery (1868-1908) at Port Malcolm.
  • The Basin Colliery (1922-1923) at Morash Point.
  • The Tidewater Colliery (1928-1929) at Whiteside.

Another coal mine was built in 1865 three miles inland on Little River but never operated because the company went bankrupt. It had a 60-feet shaft and was connected to tidewater by a three-mile railway.

The name Lower River Inhabitants comes from the French that settled the area: Riviére des Habitants. Settlers were supplied by the French government with tools, seed, enough food for two years and farm animals. Many used coal to heat their homes.