Stellarton, Mount William

Coal was discovered in 1874 near Mount William Road in Stellarton when that area was called Smokeytown.

A 4.6-metre-deep trial pit was dug on the Hardscrabble coal seam. No other formal exploration on this coal seam is known to have occurred.

The seam reportedly saw some bootleg mining over the years. The workings were referred to locally as the Wheatley Mine.

The Hardscrabble seam was uncovered in 1992 by an excavation at the intersection Mount William Road and Westville Road.

Subsidence in the area in 1992 led to a historical slope (decline tunnel) being found. Old rails and winch remnants made clear that the site was a former mine. The slope was last worked in the late 1930s, just prior to WWII.

There are no known plans of the workings so the extent of the historical mining activity is not known.

The Acadia Coal Company did some exploration drilling in the area in 1912.

The Department of Mines and Energy explored it in 1966, part of a five-year drilling program in the Thorburn, Mount William and Foster Avenue areas to find “all possible locations at which mineable amounts of near surface coal can exist in the Pictou County coal fields….” The department concluded that the Mount William and Foster Avenue areas might be able to employ only 5-19 men. “The possibilities are not such as to encourage any substantial capital commitment in any of these ventures."

The government assessment was not optimistic about mining Thorburn either but it was eventually mined again from 1997-2000. The last of the coal was extracted, historical buildings and equipment were removed and the site was returned to nature. (See the history of coal mining in Thorburn at

The only coal mine currently operating in Nova Scotia is the Stellarton surface mine, which is fixing subsidence issues caused by 200 years of pick-and-shovel mining, including many bootleg mines. The mine is stabilizing the land so it can be built on, while also creating jobs for Nova Scotians and providing fuel to Nova Scotia Power. (Coal still provides over half of Nova Scotia’s electricity).

See how the Stellarton mine is being reclaimed at

Mount William coal mine map