New Glasgow, Haliburton Pit

We love examples of former mines and quarries that operated in what are now the middle of towns! Here’s one from New Glasgow:

The Haliburton Pit was opened in 1866 by Robert Grant Haliburton, son of Thomas Chandler Haliburton, author of the famous Sam Slick books.

The Haliburton Pit, which had a 54-metre-deep shaft that was timbered with oak, was operated by the Montreal and Pictou Company. The coal was good quality but it gave off significant amounts of methane, a safety hazard in underground coal mines and a common problem in the Pictou coalfield. Also, the coal seam was on a steep angle, meaning that following it down would have meant going significantly deeper underground, which increases costs.

The mine operated for about a year and was then closed and allowed to flood.

The mine was located at the corner of New Glasgow’s Ellis and Balfour streets, on the western side of the intersection. Today, the former mine site is a residential neighbourhood.

Exploration drilling for coal and natural gas took place in the area several times during the 1900s. The area explored included the Haliburton Pit (where the houses are now in the upper right corner of the aerial picture below), throughout the large greenspace to the west and the shopping district around Highland Square Mall.

Exploration was done by the Acadia Coal Company from 1916-21, the Department of Mines and Energy from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, Algas Resources in 1980, Suncor in 1985 and REI Nova Scotia in 1996. About two dozen exploration drillholes were drilled.

Robert Haliburton (1831-1901) was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia. He was a lawyer and an advocate for developing Nova Scotia’s natural resources.

After the General Mining Association’s monopoly on most Nova Scotia minerals came to an end in 1857, Haliburton was one of the investors who got involved in mining in the Pictou coalfield. He was also a spokesman for the Nova Scotia Coal-Owners’ Association.

Haliburton had a keen interest in science and was a founder and vice-president of the Nova Scotian Institute of Natural Science, organized in 1862 for the reading and publication of scholarly articles on the natural resources of the province. He was a fellow of learned societies in Europe and America and attended meetings on both continents.