Founded in 1785 by Col. J.F.W. DesBarres, Sydney was first settled by Loyalists from New York State, who were followed 20 years later by immigrants from the Scottish Highlands.
Sydney (population 26,083), The Steel City, is Nova Scotia's third largest city and is a major industrial centre.
At the end of the century, this area of Cape Breton was catapulted into the industrial age with the consolidation of several coal mines and the establishment of a steel plant. The Dominion Steel and Coal Company steel plant was built at Whitney Pier and this brought in many of the people who make up the regions's rich cultural diversity.
The north end of the city contains six 18th century buildings and two others which are almost as old. There are 12 buildings constructed between 1840 and 1885 and another 15 built before 1938.
St. George's Anglican Church was the garrison church when Sydney was founded. Nearby is Cossit House. Built in 1878, Cossit House is probably the oldest house in Sydney. It was home to Cape Breton's first Anglican Minister and first rector of St. George's Church, the Rev. Rana Cossit. The period furnishings are based on a inventory of Cossit's estate in 1815.
On the Esplanade, a street which parallels the waterfront, there are monuments and plaques which commemorate some of the city's famous people and events.
Also, on the Esplanade, across from the Government Wharf, is the old stone St. Patrick's Church Museum. This is the oldest standing Roman Catholic Church on the island (1828) and it now houses a collection of early Sydney artifacts. It is the starting point for guided walking tours of the historic north end.
The Cape Breton Centre for Science and Heritage, is a museum which features changing exhibits. There is a museum shop with books of local iinterest, souvenirs and jewellery. Jost House is a 200 year old building which illustrates the evolution of a wooden dwelling house in Sydney. There is an authentic cooking fireplace and bake-oven and special displays on local marine artifacts and an apothecary shop.
The Holy Ghost Ukrainian Church is the only one of its kind east of Montreal and is richly decorated with Byzantine-style holy pictures, icons and scrollwork. St. Mary's Parish Church has a white gothic pulpit decorated with Poland's national symbol - the eagle. St. Phillips is the only African Orthodox Church in Canada and was originally founded by West Indians who settled in Cape Breton. The three churches are open for regular services and all found in Whitney Pier.
Sydney's newest landmark is Centre 200, built to celebrate the city's bicentennial. It is a versatile convention, exhibition, sports and entertainment facility and hosts a variety of special events. The Cape Breton Summertime Revue, an extremely popular music and comedy revue style show which tours the country performs each summer in Sydney and Glace Bay.
Attached to Centre 200 is Sydney's newest entertainment feature, The Sheraton Casino. There are slot machines, gaming tables, stage performances, and the All Star Grille.
There are various parks in the city where visitors can relax, jog or watch local ball games. Wentworth Park features a pond at its centre which is home to ducks, pigeons and swans, and a bandshell where there is a central waterfront plaza, boardwalk and exhibition space.
Sydney celebrates Canada Day (July 1) with fireworks and events, and Sydney's 'Action Week' (August) is a full week of special events.
On the eastern outskirts of Sydney you can take Grand Lake Road to the Town of Glace Bay. Along this route is the University College of Cape Breton which houses the Beaton Institute of Cape Breton Studies. The Institute is a repository of written and oral Cape Breton social, political and economic history from its earliest settlement. Early colonial records, diaries, scrapbooks, almanacs, maps, photographs, newspapers and books are there in manuscript or on microfilm. The Institute is open year round for research to the general public.
From Sydney, along the shoreline, you can take the #28 (Colliery Route) through Whitney Pier and on to the communities of South Bar, Victoria Mines, and New Victoria. This route takes you to the town of New Waterford.