How to Enjoy Spectacular Sydney, Nova Scotia

How to Enjoy Spectacular Sydney, Nova Scotia

Family Service Canada Annual Community of Learning Conference, Oct 9-10, 2019

If you’ve never visited the Celtic heart of North America, an autumn visit to Sydney, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, is an excellent place to start.

A harbour town with a history that dates to the 1700s, Sydney is a combination of history, modern tourism (from cruise ships to conferences), and living Celtic culture – including the famous Nova Scotia kitchen party.

By attending the Annual Community of Learning conference this October, you’ll not only grow your network and get updated on family service agency trends – you’ll also indulge yourself by experiencing the famous hospitality of Canada’s East Coast.

Is your inner tourist tempted? Learn a little more about some of Sydney’s spectacular highlights.

In the Harbour…

In October, the harbour is a riot of colour, as the trees shimmer with rich shades of orange, yellow and red leaves, amidst bright blue, yellow, green and red houses. Below, vessels large and small sail in and out of the blue waters of the Atlantic.

Harbour visitors are greeted by traditional Celtic fiddle music stemming from The Big Fiddle. The world’s largest fiddle is 17 metres tall, weighs more than eight tons, and has been showcasing the role of the fiddle in Celtic music since being commissioned nearly 15 years ago.

Juxtaposed against the traditional harbour sites are massive white cruise ships. They transport people from afar, as vessels did back in the 1700 and 1800s. Today’s passengers are primarily tourists by way of the United States; long ago, passengers came from European countries such as Scotland, on a one-way trip to new lives.

A Slice of Sydney’s History

Strategically facing the Atlantic Ocean, Sydney has been an important harbour for hundreds of years. In town, colonial-style churches, museums and houses such as Cossit House Museum (circa 1787) preserve the early days.

Over time, Sydney evolved. In the early 1900s, the town was a major producer and shipper of steel and coal. During World War II, the harbour was used as a naval base and a departure point for merchant marine ships that carried supplies to England. Museums and monuments stand testament to the many ships and sailors lost to torpedo attacks by the German U-boats that slunk along the shores of North America during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Today, Sydney is a mix of both old and new. The population of approximately 31,500 people (according to the 2011 census) embody a living Celtic culture that makes the town a tourism hot spot.

A Living Celtic Culture

Around town, sounds and sights of an ancient, seldom heard language are abundant. Gaelic was spoken by early settlers from Scotland and Ireland and is still spoken by some today. One Gaelic word visitors often come to known is céilidh (a visit), which is also known as the famous Nova Scotia kitchen party. Those who attend experience fiddle music, traditional food, storytelling and dancing.

Want to Enjoy More of Cape Breton?

Conveniently, the Annual Community of Learning Conference is followed by nine days of music, food, culture and hospitality at the Celtic Colours International Festival, running October 11 - 19 so you can extend your stay.

Learn More About the Conference on the Coast in Sydney, Nova Scotia

To learn more about the Family Service Canada Annual Community of Learning conference 2019, including hotel accommodations, and presentations on collaboration, brain science and funding that fits your agency, and how to register, visit

10 fast facts about Sydney, Nova Scotia

  1. Sydney was founded in 1795 by the British
  2. Early settlers came from Scotland and Ireland, bringing the Gaelic language
  3. The municipality was once the capital city of Cape Breton Island until 1820 when the island joined Nova Scotia
  4. Sydney was home to one of the world’s largest steel plants in the 1900s
  5. In World War II, Sydney was a strategic naval port for warships and merchant ships transporting supplies to England
  6. During the Battle of the Atlantic, German U-boats off the coast of North America attacked a Sydney convoy of 35 merchant marine ships, sinking 20
  7. The population of Sydney as of the 2011 census was 31,597
  8. The average October temperature in Sydney is 13 degrees Celsius
  9. Famous kitchen parties (céilidh in Gaelic, which means “a visit") include traditional songs, fiddle music, dancing, storytelling, and of course, food
  10. The Sydney waterfront is home to the world’s largest fiddle