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About Us

History of Bartown

The General Mining Association, an English company which then owned the Sydney Mines collieries, established a shipping pier in North Sydney, then and for many years subsequently, known as “the bar“, or “North Bar“. From that time forward, North Sydney’s future was assured. Incorporated as a town in 1885, North Sydney on Cape Breton Island has hummed with the bustle of a busy seaport for some 200 years.

North Sydney is frequently called Bartown because of the presence of a sandbar near the northern approaches. This was the site of the coal shipping piers that operated during the early part of the 20th century. The port is also home to a large fishing fleet that fishes for lobster and ground fish in Sydney Bight, and a busy yacht club that welcomes visiting pleasure craft.

At one time North Sydney was a base for the coastal boats that serviced the remote communities of northern Cape Breton. The town was also the location of a seaplane base that provided protection for the convoys that operated out of Sydney harbour during World War I and World War II.

Situated on the north shore of Sydney harbour, deep into the natural anchorage, the port is best known as the mainland terminus for the ferry boats connecting Newfoundland to Canada via the Cabot Strait . The ferry service has been operating in North Sydney since 1895.

Over the decades the North Sydney waterfront has also been the location of fish processing plants and ship repair facilities. Business such as marine insurance companies and ship supply and fishing gear enterprises still operate in town.

Today North Sydney is a full-service community of about 8,000 residents. It also includes a commercial district downtown near the waterfront and an enclosed mall and other businesses west of the downtown near the highway bypass.

The sea has been North Sydney’s calling card and lifeblood for its entire history and residents are proud of the role the port has played in the development of Cape Breton and Canada. Come discover our maritime history and be home in our harbour by the edge of the sea.

North Sydney Bartown Festival History

The North Sydney Bartown Festival is a week long festival that features both cultural and historic content with popular festival favorites such as the annual parade, main stage performances, children events, family events, senior events and fireworks that appeal to community and family alike.

How we got our name:

  • In 1985 the Town of North Sydney decided they would host an annual festival leading up to the 100th year celebration. The festival was to be called “BAR 90”.
  • The last ten years leading up to the 100th celebration of the community in 1985, the festival was named “Bar 90+1”, “Bar 90+2”, etc.
  • After the 100th celebration the festival then took on the name of “Bar 90 Days”.
  • In 1995 the Town of North Sydney had become amalgamated. The Community of North Sydney almost lost their festival but a group of volunteers got together and fought to keep the festival.
  • In 1996 the festival was saved and came under the leadership of the North Sydney Bartown Festival Society.
  • In 2007 the society was renamed the Bartown Community Society.
  • In 2015, the Society moved from their former headquarters located at Archibald’s Wharf to a new home at nearby Indian Beach.
  • This year the  Society has decided to re-brand the festival look, and revamp the events for a bigger and better festival.


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PO Box 1805
North Sydney NS
Phone: (902) 794-8589
Fax: (866) 628-7179
Website: http://bartown.ca
Email: [email protected]