Historical Metallurgy Luncheon

– featuring the Fathi Habashi Lecturer

Wednesday, August 21 at 12:00-13:30 

Price: $60

The luncheon will feature a special invited speaker Dr. Lachlan MacKinnon, Cape Breton University.


Dr. Lachlan MacKinnon is an Associate Professor of History and the Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Post-industrial Communities at Cape Breton University. His research focuses on regional development in Atlantic Canada, industrial history, and deindustrialization in the Nova Scotia steel and coal industries. His recent book, Closing Sysco, provides an in-depth analysis of the failure of the steel industry in Sydney, Nova Scotia, drawing upon oral testimony from former workers, management, and politicians. Currently, MacKinnon is a co-investigator of the international Deindustrialization and the Politics of Our Time research partnership, which brings together 18 universities in the collaborative study of industrial history. 

'The Province of Industry’: Coal, Steel, and Industrial Development in 19th Century Nova Scotia


Industrial history in Nova Scotia extends back to the early 18th century, when the first commercial mine in North America opened at Port Morien to help supply the French fortifications at Louisbourg. Indeed, the availability of coal and its possible extraction were also noted by early British cartographers and surveyors like J.F.W. Desbarres. Despite this early history, the true development of the provincial mining industry did not occur until the 19th century, when the British crown assigned a coal lease to the General Mining Association monopoly in 1826. This announcement spurred a flurry of development across the province, as new mines were capitalized, and shafts were sunk from Cape Breton to Cumberland County. 

In this presentation, the 19th century of industrialization in the province of Nova Scotia is examined with particular attention to the development of the coal, iron, and steel industries. Tracing this lineage from the formation of the G.M.A. to the breakup of the monopoly during the free enterprise period and the consolidation of large international firms like the Dominion Coal Company, Nova Scotia’s industrial history provides insight into the shape of provincial economy at the turn of the 20th century. A macro-analysis of these historical changes will be provided along with attention to now Nova Scotian workers experienced and responded to industrialization and urbanization as the modern province took shape.

Remembering our members

This luncheon also serves as a special tribute to esteemed MetSoc members we lost last year: Fathi Habashi, Chris Twigge-Molecey, Bruce Conard, and Bill Davenport. Their significant contributions to the field will be remembered.