CBRM Council: Heritage Minutes

Three CBRM structures were registered as Municipal Heritage properties during last night’s council meeting:


Menelik Hall

Planner Karen Neville, in her submission to council, said the value of the hall, located at 88 Laurier Street in Whitney Pier and “constructed between 1935 and 1936 by people of African descent who had recently immigrated to Cape Breton to work in the coal and steel industries” is not in its architectural design, but in “the impact it has had on the community.”

The drive to build the hall can be linked to the impact that activists such as Marcus Garvey had on people of African descent in Cape Breton. Marcus Garvey was a Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator. He was the founder and first President -General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. In 1937, Mr. Garvey gave a famous speech at the Menelik Hall.

Garvey’s speech, titled “The Work That Has Been Done,” included this line:

We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind.

A line later borrowed (and made famous) by Bob Marley.

(Here’s an account of Garvey’s speech from his Black Man magazine, 10 July 1938, that includes introductory remarks from the Mayor of Sydney.)

Neville provided a copy of the earliest photo of the hall held by the Beaton Institute (no date was given):

Menelik Hall, Sydney, NS


And here’s the view of it captured by Google Street View in 2012:

Menelik Hall, Sydney NS

(Source: Google Maps)


The structure received 85 out of a possible 165 points on the Municipal Heritage checklist, which is used as a guide by the Heritage Committee — properties should score at least 50 points to qualify for registration.


The Cedars Club

The St. Joseph’s Lebanese and Syrian Benevolent Society of Sydney had requested Heritage status for the Cedars Club, located at 30 MacKenzie Street in Sydney.

Like Menelik Hall, the building is not “an exceptional example of a particular architectural style” but “scores high on historical and cultural significance.” Neville writes:

In the early 1900’s, many Lebanese families immigrated to Sydney and settled in the Townsend Street area of Sydney. Around 1910 the St. Joseph’s Lebanese and Syrian Benevolent Society was organized. Their original club was located on the site of the present Cedars Club on MacKenzie Street in Sydney. Since its establishment, the St. Joseph’s Lebanese and Syrian Benevolent Society and the Cedars Club has fostered a pride and an awareness of Lebanese and Syrian culture in Cape Breton through their many cultural events.

No picture of the club was attached to the agenda, but here’s the Google Street View from July 2012:

Google Street View: Cedars Club, Sydney, NS


The structure received 74 out of a possible 165 points on the Municipal Heritage checklist


8399 Grand Narrows Highway

Planning and development received a request from Kaitlyn Sheppard to register this house, located in Christmas Island.

The estimated date of construction is between 1870 and 1890 and it is thought to have been built by “a local ship builder turned merchant and farmer Michael McDougall.”

Nova Scotia’s eighth premier, George H. Murray, is “believed” to have owned the property from 1892 to 1904 but “it is unclear” if he lived there. (No Google Street View in 1892 to catch Murray sitting on his own front step.)

8399 Grand Narrows Highway, CBRM


Besides the connection to a former premier, the house scored points for architectural details like decorative shingles, a bay window, a cross-gabled roof and a foundation believed to have been made with sand and rock from Christmas Island Beach.

The structure received 65 out of a possible 165 points on the Municipal Heritage checklist.

According to this brochure on heritage properties, once as structure is registered, its owners may apply to the province and/or the municipality for “modest grants” for exterior renovations. The Heritage Property By-law is concerned only with exteriors, which can’t be altered or demolished without permission from the Heritage Officer. Interior renovations, on the other hand, do not require such permission, although they can require building permits, like any other projects.