The Pulp Mill

July 8, 2009

Most residents of Mulgrave at the time the Canso Causeway was being built worked for the Canadian National Railway. They realized the causeway, when completed, would carry trains as well as automobiles. The CNR train ferries that crossed the strait between Point Tupper and Mulgrave would no longer be needed nor would they. Realizing this they started a movement to have a pulp mill built in the strait area.

The pulp mill was not an original idea. History shows that those who held a Oxford Lease in 1896 signed an agreement to open two pulp mills; one at the Strait and another one at Baddeck. The lease was a 20 year lease with an option to renew it over a period of 99 years. During the course of renewals they managed to get all the requirements to build a pulp mill eliminated.

A town council meeting was called. It was agreed upon by all present at the meeting that a pulp mill would be suitable for the area. A committee was chosen and sent to Sydney to meet with Dr. Hugh Gillis. Dr. Gillis wrote up the details for a brief. The committee had it printed. Approximately 300 copies of the brief were sent out to all levels of government.

There were those in opposition to having a pulp mill built at Mulgrave. Crown land was very valuable to a government in power for many reasons. One use was to lease out small parcels of the land to friends who would cut the pulp and sell it to companies in New Brunswick and Quebec. They would bring it back to their mills and sell it at a higher price. Woodlot owners in New Brunswick and Quebec were thereby forced to remove the pulp from their land earlier. This kept the price of pulp from going down and it saved the companies money and labor removing pulp from snow filled woodlots.

It became a major issue in the 1956 election platform. Henry Hicks opened the campaign by promising to build 5 pulp mills in the Halifax to Mulgrave area.

Information gathered from various archives, and from the “Cape Breton Magazine”

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