Inverness to celebrate its centennial in fine style

By RANKIN MACDONALD*
Special to Shunpiking Online

INVERNESS (16 April, 2004) –– On 6 April 1904, a portion of the expansive pioneer community of Broad Cove was carved out to become a new town in the County of Inverness.

On this date the Town of Inverness was formed and its first mayor was Dan Rory MacLean from one of the area’s first families.

It was "King Coal" that brought Inverness into existence and from the date of its incorporation to six decades later it has had its share of economic and political turmoil.

(Central Ave. Inverness)

In its heyday over 1,000 men worked in the tunnels, which ran out under the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The town grew to a population of over 5,000 but, as the coal became harder and more expensive to mine, the mining industry fell on hard times and the community, which drew many nationalities from around the world, began to send its sons and daughters away to find work in more prosperous areas of Canada and the United States.

The coalmines shut down, except for a few, small private operations, in the 1950s and it was reported, and believed, that Inverness would become a ghost town within 10 years. No one told the people of the community, who by this time had grown to love the coal-mining town perched on the sandy shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

So in 1954, the people decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the community with a week-long party known as Old Home Week. From that date, to today, an annual celebration of community takes place in Inverness and is known, far and wide, as The Inverness Gathering.

In 1968, Inverness gave up its town status but a community of 2000 endures and now relies on primary industries such as fishing, -- and as a service centre for Central Inverness County -- for its economy.

In this, its centennial year, there is new optimism in the community and young people are beginning to return to shape a new Inverness for the 21st century.

Businesses are expanding and upgrading, new businesses are popping up, a new county arts centre calls Inverness home and a new Scottish-style Links Golf Course is on the drawing board.

Beginning this past January 1st there is to be an event each month, but during the last two weeks of July a party the likes of which this county has never seen is to take place!

The Province of Nova Scotia has named Inverness an Honorary Town for the year of 2004 and former Deputy Prime Minister and Senator Allan J. MacEachen has agreed to be the town’s mayor for that period of time.

The opening ceremonies for the two-week celebration at the end of July will take place at the 5th Annual Crab Festival on Wednesday, July 14th where dignitaries, pride and music will add warmth to the summer day.

Over the next two weeks there will be family, school and team (Rebels) reunions, golf tournaments, military events, a parade and princess pageant with all former princesses attending, a demolition derby, helicopter rides, a major fireworks display, an antique car show, a play by Jacques Brel, a week of harness racing, events at the harbour, the dedication of The Memorial Wall at the Inverness Academy, Buddy MacMaster in the Ceilidh Trail Park, Legion events, Firefighters events, a road race, a multi-cultural day, the Broad Cove Concert and many more events not listed here.

(Ariel view of Broad Cove Concert)

The big three events are a Highland Ball, where everyone is encouraged to wear a kilt or Celtic dress, taking place on Sunday, July 18th, at the Inverness Academy; the Centennial Dinner which will honour members of the community who have been the backbone of the community for the past 25 years takes place at the Academy on Friday, July 16th; and the big event is the Blue Rodeo / Jimmy Rankin Concert which takes place at the Broad Cove Concert site on Saturday, July 17th. The concert will run from 2:00 p.m. with a variety of local talent finishing up with hours of music by Jimmy Rankin and Blue Rodeo.

We have only touched on the many festivities.

There are many historical events planned as well so for more information visit our website at www.invernesscentennial.ca or call the centennial office to book tickets or get information at 1-800-258-6460.

See you in Inverness in July!

*Rankin Macdonald is publisher of the Inverness Oran




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