Pictured is the Canso Causeway as it is halfway to Cape Breton in 1953.

By: Yvonne Fox

Mulgrave was a self sufficient town in 1951. The number of men employed by the Federal and Provincial governments with the Canadian National Railway and the car ferries was 288 which was two thirds of the total full time working force.

When the announcement was made in June 1951 that a causeway was to be built between mainland Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island, the people of Mulgrave knew they were in trouble. There were 1,159 people according to the census living in the town that year with another 87 living beyond the boundaries but included in the school district.

By March 1953 as work on the causeway inched through the heavy ice in the Strait of Canso, Mayor Leonard O’Neil and town council and a representative body of citizens undertook to produce a seven page publication outlining their reality and proposals.

Mayor Leonard O’Neil of Mulgrave (1951-1961)was committed to attracting new industries to Mulgrave after the completion of the causeway.

First was that the Canadian National Railway construct and maintain a spur line along the coast from the mainland entrance to the causeway to the Town of Mulgrave, second that the provincial government be urged to erect a power plant in the vicinity of Mulgrave which will utilize coal for the production of electric energy and third, that a pulp and paper mill be operated in the Mulgrave area.

Approximately 10,092,069 tonnes of aggregate would be blasted to build the deepest man-made causeway in the Strait of Canso between 1952 and 1955.

This is the seventh in a series of columns from the Port Hastings Historical Society celebrating the 65th anniversary of the opening of the Canso Causeway, and marking the closure of the Mulgrave to Point Tupper ferry.