Father Anthony O'Connor will speak at the next meeting of the Old Sydney Society on 22 November 7:30 PM at the Centre for Heritage and Science, 225 George St., Sydney. The title of the talk is "Preserving Cultural Memory in Difficult Times: Sacred Heart Archives and Implications for Cape Breton History, 1825 to 2012".When I first arrived at Sacred Heart Parish in 1998, I was struck by its aged beauty and physical grandeur. It spoke history from every corner. Founded as the “Parish of Sydney “under the Diocese of Quebec in 1825, the parish reflects the mix of people, major events and growth of this part of Cape Breton. From the beginning I gradually gathered archival material with the help of generous and interested parishioners. The discovery in the glebe attic of a chest of documents and receipts all preserved by Rev.James Quinan the pastor from 1852-1900 enriched the collection. Countless booklets, historical photos, letters and religious items followed.
In 2000 the parish commissioned several projects for the Jubilee Year. One of which was the writing of a parish history. John Campbell a writer for the Cape Breton Post researched and published the parish history covering three centuries. Along with interviews of key people and use of historical material, John drew on his personal memories of the parish and ability to find and articulate the stories and historical threads. Today the archive continues to grow in the midst of an uncertain future for the parish and decline in those who carried the memories.