9 July 2013
This very emotional event took place on the evening of Saturday, July 6, 2013, at the Boardmore Playhouse, Cape Breton University. Men of the Deeps shared the stage with the Choir of St. Mary’s Polish Parish, performing traditional and original songs in English and Polish. The evening was interspersed with stories about the Parish founders and early immigrants.
The most touching moment of the event came when the soloists Jean Annette White of the Choir of St. Mary's Polish Church and Nipper MacLeod of Men of the Deeps sang Working Man in Polish and English - the first time ever for a Polish version of the famous song.
The Consul General of Poland in Montreal, Andrzej Szydło who attended the event, presented commemorative Polish miner’s uniforms donated by Kompania Węglowa, Poland’s and Europe’s largest coal mining company. The uniforms will be initially displayed in the Polish Hall in Whitney Pier and then in the Cape Breton Miner’s Museum.
Polish community in Cape Breton is one of the oldest in Canada. Its history dates back to the end of the nineteenth century when Canada’s first and largest integrated Steel Plant in Sydney was built. Workers were badly needed to fill thousands of new jobs, a need that coincided with the great migrations from central and eastern Europe then in full swing. Among the immigrants were the first four families coming from Poland – Tynski, Paruch, Nowak and Siwak, who settled down in the Kolonia district of Whitney Pier. Polish community was growing fast and in 1909 St. Michael's Polish Association and Benefit Society set up a mutual benefit society to help newly-arriving countrymen, especially those in distress due to dangerous and often deadly conditions at the Steel Plant. Its leaders focused also on helping raising money to build the Polish Church. Construction and services began in 1913. In 1918, the Parish Church of the Nativity of St.Mary was completed.
There are many other events organized by the Polish community in Cape Breton to celebrate the centenary of their Parish. To learn more, visit the St.Mary’s Polish Parish website.
For more photos, visit our Facebook page.