Closing Sysco: Industrial Decline in Atlantic Canada’s Steel City

By Lachlan MacKinnon

© 2019

Closing Sysco presents a history of deindustrialization and working-class resistance in the Cape Breton steel industry between 1945 and 2001. The Sydney Steel Works is at the heart of this story, having existed in tandem with Cape Breton’s larger coal operations since the early twentieth century. The book explores the multifaceted nature of deindustrialization; the internal politics of the steelworkers’ union; the successful efforts to nationalize the mill in 1967; the years in transition under public ownership; and the confrontations over health, safety, and environmental degradation in the 1990s and 2000s. Closing Sysco moves beyond the moment of closure to trace the cultural, historical, and political ramifications of deindustrialization that continue to play out in post-industrial Cape Breton Island. A significant intervention into the international literature on deindustrialization, this study pushes scholarship beyond the bounds of political economy and cultural change to begin tackling issues of bodily health, environment, and historical memory in post-industrial places.

The experiences of the men and women who were displaced by the decline and closure of Sydney Steel are central to this book. Featuring interviews with former steelworkers, office employees, managers, politicians, and community activists, these one-on-one conversations reveal both the human cost of industrial closure and the lingering after-effects of deindustrialization.

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Atlantic Canada History
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 27
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP005872

  • AVAILABLE MAR 2020

    From: $26.21

    Regular Price: $34.95

    ISBN 9781487524029
  • AVAILABLE MAR 2020

    From: $63.75

    Regular Price: $85.00

    ISBN 9781487505912
  • AVAILABLE NOV 2019

    From: $26.21

    Regular Price: $34.95

Quick Overview

Personal accounts are at the heart of Closing Sysco, where each story reveals the cultural, political, and historical ramifications of industrial closure in Sydney, Nova Scotia, the former steel city of Atlantic Canada.

Closing Sysco: Industrial Decline in Atlantic Canada’s Steel City

By Lachlan MacKinnon

© 2019

Closing Sysco presents a history of deindustrialization and working-class resistance in the Cape Breton steel industry between 1945 and 2001. The Sydney Steel Works is at the heart of this story, having existed in tandem with Cape Breton’s larger coal operations since the early twentieth century. The book explores the multifaceted nature of deindustrialization; the internal politics of the steelworkers’ union; the successful efforts to nationalize the mill in 1967; the years in transition under public ownership; and the confrontations over health, safety, and environmental degradation in the 1990s and 2000s. Closing Sysco moves beyond the moment of closure to trace the cultural, historical, and political ramifications of deindustrialization that continue to play out in post-industrial Cape Breton Island. A significant intervention into the international literature on deindustrialization, this study pushes scholarship beyond the bounds of political economy and cultural change to begin tackling issues of bodily health, environment, and historical memory in post-industrial places.

The experiences of the men and women who were displaced by the decline and closure of Sydney Steel are central to this book. Featuring interviews with former steelworkers, office employees, managers, politicians, and community activists, these one-on-one conversations reveal both the human cost of industrial closure and the lingering after-effects of deindustrialization.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Atlantic Canada History
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Illustrations: 27
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    "Closing Sysco is an excellent study in the important new literature of ‘deindustrialization.’ Combining a sensitive use of oral history with labour and working class history, political economy, and environmental history, Closing Sysco contributes to our regional understanding of capitalist development and underdevelopment in Atlantic Canada. This work also brings our understanding of Cape Breton industrial development and class struggle up to the present building on the important earlier works of scholars such as David Frank, Ron Crowley, Craig Heron and Don MacGillivray."


    Greg Kealey, Department of History, University of New Brunswick

    "By sharing the experiences of those in Cape Breton, Lachlan MacKinnon deftly explores the impact of deindustrialization on workers’ bodies and the changes it prompted, including community-based resistance tactics, and political economy. With significant dedication to the lived experience of those who worked for Sydney Steel, Closing Sysco sheds light on the working class history of families impacted by Canada’s steel industry."


    Michel S. Beaulieu, Department of History, Lakehead University
  • Author Information

    Lachlan MacKinnon is an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities at Cape Breton University.

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