Lachlan MacKinnon

PhD History

Project Title: The Deindustrialization of Sydney Steel, 1957-2013: An Oral History.

This project will examine the end of the steel industry in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Sydney Steel, the major employer in the city, closed in 2001. With the erasure of industry, the city has been left dealing with high unemployment and decreasing population. This research explores the economic, political, and cultural dimensions of the deindustrialization process using oral history methodology. It contributes to the existing literature on industry in Cape Breton with the inclusion of shop-floor experiences as well as through the use of business archives. My thesis will move beyond the discussion of Sydney Steel under public ownership, which began in 1967, to explore the beginnings of industrial decline under private ownership during the previous decade. The regional development efforts that followed the closure of the steel plant will also be examined for what they reveal about popular conceptualizations of the industrial past, efforts to mitigate the environmental effects of a century of steelmaking, and the re-positioning of workers and their families in post-industrial communities.

Co-Organizer of the May 2014 conference “Deindustrialization and Its Aftermath: Class, Culture and Resistance.”

Blogs on Active History:

All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: Deindustrialization and Structural Deficiency in Sydney, Nova Scotia

Echoes of Westray: Canada’s National Day of Mourning and the West Fertilizer Company Explosion

Selected Publications:

MacKinnon, Lachlan.  “Labour Landmarks in New Waterford: Collective Memory in a Cape Breton Coal Town,” Acadiensis 42, no. 2 (Summer/Autumn 2013).

MacKinnon, Lachlan. “Labour and the Commemorative Landscape in Industrial Cape Breton, 1922-2012,” Material Culture Review.

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