Do you spell chapel with two p’s or one? It is debatable but spell check says one. You decide. The Chapel Hill area of Glace Bay stretches from the tracks (or where the tracks used to be at McKeen) all the way up to Phalen’s road. Traditionally called “Snob” hill by the locals, and was named Chapel Hill because it was the location of St. Ann’s Church also known as the Chapel on the Hill in and around the 1800’s and there is still a graveyard on King Edward Street up past the Church. There also used to be a building supply dealer named Chappel’s down at the bottom of the hill and some people say that is how Chapel/Chappel Hill was named.
My Dad, for those of you who don’t know, is Raymond MacAdam who has taught high school students at St. Michael’s Senior High and Glace Bay High respectively until his retirement in 2005. He taught for Thirty-Five years while volunteering at the Glace Bay Central Credit Union and Glace Bay Old Town Hall Museum Society. He remembers growing up on Chapel Hill in the 1950’s and says, “There were a lot of kids there and different housing groups.” There was always something to do he remembers, “most of the time there was enough of a population that you could play practically any sport you wanted.” “There were at least three areas for baseball,” on the Hill he remembers. Today however, there are fewer kids on the Hill and urban sprawl has moved into some of the baseball and skating areas. The area known as the Sugar Bowl, a popular skating spot, for an example is now home to the Ocean View middle school.
“There used to be an area in between MacDonald’s Lane and Hillside that would flood and freeze in the winter where we skated,” he says. Now it is all homes. Beacon Street Dam was also a very popular skating spot in the winter. Sometimes there were multiple hockey games going at one time. They also used to sled down the middle of the road in the winter. They did not use much salt on the roads so the roads were icy and you could generate a fair bit of speed. Ahhh, the good ol’days, when fun meant soaring down a hill at break neck speeds without a helmet. A popular hill he remembers was called “Johnny’s Hill” which is between MacDonald’s Lane and Hillside Ave. There they would be “freezing our butts and not even noticing it.”
In the 50’s and 60’s the mines provided good paying jobs to the community, there were trains moving back and forth, in and out of town as well as the downtown core was a bustling place. “There was very little movement between Glace Bay and Sydney as a kid,” he says, “the only places open to you were by bicycle,” and “Once you had your bicycle you had all of Glace Bay and Dominion open to you and that’s where you spent your time, on the road.” There were no video games and Xbox One. All he had was a radio, that is, until 1957 when a TV was introduced at home. Times were simpler and slower paced. Now our lives are faster and we talk to each other with machines. Go figure.
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