Art Gallery

On now at CBU Art Gallery:

Please note that we will be closed for Easter Weeeknd (Friday April 18-Monday April 21 inclusive.)

Gold: A Nova Scotia Treasure

February 21 - May 23, 2014
Opening Reception: February 21, 6:00-8:00pm
Public welcome

Gold wiggled its way into Nova Scotia about 500 million years ago and has continued to shape the landscape and lives of Nova Scotians ever since. Explore and discover the abundance of faces and places touched by this alluring metal.

The exhibition is a partnership between the Museum of Industry and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Gold: Speaker Series    

CBU Art Gallery is pleased to present a lunchtime speaker series to complement Gold: A Nova Scotia Treasure. Talks will take place on Wednesdays at noon at the Art Gallery and will cover a wide range of topics related to the story of gold in Nova Scotia. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Wednesday March 19, 12:00pm
Gold in Nova Scotia: A Geological History
Dr. Deanne van Rooyen

The occurrence of gold deposits all over the world is controlled by the geology of the areas where the gold is found, and Nova Scotia is no exception. This talk will focus on the main geological environments in which Nova Scotia’s gold deposits occur in the context of the general geology of Nova Scotia. It will examine and explain the geological factors that contributed to forming these deposits and address the history of gold exploration in the province from a geological point of view.

Deanne van Rooyen is an Assistant Professor of Geology. She received her Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from Carleton University. Her research interests include structural geology, geochronology, and metamorphic petrology in relation to structural and tectonic problems on Cape Breton Island and the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia. She teaches courses in physical geology, geochemistry, engineering geology, and hydrogeology.

Wednesday April 9, 12:00pm
Gold Mining: Environmental Risks and Remediation
Dr. Martin Mkandawire

In Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare writes “All that glitters is not gold,” and the same can be said about where gold comes from and the footprint it leaves on the environment when extracted from ore. This presentation will evaluate environmental risks that arise from gold mining, the hazards it poses on the human health and will then propose some post-mining remediation options. The discussions will draw on specific experiences and examples from gold mining in Nova Scotia.

Martin Mkandawire is a chemist and the Industrial Research Chair for Mine Water Management at Cape Breton University. He has researched the radioecology and geochemical dynamics of uranium, heavy metals and radionuclides in waters of abandoned uranium mining sites for close to two decades. He is currently researching the development of cost-effective technology for mine water management in abandoned mines of the Sydney coalfields.

Wednesday April 16, 12:00pm

Striking it Rich? Songs about the Moose River Gold Mine Disaster
Dr. Heather Sparling

Wilf Carter, a Nova Scotian and the first Canadian country music star, was in New York City when he heard about the Moose River gold mine collapse in April 1936. J. Frank Wills was providing the first-ever live radio news coverage in Canada, and it was broadcast internationally. Three men remained trapped in the Moose River gold mine for 11 days and one died of pneumonia resulting from exposure. Carter wrote “The Rescue from Moose River Gold Mine” the day after the remaining men were rescued and his song became a hit. This presentation will examine Carter’s song as an example of a disaster song, considering the interplay between folk and commercial music and the role of songs in the aftermath of a disaster. Did Carter cunningly take advantage of the tragedy to ensure his song’s success? Or was his song an understandable and even appropriate response to a tragic event?

Heather Sparling is an ethnomusicologist and Canada Research Chair in Musical Traditions in CBU’s Department of History & Culture. Her research encompasses Gaelic songs of Nova Scotia and disaster songs of Atlantic Canada, and she is starting a new project on Cape Breton step dance. She has a growing interest in digital methods of disseminating research, such as through her project website (, social media, and a tablet-based exhibit on Nova Scotia mining disaster songs currently in preparation. She is the editor of MUSICultures, the journal of the Canadian Society for Traditional Music.

Educational Programming

We are offering in-gallery programming for Gold: A Nova Scotia Treasure. 

School tours and workshops are linked to science and social studies outcomes with a target audience of Grades 3 - 9.  

School Tours Available: February 24 - May 21, 2014. Contact the gallery for more information.

Also check out the extensive online resources and activities, developed by the Art Gallery of Nova Soctia and available through the Virtual Museum of Canada.