CBU traces its roots to 1951 when the “St. Francis Xavier University Sydney Campus”, also referred to as “Xavier Junior College” (XJC), was opened in downtown Sydney as a satellite campus of St. Francis Xavier University. Growth during the 1950s saw several buildings opened on this site.
In 1968 the “Nova Scotia Eastern Institute of Technology” (NSEIT) opened in 1968 on the Sydney-Glace Bay Highway, immediately east of Sydney. This institution focused on business technology and trades and its development was largely enabled by federal and provincial funding at a time when the coal and steel industries in Industrial Cape Breton were facing serious challenges.
In 1974, the first university college in Canada was established on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia through an amalgamation of the Nova Scotia Eastern Institute of Technology and Xavier Junior College. The Xavier Junior College was affiliated previously with St Francis Xavier University. The University College of Cape Breton became a public degree-granting institution, and retained technical and vocational programs from the former Nova Scotia Eastern Institute of Technology. Cape Breton University was established by the Cape Breton University Act.