Heritage Heroes

Howard MacKinnon & Inglis MacAulay

Photo: Grand opening of the Glace Bay Heritage Museum on June 1st 2003.

Howard MacKinnon
Although Howard was born in Halifax, he calls himself a " Caper". His parents moved to Louisbourg, Cape Breton, when he was an infant and later moved to Glace Bay. Howard spent his entire life as an Educator, Historian and Hockey Coach in the Donkin and Glace Bay, Cape Breton, school system. He was on the Board of the Glace Bay Miners Forum for 25 years and President for 16 years. Howard, along with Inglis MacAulay, was a founding member of the Glace Bay Historical Society in 1983. One of the early tasks of this Society was setting up the Marconi Trail. When in 1987 the Mayor and Council elected to move out of the 75 year old and dilapidated Town Hall and relocate elsewhere, the Glace Bay Historical Society took ownership of the building and with Howard MacKinnon at the helm, formed a committee to plan and work on renovations and subsequently established a Heritage Museum in 1990. Despite valiant efforts to refurbish, the financial pressures forced the Historical Society to abandon its goals in 1997 and vacate the Town Hall. In 1999 the Municipality decided to tear down Glace Bay's now vacant Old Town Hall. Facing the loss of the town's last heritage building moved the citizens to rise up in opposition to this destruction and the current Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society was formed. The Society's mandate is to restore this historic building to its former glory. For the next several years the Museum Society leaned on Howard MacKinnon for his advice and historical knowledge. When the newly formed Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society was successful in restoring this Historic Building and able to opened the new Museum in 2003, it was Howard MacKinnon and Inglis MacAulay, who had the honour in cutting the ribbon for the Grand opening - two gentlemen, who had a vision to save this Heritage Building the first time around in 1987.

Inglis MacAulay
Inglis was born in Glace Bay, Cape Breton. As a very young man Inglis landed his first job in 1937 as a clerk in "Galley's" - a small clothing store in Glace Bay. Working from 8 am until 11 pm for a wage of $ 1.25 a day. With his father's permission he left Glace Bay at the age of 17 in order to take required test to join the Air Force - he passed them all, but was found too young and had to return home. He eventually studied 3 years at a flying school in Stanley, near Windsor, Nova Scotia and in Trenton finished his engine repair training. In 1943 he left for active Air Force service on Christmas Day in a wild storm from Halifax; this took him to England, Belgium and Holland. Upon his return to Cape Breton in 1946 he joined the Dominion Coal Company's Security System and became Chief Inspector in 1966, which led to Chief of Security in 1969, a post he held for 15 years until 1984. As well he served as Town Councillor from 1962 until 1977, was re-elected in 1989 under Mayor Donald MacInnis and served until 1995, when amalgamation took place and Inglis retired. Along with Howard MacKinnon, Inglis was a founding member of the Glace Bay Historical Society in 1983. One of the early tasks of this Society was setting up the Marconi Trail.In 1987 the Mayor and Council - by that time Inglis was the Deputy Mayor - elected to move out of the 75 year old, tired and worn Town Hall and relocate elsewhere. Although Mayor Donald MacInnis wanted the building torn down in 1987, Inglis was the one who persuaded the majority of Councillors to spare the building from the wrecking ball and suggested the Glace Bay Historical Society take ownership. With Howard MacKinnon at the helm, the Society formed a committee to plan and work on renovations and subsequently established a Heritage Museum, a Tourist Information Centre and Bookstore in 1990. Despite valiant efforts to continue the operation, financial pressures forced the Historical Society to abandon its goals in 1997 and vacate the Town Hall. In 1998 , once again, the Municipality decided to tear down Glace Bay's now vacant Old Town Hall. Opposition to this destruction led to the formation of the current Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society, whose mandate is to restore this historic building to its former glory. Over the next years the Historical Society has been extremely encouraging and supportive in so many ways. When the Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society was successful in restoring the Old Town Hall and able to open the new Museum in 2003, it was Inglis MacAulay and Howard MacKinnon, who had the honour in cutting the ribbon for the Grand Opening - two gentlemen, who had the vision to save this Heritage Building the first time around in 1987.

Margaret Isabelle Harris

Born in New Waterford and raised in Glace Bay, Isabelle worked in a bank before moving with her husband to Ontario, where she lived for about forty years. Being widowed herself, she returned to Glace Bay in the mid 1990s to look after her widowed father. Upon moving back home, Isabelle joined the Glace Bay Historical Society. In 1999 she heard about the restoration project of the Old Town Hall and decided to join the newly formed Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society, whose ongoing mandate is to restore this historic building to its former glory. Isabelle was a dear, caring friend to many, a dedicated, valued board member and the Old Town Hall Gift Shop manager. She worked tireless the following fourteen years, together with various board members, on the daily operation of the museum and on the restoration in order to reach the Society's goal. Isabelle had such wisdom and common sense and a great sense of humour, which brought much fun and laughter to the operation. Isabelle died on October 3rd 2013 after a short illness. The Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society and indeed the entire town of Glace Bay and area is extremely grateful for Isabelle's generous contribution to help preserve the history and heritage of this once " Canada's largest town".Our Gift Shop is now known as - The Isabelle Harris Gift Shop.


Ernst A. ( Goller) Gramatzki

Ernst was born in Germany and emigrated to America as a young man. As taxidermist, sculptor and painter he worked for forty years in the Chicago Field Museum. His work is found in all States of America, with the exception of Hawaii - this includes the Smithsonian Museum and twelve horse sculptures for the Kentucky Horse Museum. When he heard about our project, he offered his help. He drove twice all the way from Wisconsin to Glace Bay with his fully loaded truck, containing the pit horse, mannequins and shore birds - all made for and donated to our museum. He also contributed a variety of supplies to set up a museum. Ernst ( Goller) created all permanent exhibits on the first floor. He generously gave of his time and talent, working tirelessly under extremely difficult conditions on this project - no heat and poor light - in October 2002 and again in April 2003. Ernst (Goller) Gramatzki used his skills to breathe life back in Glace Bay's Old Town Hall. The Glace Bay Heritage Museum Society is extremely grateful to Goller for his dedication, generousity and creativity in designing and constructing exhibits for the enjoyment of our community and visitors to the museum. His legacy will live on in our museum and especially in our hearts. Ernst A. (Goller) died on September 10th 2005.