Welcome to the

Cape Breton Fossil Centre

Age of the Mastodon Exhibit opening June 1, 2024! FREE with regular admission.

Welcome to the

Sydney Mines Heritage Museum


Featured Exhibit

the Age of the mastodon

The mastodons are coming!!! The Cape Breton Fossil Centre is excited to announce that we've partnered with the Nova Scotia Museum to bring the travelling 'Age of the Mastodon' exhibit to Sydney Mines this summer. There's a full-sized reconstruction of a mastodon, actual mastodon teeth, tusks, and bones recovered from Cape Breton and across Nova Scotia, and more exciting fossils and displays. We'll also be rolling out a series of public science talks on the Ice Age and its impact on Cape Breton and beyond. Stay tuned! The exhibit will formally open June 1st and run until the end of August.

explore geologic history

Visit the fossil centre

Location: 159 Legatto St. Sydney Mines, NS B1V 2S6Summer Hours of Operation:
Tuesday- Saturday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday-Monday: CLOSED
Phone: 1 (902) 544-0992

Admission (CAD):
Regular: $8
Student / Youth: $5
Senior (65+): $7
Kids Under 5: Free
Family: $23
Ask about group rates!

The Cape Breton Fossil Centre see the largest Carboniferous Plant Fossil display in Canada! A history 300 million years in the making...Along with our exhibits and displays of over 800 fossils, the Fossil Centre features geology and paleontology labs, classrooms, and a boardroom. Daily museum tours are offered for individuals, bus tours, and school trips.Enjoy stories from our guides or go on your own fossil hike and explore the coastline to find your own hidden treasure!

explore geologic history

About us

Nestled in the heart of Sydney Mines, Cape Breton (just a few minutes from the Newfoundland ferry), the Fossil Centre and Sydney Mines Heritage Museum are a gateway to the rich heritage and culture that defines the Island. Immerse yourself in the captivating worlds of paleontology and geology, where each fossil, mineral, and rock tells a story that is hundreds of millions of years in the making.Our exhibits showcase the incredible diversity of prehistoric life that once thrived in these lands, offering a unique glimpse into a past stretching back over a billion years. From ancient marine creatures to terrestrial giants, every fossil on display holds a key to unlocking the mysteries of our planet’s history.Join us in celebrating the natural wonders of Cape Breton and the scientific endeavours that continue to unveil the secrets of our Earth. Come, unearth the past, and let the stories of ancient life unfold before your eyes.

Contact us

Get in touch

School Groups

Our educators are always excited to host K-12 or community groups!A standard visit includes a guided tour of the gallery and research space, as well as selection of grade-appropriate active learning activities focused on rocks and fossils. We can also craft experiences to match your students' learning needs.To book a tour, click here.For visit planning, download our School Visit Guide below!

Learn and give back


As a community museum, we depend on volunteers to keep our operations running. Whether you only have a few hours to spare or are looking to get much more involved, there are ways to give back. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn about museum operations, paleontology, geology, Sydney Mines' history and more! Click here to sign up for our volunteer list to learn more about upcoming opportunities.

support discovery


We are a non-profit, community operated organization. Your donations make a difference, no matter the amount.
Your gift will help us to offer world-class exhibits and programs while keeping our museum affordable and accessible to community members and visitors of all ages.
As a registered Canadian charity, we can provide tax receipts for any donation over $20.To make a donation, stop by the Fossil Centre, send a cheque to our mailing address, or use the link below.

Fossil Collecting

Fossil faqs

Where can I find fossils in Cape Breton?
You can find fossils in every county in Cape Breton! Cape Breton's fossil history stretches back over 500 million years, but the most common fossils are plants from the Carboniferous period. These are common in sandstone and in the mud layers just above the compressed layers of coal. In Cape Breton, this means that plant fossils can often be found on cliffs and beaches with dark layers of rock.
Along the shores of the Bras d'Or lakes you can sometimes find fossils shells preserved in white or grey limestone.Remember: While it's fun to look for fossils, it's illegal in Nova Scotia to collect them without a permit. If you think you've found something important, take a picture and send it to the Fossil Centre. (But leave the collecting to the professionals!)

What do I do if I find a fossil?
While it's illegal to collect fossils in Nova Scotia with out a permit, tips from the public can help palaeontologists make amazing discoveries. You could make an important contribution to science by reporting information about a fossil!
The most important thing to do is leave the fossil where you've found it. The location of a fossil is as important as the fossil itself, as it tells us the time and environment that the animal or plant used to live in. Take a photo with your phone (with the GPS turned on). Use a scale to make the size clear: a coin, pen, ruler, phone, or anything with an obvious size. Note the location as precisely as possible. If the fossil appears to be an animal or insect (or bones), it's very likely a important find. Get in touch with us by phone or email right away!


learn more

We post regular paleontology news stories and exciting Cape Breton fossil finds on our Facebook page. Follow us to stay up to date!

Welcome to the

Sydney Mines Heritage Museum

Interested in learning about the cultural heritage of local Coal Miners from Sydney Mines since 1776? Visit the Sydney Mines Heritage Museum to explore the hidden treasures from the founders of the town many call home.Sydney Mines lies immediately northeast of North Sydney and faces Sydney across Sydney Harbour. Sydney Mines was once a major coal-producing community. Mining began locally in 1766, and in 1830 systematic operations were undertaken. One of the area mines extended about 5 miles (8 km) out under the sea. The last mine was closed in 1975.The area of Sydney Mines was originally called Klmuejuapskwe'katik, or "place of the coal" in Mi'kmawi'simk.Our museum—located in the historic train station building, adjacent to the Fossil Centre—tells the town's story through objects donated by the local community. From coal miners' tools to the jersey of legendary local athlete, Johnny Miles, there's something to interest visitors of all ages!School groups and bus tours are welcome! Admission to the Fossil Centre includes admission to the Heritage Museum.

Location: 159 Legatto St. Sydney Mines, NS
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 9am-5pm; O/S by appointment
Closed: Sunday and Monday
Contact: 1 (902) 544-0992