American Consulate in Cape Breton

Charles Freeman at his desk in the American Consulate, Sydney.

The American Consulate in Sydney was located at the corner of Charlotte Street and Dorchester Street. Freeman described it as, “the handsomest business structure in Sydney.” It was directly opposite the Post Office and Customs House. The Consulate offices were located on the second floor in the corner rooms with entrance from Charlotte Street on what he calls the, “principal thoroughfare of the city.” Freeman stated, “The offices are very well lighted, easily accessible, and in every way suitable. In fact, both as to location and furnishings, considered the best offices in Sydney.” As of 1920, the offices cost him $650.00 a year to rent.

How the Consulate Functioned

Working in the office in Sydney were the Consul and Vice Consul, two clerks and a janitor. Freeman’s Consular District covered Cape Breton Island and a portion of mainland Nova Scotia, comprising Antigonish County and part of Guysborough County. Freeman was supervised by the Consular-General in Halifax, who reported directly to the Department of State in Washington, D.C.

Within Freeman’s consular district were two agencies located at Louisbourg and Port Hawkesbury. Until 1917, there was also a Consular Agent located at Canso, Nova Scotia. From 1898, the Consular Agent in Louisbourg was Henry C.V. Levatte and in 1922, Alonzo A. Martell took over the role. Alexander Bain was the consular agent in Port Hawkesbury from 1886-1916, then Jerimiah Philpot took over the role from 1916-1923 and finally John J. Bourinot assumed this position. All of these agents were born in Nova Scotia and were employed in ports around the district.

A view of the harbour in Port Hawkesbury, NS.

Charles Freeman described the duties of the Consulate in Sydney as handling and caring for the growing amount of shipping calling at the port; reviewing the invoices covering merchandise shipped to the United States; and aiding and assisting American tourists and commercial travellers. Finally, the Consulate sent reports on trade opportunities and dealt with any other business that arose in connection with the Consulate.