Displaced industrial workers frequently reflect upon the landscape of their former workplaces with unease. These sites, whether left in ruin or put to “creative re-use,” come to represent the symbolic displacement of working-class cultures and concerns. When working-class men and women try to influence the development of such sites through public history interventions, they frequently come into conflict with the desires of community developers, local boosters, or pro-business organizations. This article traces the barriers faced by former steelworkers in Sydney, Nova Scotia, in their attempt to establish a museum dedicated to the history of their steel mill. Although their efforts ultimately failed, this article reflects upon the contestations that are at the heart of commemorating the industrial past, the role of class in mediating public history, and the role of the state in rectifying the many inequities wrought by deindustrialization.

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