Nova Scotia

Girl, 9, discovers Canada's second-oldest baseball diamond

Grade 4 student Sophia Hillier decided to do her Heritage Fair project on baseball in New Waterford, and discovered the town has the second oldest ball field in Canada.

Sophia Hillier hopes to get heritage status for Jerry Marsh Field in Cape Breton

Sophia Hillier, 9, researched the history of the Jerry Marsh Field in New Waterford and discovered it has been in use for more than a century. (Submitted by Chris Hillier)

What started as a school project has turned into a quest to get heritage status for a Cape Breton baseball field.

Sophia Hillier, 9, researched the history of the Jerry Marsh Field in New Waterford and discovered it was a diamond in the rough: people have been playing ball on it for 107 straight years. 

"When she really dug into the project she realized that it's been a baseball field for over 100 years — just a baseball field —  that's what's really unique," said Sophia's dad, Chris Hillier.

Sophia Hillier, CBRM Coun. Kendra Coombs, CBRM heritage officer Rick McCready and Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame inductee Lowell Cormier pose at Jerry Marsh Field in New Waterford. (Chris Hillier)

They looked into other fields across the country to see if the Jerry Marsh Field might be the oldest. They found only one documented field that is older, and it's in London, Ont. The Labatt Memorial Park is the world's oldest baseball field and has been in continuous use for 140 years.

Thinking second place isn't so bad, they decided to pitch for heritage status from both the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and the province of Nova Scotia.

"Since it is really old I just wanted it to be remembered," said Sophia Hillier.

With the help of her father, she's filled out all the paperwork and has met with CBRM officials.

Chris Hillier said they expect to hear back from the municipality in about six months.

"It's very exciting for the community and baseball fans in Cape Breton to have this site recognized as a heritage site," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Ludlow

Associate producer

Jennifer Ludlow is an associate producer and technical director for Mainstreet Cape Breton and also works as a reporter. All tips are welcome. Contact her at jennifer.ludlow@cbc.ca

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