For the Crawford family, being in Whitney Pier means being home. Even though some have lived in Toronto for decades.

“Once you get home, it’s like getting a fresh breath of air back into your lungs again,” says Carl Crawford.

It’s a chance for the youngest generation to learn more about their past. Their late grandfather Cary ‘Campy’ Crawford was Cape Breton’s first black police officer.

“I hope [my daughter] learns he was a good man,” says Crawford. “He was loved by a lot of people and he loved the people. And [my daughter] carries a lot of those traits.”

The family’s matriarch says having her children and grandchildren together means the world.

“It’s just a wonderful feeling,” says Iris Crawford. “I can’t even explain to you the feeling.”

The Sydney-Toronto reunion is aimed at bringing families like the Crawford’s back home.

When the event started 30 years ago, many Whitney Pier residents were moving to Toronto to find work. Not long after arriving in the big city, they started planning a way to reconnect with their roots.

“Even in Toronto, they didn’t see each other that much,” says Sandra Margettie. ‘Only when it was a funeral or a church service. So to get together for people in Toronto, they wanted to come home so everybody can get together.”

The week includes a long list of activities, including a baseball game in memory of Campy Crawford and other celebrated Whitney Pier residents.

No matter how long they have lived away, many ex-pats say the Pier remains a part of them.

“It’s a place of love and caring and compassion,” says the province’s former Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis, who is also from Whitney Pier. “It’s just a wonderful place to grow up.”

The Sydney-Toronto reunion happens every five years. This year’s reunion runs until next Saturday. 

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ryan MacDonald.