Previously known as a mining and union-based community and home to the world's tallest smokestack, Greater Sudbury is now recognized as the largest city in northeastern Ontario. It is a centre for government, business, social services, education, media, medicine and other professional services.
Inhabitation of the Sudbury area began some 9000 years ago following the retreat of the last continental ice sheet. The area was then inhabited by OJIBWA belonging to the Algonquian group of native people. Though Hudson's Bay Company trading posts had operated in the area earlier in the century, the construction of the CPR main line in 1883, which included a station just north of Lake Ramsey, marked the beginning of settlement. James Worthington, superintendent of construction, gave the site the name of his wife's birthplace in England.
Sudbury began its existence as a company town of the CPR. Surrounded by the boreal forests of the Canadian SHIELD, lumbering developed as the community's first major industry during the 1890s. The location of the townsite south of the Sudbury Basin, however, also encouraged its development as the local centre for the mining industry. Discovered during the construction of the CPR main line, the Sudbury Basin constitutes a 60 km by 27 km oval-shaped geological structure surrounded by a nickel irruptive consisting of a rocky rim rich in minerals.
Despite the fact that no mines were within its borders, Sudbury evolved as the dominant urban centre for the region. Also within the basin was a fertile valley that attracted large numbers of French-speaking farmers. Sudbury remained a relatively small mining community until World War II; in the postwar period, it grew rapidly and experienced considerable diversification.
Sudbury's early growth was constrained by railway lines and the area's topography. The community was also hindered by the lack of a solid tax base, receiving no taxes from the mining industry until the advent of regional government in 1973. Settlement in the community expanded outwards along the major roads divided by rocky ridges. New residential areas sprouted in the West End, Donovan, Minnow Lake, New Sudbury and Lockerby districts. Following the expansion of the mining industry in the 1950s, urban settlement also expanded beyond the city boundaries into the agricultural "valley" to the north, as well as into other fringe areas to the west and south. It was this indiscriminate sprawl that laid the foundation for the eventual establishment of regional government in 1973 and the new unified city in 2001.
Due to logging, forest fires and pollution from open roast yards, vegetation in Sudbury was sparse and consisted mainly of poplar and birch species. Sudbury thus gained the unenviable reputation of being one of the most unattractive urban places in Canada. However, beginning in 1973, the region began to be transformed by the world's largest urban regreening and environmental rehabilitation scheme. Since then, 3300 ha of badly damaged land has been rehabilitated. In recognition of these efforts, Sudbury received a number of awards between 1986 and 1992. These included the Government of Canada Environmental Achievement Award, the United States Chevron Conservation Award and the Local Government Honours Award from the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The city is also home to an abundance of lakes. There are 219 lakes within its boundaries. Lake Ramsey, the largest city-contained lake (8.25 km2) in North America, won a 1992 international Excellence on the Waterfront Award for Sudbury.
The cityscape encompasses several buildings of architectural merit. Among these can be included Cecil Facer Youth Centre, Civic Square Complex, Coulson Hotel, Randolph Centre, Revenue Canada Taxation Data Centre and many of the city's churches.
The city of Sudbury's population was 2027 in 1901 and it doubled in each census decade up to 1931; as a result of a major amalgamation and annexation (1960) it rose to 80 120 by 1961. In 1971, the city and metropolitan population totalled 90 535 and 157 721, respectively. With another expansion in 1973, the city reached 91 829 by 1981 although the metropolitan area fell to 149 923. In 1996 the city's population was essentially the same (at 92 059) while the metropolitan area's population rose to 160 488. As a result of the creation of the new city in 2001, the population rose to 165 000.
The ethnic makeup of Sudbury is bicultural, with both the British and the French constituting at least 30% of the population. Other significant ethnic groupings include Italians, Finns, Germans, Ukrainians, Aboriginals and Poles.
Economy and Labour Force
Sudbury has traditionally been known as a mining-based resource community. The first mining company, Canadian Copper, was formed in 1886 and started smelting operations in 1888. In 1902, Canadian Copper merged with Orford Refining Company to form the giant International Nickel Company of Canada (now INCO LTD). By 1915 Sudbury mines provided 80% of the world's production of nickel. The supremacy of the Sudbury Basin was reinforced by the formation of Falconbridge Nickel Mines (now Falconbridge Ltd) in 1928. To this day, the Sudbury Basin remains one of the world's largest sources of nickel. In addition, the local ore contains lead, zinc, silver, gold, cobalt, platinum, selenium and tellurium.
Not surprisingly, the development of Sudbury has been profoundly affected by the boom and bust history associated with the fluctuating demands of the nickel industry. Until World War II the mining industry provided by far the major source of employment for the regional economy. Employment in the mining sector reached its peak level of 26 000 in 1971.
By 1996, this figure had declined to less than 8500. Despite this employment decline, however, mining output has been maintained at a high level through the introduction of continuous mining techniques and the use of innovative technology. In fact, Sudbury has emerged as a home for mining technology, and as a result of the city's success in land reclamation it has established itself as a world centre for environmental science related to mining. The city now supports 9 research institutes. Those affiliated with LAURENTIAN UNIVERSITY are: Centre for Research in Human Development, Centre for Mining and Mineral Exploration Research (CIMMER), Elliot Lake Research Field Station, Geomechanics Research Centre, Institut franco-ontarien, Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development (INORD) and Northern Health Human Resources Research Unit. The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology (NORCAT) and the Northern Environmental Heritage Institute are housed at Cambrian College.
Sudbury is home to the world's most advanced neutrino detector, operated by the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory Institute. Fully operational in May 1999, the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory is collecting data that will provide revolutionary insight into the properties of neutrinos and the core of the sun. It places the city at centre stage for international research in the field of subatomic PHYSICS research.
Since World War II the Sudbury area has broadened its economic base to include other forms of economic activity, such as medicine, education, government and business. In the late 1950s 3 new hospitals were constructed, which made the city a major medical centre.
During the 1960s, the city became an important educational and retraining centre following the creation of Laurentian University and Cambrian College. In 1995 Sudbury also became the location of the main campus of the French-language college, Collège Boréal.
Many government jobs, particularly within provincial administration and services such as the Ontario Geological Survey, have relocated to Sudbury. In the financial and business service sector, Sudbury has become the home of BELL CANADA, the northeastern Ontario headquarters for numerous banks and for several call centres. Its retail sector has expanded with the addition of big-box retail outlets.
As a result of the construction of Science North (1984) and its associated IMAX theatre and Big Nickel Mine attractions, the city has emerged as the most popular tourist destination in northern Ontario. During the winter months, the Sudbury Trail Plan, which consists of 1200 km of snowmobile trails, provides numerous economic spinoffs.
Sudbury has the reputation of being one of the leading labour centres in Canada. Poor relationships between the mining companies and the 2 unions (International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers and UNITED STEELWORKERS OF AMERICA) led to strikes in 1958, 1969, 1975 and 1978-79. Relatively harmonious relations then existed between the mining companies and the unions for the next 2 decades until strikes in 1997 and 2000-01.SAULT STE MARIE (1887) and Toronto (1908). Highway links with NORTH BAY and Sault Ste Marie were initiated in 1912. In 1956 Highway 69 south to GRAVENHURST was opened. The first connection with TIMMINS, via Highway 144, began in 1970. Air service has been provided by the Sudbury Municipal Airport since 1954.
The city serves as a major communications centre. There are 6 FM and 1 AM radio stations in addition to the broadcasting companies CBC, Haliburton Broadcasting Group, Radio-Canada and Telemedia Communications. Television stations and cable broadcasting companies include MCTV and Regional Cable Systems Inc. Several newspapers can be found in the area, including Northern Life, Northern Ontario Business, South Side Story, the Sudbury Star and the Walden Observer. Greater Sudbury is also the home of Laurentian Publishing Ltd.
The cultural scene has been enhanced by the establishment of Laurentian University (1960), Cambrian College (1967) and the French-language Collège Boréal (1995). Sudbury has 3 main museums: Laurentian Museum and Arts Centre, Flour Mill Museum and Copper Cliff Museum. Theatre is performed by the Sudbury Theatre Centre, Theatre Cambrian and Le Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario. The Philharmonic Society (1957) was reconstituted in 1975 as the Sudbury Symphony Orchestra. Sudbury has a number of festivals; among those presented annually are the Northern Lights Festival Boreal, Fringe Nord, Cinéfest, the Blueberry Festival and the Snowflake Festival.
The city is well endowed with sports and recreational facilities, the largest being the Sudbury Arena. Sudbury was also the first Ontario city in 1971 to have an Olympic-size swimming pool at Laurentian University, home of swimmer Alex BAUMANN, winner of 2 Olympic gold medals at Los Angeles in 1984. The city has other facilities to suit virtually every taste, including public beaches, curling clubs, golf courses and cross-country, downhill and nature trails. There are 5 provincial parks nearby. In the city, the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area is a popular destination.
Author O.W. SAARINEN
Nicola Ross, Healing the Landscape: Celebrating Sudbury's Reclamation Story (2001); Oiva W. Saarinen, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Region (1999); C.M. Wallace and Ashley Thomson, eds, Sudbury: Rail Town to Regional Capital (1993).
Links to Other Sites
Click on the interactive map to view Vale SA's operations in Canada and elsewhere around the world (Vale SA assumed control of Inco Limited).
Archived Falconbridge Limited files from the website for Xstrata, a company that acquired Falconbridge in 2006.
The official website for the City of Greater Sudbury, Ontario. Check out the "EarthCare Sudbury" section, a local program designed to the protect the Sudbury environment and enhance community life.
The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory
The website for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory, a research facility that focuses on the properties of neutrinos and the core of the sun. Check the links on the left side of the page for more about this leading edge Canadian science project.
This Laurentian University institute investigates issues of concern to the Franco-Ontarian community.
Institute of Northern Ontario Research and Development
This Laurentian University institute specializes in Northern Ontario economic and social issues.
Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research
A great resource for academic information about rural health issues in Canada. From Laurentian University.
The Voyageur Heritage Network
This site is devoted to the museums, historical societies, cultural groups and institutions in the Rainbow Country, the Near North, the Algoma Country and the James Bay Frontier tourism region.
Nickel: Serving the World
A historical overview of the mining, smelting, and refining of nickel and nickel alloys in Canada. From Library and Archives Canada.
This site chronicles the growth and regulation of mineral exploration and the mining industry in the Province of Ontario. From Library and Archives Canada.
Sudbury Area Mining Railways
A nicely illustrated site about the history of mining and railway development in the Sudbury area. From the “Old Time Trains” website.
Geology of the Sudbury District
This site features a great map of the geology of the Sudbury District and related geological data. From the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines in Ontario.
Four Directions Teachings
Elders and traditional teachers representing the Blackfoot, Cree, Ojibwe, Mohawk, and Mi’kmaq share teachings about their history and culture. Animated graphics visualize each of the oral teachings. This website also provides biographies of participants, transcripts, and an extensive array of learning resources for students and their teachers. In English with French subtitles.
Interview with Sudbury Strike filmmakers
An interview with filmmakers Sophie Bissonnette, Martin Duckworth, and Joyce Rock about their film project “Une Histoire de femmes: A Wives Tale.” This film focuses on feminist politics in Canada and the pivotal role of the wives of Sudbury mine and smelter workers during the 1978 strike against Inco. From the online journal “Jump Cut.”
Stories from Ontario's Movie Theatres
Raise the curtain on this illustrated history of Ontario’s movie theatres. From the Archives of Ontario website.
View aerial images of the Sudbury Crater zone from the "Earth Impact Database" website.
The CanCon Atlas
An interactive map depicting some of the Canadian places celebrated in song. Click on the map icons around the country to view music videos by a cross-section of Canadian musicians. From the CBC website.
No one like Iona
A brief profile of internationally renowned accordion player Iona Reed Pukara. From the "Sudbury Living" website.
Scroll down to page 15 for a photograph of an "accordian band" conducted by Karl Pukara. From an archived copy of the December, 1957 issue of the INCO TRIANGLE at the sudburymuseums.ca website.
The website for Jane’s Walk, a network of free walking tours that explore the quality and livability of local neighbourhoods based on ideas espoused by Jane Jacobs. Click on "The Community" to access the latest news and photos on their blog and more. Also, check out "Find Your Walk" for maps and descriptions of local walks throughout the country.
Stompin' Tom Connors - Sudbury Saturday Night
A video of Stompin' Tom Connors singing "Sudbury Saturday Night" at a 2005 concert in Hamilton, Ontario.