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From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City

A Historical Geography of Greater Sudbury

Oiva W.Saarinen

Publication Year: 2013

From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City is a historical geography of the City of Greater Sudbury. The story that began billions of years ago encompasses dramatic physical and human events. Among them are volcanic eruptions, two meteorite impacts, the ebb and flow of continental glaciers, Aboriginal occupancy, exploration and mapping by Europeans, exploitation by fur traders and Canadian lumbermen and American entrepreneurs, the rise of global mining giants, unionism, pollution and re-greening, and the creation of a unique constellation city of 160,000.

The title posits the book’s two main themes, one physical in nature and the other human: the great meteorite impact of some 1.85 billion years ago and the development of Sudbury from its inception in 1883. Unlike other large centres in Canada that exhibit a metropolitan form of development with a core and surrounding suburbs, Sudbury developed in a pattern resembling a cluster of stars of differing sizes.

Many of Sudbury’s most characteristic attributes are undergoing transformation. Its rocky terrain and the negative impact from mining companies are giving way to attractive neighbourhoods and the planting of millions of trees. Greater Sudbury’s blue-collar image as a union powerhouse in a one-industry town is also changing; recent advances in the fields of health, education, retailing, and the local and international mining supply and services sector have greatly diversified its employment base. This book shows how Sudbury evolved from a village to become the regional centre for northeastern Ontario and a global model for economic diversification and environmental rehabilitation.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-6

List of Illustrations

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pp. vi-viii

List of Biographies

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pp. ix-x

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Preface and Acknowledgements

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pp. xi-xiv

Time and space. These are the two defining features that give meaning to places such as the City of Greater Sudbury. In this book, history and geography provide the context for a journey that began billions of years ago and is still ongoing. It is a fascinating odyssey, encompassing dramatic physical and human events. ...

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1. The Unfolding of the Natural Landscape

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pp. 1-24

The City of Greater Sudbury has within its boundaries some of the most complex geological features found anywhere in the world. Specifically, it is home to one of geology’s greatest enigmas—the Sudbury Structure of the Precambrian Shield.1 Any explanation of this unique formation’s origin must take into account its setting in time and space. ...

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2. The Aboriginal/Colonial Frontier

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pp. 25-37

After the retreat of the continental glacier, the Sudbury area gradually acquired more favourable climatic conditions, and large game and plant communities began to emerge, making it possible for a fledgling Aboriginal culture to evolve. Unlike the areas situated further to the west, south, and east at locations such as Sault Ste. Marie, ...

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3. Drawing Lines on the Map

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pp. 38-49

By the 1840s, most of the desirable land south of the Precambrian Shield had been occupied, forcing settlement northward. To facilitate this process, the provincial government took various measures such as constructing colonization roads, granting mining claims, selling timber tracts, and issuing free land grants for agricultural purposes. ...

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4. Forging of a Local Monopoly: From Prospectors and Speculators to the International Nickel Company (1883–1902)

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pp. 50-61

The discovery of nickel-copper ore at Sudbury in 1883 was the impetus for the strangest boom in Canadian mining history. There was no “rush” at the start, such as occurred in the Klondike or at Cobalt. Only a handful of dreamers expected more from Sudbury than the echo of train whistles and smell of sawdust. ...

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5. Sudbury (1883–1939)

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pp. 62-96

The interval between 1883 and the outbreak of the Second World War witnessed numerous changes in the nickel belt area, among them the creation of the Town/City of Sudbury. The arrival of the CPR in 1883 was the first step to shedding the region’s previous isolation. ...

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6. Copper Cliff (1886–1939)

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pp. 97-108

From its humble beginnings in 1886, Copper Cliff started its journey as a mining camp, turning into a sulphur-barren village and then a formal town with a bustling commercial sector and distinctive settlement pattern featuring a high degree of ethnic segregation. It was, above all, an industrial centre and de facto “company town.” ...

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7. From Local to Global Monopoly: The Merging of Inco and Mond (1902–1928)

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pp. 109-119

The urban setting associated with Sudbury and Copper Cliff prior to the Great Depression was intimately associated with the growth of the mining sector. The formation of the International Nickel Company in 1902 marked the beginning of a significant phase in its march toward global dominance. ...

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8. Beyond Sudbury and Copper Cliff: Railway Stations, Mining Camps, Smelter Sites, and Company Towns

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pp. 120-138

While the early history of the area was closely associated with Sudbury and Copper Cliff, developments took place on the periphery that set the stage for the rise of a wider regional economic setting and settlement pattern. In contrast to other parts of Canada, however, this region did not develop in the form of circular suburban population belts ...

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9. Beyond Sudbury and Copper Cliff: Forestry, Agriculture, Indian Reserves, and the Burwash Industrial Farm

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pp. 139-160

The economic activities mentioned in the previous chapter were not the only ones fostering a pattern of dispersed population settlement in the Sudbury area. Other influences came into play that reinforced this trend, such as the exploitation of raw materials associated with forestry, the rise of agriculture, the creation of two Indian reserves, ...

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10. From Falconbridge Nickel and Inco to Xstrata Nickel and Vale Canada (1928–2012)

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pp. 161-184

The years between the Great Depression and the early 2000s brought dramatic changes to the Sudbury mining industry. While there were a few economic bumps along the way, the long-term trends for both mineral production and mining employment were positive until the early 1970s. ...

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11. From Company Town Setting to Regional Constellation (1939–1973)

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pp. 185-210

The global situation of the 1940s and 1950s was fortuitous for the Sudbury area, as it set the stage for major economic and population growth. This growth, in turn, allowed the region to shed its former colonial frontier image. The relatively simple town of 1930 had matured into a crowded city, and the faint remnants of the dirty thirties had long disappeared. ...

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12. From Regional Constellation to Greater Sudbury (1973–2001 )

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pp. 211-234

While the formation of the regional municipality was a milestone in the political development of the Sudbury area, it proved incapable of resolving many long-standing divisions that existed. The unsettled political and planning conditions were exacerbated by the turbulence arising out of the decline in the global demand for mineral products ...

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13. A Union Town?

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pp. 235-260

While Sudbury’s history has been intimately associated with the corporate aspect of resource extraction, this linkage also brought with it another aspect of the mining spectrum— unionism. Indeed, Sudbury has long had the reputation of being a union town. ...

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14. Healing the Landscape

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pp. 261-279

While Sudbury’s past reputation as a union town is undisputed, it has another image that has been around longer and is more pervasive, not only in Canada but internationally as well—as one of the world’s most scarified landscapes. Referred to historically as “a bleak landscape of black, scarred and barren rock, denuded forests, and acidified lakes and streams,” ...

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15. Beyond a Rock and a Hard Place

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pp. 280-295

Sudbury serves as a good example of the geographical adage, “while all places are unique, some are more unique than others.” Its trajectory, which began millions of years ago, has few parallels elsewhere on the planet. While other communities have distinctive backgrounds, few can lay claim to the complexity of Sudbury’s setting. ...


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pp. 296-299


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pp. 300-336


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pp. 337-366


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pp. 367-389

E-ISBN-13: 9781554588749
E-ISBN-10: 155458874X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554588374

Page Count: 404
Illustrations: 18 tables, 46 figures, 3 maps
Publication Year: 2013