Big Nickel started as Szilva’s dream – by Laura Stricker (Sudbury Star – July 23, 2012)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Ted Szilva has something to say to people with big dreams: don’t give up. And as the creator of the iconic Big Nickel, Szilva knows what he’s talking about.
“What I want to do is throw out a challenge to each and every one of you, especially the children: if you have a dream … all you have to do is go after that dream. It doesn’t matter what anybody says — ‘oh, that’s a stupid idea, crazy idea, nobody will go see a big nickel, an underground mine’ — that’s what they told me.”
Szilva proved the naysayers wrong, and was happy for it, as he stood outside Dynamic Earth on Sunday for the 48th birthday of the Sudbury tourist attraction. He came up with the idea for the Big Nickel in 1963, as part of a newspaper contest for how best to celebrate Canada’s centennial. While his idea did not win, the idea stuck with him, becoming a reality in 1964.
“It’s a great project, and we’ve had people from all over the world come and go underground, learn about mining, learn about the minerals of the Earth found around here.”
Jennifer Beaudry, a Dynamic Earth staff scientist, said there are few landmarks in Sudbury as recognizable as the Big Nickel.
“You can’t miss the Big Nickel. It was actually voted one of Canada’s best roadside attractions, so we’re very proud of that.
“Who doesn’t like gigantic things?” she added. “This is a huge coin, and it’s actually a lot of fun to come take a picture with it.”
To commemorate the birthday of the giant coin, Dynamic Earth hosted a day of activities for children and families, allowing them to make a commemorative coin, participate in geocaching (a GPS-based scavenger hunt) and enjoy delicious birthday cake.
Szilva stressed how thankful he was to be given the opportunity to have an impact on Sudbury’s economy.
“What I want to do today is thank God, first of all, for giving me the opportunity of being a part of this to diversify the economy of Sudbury into tourism, from a mining town,” he said.
“I hope I’m around for the 50th (birthday).”