A Modern Klondike: Northern Ontario’s fiery ring – by David Marks Shribman (Literary Review of Canada – April 2023)

Literary Review of Canada

To purchase Ring of Fire book: https://www.amazon.ca/Ring-Fire-High-Stakes-Lowlands-Wilderness/dp/1770416749

Consider the major collisions of contemporary life in North America: the tensions between financial investments and social ideals; the threat of climate change in conflict with the thirst for energy sources; the rights of Indigenous people versus the prerogatives of elected governments; the rivalries with trading partners in competition with the hunger for goods from abroad; and the impulses of the regulatory state in full combat with the appeal of free markets.

Then consider that all of these clashes — the stuff of debate in Ottawa and provincial capitals, the topics of animated conversation in universities and coffee shops across the country — are playing out, every one of them and all at once, in a remote 5,000-square-kilometre swath of northern Canada. It’s a place that’s home to the second-largest temperate wetland in the world, that’s packed with nickel and copper, and that’s known as the Ring of Fire.

The name may ring a bell if you are a habitué of western bars and thus familiar with the ballads of Johnny Cash, who released a song with that title in 1963. (Fifty years later, Rolling Stone named it the twenty-seventh-greatest country tune of all time.) The region, sitting 500 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, Ontario, and including “the remote swamps of the Hudson Bay and James Bay Lowlands,” was given its evocative name by Richard Nemis, the founder of Noront Resources, not long after diamonds were discovered there in the 1980s.

Nemis was an executive who liked Johnny Cash as much as he lusted for cold cash. And though the area actually has nothing to do with the song, one of the Man in Black’s lines —“bound by wild desire”— does offer an eerily appropriate description of an ongoing rush for resources.

For the rest of this review: https://reviewcanada.ca/magazine/2023/04/a-modern-klondike/