Archive | Canadian/International Media Resource Articles

Inside Sudbury’s Bitter Vale Strike – by Linda Diebel (Toronto Star-June 6, 2010)

Linda Diebel is a National Affairs Writer for the Toronto Star, which has the largest circulation in Canada. The paper has an enormous impact on Canada’s federal and provincial politics as well as shaping public opinion. Linda Diebel is originally from Sudbury. This article was published on Sunday, June 6, 2010.

COPPER CLIFF, ONT.—My grandmother, Lillian Rose, was the sweetest person I’ve ever known. She gave up more than youth and beauty to leave England and come with her husband to the nickel mines of Canada’s Precambrian Shield. The Sudbury region, some 400 kilometres north of Toronto, is an unforgiving place for a fragile English rose.

During the last 40 years of her life, she had a disease that turned her once-pale skin red and left it blistered and scabbed. The constant flaking embarrassed her and, on bad days, the pain sent her to bed. My earliest memory — and I was no more than 18 months — was of being on her bed on Jones Lane in Copper Cliff, understanding even then I had to be gentle.

Doctors couldn’t help because they believed her allergic to the air she breathed, a soup of industrial pollutants. Sometimes the sulphur was so thick it seared the throat.

Move away, they said, and your skin will clear up. But they didn’t talk about that publicly. My grandfather Reg was an electrician at the Copper Cliff smelter and his job, and the livelihoods of the physicians themselves, depended on what was then King Inco, the world’s biggest producer of nickel.

Lately, Lillian Rose has been on my mind. Last Sunday, I was preparing to fly north to write about the 11-month-long strike against Inco, now called Vale, by 3,000 members of the United Steelworkers Local 6500. The pending trip evoked memories, and I found myself staring at a faded photo of my grandmother and me.

Still, I had no intention of writing about her.

My story would be about the culture of a company town from the perspective of generations of men who went down the mines, or worked in the smelter or refinery, at what used to be Inco. That seemed the best place to start, given that Inco’s owner since 2006 — Companhia Vale do Rio Doce — insists the working culture of its new operations must change.

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Sudbury Looks to the Future – By Leslie Roberts (MacLean’s March 15, 1931) Part 2

A Vast Corporation

Smelter expansion is perhaps the key to the developments which have taken place in post-war years and of the company’s plans for even greater expansion in the days to come. When Mond merged with International Nickel, it was reported falsely, as it turned out that Coniston’s fires would be drawn and that all future smelting operations would be transferred to the mammoth new plant than projected for Copper Cliff and since built.

Wiseacres in brokers’ board rooms declared that there would be nothing left for Coniston to do, but instead it has been enlarged into a more important production unit than before, despite the construction of the new Copper Cliff plant, plans for which were greatly enlarged during the construction stage. The two smelters combined have the capacity for treating more than 8,000 tons of ore a day, though running well below capacity at the present time as the result of low prices prevailing for nickel and copper.

In addition to its operations in mines and smelters, this vast corporation that is Sudbury owns refineries at Port Colbourne, at Clydach in Wales and at Acton in England, and is par owner of the immense new plant of Ontario Refineries, recently completed in Copper Cliff. Continue Reading →

Sudbury Looks to the Future – By Leslie Roberts (MacLean’s March 15, 1931) Part 1

Inco Advertising 1934With a veritable treasure store beneath its feet, Sudbury
is making ready for the morrow of an inevitable expansion

The city of Sudbury rates two separate paragraphs in any tome proclaiming the locations of World’s Biggest. In the mines and mills and smelters of International nickel, it houses the supplying source of the largest self-contained mining organization in the world. In the Frood, it possesses the greatest and richest mine developed by scientific mankind anywhere.

Thanks to the former, which owns the latter, the camp cannot be measured by the some yardsticks which prevail in other Canadian mining centres today. Sudbury is not a one mine town, as Noranda is; nor is it a group of independent enterprises such as one finds in the gold camps of Northern Ontario. Sudbury is the child of the Frood, the Creighton, the Garcon and other treasure troves; rich in nickel bearing ores and owned by the International Nickel with only one important exception, Falconbridge.

Sudbury’s prosperity is written on the time sheets of Coniston and its mate, the smelter in Copper Cliff, each a physical asset of Inco. Continue Reading →

Sudbury: Melting Pot for Men and Ore – by Don Delaplante (Maclean’s April 15, 1951) Part 2

Bad Eggs From The East

Sudbury’s polyglot population keeps the police force busy on a wholesale basis. The crime rate is about double that of other communities of like size in Canada. Last year the police made 2,243 arrests, of which 893 were under the Criminal Code.

The cases to be heard in the old Sudbury courthouse, built in 1908, are so numerous that there’s sometimes a mad scramble between lawyers and prisoners to get seats. Herds of 30 and 40 men and women are shepherded in a side door, among them drunks, derelicts, shady ladies and thieves of every description. The lawyers advance from the rear of the courtroom. Unless they’re nimble the legal lights find themselves relegated to the spectators’ section. The courthouse also contains the headquarters of the Ontario Provincial Police District of Sudbury, an area of more than 30,000 square miles.

“Drifters from both Eastern Canada and the West stop over here and a lot of them are bad eggs,” says Police Chief Jack McLaren, a calm-eyed, efficient war veteran, in defense of the local population. Continue Reading →

Sudbury: Melting Pot for Men and Ore – By Don Delaplante (Maclean’s April 15, 1951) Part 1

Inco World War Two Poster

In its furnaces every day a mountain of ore becomes a river of vital metals; On its streets a colorful mixture of races and religions surges and blends into a unique Canadian scene. Sudbury’s got a right to thump its hairy chest

A fragile, albeit glamorous and hard-knuckled, creature is the mine town. Today, ebullient with life, optimism and grand schemes for the future; tomorrow, perhaps a ghost town populated by a bewildered few left to flounder in the backwash made by rugged individualists hastening to other fields of fortune.

But, by every token in the book, there’s one Canadian mine town now a full-scale city of 47,000 that’s not destined to become a haunted has-been of yesteryear. In its case the reverse seems likely. Many persons believe it’s slated to become the Canadian facsimile of Pittsburgh.

The city is Sudbury, the hustling, bustling hub of a rock-strewn territory which is not only the most richly mineralized area of Canada but of the entire western hemisphere. No spectre of ghostdom haunts blatantly prosperous Sudbury. Continue Reading →

Big Nickel – By James H. Gray (Maclean’s October 1, 1947) – Part 2

Busy People

Well, if Sam Ritchie will settle for that kind of monument, there it is. It’s the only kind there is at the moment, for the guys who owe their jobs to Sam Ritchie’s stubbornness haven’t got around to anything else. We wondered about this and asked Dan Dunbar, Inco public relations man, why not.

“I guess they just haven’t had time. This is the participatingest community on the face of the earth. Everybody is always up to something, usually three or four things at the same time.”

Actually, instead of one community at Copper Cliff, there are as many communities as there are mines. Each settlement has its community hall and in the winter the lights in the halls are seldom out. The outdoor skating rinks are jammed with small fry. Teams from the district have an excellent record in national competition and each mine has its hockey team, bowling team, badminton team and baseball team. Continue Reading →

Big Nickel – By James H. Gray (Maclean’s – October 1, 1947) – Part 1

Inco Advertising 1946This brave New World of ours may be bringing the world-order architects down with the jitters, but no one is going to convince Mr. and Mrs. Job Public that it doesn’t have the gaudiest surface glitter they have ever seen.

Never before have so many automobiles been loaded down so heavily with so much nickel plating. The stores are filling up with nickel-plated tasters and electrical goods, nickel-plated furniture, nickel-plated utensils and fishing rods and gadgets of infinite assortment and complexity. And in tune with the glistening motif of the times, the merchandisers are lifting the faces of their store fronts and prettying them up with nickel plate, aluminum and chromium.

That’s just the first verse. Under the hood of your new car, in the works of your new radio, in the kitchen of your restaurant and under he concrete floor of your cellar, in airplanes and plows, in power plants and in nail files, in skyscrapers and in dental bridgework, there is more nickel hidden away than you can shake a stick at. Continue Reading →

Mine Money Triangle – By Leslie McFarlane (Maclean’s – April 15, 1938)

Inco Advertising 1939Prosperity, modernity, pioneer color and a relief problem
– You’ll find them all in the Big Three of Ontario mining

Considering Northern Ontario’s glittering triangle. At the apex, toward the eastern border of the province, lies Kirkland Lake; one hundred miles west and a little north, timmins; southward, along that invisible boundary that makes Ontario two provinces in one, Sudbury.

No communities in all of Canada are busier, none more prosperous. The same golden light shines on each. Close together geographically, speaking the same language of mines and mining in a score of tongues, with a common tradition of pioneer luck and labor and a common destiny in that their wealth is derived from the rock, it might seem that they would share a common personality. They don’t. They are too vital for that.

Each of the three communities is distinctive in its own right. Continue Reading →