Archive | Sudbury History

Canadian labour legend Leo Gerard on the past, present and future of unions – Interview by Michael Enright (CBC Radio – Sunday Edition – November 22, 2019)

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thesundayedition/

Leo Gerard was 11 years old when he handed out his first union leaflets. That was in 1958, and he was living in Sudbury, a mining town. The leaflets were for the Mine Mill, the union his father belonged to.

What Gerard didn’t know then was that he would spend much of the rest of his life as a labour leader and activist. He began as a staff representative at the United Steelworkers (the USW) and moved quickly through the ranks. This summer, he retired as international president of the USW, a position he held for 18 years.

Gerard spoke to The Sunday Edition’s Michael Enright about his life in the labour movement and the future of unions in an age of globalized trade, a collapsing manufacturing sector and precarious employment. Continue Reading →

OPINION: [Sudbury History] For Sudbury, the signs are all there – by Michael Atkins (Northern Ontario Businee – November 25, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

It was 1977. The price of nickel was in the tank. INCO was warning about massive layoffs, and speculation about negotiations between the United Steelworkers union and INCO was that there would be no way to avoid a strike.

Financial analysts thought it would be a gift to INCO to go on strike because the price of nickel was so low and the stockpiles so high. The union didn’t go quietly. They embarked on one of the toughest and longest labour strikes in Canadian history. It was brutal. Sudbury suffered enormously. It was never the same.

The year before the strike of ’78, a group of community leaders, anticipating the brutal layoffs, began meeting informally about what could be done. They called the gathering ‘Sudbury 2001.’ Continue Reading →

Haunted mines and UFOs: Author Mark Leslie talks about Sudbury’s unique spooky stories – by Colleen Romaniuk (Northern Ontario Business – October 31, 2019)

To order a copy of Spooky Sudbury, click here: http://www.dundurn.com/books/spooky_sudbury

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

About 1.85 billion years ago, a giant rock collided with the earth, creating what we now know as the Sudbury Basin. This major geological structure is the third largest impact crater in the world, and one of the oldest that has been discovered to date.

The impact of the meteorite resulted in an impact melt sheet containing nickel, copper, platinum, palladium, gold, and other metals – which eventually turned Sudbury into one of the biggest mining communities in the world.

Because of this history, it’s not surprising that Sudbury’s greatest stories have always been about what comes from the sky and what lives in the ground. Continue Reading →

INCO trailblazer and champion of women’s rights tells her story in new memoir – by Colleen Romaniuk (Northern Ontario Business – October 17, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Cathy Mulroy has always understood that well-behaved women seldom make history. In 1974, after becoming one of the first women hired in a non-traditional role at INCO since the Second World War, the Sudbury native, who stood at 5 feet 1 inch and weighed 105 pounds, was quickly labelled a troublemaker.

As a 19-year-old mother stuck in a toxic marriage, Mulroy signed up to work in the copper refinery in the anode department casting molten metal copper with the hope of earning enough to become financially independent.

She was often found guilty for the crime of sticking up for herself, and in Mulroy’s own words, she “never put up with crap.” Years later, after Mulroy retired, she decided to write a book about her experience using all the material she accumulated over the years. Mulroy documented everything, writing on cigarette packs, paper towels, and in diaries, collecting newspaper clippings, and more. Continue Reading →

Leo Gerard, retired president of United Steel Workers: ‘No one believed more in workers’ – by David Shribman (Globe and Mail – September 2, 2019)

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/

Canadian labour activist Leo Gerard recently retired after 18 years as international president of the United Steel Workers (USW) – the largest industrial union in North America. The onetime smelter worker devoted his career to battling the wealth gap.

Mr. Gerard faced numerous headwinds as a labour leader. He has grappled with declining rates of union membership. He has taken on leaders of both U.S. political parties, whose free-trade orthodoxy collided with his members’ concerns about imports of steel and other products. And he has struggled with members of his own union who have little in common culturally with U.S. President Donald Trump, but are nonetheless drawn to the Manhattan tycoon because of his populist approach and his nationalistic rhetoric.

The discord roiled Mr. Gerard’s union and placed him in a difficult political position. He argued just after the Trump triumph that the new President was elected “by stealing our agenda.” Continue Reading →

‘Tragedy of pollution’: Award-winning article details how gov’t, miners wrought harm on Sudbury’s landscape – by Staff (Sudbury Star – July 26, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

A scholarly article exploring the “tragedy of pollution in Sudbury” has earned its authors an award from the Ontario Historical Society.

The 2018 Riddell Award, acknowledging the best work on a subject of Ontario history in a given year, was recently presented to Mark Kuhlberg and Scott Miller for their article Protection to Sulphite Smoke Tortfeasors: The Tragedy of Pollution in Sudbury, Ontario, the World’s Nickel Capital, 1884-1927, which appeared in The Canadian Historical Review in June 2018.

A tortfeasor, by the way, is someone who commits a wrongful act, in this case applied to the mining companies that spread harmful emissions, but only because, as the article contends, it was permitted by provincial lawmakers at the time. Continue Reading →

That’s no moon: Before these NASA astronauts went to space, they went to Sudbury – by Claude Sharma (TVO – The Agenda – July 22, 2019)

https://www.tvo.org/

In the 1970s, the agency sent astronauts to northeastern Ontario to prepare for their trips to the moon — and helped drive the region’s scientific aspirations

SUDBURY — In 1971, astronauts John Young and Charles Duke loaded up with equipment —backpacks, radios, cameras — and walked along rocky ledges, communicating their movements as if to a home base.

Later that year, they’d do the same thing nearly 385,000 kilometres away as astronauts on the Apollo 16 moon mission. On this day, though, they were in the Sudbury Basin, practising for the real thing.

“Once they did their traverse, we would go over what they saw,” remembers Don Phipps, a local geologist who helped facilitate the training. “One of the objects of this visit is that when they got on the moon, they could report back with some kind of knowledge of what they saw on the ground.” Continue Reading →

A woman’s view of Inco – by Mia Jensen (Sudbury Star – June 29, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

In 1974, Inco started hiring women for the first time since the end of the Second World War. Cathy Mulroy, then 19, was the second woman in line for a job. Now, she’s written a book about her experiences.

Mulroy worked on the anode casting wheel in the copper refinery. Her job was to empty the molten metal arriving in hot cars from the smelter, into the furnace. It was hot, grimy work, but for Mulroy, the labour wasn’t the difficult part of her experience.

“Over the years, I was kind of a person who believed in people’s rights,” she says. “I was never quiet. So right off the bat, I started getting into trouble.” Continue Reading →

[Falconbridge] ‘I thought the smelter had blown up’ – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – June 21, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

Electrician Gary Hrytsak was taking a brief nap during a coffee break at the Falconbridge smelter complex about 10:05 a.m. June 20, 1984, when he got thrown off the bench he was on.

“It was an eerie feeling,” recalled the now-retired Hrytsak during his speech at the 35th Workers’ Memorial Day ceremonies at the Caruso Club on Thursday. “You could feel things shaking under your feet … I thought the smelter had blown up.”

Hrytsak, who went on to do compensation, health and welfare work for his union (Mine Mill and Smelter Workers Local 598), said he put on his respirator, went to the electrical shop and telephoned his foreman, only to be told to stay where he was. Continue Reading →

COLUMN: ‘Moonscape’ Sudbury deserves global recognition for its environmental success – by Dr. John Gunn (Northern Ontario Business – June 7, 2019)

https://www.northernontariobusiness.com/

Dr. John Gunn is the Canada Research Chair in Stressed Aquatic Systems and the director of the Vale Living with Lakes Centre in Sudbury.

Michael Moore’s recent documentary film about lead in drinking water in Flint Michigan has catapulted that city onto a growing list of places known for environmental disasters, including Chernobyl, Love Canal, Minamata, Bhopal, London with its great deadly smog of 1952, and the little town of Walkerton, Ontario, where seven died and more than 2,000 became sick because of E. coli contamination.

Positive environmental stories from specific places also exist, but like the evening news, the positive stories never get quite as much attention.

There are, however, some wonderful examples, such the Montréal Protocol and the Paris Accord, where a city’s name is forever linked to an event where world leaders came together to address global threats to the environment, such as the ozone depleting compounds in the atmosphere, or the severe threats of climate change. Continue Reading →

What The Heck Is That? — Our industrial Lake Louise – by Jim Moodie (Sudbury Star – May 16, 2019)

https://www.thesudburystar.com/

Few people would mistake Sudbury for Banff, and yet there is one spot just northwest of the city off MR 35 that I like to think of as our own little Lake Louise.

Easily spied on the west side of the road near the turnoff to William Day Construction, its surface is a vivid turquoise that has no doubt caught the attention of a few passing motorists other than myself.

It jumps out just as much, if not more, when you look at it from an aerial, satellite perspective in Google Maps, its hue so distinct from the other water bodies around it — more San Jose teal than Maple Leafs blue. Continue Reading →

Throwback Thursday: A brief history of mining in Sudbury Northern Life – by Callam Rodya(Sudbury.com – March 2, 2017)

https://www.sudbury.com/

With two of Sudbury’s most important employers, Vale and Glencore, reporting healthy profits last week, we asked the Greater Sudbury Archives to dust off some old footage and photos from the earlier days of this fledgling industry, to give you a brief history of mining in Sudbury. Continue Reading →

Canadian mining industry says goodbye to ‘turnaround man’ Bill James – by Robin de Angelis (CBC News Sudbury – September 17, 2018)

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/

The man credited with making mining company Falconbridge Ltd. a success in the 1980s has passed away. William “Bill” James died on September 4, at the age of 89.

James took the helm of Falconbridge at a time when the company was losing millions of dollars each week due to flagging metal prices. He cut jobs and corporate spending, eventually making the company an attractive target for a takeover for Noranda.

Ed Thompson, a board member with the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame, remembers working with James for almost 50 years. “He was a very forthright, honest man,” Thompson recalled. Continue Reading →

Smelter Fumes, Local Interests, and Political Contestation in Sudbury, Ontario, during the 1910s – by Don Munton and Owen Temby (Urban History Review – June 2016)

https://urbanhistoryreview.ca/

During the second half of the 1910s the problem of sulphur smoke in Sudbury, Ontario, pitted farmers against the mining-smelting industry that comprised the dominant sector of the local economy. Increased demand for nickel from World War I had resulted in expanded activities in the nearby Copper Cliff and O’Donnell roast
yards, which in turn produced more smoke and destroyed crops.

Local business leaders, represented by the Sudbury Board of Trade, sought to balance the needs of the agriculture and mining-smelting sectors and facilitate their coexistence in the region. Among the measures pursued, farmers and some Board of Trade members turned to nuisance litigation, with the objective of obtaining monetary awards and injunctions affecting the operation of the roast yards.

While the amounts of the awards were disappointing for the farmers, the spectre of an injunction was sufficient to convince the provincial government to ban civil litigation in favour of an arbitration process accommodating industry. This article provides an account of the political activism over Sudbury’s smoke nuisance that failed to bring about emission controls, highlighting the contextual factors contributing to this failure. Continue Reading →

Plays mine Sudbury’s past – by Laura Stradiotto (Sudbury Star – April 30, 2018)

http://www.thesudburystar.com/

Prepare to delve into the heart and history of Northern Ontario this week during Pat The Dog’s sixth annual Playsmelter Festival. Featuring creators from the region and afar, Playsmelter offers audiences the chance to see Canadian theatre in all stages of development. The festival, which features Sudbury-inspired narratives, starts today and runs until Saturday at the Sudbury Theatre Centre.

Adric Cluff usually writes about zombies and vampires, yet penning a play based on American inventor Thomas Edison and his influence in Sudbury at the turn of the 20th century was more extraordinary than any fiction he ever encountered.

Cluff explores the famous inventor’s visit to the Sudbury region in the early 1900s, his mining exploration and influence on the founding of Inco Limited. Cluff dug into the city’s archives and found plenty of supporting evidence of the inventor’s influence at the time, including an invitation from the mayor to visit the booming mining town. Continue Reading →