Archive | Sudbury History

Sudbury Nickel Always Important to American Military Might – Stan Sudol

Inco Advertising During Second World WarCanada and the United States have been economic and military allies for most of the 20th century, notwithstanding the bad chemistry between our leaders from time to time. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has done a reasonable job of repairing the damage in relations caused by the Paul Martin Liberals. However, throughout much of American history, many influential politicians were firmly committed to the expansionist ideology of Manifest Destiny. This is the belief that the United States has an “inherent, natural and inevitable right” to annex all of North America.

So it should not be a huge surprise to learn that the United States military had prepared a Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan to invade Canada in the late 1920s, and updated it in 1935. The document called War Plan Red was declassified in 1974. However, the story resurfaced in a Washington Post (Dec.30, 2005) article by journalist Peter Carlson headlined Raiding the Icebox; Behind Its Warm Front, the United States Made Cold Calculations to Subdue Canada. Continue Reading →

New York article ‘glowed’ in reports of nickel and copper mining in area – Gary Peck

The following account from New York published in the last century glowingly sketches the activities of the mining industry in this area. This article concludes the two part series.
 
“The uses to which this newly-found wealth of ore is to be applied may be grouped under two heads. In the first place, it has been proved by a series of experiments that nickel steel, a material made of four parts of nickel to ninety-six of steel, is superior to the plain steel used at present.
 
Breaking and hoisting tests have been applied to the new combination, and it is found that the strength of the metal is largely increased: two pounds weight of nickel steel will effect the purposes of four pounds of the old substance. Continue Reading →

19th century New York account saw Sudbury area as the second El Dorado – Gary Peck

The discovery of nickel in this area quickly gained international recognition for the village of Sudbury. The following account from New York published in the last century glowingly sketches the activities of what was viewed as a “second El Dorado”.

Part One
 
Only recently the eyes, not only of the mining, but also of the commercial world have been fixed upon one little town in Canada. This town is Sudbury, a junction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, which the westward traveler but a short time ago would have passed with nothing but a sigh of boredom. It has now been discovered to be the centre of nickel and copper mines larger than the world has hitherto seen. Continue Reading →

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 →

Samuel J. Ritchie: A Tower in Early Sudbury Mining – Gary Peck

There are many tales yet untold pertaining to the formative years of the area’s mining industry. Numerous prospectors, the names of some unrecorded, are part of the history. The various workers who toiled with the rock are also an important facet of the story.

As well, entrepreneurs and their companies have to be examined. Not surprising, more of the early companies met with failure than success. One company and one name towered above the others during the early years of mining – the Canadian Copper Company and Samuel J. Ritchie. Ritchie’s introduction to nickel and the events leading to formation of the Canadian Copper Company constitute an interesting story. 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 →

Thomas Frood and his faith in the New Ontario – Gary Peck

Reminiscences of pioneers are often the more difficult of sources to uncover. In some cases the pioneer was never interviewed. Often people were too busy surviving in what had to have been a trying time. However, Thomas Frood, one of Sudbury’s early history-makers, did have a few of his views committed to paper at the turn of the century. The account is an important one for not only the views expressed but also what they reveal about the author.

Thomas Frood was born in Renfrew in 1843. For the early years of his life, he lived in southern Ontario as a druggist in Southampton, and later as a teacher in Kincardine. Continue Reading →

Gary Peck Columns – An Introduction

Gary Peck is a retired school teacher living in Sudbury, Canada. During the late 1970s, he researched and wrote a very popular local column on the history of the Sudbury Basin. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find his wonderful stories.

To ensure that the digital generation has access to Sudbury’s vibrant and colourful past – the historic heart of the global nickel industry – Peck has given the Republic of Mining permission to post his columns.

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 →

Sudbury History – An Introduction

Sudbury is the richest mining district in North America and among the top ten most important globally. The region accounts for roughly half the mining production in the province of Ontario, the largest mineral producer in Canada. This prolific mining camp has been in continuous production for almost 130 years and many industry experts predict up to another century and a half of production.

The principal metal in the Sudbury region is nickel, an extraordinary substance that helped transform industrial society. Today nickel is essential to all facets of industrial manufacturing, primarily through stainless steel which uses about 70% of global production. The metal is found in over 300,000 products ranging from heart stents used in bypass surgery, to hybrid automobile batteries, jet engines and of course the kitchen sink.

Nickel’s unique properties include a combination of strength, hardness, ductility, resistance to corrosion and the ability to maintain strength under high heat. It can transfer these properties to other metals, making nickel absolutely essential for a wide variety of both civilian and military uses.

Yet, it was nickel’s critical role in military uses that thrust the Sudbury Basin mines into the geo-political spotlight, ensuring that the community’s history would be anything but dull.

During the war years (1939-45), International Nickel Co. of Canada, as it was known back then, and its employees in Sudbury and Port Colborne supplied 95% of all Allied demands for nickel–a vital raw material critical for the Allies’ final victory.

In fact, for much of the past century the key location for this essential metal was the legendary Sudbury Basin, with the South Pacific island of New Caledonia coming a distant second. During certain periods up to the mid-1970s, Sudbury supplied up to 90% of world demand.
Beginning this week I will be posting a few historic articles on the Sudbury nickel mines that were published by Macleans – often called the Canadian version of Time magazine. The writing is exceptional, and more importantly they give a great historical snapshot of how highly this community was thought of during those time periods.

In addition, later this week I will be introducing a Sudbury historian who has researched and written many columns on the community’s vibrant and exciting past.