Sudbury: A Historical Case Study of Multiple Urban-Economic Transformation – by Oiva Saarinen (4 of 4)

Oiva Saarinen is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography at Laurentian University. He has published many articles on Sudbury’s past and is author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area. This article was originally published in Ontario History/Volumn LXXXII, Number 1/March 1990.

Towards a Self-Reliant Community

In 1984 Sudbury was chosen by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Government of Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs as an international case study of a declining metropolis that had made a successful urban-economic adjustment after a period of decline. The study confirmed that the Sudbury region had overcome many of the obstacles it had inherited from the 1970s and was on the path towards a more sustainable future.52  The report, however, dealt largely with events that had taken place during the previous decade and devoted considerable attention to political factors. This paper asserts that other long-and short-term factors need to be emphasized as well if the basis for this transitional phase is to be more fully appreciated. In fact, many of the fundamental preconditions for this rapid adjustment from decline towards revitalization and sustainability already existed as far back as the 1950s.

For example, after 1951 the size of the region’s population was unique among Canadian resource-based economies. The foundations for the City of Sudbury as a central-place, already well established during the 1950s and 1960s, were strengthened considerably in the ensuing decade. The post-war birth of a white-collar class and its growing influence stimulated fundamental changes to the economic, political, and socio-cultural order. These three long-term preconditions were complemented by four more recent impulses: creative political leadership at the local and regional levels, financial assistance from the two senior levels of government, increases in productivity by Inco and Falconbridge, and finally, the creation of forward and backward linkages within the mining industry.

In the dynamics of the current metamorphosis phase, community size has been of paramount importance. According to the 1986 census, the Regional Municipality of Sudbury supported a population of more than 152,000. While this figure does not approach the 250,000 often proposed as the minimum for community sustainability, it nevertheless acted as a brake to slow down the decline. The fact that Sudbury was a declining metropolis gave it considerable influence with the provincial and federal governments. Arguing that “no nation is so affluent that it can afford to throwaway a major city,” Sudbury used this political leverage to its fullest advantage. 53

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Sudbury: A Historical Case Study of Multiple Urban-Economic Transformation – by Oiva Saarinen (3 of 4)

Oiva Saarinen is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography at Laurentian University. He has published many articles on Sudbury’s past and is author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area. This article was originally published in Ontario History/Volumn LXXXII, Number 1/March 1990.

A Declining Metropolis

The post-war transformation of Sudbury was abruptly halted in the 1970s by problems both urban and economic which threatened the future viability of the city and the Sudbury Basin. Headlines shouted that Sudbury had “hit bottom” and was “struggling to stay alive.” 41  By the early 1970s, it had become evident that a political restructuring was needed to meet the region’s growing need for water, sewage disposal, transportation, and planning. The inability of local municipalities to deal with these issues can be attributed partly to the urban sprawl that had begun as far back as the 1950s, extreme parochialism, and the weakness of the tax base outside the company towns. Attempts by the city to rectify the situation were continuously thwarted by the province until 1960, when Sudbury was allowed to absorb the large population which had settled on its periphery. 42

The change in municipal boundaries, however, did little to solve regional problems or the inequities in the sharing of mining assessment between the province and the municipalities. Sudbury’s continued growth in the 1960s caused considerable financial stress, and, as one observer remarked, public funds were used to make the city only “fit to live in” rather than a “pleasant place to live in.”43 Municipal studies were undertaken which claimed that city residents paid one-fifth more taxes than the average Ontario urban resident while at the same time receiving fewer services.44

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Sudbury: A Historical Case Study of Multiple Urban-Economic Transformation – by Oiva Saarinen (2 of 4)

Oiva Saarinen is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography at Laurentian University. He has published many articles on Sudbury’s past and is author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area. This article was originally published in Ontario History/Volumn LXXXII, Number 1/March 1990.

A Regional Central-Place

After World War II Sudbury began to shed some of its colonial-frontier character and image, thanks initially to a significant expansion of the mining economy. This expansion, however, included neither the broadening of the mining economy to include new products nor the strengthening of forward or backward linkages; rather, the Sudbury area provided ample support for the contention that staple economies often lead to just more of the same. 26 

The extension of the staple economy into the post-war era could be attributed directly to the influence of the American “military-industrial complex,” for it was the American government, in response to the military needs of the Korean and Cold Wars, that deliberately set the stage for a mining boom in the Sudbury and Elliot Lake areas during the 1950s. This economic expansion in turn enabled the Sudbury Basin communities collectively to attain the critical population or a metropolis. A related event was the passing of the region’s remoteness and hinterland status in relation to other parts of Ontario and Canada.

The acquisition of these new population and geographical attributes supported the transition of the area towards a more mature, service-oriented economy, and by the late 1960s Sudbury had acquired some of the characteristics of a regional central-place. The community was also changing internally: land-use planning was introduced, and a white-collar class was emerging. Unfortunately, many aspects of the transition went unnoticed because of the inordinate attention given to the struggle between lnco and Local 598 during the 19505 and 1960s.

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Fighting the Good Fight for Sudbury Labour Unions, Safety and Dignity: The Homer Seguin Story – by Bill Bradley

Northern Life, Greater Sudbury’s community newspaper, gave Republic of permission to post Bill Bradley’s article.

Homer Sequin, now retired, but health and safety advocate for the past 50 years, has published his life story.

Entitled Fighting For Justice And Dignity: The Homer Seguin Story chronicles his life from the age of 16, when he started with Inco at the Sintering Plant in Copper Cliff, to his retirement in 1992.

The book is 173 pages, with 40 pictures and is self-published. Journal Printing printed the copies on recycled paper using union labour, said Seguin last Wednesday. Some of the pictures have never been viewed before.

“It chronicles the rise of the whole union movement here and my activity from being a steward on the safety committee to a union trustee in 1963, to vice-president of Local 6500 in 1965, to president in 1967,” said Seguin.

The book is hard-hitting. Seguin had to leave school early to help his mother make ends meet when his 39-year-old father drowned in 1950. At that time Inco did not pay a survivor’s pension, meaning a person had to be alive to receive a pension.

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Encouraging Smelter Plans Dashed by Lack of Support Outside Village of Sudbury – by Gary Peck

Some 85 years ago, quite a stir probably was created in the village of Sudbury with the announcement of the Sudbury Customs Smelting Company. In February 1892, the company, after considerable initial discussion, was proclaimed; yet by the end of April the initial excitement had turned to disappointment.
The Sudbury Customs Smelting Company, according to the prospectus, had a provisional board consisiting of James Commee, MPP, president; A.J. Macdonnell, treasurer; James Stobie, vice-president; Alfred Merry, consulting chemist; W.J. Skynner, secretary.
The directors, many from Sudbury, included James McCormick, Stephen Fournier, R.B. Struthers, MD, James A. Orr, Has B. Hammond, D. O’Connor, Frank Cochrane, D.T. Flannery, A. Hoffman Smith, J. McCormick, C.J. Kettyle, Charles Jessop, Rinaldo McConnell, of Mattawa, J.R. Gordon, of Toronto; C. Gordon Richardson, of Toronto, and Wm. McVittie of Whitefish. 

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Guide Book Issued for 1939 Royal Tour Includes Northern Ontario Sites – Gary Peck

Today when many travel often, it is with an array of brochures outlining the  points of interest one should note during the trip. Certainly, this is not a new phenomenon. In 1939, Their Majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth traveled across Canada. For the use of the Royal visitors, their entourage and others, Canada’s two transcontinental railways compiled a guide book. Extracts from the account are of interest for a variety of reasons including the way in which sites along the route were described.

On May 23, it was anticipated the train would pass “through a land of great rock hills and tall pines, the railway wanders through deep cuts on its approach to Romford, seven miles east of Sudbury, on the main transcontinental line, and the train, on arrival at Sudbury, has traversed one of the finest sporting regions of Canada”. Suffice to say, the sporting regions described in glowing terms were, among others. Parry Sound, Point au Baril and French River.

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Copper Cliff Courier at Century Dawn Described Community Enthusiastically – Gary Peck

At the turn of the century, residents of Sudbury could turn to one newspaper for local news. The Sudbury Journal, under James A. Orr, had published continuously since 1891. Over the years competition had appeared in the form of The Star and the Sudbury News, yet neither was still operating by 1900. However, the monopoly was to be challenged in 1902 from afar – namely Copper Cliff.

On a Saturday in early March, 1902, the Copper Cliff Courier made its initial appearance. At the time it was described by the Journal as being “a seat five-column of quarto, well-printed”. It contained a “good list of advertisements” and proposed to be independent in politics. The Courier, published and edited by J.T. Pratt and sold for $1.00 a year, had its office on Main Street, Copper Cliff.

Few copies of the Courier appear to have been saved with a special 1903 issue being the one that appears most frequently. In that particular issue can be found community news with the new smelter of the Canadian Copper Company being a major feature.

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Early Mining schools in Sudbury and Copper Cliff – Gary Peck

During the 1890s, there was considerable interest in the establishing of mining schools in Ontario. One of the early promoters was James Commee, MPP for Algoma. Offering support was James Orr, editor of the Sudbury Journal, who argued for the locating of a mining school in Sudbury. The town did not quite receive the school desired, but in 1894 this area hosted two summer schools.

In the session of the legislature in 1894, $2,000 was appropriated for the purpose of organizing Summer Mining Schools in the northern districts of Ontario. Work for this undertaking was assumed by the School of Practical Science, University of Toronto, with the pilot summer schools in 1894 located in the communities of Copper Cliff, Sudbury and Rat Portage, with the later established after the Copper Cliff and Sudbury schools.
When advertised locally, the caption read, “Summer School for Prospectors, Miners and Others interested in mining.” On Friday evening, July , at 8 o’clock, there was a meeting at the public school in Sudbury.

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The Sorry Saga of the H.H. Vivian Company-Gary Peck

The arrival of the H.H. Vivian Company was preceded by its reputation. Enthusiasm must have been present in Sudbury for an operation hailing from Wales recognized the nickel worth of this area. The future looked good for the small town in New Ontario. Yet, the local expectations never were met. Disappointment would accompany failure, particularly when so much had been expected. However, its origins, development, and ultimate failure constitute an interesting tale.

The Murray Mine, familiar to so many over the years, would be the main mine for the H.H. Vivian Company’s Sudbury operations. Though accidentally discovered by Dr. Harvey, and on another occasion by Thomas Flanagan, only on February 25, 1884, would there be an offer to purchase the site. At the price of one dollar an acre, 310 acres would come under the control of four non-residents – Thomas and William Murray of Pembroke, Henry Abbott of Brockville, and John Loughrin of Mattawa. In 1899, Murray Mine, located on the north half of lot one, concession four of McKim, was purchased by the Welsh company.

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Dynamite’s Successor Tested at the Copper Cliff Elsie Mine – Gary Peck

It combines all the elements of dynamite as an explosive as well as many other laudable features. It is safe to handle and needs the action of heat, flame and concussion to ignite it. One can even pound it with a hammer or rub it with sandpaper without fear. As well, it will not freeze under 25 degrees below zero nor is it affected by water or weather.

 Finally, no noxious gases will be emitted underground to slow down work and perhaps overcome the miner.  Such were the claims of a company in 1901 developing a new explosive to replace dynamite. Of interest is the little-known fact that the first Canadian plant was built in Sudbury.

The new explosive was of Russian origin, having been invented by Count Sergius Smollinoff.

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When the Worth of Sudbury Rocks was Being Known – Gary Peck

In the spring of 1894 the Provincial Mining Association of Ontario met in Sudbury. The meeting was afterwards described as, to that time, the largest and most successful ever held. Suffice to say, the meeting provided an opportunity for all to focus attention of the mining potential of the area. Today we’ll examine the Nickel Range in some detail.

 At that time the full extent of the Nickel Range was not known. Yet, the nickel-bearing belt was felt to be about 70 miles in length, extending from Lake Wahnapitae in a southwesterly direction along the Vermillion and Spanish Rivers. The width was described as irregular with it being wider at both ends and narrower in the middle where the main line of the CPR crossed it. Deposits were scattered throughout the range.

In Denison township, southwest of Sudbury, there was a regular series of approximately a dozen large ore beds on one ridge. This extended eastward into Graham township as a vein system. Prospectors referred to the rich nickel deposit as a “red hill” based on the color of the surface capping of gossan. It was the ambition of the prospector to make such a find.

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The Discovery of Sudbury Nickel was Accidental – Gary Peck

The discovery of ore in the Sudbury area is one worthy of recording for in many ways its discovery was both accidental and initially at least, unappreciated.

 In 1856, A.P. Salter, provincial land surveyor was involved in survey work in the area. While running the meridian line north of Whitefish Lake, he noted a deflection on his compass needle. This occurred in the area between present – day Creighton and Snider townships. He reported to Alexander Murray, a geologist with the Geological Commission. Murray visited the area, took samples, and wrote a report; however, in 1856 little interest was generated given the inaccessibility of the area. Significantly, the samples were taken about 200 yards west of Creighton mine. Creighton mine was rediscovered in 1886 and in 1901 the Canadian Copper Company began operation there.

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Many Challenges for Early Sudbury Prospectors – Gary Peck

Previously it was noted that the lot of a Sudbury prospector was one beset with many difficulties. A. Hoffman Smith, a resident of Sudbury since 1883, had stated in 1894 that Algoma was the most difficult area in North America to prospect.

Having already examined some of the actual problems associated with locating a site, today we will discuss the difficulties associated with securing a site and conclude with a discussion of what, to two early pioneers, was the ideal prospector.

Once a site had been located, a prospector had to secure the prospect. Unfortunately the central office was over 300 miles distant in Toronto. On occasion, his affidavits and applications, once they had arrived, might remain unrecognized for weeks.

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Early Problems for Sudbury Prospectors – Gary Peck

During the 1890s many Sudbury prospectors were upset with recent provincial legislation that proposed to levy a royalty on nickel production. In 1894, A. Hoffman Smith, a resident of Sudbury since 1888, forcefully expressed his criticism of the legislation. At the same time he discussed in some detail the life of a prospector. It is his views regarding prospecting that will be examined today.

 It was the contention of Smith that Algoma was the most difficult area in North America to prospect. Isolation was a problem, there being no trails or roads and pack horses couldn’t be used to the extent they were in British Columbia.

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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.

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