Sudbury, Ontario lies in the vast Sudbury Basin, a geological formation measuring 37 kilometers (59 miles) long and 27 kilometers (17 miles) wide that is rich in minerals. It is the largest single source of nickel in the world. Naturally, Sudbury is home to the biggest nickel mining plant in the world and is one of the major mining towns of Canada. Unfortunately, this also means it is one of the most polluted towns. Its landscape at times is afflicted with an overall bleakness. The city compensates for it by having a beautiful Canadian Shield countryside surrounding it. Outdoor enthusiasts are treated to wild and wonderful forests, lakes, and rocks, offering all kinds of possibilities.
Sudbury’s population is approximately 160,000, a quarter of whom are Francophone. The city’s main university, Laurentian University, is bilingual. Located on the shores of Lake Ramsey, the school is home to a thriving French culture thrives at the school.
The main attraction of Sudbury is the Science North, an impressive science complex that stands at the edge of Lake Ramsey. The building was designed by architect Raymond Moriyama and consists of two snowflake-shaped buildings dramatically set on a rock cavern. The smaller hexagonal structure of the two houses the reception area and links with the larger “snowflake” by a rock tunnel. The larger building contains the exhibition halls. The cavern’s darkness provides the perfect setting for viewing the 3-D film on Northern Ontario’s landscape. The exhibition areas are on the upper levels and provide a hands-on way of learning science. You can measure your fitness, find out your ideal body weight, visit a weather station, or learn about local pollution levels and how they are tested for at the Atmosphere Laboratory. Computer displays encourage interactive involvement in a wide range of subjects such as outer space, communications, insects, and animals. Science North offers a lounge bar, dining facility, and a book shop, and is located on Ramsey Lake Road about 1 ½ kilometers (one mile) south of the Trans-Canada Highway. It is open everyday from May until October.
Sudbury’s most famous landmark is located on the west side of town. The 9 meter (30 feet) high Big Nickel stands among four other enormous replicas of coins. Below the Big Nickel, you’ll find the Big Nickel Mine, a hard-rock mine that is operated by Science North and open to the public. A cage descends to the tunnels where you can learn and observe for yourself the mining process.
A 2 ½ hour bus tour called The Path of Discovery departs from the Big Nickel and makes its way through the Sudbury Basin. Organized by Science North, the tour provides a glimpse of large-scale mining, refining, and smelting operations that are conducted there. Included is a visit to the Inco Refinery. The tour operates three times a day from late June until early September.
Another great attraction is the Copper Cliff Museum in Copper Cliff, located on Balsam Street. This pioneer log cabin is home to period tools and antiques and gives visitors a glimpse of how early settlers of the region lived. There’s also the Flour Mill Heritage Museum at 514 Notre Dame Avenue, a 19th century pioneer house where period furniture and artifacts are on display.
Outdoor enthusiasts should consider planning an excursion to the Killarney Provincial Park, located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Sudbury. The park encompasses 363 square kilometers (140 square miles) of Canadian Shield wilderness. Rugged beauty, epitomized by the sight of the snowcapped La Cloche Mountains, characterizes this park. There are few campgrounds and facilities available. Most visitors explore by foot, canoe, or on ski.
The French River south of Sudbury runs between Georgian Bay and Lake Nipissing and is the best place to go for fishing and whitewater canoeing. To the north of Sudbury, a countryside offers endless outdoor recreational opportunities, facilitated by plenty of camps, lodges, and trips organized by various tour groups and agencies.
Many of Sudbury’s restaurants are located outside the downtown area. The best area for fast food is along Regent Street South.
How to Get There
Air Canada has flights to Sudbury. There is also a VIA Rail train service that goes east from Vancouver and Winnipeg to Sudbury on the way to Ottawa and Montreal, and west the other way. And there is a direct train service between Sudbury and Toronto that runs every day. Greyhound has frequent buses that go from Sudbury to other major Canadian cities.
If you are coming by car, the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 17) links Sudbury to Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay, and other major cities of eastern and western Canada. Approaching from the south, Sudbury can be reached by Route 69 from Toronto.
Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.
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