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Sudbury, Ontario

Sudbury (pop. ~90,000) is a city in the northeastern region of the Canadian province of Ontario.

Sudbury dates from the late nineteenth century. Originally named Ste-Anne-des-Pins (Saint-Anne-of-the-Pines), it was a stop on the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).

During construction of the CPR, blasting and excavation revealed high concentrations of Nickel-Copper ore. The community grew rapidly as a mining town. The primary employers were the International Nickel Company (INCO[?]) and Falconbridge Nickel Mines[?] Limited.

The ore deposits in Sudbury are in fact part of a large geological structure known as the Sudbury Basin[?], believed to be the remnants of a meteorite impact crater. Sudbury ore contains profitable amounts of many elements, especially transition metals[?], including platinum. It also contains an unusually high concentration of sulphur.

When nickel-copper ore is smelted, this sulphur is released into the environment. The sulphur is toxic to vegetation. Carried aloft, it combines with atmospheric water to form sulphuric acid. This contaminates atmospheric water, resulting in a phenomenon known as acid rain. Acid rain erodes rocks and masonry, kills plants, and acidifies soil, discouraging regeneration of vegetation. In the Sudbury area, vegetation was decimated, both by acid rain and by logging to provide fuel for early smelting techniques. The erosion exposed bedrock[?], which was charred in most places to a pitted, dark black appearance.

Sudbury was known for many years as a wasteland. During the Apollo manned lunar exploration program, NASA astronauts trained in Sudbury, to become familiar with operating in a landscape similar to the lifeless surface of the moon.

(It should be noted that there was not a complete lack of vegetation in the region. White birch[?] and wild blueberry[?] are notable examples of plants which thrived in the acidic soils.)

In the late 1970s, private, public, and commercial interests combined to establish an unprecedented "regreening" effort. Lime was spread over the charred soil of the Sudbury region by hand and by aircraft. Seeds of wild grasses and other vegetation were also spread. In twenty years, over three million trees were planted. The ecology of the Sudbury region has recovered dramatically, due both to the regreening program and improved mining practices.

During the latter decades of the twentieth century, significant economic diversification occurred. Mining remains an important industry, but Sudbury also derives economic strength as a centre of commerce, government, and tourism for northern Ontario.


Prior to 1973, the town (later city) of Sudbury comprised portions of the Townships of Neelon and McKim.

In 1973, provincially-mandated restructuring of municipal government organized the City of Sudbury and surrounding towns into the Regional Municipality of Sudbury (Region of Sudbury), comprising physical and political areas known as the City of Sudbury, Town of Capreol, Town of Onaping Falls, Town of Walden, Town of Rayside-Balfour, Town of Nickel Centre, and Town of Valley East (Later City of Valley East). Municipal responsibilities were distributed between the council of the Regional Municipality and the councils of the smaller towns and cities. The Region covered 2,607 square kilometres, most of it forest, including 300 inland lakes.

The seven towns and cities of the Region were amalgamated by provincial order on January 1, 2001 (together with some abutting townships) to become the City of Greater Sudbury. The City is headed by a Council and Mayor. The main municipal office, formerly used by the City of Sudbury and Region of Sudbury, is at Tom Davies Square (formerly Civic Square), named for the public servant Tom Davies who held the post of Chair of the Regional Municipality of Sudbury from its inception to 1997.

The City of Greater Sudbury has a population of ~164,000.

Geology Sudbury is located on the Canadian (Precambrian) Shield. It sits atop the Creighton fault, on the southest rim of the Sudbury Basin.


A large population of Franco-Ontariens is concentrated around Sudbury, which offers services in English and French.

Laurentian University[?] is located in Sudbury, as is Science North, a well-known science museum.

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