Musagetes Foundation held a Café in Sudbury last week, part of a series of investigations in how artistic thinking, practices and strategies can inform medium-sized cities whose industrial bases are either shifting or leaving. Rejka in Croatia, Lecce in Italy, Sudbury in Canada.
The Big Nickel: didn't realise this had been a Centennial project, not authorised by the City, independently funded and built by the mining community and originally placed 36" outside Sudbury's city limits.
N E Thing's 1969 photograph of an empty billboard in Sudbury. This one is like the Stanfield fumble: he caught the football a dozen times in a row for a photo-op, fumbled one and of course that is the one they used. The empty billboard is of course surreal, the empty frame, but only coincidently was it in Sudbury.
Sudbury Saturday Night, the girls at bingo, the boys are stinko, Inco temporarily forgotten. Well, that bit was prescient.
The Trans-Canada through Sudbury, a channel blasted out of the Shield, chemically blackened by ore-reduction processes that also produce slag heaps.
Kenneth Hayes has written a most amazing essay about why Sudbury even exists. It is a history 2 billion years old, giant meteor hits the earth and splashes nickel, which may have been in the meteor but may have been deep in earth's core, into a great ring. Nickel is what hardens steel for stainless steel. Confusingly, much of the ore is smelted in Norway.
There are other minerals, copper - lovely pale green river-run pebbles on gravel roads, and iron staining cliffs red when they aren't already black, all this found accidentally when the CPR was going through in the 1880s.
However, mining requires less people these days, Inco is now Vale (Brazil), Falconbridge is now Xstrata (Switzerland), at the base of the Creighton Mine is a neutrino observatory, there is a new university, Laurentian, soon to have a new architecture school, there is a medical centre with a cancer research component that serves the Sudbury region, there are lakes, there is a fierce re-greening program and there is a hell of a lot of civic pride that appears to rest mainly on the ability to be in a canoe, on a lake, 10 minutes after leaving home.
The thing about stereotypes is that they can act as a protective shield. The rest of the country can dismiss Sudbury, lodged as it is somewhere in Stomping Tom's 1970s, meanwhile Sudbury has been extremely busy developing itself for better or for ill, almost without attention.