Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Visiting Sudbury, Ontario - The Big Nickel
I drove up north to Sudbury, Ontario last week with a couple of my girl friends on a road trip. We've travelled to the east two summers ago, to the south last summer, so this year it was time to drive north. Sudbury is about a four or five hour drive so we left early in the morning and spent one night there at a hotel. On the first day, we visited the Big Nickel and Dynamic Earth.
The Big Nickel is a giant roadside monument to the nickel mining in Sudbury. It is exactly what you think it is - a giant replica of a 1951 Canadian nickel! Just like a regular nickel, there is a front and back side - heads and tails. The Big Nickel is definitely one of Sudbury's most famous landmarks, and I believe it has got to be one of the world's largest coins!
After admiring the Big Nickel, we went into the building that is located directly beside it - Dynamic Earth. This area is owned by Science North (where we went the following day....blog post to follow!) and is a museum devoted to the city's mining heritage and geology.
We took a tour down into the mines several flights down into the ground. There were replicas of actual mines that existed in Sudbury - a century old mine, a mid-century mine, and what a modern mine in Sudbury looks like today.
Overall, the tour guide was incredibly knowledgable and the tour was excellent for kids and adults alike. There was a brief movie presentation on some screens as you descended into the mine in an elevator. While in the mine, our tour guide explained the differences between the three mining eras and told us all about the lives and working practices of miners. It was really awesome walking through the tunnels and passageways. We also got to see some past and current equipment that was used in actual Sudbury nickel mines.
There was a very unique experience at the end of the tour - Sudbury helped to develop some of the equipment used to rescue the Chilean miners in 2010. Some of the equipment is even owned by Chile and is on loan currently to Dynamic Earth. There was also a replica of the rescue capsule that we were able to go inside! I can imagine that it would have been a pretty tight fit for grown men to get into as I felt it to be pretty tight, and I'm just a 5'3" girl :)
There were also some other movies and displays to see at Dynamic Earth. I really enjoyed my visit here and would recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in Sudbury!
I didn't mention it yet but the scenery in Sudbury and surrounding area is really neat. It is part of the Canadian Shield and as you drive up north, the terrain starts to slowly become more rocky. Soon, you can see parts of the road where the rock has been blasted away on either side. Many people have built Inukshuks on top of the rocks and it is interesting to see them on top of the giant boulders as you drive down the highway. I wasn't able to capture many photos as I was driving at the time, unfortunately, but it was a very serene and peaceful drive up into the wilderness. Of course, Sudbury is quite the developed city, but as you drive north all you can really see along the highway are trees, rock formations, lakes and streams.