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Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Sudbury Basin

Yesterday, I travelled to the other side of Sudbury, (a two hour drive) to officiate at a wedding. It was to be at the couple's summer camp (in the North they are "camps" in southern Ontario they are "cottages") on Joe lake. I love the opportunity to see another beautiful northern lake so I looked forward to going. I was not disappointed. It was another lovely jewel with only a few camps (cottages) clustered at one end while the rest of the shoreline was crown land or land controlled by the two large mining companies in the area: INCO and Falconbridge.

Being a Tuesday, everything was quiet with no boats out on the water. The water was calm and inviting. The day was sunny and warm, one of the nicest days of the summer which has seen a record amount of rain. A perfect day for an outside wedding.

Oh, the couple were nice too! They were in their mid-fifties, both on their second attempt at marriage. the groom is a geologist and a teacher. My kind of people, I thought. One of the daughter was a graduate student at Yale, so I had a connecion discussing my memories of New Haven.

It was a small group of just family members, sisters of the bride and children of both from previous marriages. A very compatible lot. This extended family had been coming to this lake for three generations. One sister had a place that was a year round home. Given the condition of the road in ,I imagine it could be a challenge to travel it in the Winter.I later found out they opened about a mile of road themselves for a number of years before the city agreed to do the plowing.

The marriage couple had a very summer cottage like place. It brought backs memories of the cottage life of my youth. I felt quite nostalgic. I would have like to have plopped down in a chair on the screened porch and read a book with a refreshing swim to follow in a couple of hours. They even had a couple of canoes. How perfect could that be.

I stayed for lunch at the sister's place just a short distance around the end of the lake . It was a lovely spot with a lovely garden and a great deck down by the water.
There was a flock of humming birds (about 20) darting about a couple of feeders.
I learned there were a group of loons that congregated on the lake (coming in from other lakes) to fish together and keep up their soulful calls out across the water. The lake also has a heron rookery at the end and their are bald eagles and golden eagles to be seen in the area, enjoying the updraft from the valley to the upland where the lake was. For about a mile before you get to Joe Lake the road climbs. You are climbing out of the Sudbury Basin, the mineral rich area for which Sudbury is famous.

Geologically the Sudbury Basin is a crater from a meteor, the size of Mount Everest smashing into the earth 1.85 billion years ago. This resulted in bringing all the minerals up from depth in the earth. I once heard that the area was a geologist dream. You just have to drive the roads and examine the rock cuts it enjoy the geology.`

The Sudbury Basin was discovered 125 years ago when they put the railroad through the area. It has been mined heavily ever since and is constantly under exploration. It was once know as the Nickel capital of the World. Nickel is still it's most important mineral although copper, iron, gold, platinum and paladium among others are recovered from the granite rock of the Cambrian shield.

Sudbury was once a blue collar mining town where everything took a back seat to mining including the environment. It was famous for it's deforested, denuded rock landscape as a result of the acidic wastes from the smelting of metals. It was notorious for its moonscape. Thousands of lakes were acidified from acid rain. Many no longer supported fish. And this is hunting and fishing country!

This is no longer true. For nearly fifty years efforts by government and the mining companies, have been made to clean up the environment by limiting the amount of sulphuric acid and nitric acid that got into the environment. Lakes were limed to neutralize their PH and most dramically there has been a thirty year ongoing program of reforestation. Seedlings are grown down in one of the old mines. The bare rocks were planted in grasses, some soil was spreads in areas, liming to lower the PH was done and finally millions of trees (8 million so far)have been planted. For the thirty years I have lived here I have watch the slow greening of large areas around Sudbury. You would recognize them as young forests now but to be honest it will take another 30 years before you would call it a forest and 100 years to be restored. Sudbury's efforts have been recognized and rewarded, internationally. And yet, the mining industry is still a major polluter.

While mining is still very important to Sudbury and will be for years to come, there are fewer miners with mechanized mining. The city is now also a very important regional center for government, medicine, education, social service as well as lots of industries which serve the mining industry. It is a small city, prosperous these days, where one has all the advantages of a city plus the delights of the out of doors, very close at hand. You are never far from water with 200 lakes within the boundaries of the city. Fishing, hunting and camping , are popular pass times for many. Winter brings its unique pleasures : ice fishing, snowmobiles, skating, skiing etc. Enough! I am starting to sound like a pamphlet from the chanber of Commerce.

My trip across Sudbury got me to thinking and I thought I would share it.


At 11:26 p.m., Blogger Mary said...


I enjoyed learning more about Sudbury and the basin. I have only been there once, but thought it was a shame that a lot of the land had been strip-mined. I've heard that this area is once more producing vegetation. One of these days I'm going to have to visit again.

Hope all is well with you.

At 11:30 p.m., Blogger Mary said...


Me again. I just finished reading your lovely post about the cabin. What a wonderful spot you have there - so scenic and picturesque - a place to enjoy some solitude. Like you I would enjoy sitting on the porch swing.

Enjoyed my visit. I'm certainly glad that I was able to drop by and catch up on your posts.

Drop me an email if you can. I lost your email addy when my computer was put out by lightning last Saturday.


At 8:27 a.m., Blogger KGMom said...

Philip--I enjoyed this post very much. No pics of the other lake?
Well, I am sure you were busy officiating and all. If you had no time to sit and read a book, I am sure you had no time for pics.
I find geology to be fascinating, so I loved reading about the Sudbury Basin.

At 10:00 a.m., Blogger Julie said...

What a nice entry! Wishing the newly weds great bliss and much joy and no doubt you got them off to a grand start.

I am not by any means a study in civilizations or anthropology, but it seems the last centuries and the western worlds have just used the lands without forethought while the other cultures seemed to think about the generations ahead of them and with regard to mother earth, in a way of living in harmony with the land. Even the Romans and egyptians had great technology, but seemed to have respect with the natural world. We have seemed to just use it up with no regard and then when it has poisoned us back we felt need to change it again for our own benefit. The people who continue to live in harmony with the land now suffer from those of us who don't with the global warming. Some of the tribal communities that depend on melting water from the depleting glaciers from the Andes are now wanting to sue the large Countries to put in water systems b/c it's mostly our fault for our wasteful way of living. I hope there is still time for change and changes hopefully will be made.
Thank you for your thoughtful entries...

At 11:42 a.m., Blogger Janet said...

That sounds like a lovely place for a wedding, and what a good history lesson! (I do enjoy reading the history of places, so never apologize for that!)
I hope that soon the powers that be will recognize the destruction mining is causing here and start taking longer and quicker steps to remedy the problem. The coal companies will get what they want and leave us with nothing - no jobs, no landscape, no money, and no way to clean up their mess. Someone needs to make them accountable now. But I've been on that soapbox before. :)

At 6:01 p.m., Blogger amelia said...

What a wonderful post. I learnt a lot about Sudbury that I didn't know. I've always liked the place and especially the 'moonscape'. It's just a pity that all the wildlife had to suffer so. Too bad about all the mining.

At 1:04 a.m., Blogger Gattina said...

I had to catch up on your blog and read about your son't birthday. My son will be 35 on the 20th, that's a round number !!
I have been on holidays in England for a week staying with friends at the south east coast. A part from the quite cool weather it was very nice. I only stopped for 3h in London before I took the train to Eastbourne. I had to say hello to THE QUEEN after 7 years of absence, lol !


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