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Sudbury Ontario History - Railway and Mining Boom



Tracks at the Crean Hill Mine From 1881 until 1885, the Canadian Pacific Railway worked to build the railway across the North, moving towards the West as close to the Great Lakes and the US border as possible. As the railway moved westwards, sawmills sprung up initially to supply the railways, and later to ship lumber to the rest of Canada. The first train arrived in Sudbury in late 1883, and the town became the railway’s regional headquarters. Two years later, the railway moved its headquarters and proceeded to subdivide the land around its station and sell house lots.

In 1883 ore with high levels of copper sulphites were discovered. The next year several claims were filed in the provincial capital of Toronto, attracting attention to the area. In 1886, the mine at Copper Cliff became operational. In 1900 new methods for refining nickel were invented, and new used in making steel armour more effective for military ships, leading to the expansion of nickel mining in the area. The town boomed during the First World War as demand soared. Around this time, production shifted from open pit to underground mining. In the early years, Copper Cliff’s population exceeded Sudbury’s, though by 1911, the populations were even, and by 1921 Sudbury was significantly larger with a population of 8,600, and the region became one of the ten largest communities in Canada.

After the Armistice of 1918, demand for nickel fell off and did not recover until1924. By this time, there were two transcontinental railroads that passed through Sudbury, with the addition of the Canadian National. Highways also joined Sudbury with Sault Ste Marie and Mattawa. The Great Depression of the 1930s hit demand again until the 1933 opening of the Inco mine at Creighton and the Coniston smelter . By 1935, the town began getting regular scheduled air service. The Second World War caused nickel production in the six years to exceed the total of the preceding fifty.

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