From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City
A Historical Geography of Greater Sudbury
Paper 404 pp.
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From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City is a historical geography of the City of Greater Sudbury. The story that began billions of years ago encompasses dramatic physical and human events. Among them are volcanic eruptions, two meteorite impacts, the ebb and flow of continental glaciers, Aboriginal occupancy, exploration and mapping by Europeans, exploitation by fur traders and Canadian lumbermen and American entrepreneurs, the rise of global mining giants, unionism, pollution and re-greening, and the creation of a unique constellation city of 160,000.
The title posits the book’s two main themes, one physical in nature and the other human: the great meteorite impact of some 1.85 billion years ago and the development of Sudbury from its inception in 1883. Unlike other large centres in Canada that exhibit a metropolitan form of development with a core and surrounding suburbs, Sudbury developed in a pattern resembling a cluster of stars of differing sizes.
Many of Sudbury’s most characteristic attributes are undergoing transformation. Its rocky terrain and the negative impact from mining companies are giving way to attractive neighbourhoods and the planting of millions of trees. Greater Sudbury’s blue-collar image as a union powerhouse in a one-industry town is also changing; recent advances in the fields of health, education, retailing, and the local and international mining supply and services sector have greatly diversified its employment base. This book shows how Sudbury evolved from a village to become the regional centre for northeastern Ontario and a global model for economic diversification and environmental rehabilitation.
Oiva Saarinen received an Honors B.A. (1960) and an M.A. (1969) from the University of Western Ontario and a Ph.D. in Geography (1979) from the University of London. He retired from Laurentian University in 2003. He is the author of Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Historical Geography of the Finns in the Sudbury Area (WLU Press, 1999).
“Saarinen’s From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City: A Historical Geography of Greater Sudbury is the most comprehensive account of Sudbury’s past published to date and helps to explain its survival despite the many odds aligned against it.... Many important findings, interesting biographies and valuable opinions are offered.... What Saarinen adds is the history and geography of individual neighbourhoods.... Saarinen deserves to be credited with providing the first broad synthesis of Sudbury’s development as a city.”
— Dieter K. Buse, The Sudbury Star
“Oiva Saarinen’s broad painting of the area’s history engages, stimulates, provokes and instructs in equal measure. He does an excellent job of peeling back Sudbury’s multi-layered history identifying 15 milestones as chapters. The reader is taken on an epic journey that starts with an event that took place eons ago but has had a profound effect on the area to this day.... Saarinen’s book, vast in scope, based on exhaustive research, and well written does justice to [this] history.”
— Oryst Sawchuk, Sudbury Living
“The title to Dr. Oiva Saarinen’s new book is actually rather modest. It refers to ‘A Historical Geography,’ and yet the book covers much broader ground from labour studies and local government restructuing to geology and landscape transformation. Saarinen is a well-respected geographer who taught for forty years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario.... The breadth of his knowledge is evident in this work.... I particularly appreciated the maps, including those of the various company towns, and the detailed tables and aerial photos that accompany the entire text.... Anyone who wants to learn about, or teach about, the impact of resource development and the political changes that occur during annexation and amalgamation would be well advised to read this book. Saarinen may have been a long-time academic, but his writing style is immensely readable and his commentary easily blends material about local people and groups with the more technical aspects of mineral development and land survey techniques. His book will certainly interest long-term residents of Sudbury, but as a relatively recent migrant to the area I can attest to its appeal to a much broader readership.”
— Sue Heffernan, Canada’ History
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