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Taking care of history

Oiva Saarinen’s book is available at Chapters.

“From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City: A Historical Geography of Greater Sudbury” chronicles the human and physical environment of the city’s past and present, presenting “the big picture.

“If you don’t write things down, a lot of history gets lost.”

That’s the last thing Oiva Saarinen wants to see happen. He cares about the city he calls home, so he took an active role in contributing to it by recording the early years.

“It gives understanding to what you see with your eyes all around you,” said Saarinen, author of From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City: A Historical Geography of Greater Sudbury.

Nearly 400 pages long, the reference guide is the result of a decade of data collection and a lifetime of ideas. Saarinen joked it began Aug. 3, 1937, “When I first saw the light of day at St. Joe’s Hospital.”

As a lifelong Sudburian, Saarinen said he was able to bring a genuinely hometown approach to the writing process.

“We grew up with the black rocks,” he said. “To me, this was normal.

“It’s nice to go back and reflect what it was like. The community has changed so drastically.”

Not only is he passionate about the city, he is knowledgeable about the topic. Saarinen spent his professional life as a geography professor at Laurentian University.

He said anyone with questions about the growth of Sudbury, should find the book an interesting read.

“I think people underestimate the intellectual curiosity of a community,” he said.

And there is certainly lots to absorb in the book, everything from Sudbury’s physical landscape to the lines on a map to the way the city looked once upon a time, right up to the people who helped shape the community.

Saarinen will be reading from the book May 25 at the Laamanen Room at Science North at 10 a.m. The official book launch, which is open to the public, continues throughout the day until 2 p.m.

For those who can’t make the launch, additional copies of “From Meteorite Impact to Constellation City: A Historical Geography of Greater Sudbury” will be available from Science North, Dynamic Earth, Laurentian University, Chapters and Leinala’s Bakery.

This article was orignally published in Northern Life May 23, 2013

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