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Our Story: First Things First

Sudbury Living Magazine December 30, 2017 Our Town, Sudbury's Stories No Comments on Our Story: First Things First

Until the late 1800s, there were very few Europeans in this part of northeastern Ontario except for missionaries and trappers, mostly from Quebec.

In our story about Greater Sudbury, we must first acknowledge the First People of this territory.

When the Europeans arrived, they made contact with the Whitefish Lake Ojibwa, “hardy self-reliant people who led a semi-nomadic life following the food cycle of fish, game and plants,” wrote E.G Higgins in Sudbury Then & Now, published in 1977.

Higgins also wrote a book about the Ojibwa, who are members of the Algonquin linguistic group. They refer to themselves as Anishnabe - a word that means “the people.”

The Anishnabe occupied this area for thousands of years. They were hunters and followed the animals around this vast territory to meet their survival needs.

As traders, missionaries, government officials arrived, and later surveyors, railroad workers, prospectors, miners, lumber-men, merchants, and finally settlers, the Anishnabe welcomed them and adapted to the influence.

The Hudson Bay Company established a post in 1824 at Whitefish Lake prior to the reserve system. The post traded with the Anishnabe for pelts like beaver, mink, marten, muskrat, wolf and bear. When the Robinson - Huron Treaty was signed by Chief Shawenakeshick in 1850, the agreement resulted in the establishment of the Whitefish Lake Reservation. In a statment made to the Department of Crown Lands in 1887, the chief’s son Mongowin said, “My father was Chief Shawenakeshick. He and his braves fought against the Long Knives in the war (1812)…My father remained away during the whole time of the war, fighting until they made peace. He and his warriors never received anything for their fidelity to the Crown.”

The Hudson Bay Company post was relocated from the reserve in 1887 and eventually closed in 1896.

The relationship between the Anishnabe and the early settlers was generally peaceful with continued trading with Sudbury. Higgins recorded the stories of Whitefish Lake First Nation members who continued to sell their crafts and skills directly to residents of the area after the post closed.

Over time many Anishnabe moved into the city and eventually formed the Nickel Belt Indian Club and later established the N’Swakamok Friendship Center in 1967.

N’Swakamok was the name used by the Anishnabe for Sudbury and translates to “the meeting of three roads.”

The N’Swakamok Friendship Centre has had four different homes in the city. The first was on Ignatius St., then relocatedto Douglas St., then Larch St., and in 1982 the current site at 110 Elm St. was purchased.

There have been mny aboriginal leaders from this area whose names have not been recorded in the history books although they have made significant contributions to both aboriginal and non aboriginal life.

Sudbury was the first Ontario municipality to own and operate its own electricity plant.

The biggest challenge facing civic leaders during Sudbury’s formative years was attracting new citizens. Life in a northern town called for people of strong will and rugged enthusiasm.

Other than the lure of a good pay cheque, there were few amenities. In order to grow, Sudbury councillors recognized the need for a healthy infrastructure.

Despite enormous controversy, Sudbury went to work in 1894 on electric and water projects that would lead to it becoming the first municipality in Ontario to control the delivery of both water and electricity to its homes and businesses.

It was a colossal achievement which generated a few other firsts as well. During construction, there was the first strike for higher wages in Sudbury history.

The strike was partially responsible for the first cost over-runs the municipality ever faced. By completion, the total cost, first projected at $40,000 ballooned to over $50,000.

The electrical grid and water service cost city taxpayers the equivalent of $50 million in 2008 dollars.


The City of Sudbury has the dubious honour of being the first city in Canada to install parking meters.

The parking meter was invented in 1935 by Carl C. Magee in Oklahoma. The first meters were installed in that city.

During the Second World War, Sudbury’s mining economy boomed as the need for nickel was great. As a way to reduce congestion downtown, the chair of the newly appointed Town Planning Commission, J.D. McInnes, recommended parking meters as a way to control traffic in March 1940. The idea was to encourage people to use public transit. Sudbury had street-cars at the time.

It was also hoped that the meters would deter people from parking downtown all day, taking spots away from potential customers.

Parking meters were introduced on a six-month experimental basis. It cost a nickel for an hour of parking.

City officials were happy to add parking meter revenues to the city’s bottom line and have never looked back.

Ottawa was the last major city in North America to install parking meters after two decades of debating advantages, like increased revenue, and disadvantages, such as angry motorists and decrease in tourism.


Sudbury has always been at the forefront when it comes to embracing new ideas and technology.

With the help of its new mainframe computer, the Honeywell DPS-66, Sudbury was able to revolutionize accounting and payroll procedures.

In 1976, the Honeywell, which was the size of a bar fridge and had the processing power of the average 2008 Pentium laptop, was programmed to handle the minucipal election. It marked the beginning of Jim Gordon’s first full-term as mayor.


Ground setting legal rights for Ontario francophones were established in Sudbury in 1976.

That was the year “non coupable” (not guilty) was first accepted as a plea in provincial courts. Francophones in Sudbury had become the first in Ontario permitted to seek justice in their mother language.

Until 1976, francophones charged with a criminal offence could ask for the services of a provincially-paid interpreter. But, in civil matters, the onus fell on the person wanting an interpreter to pay the cost.

Other cities took note. Within three years, eight more followed Sudbury’s lead, culminating in amendments to the criminal code in 1979 providing trials in French anywhere in Ontario.

In 1984, less than eight years after Sudbury moved to guarantee French-language rights, English and French were deemed the official languages of the courts of Ontario.


CHNO Sudbury was the first bilingual private radio station in Canada outside of Quebec.

In 1947, Baxter Ricard obtained a licence to establish CHNO.

Operating as Sudbury Broadcasting Company and acting as an affiliate of both CBC Radio’s Dominion Network and Radio-Canada, CHNO signed on at AM 1440 on June 24, 1947. It aired programming in both English and French, even after it was moved to AM 900 on Nov. 9, 1954.

However in 1957, Ricard started CFBR on AM 550 as a full-time French language station, which took over the Radio-Canada affiliation, while CHNO switched to full time English programming. The two stations then swapped frequencies.

In 1980, Ricard’s company launched CJMX FM. He became a major shareholder in Mid-Canada Communications. Although Sudbury Broadcasting continued to operate independently, it was merged into Mid-Canada Radio in 1985, before the company sold the stations to Pelmorex. After the sale, CFBR became CHYC.

CHNO AM celebrated its 50th anniversary June 24, 1997. Pelmorex sold CJMX to Telemedia the next year. Then in 1999, CHNO and CHYC were sold to the Haliburton Broadcasting Group.

The group applied to the CRTCto move the stations to FM. CHNO was moved to 103.9 with a contemporary hit radio format and was christened Z103 on Feb. 3 2000. The FM and AM signals continued to air simultaneously for a few weeks until the AM signal was terminated on Feb. 29, ending 53 years of CHNO broadcasting on the AM dial.

Haliburton sold CHNO to Newcap Broadcasting on Nov. 9, 2001, although it continued to own CHYC. On Jan. 1, 2006, the station became Big Daddy 103.9 (CHNO FM).



Canada’s first privately owned TV station went on the air in Sudbury in 1953, a year after CBC-TV was launched in Toronto and Montreal.

CKSO-TV’s first day of broadcast was Oct. 25, 1953. Sudbury’s television station was backed by a group of Sudbury businessmen headed by George Miller, Jim Cooper and W.B.Plaunt, who became its president.

In the early days, programming started at 7 pm and ended at 11 pm with a newscast. By the end of the first year, the schedule started at 3:30 pm.

In 1966, CKSO-TV was among the first stations in Canada to broadcast in colour.

CKSO delivered television service exclusively in the Sudbury area for 20 years. Many Sudbury residents remember the early days of CKSO-TV with personalities such as Basil Scully, Kay Woodill, Bill Kehoe,Judy ( Jacobson ) Erola. Mikr Connor and Trudy Manchester.

CKNC-TV entered the Sudbury market in 1971 and became a CBC affiliate, and CKSO-TV switched to the CTV Network as CICI-TV.

In 1976, cable brought American signals and the Global Network to Sudbury. In 1980, CICI-TV and CKNC-TV were amalgamated into Mid-Canada TV, which was then purchased by Baton Broadcasting of Toronto in 1990….

CKSO AM signed on the air on Aug. 23, 1935 at 780 kHz with 1,000 watts of power. The company was owned by W.E Mason, the owner of The Sudbury Star. The studios were in the Grand Theatre building. The “SO” in the call letters stood for Sudbury, Ontario. In 1936, CKSO moved from 780 to 790 kHz. on the AM dial. CKSO AM continued to see changed in its ownership and power output over the years.

After the original owner died, the radio station was purchased by Miller, Cooper and Plaunt shortly before they launched the television station.

In 1965, CKSO FM signed on the air. Today, it is known as Q92. By 1966 the corporate owner of the AM and FM stations was Cambrian Broadcasting Ltd.

In 1979 Cambrian Broadcasting sold its television broadcasting interests and became solely a radio broadcaster operating under United Broadcasting Ltd.

In September of 1986, the CTRC approved the sale of CKSO AM and CIGM FM to Telemedia Communications Inc.

The offices and studios were moved to 880 LaSalle Blvd. by 1990.

In May 1990, CKSO AM changed its call letters to CIGM. The call letters belonged to the company’s sister FM station. The “GM” stands for George Miller.

On July 29, 1999, the CTRC approved of the purchase of several radio stations, including CIGM, which recognized change of ownership from Telemedia Communications Inc. to Telemedia Radio Inc.

In 2002, Rogers Radio Inc. bought CIGM (Today’s Country), Q92 (Sudbury’s Rock Station) and Easy Rock 105 FM (CJMX). (CJMX was established in 1980 by Baxter Ricard.)



On Dec. 4, 1968, Dr. Paul Field conducted Canada’s first succesful aorta-coronary bypass operation at the Sudbury Memorial Hospital.

In 1979, he also performed Canada’s first succesful artery bypass graft.

Field was born in Wales and trained in the United Kingdom to be a heart and lung surgeon. He graduated from King’s College in London as one of the youngest British doctors ever.

When his first marriage ended in 1954, he decided to move to Canada bringing one of his daughters, Alison, with him. After practising in Ottawa and Espanola, he was hired by Inco as the company physician.

Four years later though, he returned to Britain to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons, andin 1961, went to study at Harvard for training in cardiovascular surgery.

In 1963, he returned to Sudbury to workat Sudbury Memorial Hospital. He left Sudbury in 1998 and eventually retired in Victoria, B.C., following a bad fall and serious head trauma in 1999.

He died in 2006 at the age of 73 from heart disease.

His legacy lives on today through the Sudbury Vascular Laboratory, which was founded by Field in 1982. It started with just one technician and one doctor, but has since expanded to include three vascular doctors and eight technicians.

Using ultrasound machines to find blocked arteries and veins, up to 100 tests are conducted for life-threatening diseases that can lead to aneurysms and strokes. Once the doctors have a diagnosis, all operations and invasive procedures are carried out at the hospital. The clinic is a seperate entity from Sudbury Regional Hospital and has its own board of directors, although the hospital covered some of the cost of the renovations to the new location.

In the last quarter century the lab has served thousands of patients from all over the north. In 2006 it became the largest vascular clinic in Ontario when it moved from its previous location on Caswell Dr. to its current location at 2140 Regent in the Oak Plaza near Loach’s Rd.

Field’s daughter, Alison Tait, works at the lab after starting there as a vascular technologist in 1986.

Laurentian University was established in 1960. It was the first biligual non-denominational university in Canada.

Although the University of Sudbury was founded in 1957, a Provincial act three years later gave corporate structure to Laurentian University as a biligual federation with representation from the Roman Catholic, United, and Angelican churches.

The next year was highlighted by the founding of Thorneloe University by the Synod of the Angelican Diocese of Algoma.

Laurentian has evolved over the past 48 years from a small liberal arts college to a multi-faculty university.

Former president John Daniel called Laurentian a microcosm of Canada, with its English, French and native traditions. It continues to reflect the changing face of Canada with the addition of a growing number of international students.

Construction of the original campus was completed in 1964, while other buildings were added later. Schools of Nursing, Physical and Health Education, and Social Work were established in 1967. The School of Translation and Interpreters was established a year later.

In 2003 the first doctoral program was created at Laurentian: a Ph.D. in mineral deposits and PreCambrian geology. Since then several doctoral programs have been added.

That same year at Laurentian’s new English-language School of Education welcomed its first students into the concurrent bachelor of education program. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, a collaboration with Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, officially opened in 2005.

The beautiful, expansive campus is home to more than 9,000 full-time and part-time students.


LU establishes SPAD program

In the early 1970s, local sport organizations and businesses required educated personnel, so a unique partnership was formed between Laurentian University’s faculty members from the School of Commerce and Administration, and the School of Physical and Health Education.

With the help of various Canadian sport leaders, faculty members designed Canada’s first School of Sports Administration Program (SPAD). The program celebrated its 35th anniversary in September 2007.

Commerce professor David Blenkhorn and PHED professor Kit Lefroy were co-ordinators of the inaugural program which started in September 1972.

The first meeting of the program’s advisory council took place in February of 1973 and was made up of 20 influential people from the sport industry, including NHL president Clarence Campbell, Toronto Blue Jays president Peter Bavasi, and CFL commissioner Jake Gaudaur.

In July of the next year, the first SPAD director, Bob Wanzel, was hired, and by April of 1957, SPAD students were in their first classes. In August of 2006, SPAD offices were re-located to the Fraser building near the School of Commerce.

The program has a limited enrolment of 40 students each year. They graduate with a one-of-a kind honours bachelor of commerce degree in sports administration.

The four-year interdisciplinary professional degree combines exposure to the functional areas of business with a practical and theoretical approach to the sports business.

It also features an eight-month internship in a progressive position with a sport organization, and a field trip for graduates that aims to blend theory with practical experience. As part of the trip, the graduating class is asked to travel to a pre-determined city, prepare a budget, and devise a fundraising campaign.

Graduates include Phil Legault, the vice-president of communications with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators and Scotiabank Place; Ryan Belec, vice-president of operations for the Tampa Bay Lightning; and Jon Lalonde, scouting director for the Jays. The current director of SPAD is Norm O’Reilly, who in addition to his experience in management and with sports organizations in Canada, is a coach, marathon runner, skier, swimmer and triathlon athlete.

Northern Ontario School of Medicine was the first new medical school to be built in Canada in 30 years.

It officially opened in September 2005.

The school is a collaborative effort between Laurentian University and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

Construction of the East Campus began with a ground-breaking ceremony in March 2003. Site preparation started in January 2004 with excavating, drilling, and rock blasting, followed by the installation of site services.

The 6,000 square-metre three-floor facility consists of teaching areas that include an 80-seat lecture theatre, a SMART classroom, 12 small seminar rooms, and a multipurpose teaching space of 330-square meters. It also boasts a 1,090 square-meter multipurpose research lab, a 200-square-metre library equipped with electronic facilities, in addition to tons of office space for administrative and academic usage. Designed by a team from the school, Laurentian University, and the architectural firm of Nicolls Yallowega Belanger Architects of Sudbury, it’s built to minimize environmental impact.

It’s also one of the most energy efficient buildings in the countrym as rated by independent engineering consultants Enermodal of Toronto.

The school’s founding dean is is Dr. Roger Strasser. The grand opening at the twin campuses was held by a videoconference, with Premier Dalton McGuinty among the distinguished guests at Laurentian University, while aboriginal leader Elijah Harper and Ontario Minister of Health George Smitherman were among the featured speakers at Lakehead.

McGuinty encouraged the first 56 students inthe school to stay in Northern Ontario after they graduate.

“I can tell you the north needs you, the north needs your skills, the north needs your commitment,” McGuinty said.


Workers’ Memorial Day started in Sudbury in 1985 to commemorate the lives of four miners who were killed in a rock burst the year before.

On June 20, 1984, a rock burst occurred at the Falconbridge Mine at 10:12 am resulting in the loss of four miners: Sulo Korpela, Richard Chenier, Daniel Lavalle, and Wayne St. Michel. A seismic event measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale struck the Falconbridge Mine leading to the rock burst. The majority of the damage to the mine occured between the 3800-foot level and the 4200-foot level.

During the first attempts of rescue, a second seismic event occured, at which time immediate rescue operations ceased and plans were made to evacuate the 200 workers from the mine.

Evacuation was completed at approximatly 2 pm that day. Around the clock rescue operations were immediately set up to free the four trapped miners.

Voice contact was established with one of the trapped miners, but after 27 hours, just 15 minutes before the rescue teams could free him, Wayne St. Michel died. Recovery operations continued for the other three men for several more days.

On June 20, 1985, the Sudbury Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers’ Union, Local 598 established the first Workers’ Memorial Day, in remembrance of the four miners.

The memorial was held at the Bell Park amphitheatre. It is believed to be the first time a workers’ memorial was attended by union members in solidarity with city and government officials, politicians and community leaders.

The Mine Mill continues to mark Workers’ Memorial Day on June 20 to remember the workers at Falconbridge Xstrata who have died at work in the three quarters of a century since the company was founded. As well, the memorial pays tribute to all workers killed on the job.

Members of the Mine Mill & Smelter Workers, Local 598 CAW also participate in a Workers’ Memorial Day on April 28 every year.

Since 1989, April 28 Workers’ Memorial Day has been commemorated across Canada. Trade unionists around the world also mark April 28 as an International Day of Mourning.


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