November last year, I went to Sudbury, a city in Northern Ontario, to visit a friend who had taken a temporary contract job there. She also happened to be from Sudbury, so her mom put me up in a spare room and spoiled me with homemade terrone and Finn bread.
“I don’t even bother trying to defend Sudbury,” my friend’s mom told me, as I mowed down on her baking, echoing sentiments I’d had about Hamilton before moving there. Sudbury is a mining town, Hamilton is a steel town, and people made their minds up about them a long time ago. When I mentioned I was headed to Sudbury, for example, the response from people without fail was, “WHY?” It’s virtually pointless trying to change such longstanding opinions. On a related matter, it really burns me, all these “creatives” flocking to Hamilton now. I know how smart you think you are, you little jerks, because I had that idea in like 2005! (I know, we might as well add this to the list of reasons I might be a hipster).
In the end, she couldn’t not stick up for the place. “Come back in the summer when it’s nice,” she said. “There are 300 lakes here, it’s beautiful.”
I knew about the massive ongoing, multi-decade regreening effort going on in Sudbury, but I did not know about the 300 lakes. Why? Because in terms of trip planning, I thought about nothing other than getting to the Big Nickel. There had been a chance to see it a few years ago when I went to Sault Ste. Marie with my mom, grandma and aunt, we had to drive right past Sudbury, but due to the kind of miscommunication that happens in a car loaded with four women, it didn’t work out. By God nothing was going to prevent it this time.
I fucking love the Big Nickel. There are some other big coins in Ontario now, a loonie in Echo Bay and a two dollar coin in Campbellford but the Big Nickel is the original and best. The Big Nickel was everything I imagined it would be!
See also: Fun video on the CBC website featuring Ted Szilva, the guy who built the Big Nickel in 1964.