The Big Nickel

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.

This is me, fulfilling my lifelong dream of seeing The Big Nickel on November 18, 2012.
This is me, fulfilling my lifelong dream of seeing The Big Nickel on November 18, 2012.

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.

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