M2000.83.104 | Sudbury
Alan Caswell Collier (1911-1990)
1951, 20th century
Oil on masonite
74 x 101.3 cm
Samuel Bronfman Collection for Seagram
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Cityscape (3948) , Painting (2229) , painting (2227)
Keys to History
The nickel mine workforce lived in a number of mining villages around Sudbury. Most of the workers were British, English Canadian or French Canadian. Some miners came from the Michigan copper mines, but most were from central Canada. From the turn of the 20th century, the mining companies, like other big Canadian businesses, preferred to hire immigrants, who were less demanding and less likely to form a common front in case of a labour dispute. Thus it was that the Sudbury region became home to a number of foreign communities. By the eve of the First World War, the workforce consisted of 75% immigrants, and this was true of all the northern mines until the 1930s. After many studies and metallurgical tests, the demand for nickel from the stainless steel and armaments industries became insatiable.
The smokestacks of the International Nickel smelter at Copper Cliff dominated the landscape of the region. In the early 1970s, they were replaced by a single stack over 350 m tall.
Downtown Sudbury was known as the Borgia district. Many French Canadians lived there, and were served by a Catholic parish run by Jesuits: Ste. Anne des Pins, which had the tallest steeple in town.
Beginning in the 1920s, the growing demand for nickel and improved regional communications led to a concentration of mining labour in Sudbury, which became a real mining town.
The city had several ethnic neighbourhoods, where Serbs, Croats, Ukrainians and Italians lived side by side, each with its own community centre, businesses and traditions maintained by a constant to-and-from between their homelands and Sudbury.