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ReportsMonday, 23 June 2003
North Bay --> Sudbury, Ontario, Canada After one day in North Bay I moved on to the next destination. I had one invitation in Sudbury, a city west of North Bay, another 125km on the highway. Blaine had taken a day off work today and it was no problem for him and Kelly to just drive me to Sudbury.
There now might come a time that I won't know how it is to hitchhike through Canada!
Sudbury lays on the edge of the Sudbury Basin, a pit created either by a volcano or, the preferred theory, by a giant meteor. Whatever did the damage, the effect was to throw one of the world's richest nickel and copper towards the surface. It was the nickel, that made Sudbury's fortune, but its by-products caused devastation.
Most of the damage in town was done by a smelting method known as heap roasting, used until the 1920s, which spread out clouds of sulphurous fumes over forests already ravaged by lumber firms and mineral prospectors, who often started fires to reveal the traces of metal in the bare rocks.
Compared with Hell and Hiroshima, the bleak landscape had only one advantage: in 1968 it enabled two astronauts to practise their great leap for mankind (and biggest lie in history if you ask me).
In Sudbury I met up with Richard Malette when Blaine and Kelly dropped me off in front of the house. Richard was home for the day as he is a financial advisor. His wife Lise is a school teacher and their two 11-year-olds Eric and Alain were at school.
I was immediately amazed by the house they live in. Richard showed me my guest bedroom on the second floor and gave me a tour around the big house. "We barely use the living room," Richard said, "if you sit down on one of the couches you are probably the third person ever to sit on it."
And outside, in their back garden they had something totally unimaginable: a Roman style swimming pool including pilars and statues! Oh my God! Wow!
Richard invited me to go for a swim and enjoy a beer. That sounded good to me and within minutes I was swimming in their pool. The weather was going to high stakes again today, so in the water it is always better than right outside in the sun.
"I just love this weather," Richard said. "For me it can always be like this."
And he told me about their vacation to the warm south of France and Italy. "One day I will buy a house in the south of France. The rest of Europe doesn't appeal to me that much, but in the south of France it is just always beautiful."
Later in the afternoon I met up with the twins Eric and Alain and we played a game of waterpolo in the pool. Mother Lise was our servant (that's how we joked around) as she kept on running after the ball if it flew out of the ball.
I am still waiting for my drinks, by the way. Bad servant! :-)
The kids were pretty smart for their age and I had fun hanging around with them too. When Richard told them last week that I was coming over and I was on Canada AM that day too, they were very excited to meet me. "They will be talking about this for a long time," Richard said.
The kids had to go to soccer practise and together with Richard and Lise I prepared tonight's pizzas in the kitchen. During their trip along the south of Europe, they once saw a pizza oven next to a swimming pool. And as soon as they got the idea of building a Roman styled pool in their back yard, it had to have this pizza oven next to it.
Richard really enjoyed baking the pizzas in that pizza oven. Inside of this hole is the wood and the pizzas are actually baken next to the really hot fire. And as a professional Italian Richard swept out the delicious looking pizza when it was ready. We enjoyed the pizzas on the outside terrace with some Italian red wine. Yummy!
I actually had to ask Richard, after seeing all their luxury, if he doesn't need a financial advisor himself? He laughed out loud and Lise told me "You only live once," so I guess they made their point.
After dinner we picked up the kids at the local sport fields and had a quick drive around town. Lise would not let me go without showing me the famous Science North and the Big Nickel, the two most impressive tourists sights for Sudbury.
Making the most of unusual geology, Science North is a huge snowflake-shaped building installed in a cave blasted into the rock of the Canadian Shield. It was closed when we were there, but the walk around on the floating-on-water boardwalk was pleasuring too. Many people had a summer walk here and enjoyed the upcoming sunset.
The Big Nickel is a nine-metres-high steel replica of a Canadian five-cent coin. It stands by the Trans-Canada Highway and marks the entrance of Sudbury's Big Nickel Mine. This is actually a replica mine that goes only 20 metres below the earth surface. Tourists can actually send postcards through the underground postoffice. Pretty redicilous if you ask me.
From the Big Nickel area I got a nice view over the crater called Sudbury, with the world's highest smelting stack just a few kilometres out of town.
I checked it out but this stack even beats that big smelting tower in Mount Isa, Australia (a town the size of Switzerland).
Back in time again. Having continued to produce sulphur-laden smoke from the stacks of their nickel smelters here in Sudbury, the mining companies were finally forced to take action when a whole community of workers from one town were evacuated in the 1970s because of the number of sulphur-induced illness.
The Sudbury smelters were at that time causing exactly 1% of the entire world's pollution.
Since then the city's ambitions re-greening and pollutants to the immediate environment were even applauded by the UN's 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.
I guess you actually need to have a swimming pool, a basement bar with a pool table and an entertainment room to enjoy living in Sudbury, because once again this was just another city in line with all other similar no-self-identity towns that live on strip malls, car malls, fast-food restaurants and suburbs.
After being spoiled with ice cream from Dairy Queen's drive-thru in town, we headed back to the house again. I installed my computer to my hosts internet connection and had a game of pool with the kids. It was tough, because they almost won from me three times!
I ended the night having to be very busy with the preparations for the coming few weeks. Next week I hope to arrive in the province Manitoba and after a few days I will already be in the next province, Saskatchewan.
For more details off the itinerary of my last weeks in Canada, check out the front page Latest News of this website.
Good night North Bay!