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History of Greater Sudbury

About Greater Sudbury

The City of Greater Sudbury was formed on January 1, 2001, as recommended by the Report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on Local Government Reform for Sudbury (November 1999). The new City represents the amalgamation of the towns and cities which comprised the former Regional Municipality of Sudbury (Sudbury, Capreol, Nickel Centre, Onaping Falls, Rayside-Balfour, Valley East and Walden), as well as several unincorporated townships (Fraleck, Parkin, Aylmer, Mackelcan, Rathbun, Scadding, Dryden, Cleland and Dill). Municipal amalgamation is another transformation through which the City has evolved. It is a history which began as a small railroad outpost in the late nineteenth century and continued through several decades of rapid growth made possible by the region’s vast mineral resources. The City of Greater Sudbury has matured into a diversified regional urban centre, which has become the focus of technology, education, government and health services.

Our Beginnings

Prior to the settlement of Europeans in this area, the lands were lived on and cared for by the Anishnaabe people. The communities of the Greater Sudbury area are situated on the Traditional Territory of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek who have their own oral history and stories related to the land and environment that existed long before the arrival of settlers to the area. They had their own systems of governance and education, ways of knowing and being and of relating to the land around them.

In 1850, Chief Shawenekezhik, on behalf of his people, signed the Robinson Huron Treaty, granting the British Crown and their people a right to occupy and share the lands of the Anishnaabe. Research and oral history have informed that portions of the Greater Sudbury area are also the Traditional Lands of Wahnapitae First Nation and Sagamok Anishnawbek, as well as being a traditional harvesting area for the Metis.

We honour, recognize, and respect these Indigenous people as the traditional stewards of the lands which we share today, and we gratefully acknowledge their historic and contemporary contributions to the guardianship of this land and recognize the contributions that the Metis, Inuit and other Indigenous people have made in shaping and strengthening our community.

From Mining Town to Regional Capital

Since those early pioneer days, Sudbury has evolved into a dynamic and diverse regional capital that functions as the service hub for all of northeastern Ontario – a market estimated at 550,000 people. While mining remains a major influence on the local economy, the City has diversified significantly in recent years to establish itself as a major centre of financial and business services, tourism, health care and research, education and government. The City boasts three post-secondary institutions – Laurentian University, Cambrian College, and Collège Boréal. Hôpital régional de Sudbury Regional Hospital is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion. Combined with the Northeastern Ontario Regional Cancer Centre, both institutions support Sudbury’s role as the main provider of health services in northeastern Ontario. Science North, our popular interactive science centre and IMAX theatre, successfully anchors a vibrant tourism trade that continues to expand. Dynamic Earth, a new attraction focussed on earth sciences, officially opened in April 2003.

Perhaps the most emblematic of Sudbury’s various transformations is the concentrated effort at land reclamation that has been ongoing since the late seventies. The region’s success in regreening surrounding lands and rehabilitating local lakes has earned Sudbury worldwide recognition for its environmental efforts.


The City of Greater Sudbury serves as the regional capital of northeastern Ontario. Located 390 kilometres north of Toronto, 290 kilometres east of Sault Ste. Marie, and 483 kilometres west of Ottawa, Greater Sudbury occupies a central location in Ontario at the convergence of two major highways, Highway 69 South and Highway 17 (Trans-Canada Highway). Surrounded by the raw beauty of the Canadian Shield, the region boasts many natural amenities and several provincial parks are within a short drive.


The total area of the City of Greater Sudbury is 3,627 square kilometres including water bodies, making it the largest municipality in Ontario based on total area.


The City of Greater Sudbury contains 330 lakes within its municipal boundaries. At 13,257 hectares in area, Lake Wanapitei becomes the largest city-contained lake in the world. Greater Sudbury’s urban core also boasts numerous lakes which are a valued natural amenity. Located in the heart of the city, Ramsey Lake provides public access that is only a few minutes walk from the downtown core.

A brief history of Tom Davies Square

Tom Davies Square is located on a corner of one of the busiest intersections in the city, with Larch Street to the north, Paris Street to the east, Brady Street to the south, and Minto Street to the west. When first opened in the late 1970s, the Square and its office towers were considered a cutting-edge design, part of an urban renewal movement at the time.

The building sides facing the Brady/Paris intersection are finished with limited glass to deaden the noise of traffic in working areas. The building sides facing the Square, or Courtyard, are open concept and have large panes of glass to allow views of the Courtyard from all four floors. When first built, the Courtyard area had a pool and fountains.

In 1997, Civic Square was renamed in honour of retiring Chair of the Regional Municipality of Sudbury, Tom Davies.

Who was Tom Davies?

Tom Davies – A believer in our community and one of its greatest visionaries.
Credit: Northern Life – From Greater Sudbury 1883-2008 – The Story of our Times

Tom Davies, regional chair of the Regional Municipality of Sudbury for 16 years (1981-1997), had big ideas. He led the transformation of the community from mining town to regional capital of northeastern Ontario.

Davies, who was born in the Village of Creighton Mine, entered local politics because he was concerned about changes in the law that would affect his business, the Keller Davies Garage in Lively. The popular Creighton Mine hockey and baseball player served as Walden’s mayor until 1981 when he was elected regional chair by members of regional council.

Sudbury was about to reinvent itself. The mining companies had cut their workforces drastically by 1981. The landscape was damaged. Davies led a coalition of community leaders from all sectors. Their mandate was to come up with ideas for economic development.

During the 1980s, new jobs were created at Science North and the federal taxation centre. The Sudbury Theatre Centre was built. Millions of trees were planted and Sudbury’s reputation for cleaning up its environment became world famous. In 1990 the regional cancer centre opened.

Although many people pushed for the $70-million project, it was Davies, working behind the scenes, who made it a reality. Davies put together the jumbled pieces of the funding puzzle when it appeared potential backers were getting cold feet.

Davies was a good athlete and big sports fan. He was a key member of championship Creighton Mine Athletic Association juvenile, junior and senior teams in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Davies also played hockey. He was on the 1949 Creighton Mine Athletic Association team when it captured the district junior championship in 1950.

Thomas Morgan Davies’ name and his work lives on in this community. When Davies died in December 1997 at the age of 63, his hometown was renamed Creighton-Davies Township in his honour. Shortly before his death, Civic Square, the place where he accomplished so much in 16 short years, was renamed Tom Davies Square. The Walden Community Centre was re-named the T.M. Davies Community Centre.