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Sudbury’s Big Nickel

The Story

Looking for big money? Along the highway outside Sudbury, Ont., you'll find the world's largest coin. At 10 metres in diameter and 60 centimetres thick, Sudbury's Big Nickel is a tribute to the city's primary industry of nickel mining. In the years since Ted Szilva built it in 1964, it's become a landmark and a photo opportunity for countless travellers along the Trans-Canada Highway. In this 2004 CBC-TV clip, Szilva explains how he built the attraction despite resistance from Sudbury's city council.

Medium: Television
Program: On the Road Again
Broadcast Date: Jan. 23, 2004
Guest: Ted Szilva
Duration: 1:24

Did You know?

• Sudbury has been a nickel mining centre since 1902, when Inco - the International Nickel Company - was founded there. A rich deposit of nickel had been discovered there in 1884, shortly after the expansion of the Canadian Pacific Railway through northern Ontario.

• Nickel, an element first classified in 1751, is mainly used in combination with other metals to produce alloys such as stainless steel. Sudbury produces about 30 per cent of the world's nickel.

• Ted Szilva, then a Sudbury firefighter, conceived the Big Nickel in 1963 as his contest entry for Sudbury's Centennial project. His idea failed to capture the attention of the judges, but he pursued the project on his own. The Big Nickel became the centrepiece in the Canadian Centennial Numismatic Park on the outskirts of Sudbury and opened on July 22, 1964.

• In 2001 the Big Nickel, which had since become the property of Science North, Sudbury's science museum, was taken down for refurbishing. It was returned to its hilltop site in 2003 alongside Dynamic Earth, a new tourist attraction that takes visitors underground to learn about mining and geology.

Ontario is home to hundreds of large roadside attractions.  They include:

• Birchbark Sign in Algonquin Park
• Spirit Catcher in Barrie
• World's Largest Snowman in Beardmore
• Northern Ontario Logging Memorial in Blind River
• Buckhorn Buck in Buckhorn
• Chimo the Polar Bear in Cochrane
Big Apple in Colborne
• Loonie in Echo Bay
• Two-Man Crosscut Saw in Hearst
Husky the Muskie in Kenora
• Miners Memorial, Kirkland Lake
Tomato-Shaped Information Booth in Leamington
• Big Joe Muffraw in Mattawa
• Voyageur in Mattice
• Floral Clock in Niagara Falls
• Mammoth Cheese in Perth
• The Wall (World's Largest Photo Mosaic) in Port Carling
• Moose Cow and Calf in Sault Ste. Marie
Jumbo the Elephant in St. Thomas
• Mosquito Carrying a Man in Upsala
• Canada Goose in Wawa
• Thermometer in White River
• Wiarton Willie (groundhog) in Wiarton
• King and Queen sculptures in Windsor
• Springbank Snow Countess (cow) in Woodstock




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