Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


An historical study of the Sudbury area of Northern Ontario raises important questions about the interplay of frontier North and settled South. Did progress in the "Nickel Belt" rely on outside-directed staples exploitation, or did local initiative play any part? What sort of society emerged--urban or rural, chaotic or tranquil? Questions such as these guide this thesis, which adopts a narrative coverage of local events from prehistory to the Great Depression. Changes in the resource sectors, administration and society are emphasized, for these best reflect the successive stages of areal development from a Northern "wilderness" to a modern region.;This broad-ranging survey reveals both the strengths and shortcomings in the standard analysis of the resource frontier. According to these assessments, Canada's mid-north was home to a mainly urban population that was dependent on outside staples exploiters. Yet in the Nickel Belt a varied economy was highlighted by a farm sector which assumed proportions belying the area's supposed, mining-induced ecological devastation. Outside-sponsored mining and forestry also produced much local progress. Even the monopolization of the nickel industry brought more good than harm; though INCO showed scant sympathy for area residents, the day-to-day needs of a huge industry and the stability assured by the lack of competition were a great boon to the Nickel Belt. Aid from the senior governments resulted in yet more gains; the combination of public and private resources produced an economic and social infrastructure comparable to much older, more populated regions. Sudbury, because of its various advantages and despite the absence of mineral works, achieved local metropolitan status even as it fell into dependency on INCO. That centre's fate, and the less-heralded events across the Nickel Belt, show the merits of an intermingling of the metropolitan, staples and dependency approaches along lines which pay far greater heed to the real accomplishments, rather than the perceived costs, of Northern, resource-based development.



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