Nickel City Nightmares

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Once you have journeyed all around the world in your pursuit of spooky shit; once you have tripped through Prague, had a tunnel scream at you, bought ghost car insurance in Bath; once you have plumbed the whole of the planet for all the spookiness you can possibly handle; then you will finally be ready for Sudbury.

No, not the cool Sudbury in England that dates back to 799 AD which probably has boatloads of history to dispense, we are instead speaking of the Canadian one. Founded in 1893 (or ten years earlier when the mission Sainte-Anne-des-Pins was established (or 1.849 billion years earlier when the meteorite struck that started all this trouble in the first place)) Sudbury is the unofficial capital of northern Ontario.

Nestled within the Sudbury basin (otherwise known as a fucking crater,) Sudbury has been dominated by the crash and boom economy of mining. The population grew rapidly after the settlement was established and development followed likewise, the whole of city at the mercy of the international nickel market.

 Photo of Levack Mine by  Gregory Roberts

Photo of Levack Mine by Gregory Roberts

The mines are perhaps the best place to start. Deep down below the surface is where Sudbury had its start, and so did its spookiness: one of the mines is even haunted (allegedly!) The 2650 level of the Levack Mine has given people the spooks since the 1970s. At the time, it was the job of the fireguard to go down into the empty mine, all by his lonesome, and keep an eye out for fire. But on this night he was not alone. He phoned up to the two other people present in the mine to get him the hell out of there. The elevator operator was only convinced by the panic in the fireguard’s voice, a panic which only increased, as he had had just about enough of being told he was down there alone when he was quite confident he was not. Fucking ghosts. Ever since, tales of what haunts the shaft have been told all around the mine.

Sudbury isn’t just mining though, they also have arts. Up on the surface, the Sudbury Theatre Centre (STC) opened in a physical sense in 1982, but had already existed as an organization for several years. Since it opened its doors, the theatre has been haunted. This ghost is not malicious or terrifying like the one down in the dark of the shaft, and is identified as Sydney Brown. Brown was 80 when he died in 1979. He had been a part of the STC for quite a while, and once the building was opened he moved in. Having followed the spirit of the theatre, Brown never gets up to anything too nefarious and is generally looked upon with goodwill. Catch a show here, and you may have an extra member in the audience if you are lucky.

But maybe watching plays isn’t your thing. Maybe these ghosts seem silly to you. Maybe you need something more. Maybe you need aliens.

Yes, not just below ground, not just at ground level, even the fucking skies are out to get you here. Sudbury has seen its fair share of UFOs, maybe even more than its fair share! Since the 1950s UFOs have been spotted in Sudbury skies. Are they interested in this ancient crater? Perhaps, but they don’t seem to stay for long, so mining interest seems unlikely. In fact, they don’t seem to land in the area at all, content to keep a distance, content to only watch.

If any of these stories interest you, visiting Sudbury is surprisingly affordable, and in the warmer months can even be considered enjoyable. I never even got into the old hospital, Bell Mansion, or the Burwash Prison: if you need a guide to local weirdness, then Spooky Sudbury by Mark Leslie and Jenny Jelen is your best bet. Happy haunting!


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Joseph Alexander

Joseph is a homonculus animated by a need to solve mysteries. When no mysteries abound, crude mexican cuisine will frequently suffice. He grew up in a small, Northern Ontario community and is still suffering the consequences. Also, he writes sometimes.