Sudbury as a holiday destination?

At Kivi Park
At Kivi Park
Reading Time: 6 minutes

After a morning walk through downtown Sudbury, I needed a coffee. Having good memories from cycling through the Donovan in the spring, I wanted to revisit this rough and tumble Kathleen street in winter. I had read about the interesting initiatives by Mark Browning and Jessica Nadel.

The Gospel Hall in Little Britain
The Canadian Food guide hasn't made it to Sudbury I fear
The Canadian food guide hasn’t made it to Sudbury I fear
advertisement for fast food
I wonder what the Swiss are thinking…..
Roof top parking at the Rainbow Mall. don't blame the lack of parking to the low attendance of the mall.
Roof top parking at the Rainbow Centre Mall. Don’t blame the lack of parking to the low attendance of the mall
The Laurentian University McEwen School of Architecture

Other side of the tracks

The railway town version of a ‘walk your bike’ sign. Note the mural in the background

The railway tracks tend to be in the way in Sudbury no matter where you go, but there is a shortcut to the Donovan close to the place I stayed.

Crossing a creek in downtown Sudbury via a foot bridge. I have found Sudbury fairly walkable
Crossing a creek in downtown Sudbury via a foot bridge. I have found Sudbury fairly walkable
The snow banks are waist high
The snow banks are waist high

Mark and Jessica own ‘Beards’. One cannot skip a visit to Beards on Kathleen when visiting Sudbury. Keeko, who just moved from Vancouver (Vancouver! Vancouver!) to live with her boyfriend in Sudbury, made me a large capucchino which was the right choice after a walk through town at -12C with a blustery cold west wind making it feel like -22C.

There is a steady stream of beards entering the place actually
There is a remarkably steady stream of beards entering the place

Mark and Jessica own several other businesses on Kathleen. From what I read they are a very interesting and socially active couple. Read more about their story on how they singlehandedly try to overcome Kathleen street’s challenges.

Desserts at Beards are to die for
Desserts at Beards are to die for
Great initiative that should be done in every city by the city: Walk Sudbury put up the signs to several locations in town. I am not sure if mentioning the number of steps is very useful though.
Seedy Saturday in Sudbury
I often drop in at libraries when I am out of town. Seedy “Satruday” is this week!

Skating Ramsey Lake

Skating Ramsey Lake at Science North
Skating Ramsey Lake at Science North

Being Dutch, I had to skate on Ramsey Lake. While not as big as Ottawa’s Rideau canal skateway, the kilometer or so on the lake between Bell Park and Science North is a nice place to skate for a bit. Ignore the cracking sounds you continue to hear when you’re skating…

Cross country ski in Sudbury

Landscape at Bioski

On Saturday, the weather finally improved a bit and the biting cold was gone. We brought our XC skis and wanted to check out several ski areas in the Sudbury region, without going too far out of our way. One of our choices was the Bioski just east of Laurentian university.

More landscape at Bioski

Bioski is an area of about one square kilometer, with several paths cut through it. The original designers of the paths made sure that nature was not greatly disturbed, so it makes for nice classic skiing. Most of it is single track and the different routes are well posted. If you are used to skiing in Gatineau Park, you will not find the routes very challenging, but it is a very nice place to ski and close to the city. I doubt any of the places are accessible with public transport. This remains a big challenge in Canada.

Once bare, know growing up again
Once bare, the rocks are covered with vegetation again

Meeting Gerard Courtin

Professor Gerard Courtin pointing out a route to Karen at Bioski.

We were very lucky to meet one of the founders of BioSki, Gerard Courtin, who is also one of the people involved in regreening Sudbury. We got the story of how Sudbury got (part) of its green spaces back.

“We measured the ground temperature on the rocks and we realised it would be way too hot to grow plants. We decided to leave the rocks alone. After several years of research, figuring out what would grow on rock, we ran demo projects and managed to to get plants growing on the rocks again. Plant cover dropped the temperature by 20 degrees. Some people wanted to start planting rows of trees, but we realised we needed to follow a different path. We needed to add lots of lime to the soil to make growth possible again. So it was like building the pyramids: we got students out to carry 12 kg bags of lime to every square metre. The following day we would tip over all those bags, sowed seeds and let nature do the rest. It worked.” (I am writing this up from memory, not a literal quote)

Astronauts in Sudbury

One of the stubborn myths Professor Courtin wanted to rectify is that astronauts didn’t come to practise on the polluted, vegetation free, blackened moonscape around Sudbury before they went to the moon. Rather, they were there to learn to identify certain types of minerals and rocks.

Lake Wanapitae fly over

“The idea was the astronauts were going to the moon to look at meteorite impacts,” said Debicki. “But they needed to know what meteorite impact features looked like so they can recognize them when they see them.”

The crew’s first day in Sudbury was spent doing aerial flyovers of the basin and Lake Wanapitae — itself an impact crater — before Debicki and Card joined them for the second day.

With backpacks and sampling tools in hand, the group went hiking the rocky hills around Onaping, on the north end of the basin, observing shatter cones and breccia formations formed from the meteorite that struck Earth at the site of Sudbury, some 1.85 billion years ago.

What is Breccia

Breccia is a term most often used for clastic sedimentary rocks that are composed of large angular fragments (over two millimeters in diameter). The spaces between the large angular fragments are filled with a matrix of smaller particles and a mineral cement that binds the rock together. Source:

Kivi Park

Kivi Park has skate ski options, unlike Bioski

We also checked out Kivi park. This is a fairly new outdoor sports park on the edge of Sudbury, allowing for different outdoor activities. The park is initiated by the Fielding family, who apparently made their money hauling ore and gravel for Sudbury’s mining companies. Ms Fielding is from Finnish descent and decided to donate money to develop the former property of a public school into this park. There are a few kilometers of classic and skate skiing tracks. In the summer there are cycling trails.

Arugula in North Bay

On our way back to Ottawa we stopped for lunch in North Bay at a pizzeria called Arugula. We had never heard of it before, but the name on a billboard outside Sudbury appealed to us so much we drove into North Bay and enjoyed a really good pizza. The decoration is a bit too black for my liking, but the 4.5 stars out of 5 from 300 reviewers on Google aren’t wrong. Highly recommended!

More Sudbury

I really enjoyed our stay in Sudbury in winter for a few days. There are more ski options, but we didn’t have enough time to check them out. Last week I wrote about Sudbury in winter. Is there anything else than snow? Check it out here.


  1. Thank you for sharing your photos and cycling experiences. I found your site while trying to find information about the K & P Trail in Kingston. (Komoot link was very helpful.) I grew up in Sudbury so I had to click on your posts about my home town. I love winter there. There are lots of places to ski, the Ramsey Lake skate trail is a draw and you often see the Northern Lights there when the nights are long.

    Please keep going!

  2. Hi Hans:
    Sometime it would be useful to do a brief outline ( or a good on-line reference to) of the use, by both motorists and cyclists, of the various green cycling pavement markings. I sort of know how most of them are to be used but i am vague about others. I had problems (i.e. couldn’t) find a comprehensive outline of all of them.
    Thanks Larry

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