Print this Post

The Big Nickel – The largest coin in the world is in Sudbury

May 2021

A trip to Sudbury, Ontario, is not complete without stopping at a very popular tourist attraction: the Big Nickel. Literally a big nickel, this 30-foot high, 2-foot wide, replica of a 1951 Canadian nickel, consisting of an inner steel core and a stainless-steel outer core (stainless steel contains nickel, which prevents rusting). It’s the largest coin in the world.

It can be found beside the Dynamic Earth science museum, another popular tourist attraction in the city, which includes an underground model mine tour.

Coming out of an idea put forth by Sudbury firefighter Ted Szilva, as part of a Canadian Centennial project, the 27, 000 lb Big Nickel was officially unveiled on 27 July 1964. Sitting on a base that is 12-feet high, 12-feet wide and 5-feet thick, and made of various ore-bearing rocks, field stones, and other minerals mined in the Sudbury basin, the Big Nickel can be found perched on a small hill near the intersection of Municipal Road 55 and Big Nickel Drive.

An underground model mine was built next to the Big Nickel, opening in 1965, as a collaboration between the MacIsaac Mining and Tunnelling Company and Cambrian Collage, to provide on-site practical training in all facets of mining for students. It also provided tours to the public, giving ordinary citizens a look at life in a mine.

A small park was developed around the Big Nickel and the mine as the only numismatic coin park in the world. Other oversized coin monuments were added, including a $20 Canadian gold coin, a American Kennedy half-dollar, a Canadian 1965 penny and an American 1965 Lincoln penny.

The park also included helicopter rides, a small 55 passenger train that travelled around the park and a carousel.

All the coins, except for the Big Nickel, were dismantled in 1984, and the train and carousel have also disappeared. In their place, the site now includes Dynamic Earth, a hands-on earth sciences museum, opened in 2003. Owned and operated by the nearby Science North, formerly the Sudbury Science Centre, it focuses on Sudbury’s mining heritage, with exhibitions on geology and mining history.

The mine tours remain as a feature of Dynamic Earth, showcasing the evolution of mining from turn-of-the-century to modern day. Temperature in the mine averages at 13°C (55°F) all year long.

An outdoor Science Park is the newest feature for visitors of the Big Nickel, the only one in Ontario. Officially opened to the public on 24 June 2016, it offers lots of fun for the kids with large-scale, science-themed exhibits and interactive structures.

The Big Nickel was also remounted on two thick steel posts.

Sources: Big Nickel – Wikipedia, Dynamic Earth | Science North, Dynamic Earth (Ontario) – Wikipedia, Big Nickel – Wikipedia, Some interesting facts about Sudbury’s Big Nickel on its 55th anniversary | CBC News, Dynamic Earth | Science North, Dynamic Earth to open $1-M outdoor science park – Sudbury News.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/the-big-nickel-the-largest-coin-in-the-world-is-in-sudbury/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>