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Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario

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Sault Ste. Marie ("Sault" pronounced "soo;" nicknamed "the Sault" or "the Soo"; 2001 population 74,566) is a city on the St. Mary's River in Ontario, Canada. It is the third largest city in Northern Ontario. It is bordered to the east by the Rankin and Garden River First Nation reserves, to the west by Prince Township and to the north by Heyden. To the south, across the river, is the United States and the city of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

The city's crest contains the words "Ojibwa Kitche Gumeeng Odena" (from Ojibwe gichi-gamiing oodena) which means "Ojibwe town beside large body of water" in the Ojibwe language.

Sault Ste. Marie once was a haven for Italian immigrants. The west-end of the city has a large concentration of Italians for a small city. Many of the major streets, public facilities are named after Italians. The city also has a high population of Native Canadians (3 Native Reserves.)

Similarly to many other Northern Ontario municipalities, Sault Ste. Marie's population has declined in recent years. Since the early 1990s, the city has dropped from 84,000 to 74,000 residents.

History

This area was originally called Bawating meaning "rapid water" by the Ojibwa. After the visit of Étienne Brûlé in 1623, the French called it "Sault de Gaston" in honour of the brother of King Louis XIII of France. In 1668, French Jesuit missionaries renamed it Sault Sainte Marie, which is French for "St. Mary's Rapids", and established a settlement that is now Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, on the river's south bank. Sault Ste. Marie was incorporated as a town in 1887 and a city in 1912.

Industry

The city has made a name for itself in steel-making, and Algoma Steel is still the largest employer with 2900 employees at the main plant and about 400 at the Tube Mill, which is separate from Algoma Steel. Forestry is also a major local industry, especially at St.Mary's Paper which employs about 400 people. The newest major industry involves business process outsourcing, with five call centers located within city limits employing about 2300 people. The largest employer of the five call centers is the Sutherland Group which employs 1100 people in the community.

Transportation

Sault Ste. Marie is served by Highway 17, which is a segment of the Trans-Canada Highway in the region. The highway connects the city to Thunder Bay to the northwest and Sudbury to the east. The International Bridge also directs traffic from downtown to the I-75 freeway in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, which runs through Saginaw, Flint and Detroit before the Michigan/Ohio border.

The city also plays an inherited role in marine transportation, with the locks in Michigan being an integral component of the St. Lawrence Seaway. However, the city also holds a small-scale lock which is used by small boats and other pleasure craft in the summer.

Sault Ste. Marie is also served by a regional aeroport, commercial rail and a city bus service (http://www.saulttransitservices.com/).

Tourism

Area tourist attractions include the Canadian Heritage Bushplane Museum, boat tours of the Sault locks which connect Lake Superior with the lower Great Lakes, the Kewadin Casino, and the Algoma Central Railway's popular Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Nearby parks include Pancake Bay Provincial Park and Batchawana Bay Provincial Park.

Education

The city is home to Sault College, a college of applied arts and technology offering various programs ranging from the ever popular Police Foundations to Aviation, and to Algoma University College, a federated school of Laurentian University in Sudbury. Sault College also works together with Lake Superior State University, located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and Algoma University. Lake State offers programs that a student can transfer into when completed a diploma program at the college or a degree program at Algoma University. This partnership offers a higher level of education to all involved.

Culture and Media

Sault Ste. Marie is the home of the 1993 Memorial Cup champion Sault Greyhounds. Famous NHLers who have played for the Greyhounds include Joe Thornton.

Famous natives of Sault Ste. Marie include Canada's first woman astronaut Roberta Bondar, rock band Treble Charger and hockey greats Phil Esposito, Tony Esposito, Marty Turco and Ron Francis.

Radio stations in the city include:

Television stations include:

Other media include the daily Sault Star. Online news sites such as SooToday.com and LTVnews.com have emerged in recent years, due in large part to news cutbacks at MCTV.

Bilingualism Controversy

On January 29, 1990, the city of Sault Ste. Marie became a flashpoint in the Meech Lake Accord debate when its mayor, Joe Fratesi, shepherded a resolution through city council declaring the city English-only. Although Sault Ste. Marie was not the first Ontario municipality to pass such a resolution, it was the largest and the most controversial.

Responding to a French-language education controversy which began in 1987, the Sault Alliance for the Preservation of English Language Rights began circulating petitions to have this resolution passed by council. The group worked in concert with the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada, a lobby group which was concurrently campaigning against the provincial government's French Language Services Act. (See also Franco-ontarian.)

Although that law dealt only with provincial government services, APEC's strategy was to convince municipalities that they would be required to provide services in French, regardless of cost or benefit, in an attempt to convince the municipalities to pass this type of resolution. As a result of the schooling controversy, Sault Ste. Marie was fertile ground for APEC's campaign, and the SAPELR petition quickly garnered 25,000 signatures.

On January 27, 1990, the city's daily newspaper, the Sault Star, reported that council would debate the language resolution two days later. This triggered the attention of the national media, and with reporters from all across Canada in town to cover the debate, the resolution passed council 11-2.

Many political figures, including Brian Mulroney, Jean Chrétien and Ontario premier David Peterson, expressed their opposition to the city's move. Both Peterson and his successor as premier, Bob Rae, refused to meet with Fratesi on several subsequent occasions, even to discuss unrelated matters.

In particular, the resolution was seen as a slap in the face to Quebec, where it was widely viewed as racist. (One Environment Canada meteorologist sent out a weather report for Sault Ste. Marie in which the forecast called for "a chance of flurries and Nazis", although she was suspended.)

Fratesi, who was viewed by Sault Ste. Marie voters throughout the controversy as standing up for the city's interests, was re-elected mayor in a landslide in 1991. He later became embroiled in a conflict of interest controversy in 1995 when he applied for the job of chief administrative officer of the city, while still sitting as mayor.

In July, 1994, a court ruling struck down the English-only resolution as ultra vires the council's authority. On August 9, 1999, a resolution was brought forward under a new city council to strike down the resolution. The city's solicitor advised that the resolution was out of order given that a court had already struck down the resolution. Attempting to do what it could, the council then unanimously passed the following resolution:

Moved by Councillor Derik Brandt

Seconded by Councillor Sam Lepore

Whereas the "language resolution" was struck down by the courts because it was beyond the City’s authority; and Whereas it is not legally possible to rescind a resolution that has already been struck down by the courts;

Be It Resolved that a notation be added to the Minutes of the Regular Meeting of City Council of January 29, 1990 to include the following beside item 5(e); N.B. "This resolution was struck down by the courts on June 30, 1994 and therefore has no effect."

The effect of the resolution was to amend the minutes containing the English-only resolution to note that the resolution had been struck down.

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