Eliot Perrin is a PhD student working under the supervision of Dr. Steven High. My research project stems from my father’s hometown, the Northern Ontario mining community of Sudbury, and the challenges facing residents as the area grapples with deindustrialization and the effects of decades of mining and smelting. I am also the archives coordinator for the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling and have a strong interest in community archiving. Other research interests include heritage preservation, community activism, and gentrification.
Northern Ontarian Francophone communities have long experienced a degree of precarity through their involvement in various forms of resource extraction. My thesis, “Flour Mill se fane?: Deindustrialization and Urban Renewal in Sudbury’s Francophone Quarter” will explore the twin impacts of these processes on Franco-Ontarian identity and the community’s response to socio-economic changes to the region. These changes include the closure of inner-city mills and small manufacturers, as well as the continuing automation of mining work. In addition, given that Sudbury also experienced urban renewal in conjunction with deindustrialization, I will examine the role that a downtown mall played in this process. The mall’s construction necessitated the demolition of much of the downtown and the Flour Mill neighbourhood, heralding an attempted transition from industrial life towards one based on middle-class consumerism and suburban sensibilities. Thinking about the impact of demolition and the disappearance of industrial work, I will explore the degree to which ongoing identity construction, both Franco-Ontarian and otherwise, plays a role in envisioning a postindustrial future despite the ongoing presence of mining activity throughout the area. Here I also want to think about the role of environmental reclamation efforts. While a source of local pride, this work nonetheless, I argue, further erases industrial heritage and working-class communities, as well as the toxic legacy of 150 years of mining on residents’ bodies.