If you’ve enjoyed reading Bruce Bell’s recollections of downtown Sudbury from the 1960s on Sudbury.com over the past year, you won’t want to miss it with he visits Sudbury this Saturday to tell his stories in person.
Born and raised in Sudbury, Bruce went to Sudbury High and at 17, Bruce was hired by Tony Lloyd to be an apprentice at the Sudbury Theatre Centre when it first opened at the former Inco Club in 1972.
Bruce made his professional stage debut at the STC in a production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" in December 1972.
Soon after Bruce left to pursue a career in the theatre in Toronto where for the next 50 years carved out quite a niche for himself as an actor, comedian and playwright.
In 2000, Bruce began writing a popular monthly column on the history of Toronto for the Bulletin Newspaper and later for the Bridge Newspaper.
As a result of Bruce's vast knowledge of Toronto's history in 2002 he was named by the city of Toronto the Official Historian of St. Lawrence Hall and St Lawrence Market.
In May 2004 Bruce was appointed official historian of Toronto’s King Edward Hotel as part of the famed hotel’s centennial celebrations.
In October 2004 Bruce was appointed Honourary Historian of the Hockey Hall of Fame Heritage Building.
In April 2007 as part of the Fairmont Hotel & Resorts 100 year birthday celebrations, Bruce was named Honourary Historian of the famed Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
Bruce is the author of two books Amazing Tales of St. Lawrence Neighbourhood and TORONTO: A Pictorial Celebration.
Bruce is a five-time nominee for the Order of Ontario for his work interpreting Ontario's and Toronto's past.
He will be telling his tales on the stage at the Sudbury Theatre Centre, 170 Shaughnessy St. downtown, this Saturday, Sept. 11, in two shows, one at 2:30 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. No reservations required as this is a 'first come, first seated' event. There is also no set ticket price; it is a pay-what-you-can event.
Sudbury.com asked Bell what is was about the downtown Sudbury of his youth he finds so captivating.
“Growing up in Sudbury in the late 1950s and 1960s as I did, the memories I have are of a downtown filled with people, buildings, restaurants, hotels and a life that doesn't seem to exist anymore,” he said. “So much of Sudbury's downtown has been demolished, with little to replace it that I want to tell the story to a younger generation of Sudburians of how it once was and of course bring back memories to an older generation who do remember.”
He said he especially misses the “vibrancy of a Friday and Saturday night on Durham Street.”
“In the 1960s, Toronto had Yonge Street and Sudbury had Durham Street. While the two streets are vastly different in size, they both had the same intensity when it came to the hundreds of young people heading downtown looking for excitement.”
Even if you aren’t old enough to recall the excitement of downtown in those days, you’ll still enjoy the show, he said.
“Whether you lived through the 1960s or not, I think everyone will have a good time as I tell of my memories of my home town,” Bell said. “This is not a going to be your regular, dull, run-of-the-mill lecture, I am hoping for laughs mixed in with pathos, and hopefully some shared memories of growing up in such an amazing city as Sudbury.”
The event is sponsored by Sudbury.com.
If you would like to read the stories Bell has published on Sudbury.com, he shared his memories of Christmas in downtown Sudbury back in the 1960s and 1970s back in December 2020. You can read that story here. Back in January, he reminisced about SS Kresge’s, which you can read here, while in February, Bell took a stroll through the old Sudbury Woolworth's location. In March, he took us on a tour through the old Zellers store and last month he led us on a wander through the old Nickel Range Hotel. In May, Bell brought readers on a wander through the historic Borgia Street neighbourhood. In June, Bell walked us down Durham Street on a Friday night in the late 1960s. In July, he took us back onto Durham just as the hippy invasion began. And this week he finished his three-part series on the turbulent late 1960s in downtown Sudbury.