As we departed the hotel, I tried to explain to Victor (an American) exactly what “The Big Nickel” was. While the route book described the roadside attraction, and the history of how it came to be, I was having a tougher time of selling Victor on the idea. “So it’s a statue of a coin?” Well, yes. “I’m okay, I don’t need to see the Big Nickel”, he said to me. “Vic,” I replied, “as a Canadian I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t bring you up to the Big Nickel.” Since I was driving, I won the debate!
As we rounded the corner in the parking lot, I was proud to see that 90 percent of group had agreed with me! The parking lot was full of classic cars, and despite the rain folks were out of their cars and walking up for the perfect picture of the Big Nickel. So, what is the big nickel? You might be asking.
Alright, to be fair, the Big Nickel is a 30ft tall exact copy of a 1951 Canadian Nickel…a five cent piece. Constructed to represent the wealth that Sudbury has contributed to the Canadian economy through nickel production, it’s become one of the many tourist attractions that bring people north to visit a town once known for its barren landscapes. It’s the largest coin in the world, and one does not return from a trip to Sudbury without being asked “did you go to the big nickel?”
And so, with our tourist duties done, we headed off onto the route. Today’s route book took us into the town of Whitefish, before everyone was instructed to use the “re-route” notes handed out at the driver’s meeting. It seems our original route was now 24km of gravel, and we’d need a twisty and wonderful reroute to avoid the gravel. We headed northwest on regional road three, then onto regional road four and finally regional road five. The twists were fantastic, as we followed rivers and dodged small lakes left over from glaciation. If the road was so great, you might wonder, why wasn’t it the original route?! Well, regional road 4, and some of five, was what we would call “rough”. Between frost heaves, potholes and pavement patches, the conditions were far from ideal Given the choice between rough pavement and gravel construction, however, and I think were were all okay with the roughness!
We worked our way westward, and then south onto Manitoulin Island. A usual day-three on a CCA event means non-stop driving to the finish, so that we can enjoy a lunch and awards before departure. This year, however, things were different. The route book suggested a route on Manitoulin Island that highlighted a coffee shop, waterfall, museum and art gallery stop. Guests, however, were also given the local tourism map and magazine, and encouraged to explore the things that interested them the most. Roads on Manitoulin Island are well maintained, and an interesting mix of gentle curves and winding twists as they travel around lakes, or the spine of the island (us westerners hesitate to call it a ‘mountain’).
With our island explorations complete, we met once again as a group at the South Baymouth Ferry Terminal. Included in the 2018 entry fee was a reserved space on the Chi-Cheemaun ferry. As the group checked in, we discovered the ferry crew had reserved three lanes for us, and planned to park us on the boat separately (to avoid any dings or damage from other passengers). As the boat left the dock, we met on the stern for a big group photo, and then headed to the restaurant for our final meal together.
As we rocked, ‘slightly’, to the wavy conditions, we hosted a two-course dinner and ran through the final awards and draw prizes for the event. For two years now, one of our guests has been trying so hard to earn himself a coveted award. Announcing, as we left the garage in a back-up vehicle, that he was family and thus ineligible for an award, John Hord was hopeful he wouldn’t be singled out. Fortunately your organizer is a crafty one, and a very special “Hard Luck” award was assembled for John out of the parts that stranded his Beetle before it even started. The actual Maple Mille Hard Luck award, assembled from Scott’s engine failure last year, was presented to Larry Nobbs for the fact that he left his Buick in Sudbury with a failed transmission.
Creemore Springs Brewery had prepared a gift pack for us to draw names for, and Mike Martin was our lucky winner for 2018. He heads home with Creemore Springs glasses, a T-Shirt, and a gift card for a free 8-pack of the organizers favourite beer. If you follow Dave on Instagram, you’re already well aware of Creemore Springs Beer!
Roue Watch donated two brand new wristwatches for our driving enthusiasts. Penni Matt was the first entrant to be heading home with a new time piece, and Victor Ceycis was our second. Every entrant on the Hagerty Maple Mille received a discount code, should they be interested in adding a new time piece to their own wrist.
Our final award, is the Spirit of the Maple Mille. This award is used to honour the entrant(s) who best demonstrate the goals of Classic Car Adventures. Here at CCA we’re all about spreading the love of classic car motoring, and we enjoy honouring the guests who help make the weekend special. Honourable mention this year went to a pair who started the event as a way to honour their father in his beloved classic car. What they found along the way, was an incredible way for two brothers to spend a weekend together, and a new found love for classic car events. What started out as a one-time-adventure, became a fun debate about “what car will we take next year?”
For 2018, however, we couldn’t let a particular pair go without recognition. Originally the vehicle they were running was purchased to run the Hagerty Spring Thaw out in British Columbia. When that didn’t work out, the car was shipped to Ontario in an attempt to run the 2017 Hagerty Maple Mille. Delayed shipping meant they didn’t make it until the 2018 running, and quickly made friends. Was it the classic rally styled Mercedes? Their enthusiasm to know more about each vehicle in the parking lot, regardless of make or model? Perhaps it was the way they stopped to offer help, or tools, to anyone who found themselves on the roadside. Regardless of the final reason, Jason Plugowsky and Simon Wheeldon were certainly worthy of being this year’s Sprit of the Mille award winners!
Alas, with the final award handed out, and the ferry quickly approaching the dock, it was time to close our event for 2018. We had avoided thunderstorms, tornadoes and cold weather. Instead we experienced sunshine, twisty roads and friendships which will last for years to come. Entrants are attracted to CCA events because of the roads and adventure, but we return to hang out with our “Classic Car Family”, in addition to the great fun each event provides.
A special thanks to Elliot Alder & Clayton Seams for the photos that accompany today’s story.