A few weeks ago I was in Ontario visiting my friend Jo at Miss Monneypenny’s retreat. On the last day of my visit we stopped in at Science North in Sudbury – northern Ontario’s most popular tourist attraction for a 1.5 hour visit followed by a most interesting lunch at the onsite and upscale Curious Thymes Restaurant.

Science North opened in 1984. It’s made up of two buildings in the shape of snowflakes. The larger building sits on top of outcrop and is linked via an underground rock tunnel to the smaller building that houses the restaurant, cafeteria and administration offices. I loved the design! It really speaks to the area especially since Sudbury is famous for its mines.

"Great design"

Beautiful design integrating natural rock with lots of light

As an adult with fully grown children a visit to a science center isn’t the first thing that pops to mind as something to do. But I give full marks to the brains behind Science North. Exhibits are compelling and hands on for all ages. The Blue Coats – a term given to the enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff and volunteers – are to be found wherever there’s an exhibit. Watch out. These people know how to engage you – whether you’re a kid or an adult.

"Jungle Nymph - Malaysian Leaf insect"

A Bluecoat showing off a Jungle Nymph – Malaysian Leaf insect

Jo and I knew we only had 90 minutes and wanted to cover as much of Science North as we could. There wouldn’t be time to visit the Planetarium or the IMAX Theatre but there was time to wander among the hundreds of butterflies at the F. Jean MacLeod Butterfly Gallery, to visit the Nature Exchange where we got up close and personal with a Malaysian leaf insect – though if you were a kid this is where you’d come to swap and trade seashells, rocks and other specimens. (I would have loved this place!!) We did make it to the third floor where we were able to get close to some of the wildlife found in the north including a beaver, skunk and porcupine. The Body Zone got a quick pass too as did the cyber zone where we spent a few minutes chuckling away as we read from the teleprompter. We finished with an excellent show – Wildfires! A Firefighting Adventure in 4D.

"Surrounded by fire"

What it looks like to watch the wildfire movie (Photo credit: Science North)

It’s worth a visit to Science North just to see the wildfire show. It’s quite the experience. Seats move, 3D film techniques make you feel like you’re flying right into the fire and the wind and smoke add to the illusion that you’re right there in the thick of things. It’s highly educational and paints a very different picture that what you see on the nightly news.

"Tanzanian Giant Tailless Whipscorpion"

Tanzanian Giant Tailless Whipspider

"Butterfly and pupa"

Butterfly and pupa

"Beautiful butterfly"

"Frog on lily pad"

"One stinky beaver"

One stinky beaver

"A section of whale backbone"

Part of the Fin Whale skeleton

"Kids building dams"

Kids building dams

Jo and I playing radio announcer"

Jo and I were playing radio announcer & trying to read from the teleprompter – results were not good

"Illustrating pressure as a function of surface area and force"

Jo on a bed of nails – illustrating pressure as a function of surface area and force

"Smoker's lungs versus a healthy lung"

Which one is the smoker’s lung?

At the end of our tour we headed for one of Sudbury’s best restaurants – Curious Thymes. Interestingly on my way up to Sudbury on Porter Airlines I’d read a good review of the restaurant in their online magazine so I was very much looking forward to lunch.

The food didn’t disappoint. My crusted pear salad was as delicious as it looks in the photo below. Jo had been anticipating her chicken, mushroom and sherry fettuccine – a dish she orders every time she visits the restaurant and which once again it over delivered on flavour. The restaurant is known for some of its’ more unusual offerings including a kangaroo burger.

I did mention in the first paragraph that I had a most interesting lunch – but it had nothing to do with the food or the view. Instead I couldn’t take my eyes off the fellow you see in red in the photograph below – aka the sword swallower who will be part of a special exhibition – The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not – in March 2013. I heard snippets of the conversation with words like membrane and swallow but what really got my attention was when he starting moving the spoon up his nose. I apologized to Jo profusely for not giving her my undivided attention but when was the last time you saw a spoon go up a nose in a restaurant?

"Tyler with a spoon in his nose"

Tyler with a spoon in his nose (Photo credit: Science North)

The The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not will premiere in Sudbury on March 2nd, 2013 and then spend seven years touring North America. Two of the cities signed up for the tour are Santa Ana and Phoenix. I would certainly be making the effort to go!

"My friend Jo and the sword swallower in red in the background"

My friend Jo and the sword swallower in red in the background

"View from our seat in the restaurant"

View from our seat in the restaurant of Lake Ramsey

"My lunch at Curious Thyme's Restaurant"

My lunch at Curious Thyme’s Restaurant

Overall the visit to Science North surprised and delighted. It’s obviously a terrific place for families with kids but don’t let a lack of kids stop you from going. It’s fun and educational and I’m sorry I didn’t have enough time to see everything.

Have you ever visited Science North in Sudbury? Or is there another Science Museum you think is worth the visit?

Leigh McAdam


***I was kindly offered a complimentary day pass to Science North. All opinions are 100% my own.***

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