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Happy Valley was never really considered a town, but more of a settlement which belonged to Falconbridge. Happy Valley consisted of residents who wanted to be seperate and independant from the residents of Falconbridge.
It began in 1906 when George Ruff settled and made his home in the area. By 1911, Ruff was joined by two neighbours, Bill Chasty and Edgar Moore, who also purchased property in the area and began to build homes. The three families brought the population to approximately 15 residents.
The residents were mainly farmers and mill-workers who worked at the sawmills by the lake. The children would have to endure a three-mile walk every morning to the nearest school (established in 1907) located in Garson. It was a nasty walk during winter with temperatures as low as -40 degrees or waist-deep snow. Sometimes the children were fortunate enough to be able to take a horse-drawn cutter to school.
The area was originally given the name of Spruce Valley for the trees which lined the streets. The trees created an almost branch-entwined tunnel along the roadway (as sometimes seen in today's car commercials).
The people of Spruce Valley built quite simple homes on narrow streets, compared to larger homes found on the paved streets in Falconbridge.
In 1912 the Ruff family suffered the loss of their child. The family buried their child in a plot of land which would become the community cemetery. The Pioneer Ruff Cemetery still bears the Ruff name and remains in fair condition.
Other than the mills and homes, there were no stores or a post office to be found. Residents had to travel to Falconbridge Township for amenities.
In 1915 the E.J. Longyear company had discovered large ore samples during test drilling in the Falconbridge Township area. The area would not be further developed until 1928 but would play a vital role in Spruce Valley's future.
By the mid 1920's the population of Spruce Valley had risen to approximately 50 residents.
In 1928, businessman Thayer Lindsley purchased the rights to the land previously drilled for ore during 1915. Lindsley's purchase would be the basis for founding Falconbridge Nickel Mines Limited. The mine then set about building a town to house the workers and named the town Falconbridge after the township in which it resided.
When Falconbridge Mine opened, mine management and supervisors lived in Falconbridge homes in case they were called to the mine for an emergency. Approximately a dozen mine workers settled for homes in Spruce Valley.
By 1930, Falconbridge Nickel Mines was removing 250 tonnes of ore a day. To process the ore, a smeltering plant was constructed which began operating in 1932. It was also during 1932 that a school opened in Falconbridge which would make the children's daily walk much shorter.
The name of the town was eventually changed to Happy Valley after a gentleman
named Happy Day (or Hap Day as he was referred to) who bought a large portion of the land in the valley. People would say that it was Hap's Valley, and eventually the name of Spruce Valley was lost.
After smeltering operations began, Happy Valley farmers noticed that pollution from the nearby smelter would fall into the valley and cloud the town in a fog of poison. The lush trees which filled the valley, died.
When residents complained, Falconbridge stopped smelter operations on days where the wind would carry the toxic fumes into the valley. This arrangement worked well until the war began. With the war, the mine was in demand to produce precious metal. This meant they had to smelter no matter what wind conditions were.
The workers eventually took Falconbridge to court over the sulphuric fumes. Residents argued that Happy Valley was present before Falconbridge mine. The court however, sided with Falconbridge Mine as claims had been made to the area long before Happy Valley existed.
With this settlement, the farmers threw in the towel and began the process of moving out. The miners on the other hand chose to remain in the town. By the late 1940's the town had been reduced to two-dozen homes situated along the two main streets.
Falconbridge eventually bought the citizens out so that they could continue smelter operations. Some people traded their homes for a home in Falconbridge, others took cash.
By 1970, the town was abandoned... almost. The last resident, "Gizzy", left the town in the late 80's.
Happy Valley sits behind a large steel fence with a warning sign to frighten off your average explorer. It is off limits to the public.
Location: From Sudbury, take Falconbridge Road into Garson and continue on through Garson into Falconbridge on the road named after it. Take McDonnell Street to the fence and there it stands.