"People are the strength of any community." More than any other town amalgamated into the City of Greater Sudbury, Rayside-Balfour illustrates this quote from one of its mayors. The people of Chelmsford and Azilda and their descendants succeeded in developing a modern dynamic town while preserving the warmth, spirit and intimacy of the small agricultural community of the early days.
Land clearing began with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway workers, initiating the economic activity of the region. Pastors of various beliefs came to serve the community and religious life was organized. Church and language were at the heart of the development of education in the Townships of Balfour and Rayside. The parish became the centre of social activities and many sporting events.
Within the space of a few months, the Township of Rayside (1890) and the Township of Balfour (1891) organized themselves into municipalities. Azilda, a village in the Township of Rayside, never established itself as an independent municipality. In 1909, the village of Chelmsford, located in the Township of Balfour, separated from the countryside to establish itself as a town. The township and town were run separately until 1968 when the Township of Balfour annexed the town along with the Townships of Creighton and Morgan. In 1972, Rayside and Balfour were amalgamated to form the Town of Rayside-Balfour.
The amalgamated town chose to celebrate its centennial in 1991. The souvenir album prepared on this occasion is a vibrant account of a community that managed to blossom socially and economically while maintaining a deep awareness of its cultural heritage.