Building a Town

The town of Hardy was built in three phases: Lower Townsite, Upper Townsite, and Cartier Subdivision. Cartier Subdivision was to be built on the other side of the then Levack-Cartier Highway. The problem with this phase was that the intended location was not flat, instead it was filled with gullies and small hills. The company had the choice to either blast the hills into the gullies to create a flat surface on which to build, or utilize the gullies as roadways and build the houses on top of the hills. Fortunately, they chose the latter option, which is why the town has such a charming layout today. During the construction of the Cartier Subdivision phase, only minimal blasting occurred for the purpose of installing sewer piping in certain areas.

The design of the houses was another issue that the company faced. Because Falconbridge Nickel Mines did not want the town of Hardy to look like a series of box houses, they put a lot of thought into ways that they could provide variety in designs without having to create a new blueprint for each home. There were two aspects that the company considered when determining the best method to build the homes. Firstly, the houses had to be modern-looking and affordable and second, the homes had to be easily prefabricated within the construction area.

From 1951 to 1952, after the plans for the new town were completed, construction began. It was determined early on that no trees would be cut down in the process of construction unless absolutely necessary, a policy that was strictly adhered to. During the building of the houses, Falconbridge Nickel Mines chose two styles of homes to be used in the construction. In order to create the sense of variety and uniqueness wanted by the company, subtle differences were implemented in their construction. Some homes were built with basements, others were not. The floor plans were sometimes reversed so that two identical homes side-by-side could have back doors facing each other and thereby share a large driveway. But these differences were not what gave the homes their individualistic appearance. The final phase of the construction saw each of the homes' exteriors painted in a variety of bright color combinations. It was this little touch that really gave the town a sense of nonconformity. To complete the settlement, the lots surrounding the homes were landscaped and sodded, the roads were paved, and electricity and telephone lines were installed. This was a mining town for the future.

In the mid-1950's, the Falconbridge Nickel Mine was in the process of naming the streets in the community. At first, the intention was to give each street a Cree name to match the names of the lakes and rivers in the district. The company purchased a Cree dictionary in an attempt to find suitable names, but confusion soon erupted as some words with the same meaning were spelled differently and company officials could not agree on the proper pronunciation of the words. Abandoning this idea, the company opted to name the streets after local trees. The only exception to this was Wickwas Street, the only Cree name that the officials could agree on at the time.


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