A Residential Town

From 1945 to 1960, the number of working farms dropped rapidly.  In contrast, a real estate boom started in the Valley that would transform the community into a residential town.  Development of the village of Guilletville is a good example of the phenomenon.

In 1948, René Guillet and his eldest son Hubert bought several hundred acres of land on McCrea Lake in the Township of Blezard Valley.  The families of René, his brother Rosaire and his sister Aurore (wife of Lucien Rioux) settled there.  At first, there was no electricity, no telephone, no services.  Water was drawn from the lake for cooking and washing.  In the wintertime, ice was harvested by sawing big blocks from the lake and storing them in a cabin insulated with wood shavings.  The houses were heated by coal or wood.  The elementary students attended the school in Blezard and those at the secondary level went to various schools in Sudbury.

René Guillet soon divided his land into parcels, which he sold at very reasonable prices.  Young couples with children, who often lacked the means to build on rock in Sudbury (where, incidentally, lots were becoming increasingly scarce) took advantage of the opportunity to settle down. Often they built a garage or basement first where they lived while they waited until they could finish construction of their first house. A real estate promoter, Moyle A. Swinn, opened an extensive subdivision, now called McCrea Heights, to the southeast of Guilletville.  Families from Sudbury built summer homes which sometimes became permanent residences on the lake.  The lake became the focus of leisure activities.  Fishing, swimming and canoeing in the summer gave way to skating, hockey, and skiing during the winter.

To the north of Guilletville, the land was flat and construction was easier, thereby making it less costly to build.  The subdivisions of Val Caron and Val Thérèse were among the first chosen by city dwellers who appreciated the pleasures of the countryside after long hours in the mines or offices in the city.  In fact, people settled in Valley East because they chose an active way of life in the forests, on the lakes, or in the fields or gardens.


Material compiled from Hanmer, Valley East 1850-2002, Guillletville, Valley East, Ontario: a brief history, The Sudbury Star, and The Blezard Valley.

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