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High Falls

History

Town site photo

The power plant

©Copyright: Yvan Charbonneau

The International Nickel Company (INCO) was in dire need of additional hydro power to expand its nickel output. High Falls, located six kilometres west of Turbine Station on the Canadian Pacific Railway's Sault branch, and situated on a bend of the Spanish River, turned out to be an ideal site for power development.

After securing the power rights, INCO planned to develop the site through a subsidiary company called the Huronian Power Co. In 1904 a spur was built from Turbine and construction began almost immediately on the High Falls power station. First the dam was completed followed shortly by the power house. By early 1905, the site was completed. To house the labour force working at the installations a boarding house and two simple dwellings were built for supervisors. Provisions were kept in the storehouse situated nearby the bunkhouse.

In 1918 after the Big Eddy station was added, additional housing was needed at High Falls. During construction of the dam a small modern town site was established containing 13 new homes, a larger storehouse, complete with hydro, water and sewers. The old boarding house was refurbished as well. For the 60 to 80 or so residents who lived at High Falls, this must have been a shock. The town site was in mere reality an outpost in the bush. The nearest school, post office, and station were all situated in Turbine, and only a narrow trail led to the site. A road, using the former spur line's rail bed was constructed in 1938, finally breaking the community's isolation. Although cars were forbidden in the town site itself, a strip of garages were built to house vehicles.

To compensate for the closure of the Turbine school, a small school house was built around 1952. However the popularity of isolated town sites was beginning to wane. Within a decade almost no school children remained, and the school closed. By 1970, Inco had closed the town site. Most of the homes were offered to INCO employees, sold or removed during the 1970s. The last home was moved away around 1982.