Thursday, March 04, 2010

History of Happy Valley

"Happy Valley"? Who would name a town Happy Valley? The town was founded by civilians who came to work at the new airforce base at Goose Bay in the 1940s, when the military insisted the civilian town had to be located at least 8 km from the base. The name Happy Valley was adopted more than a decade later.

The two communities merged as Happy Valley-Goose Bay in 1974, and today an unplanned sprawl of commercial enterprises and suburban-style housing links the original communities together in such a way that no one goes anywhere in this town of 7500 except by car or, in colder winters than this, by snowmobile -- and most of the cars are trucks or four-wheels. There's only a couple of traffic lights in town so far, but the lineups to turn into the Tim's can be substantial.

All these trends look to rocket forward now that, as of this year, it is possible to drive from Quebec not just to Happy Valley-Goose Bay but on to the coast, down to the Strait of Belle Isle, and across by ferry to the island of Newfoundland. As the road is paved, and as Parks Canada starts to ramp up development in the brand new Mealy Mountains National Park along the south shore of Lake Melville, .... well, they have built it, and people will come.

But I was wondering about the name Happy Valley. I was told around town the name was coined by military personnel at the air base when they discovered there were girls down there in the civilian settlement. The story sounds almost too good, but neither The Canadian Encylopedia nor Wikipedia offers enlightment.

I note, however, that the Canadian Encyclopedia, though online, is badly out of date in its entry on Happy Valley-Goose Bay. The low flying military exercises it mentions ended years ago, and the European airforces are almost completely gone from Goose Bay. Wikipedia is more detailed and much more up to date. TCE Online is a great resource, and I use it constantly. But these days the standards for updating are scarily high -- I hope TCE has the resources to compete.
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