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Satellite, planned resource communities: Deer Lake, Newfoundland, 1923-35

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Historians neglect the role of planned industrial satellite towns in the wider history of single-industry communities. Starting in the early 1920s, the Humber Project on the west coast of Newfoundland was an industrial mega-project of the first order. Undertaken by a British firm wishing to tap the growing North American newsprint market, top planning and engineering contractors were hired to design a sprawling industrial network powered by a massive hydroelectric station at Deer Lake. Officials altered the plan significantly and, by early 1924, the Deer Lake development was made secondary to the paper mill at Corner Brook. Company town construction mimicked industry; Corner Brook became the main planned settlement while Deer Lake was the smaller satellite community for power plant operators. Two years later, most residents of Deer Lake were loggers living on the fringes of company control. Yet, despite their role as suppliers of essential raw material, loggers were excluded from the otherwise extensive system of company welfare. Similar entrenched and scaled dependencies shaped worker and resident experiences on the ground for years after. In the Humber Valley, company-imposed privilege and vulnerability planned uneven development within an industrial network, highlighting a more complex relationship between corporations, planners and residents than stock 'social control' or 'boosterist' interpretations allow.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Publication date: 2007-04-01

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