Historical Cardiff – a Story of Boom, Bust, and Rebirth

by Steve Kauffeldt

It has been nearly 51 years since the rebirth of Cardiff.  On May 9, 1964, nearly 300 people traveled to our little piece of Haliburton County from as far away as Chicago and Winnipeg.  They came for a deal that many thought was too good to be true.  The houses in the former mining town of Cardiff, which had been built only a decade earlier, were being sold off for $4,250 a piece. In the end, 39 brave couples put down a $425 deposit and moved to this village.

The village was originally built in 1955-56 as housing for miners and their families that had found work in the Bicroft Mine.  The community boomed and by 1959 there was upwards of 1500 miners employed. While uranium sales soared, the homes (which then rented for $75) were jammed.  But the boom ended, and by 1964 the mines had closed and our village became a ghost town.  

The area had several uranium mines: Bicroft (near Inlet Bay), Dyno Mines (near Dyno Estates), and Greyhawk (in Faraday Township).  In 1959 the Greyhawk mine closed  The next mine to close was the Dyno mine on April 15th 1960.  The main shaft at Dyno ran 1,719 feet but the ore had become too diluted, and too expensive to mine. 

Today Cardiff is a busy little community, providing a number of services not normally found in a village of its size.  There are public services like water and sewers, garbage pickup, school, churches, a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, and an outdoor public pool and skating rink.  The Cardiff Community Club is a local organization that runs activities during the week at the community centre. From cards to shuffle board there is always something going on. In winter Cardiff turns into an icy playground. It starts with a community Christmas tree lighting ceremony in November and the months that follow are filled with sleigh riding at the public hill, skating at the outdoor rink, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.

The village itself is a unique gem, a neighbourhood surrounded by nature.  Now a busy village nestled within walking distance of Paudash Lake, Cardiff, along with Bicroft Heights on Inlet Bay, has quiet residential areas that are relics of a time when a resource boom opened the area up to exploration, settlement and supported industry, jobs, roads and railways.

The Municipality of Highlands East is interested in seeing your photos of days gone by.  Whether from the cottage, camping or fishing we would like to scan the original and add it to the database. The public is invited to explore several maps on our municipal website (www.highlandseast.ca) which are part of the newly completed Cultural Mapping Project. On the municipal website, you can find the maps under the heading “explore.”  We hope the gallery continues to grow over time with new photos and stories of the people and places that make Highlands East a special place.

If you have any questions or have photos to submit you may email me at skauffel@rocketmail.com – I would be pleased
to speak with you.