Fair Valley was a small farming hamlet in Simcoe County first settled by Elmes Steele, a retired British naval officer, who received a 1000-acre land grant. Upon his arrival he, along with his 15-year old son John, built a rambling 80-foot long estate named Purbrook.
In accordance with his religious beliefs, Steele set aside a small parcel of land for an Anglican Church. His wife and the rest of his family joined him the following year.
Elmes Steele’s wife died in 1846. A year or so later Steele remarried. Their first son, Samuel Benfield Steele, joined the Northwest Mounted Police (later RCMP) in 1873, rising to the ranks of Superintendent, and achieving legendary status as the most famous cop this country has ever known.
In the meantime a small farming settlement had grown up around the Steele estate. A post office finally opened in 1880. Since the name Purbrook was already in use by postal authorities, the community took on the new name of Fair Valley. Like most farming hamlets, it contained a number of farm dealers, a general store and post office. They built a new Anglican Church in 1884,
By the time the 20th century arrived, Fair Valley had gone the way of most farming hamlets. Although the Steele home didn’t survive, they salvaged the fire place and a few other pieces from the demolition which they used to build a memorial cairn and shelter.
Today Fair Valley contains a number of historical monuments dedicated to Elmes, John, and Sam Steele. St. George’s Church, known as the Fair Valley Church, continues to hold regular services. The remainder of the community has reverted to farmland. Learn more