SUV Camping – Manitoba to South Western Ontario

I’ve driven this stretch of road a couple times now and in all honesty, it’s a long haul and I wasn’t much looking forward to it.  Driving straight it about 26 hours, give or take, especially that we cannot cross the US border.  That way would shave off about 3-4 hours.

So, instead of driving straight through, I decided to make an adventure of it.  I decided to SUV camp along the way, may as well break up the long and monotonous drive.  I’d watched weeks worth of YouTube videos on SUV camping, bought some additional gear and then I was ready to hit the road.

Click here to see why I am making the trip back to Kitchener.

Instead of dividing the trip up into the typical two day blocks, I divided it up into 5 days:

  1. Dauphin, MB to Kenora, ON
  2. Kenora ON to Wawa, ON
  3. Wawa, ON to Manitoulin Island, ON
  4. Manitoulin Island, ON to somewhere in South Western Ontario
  5. Somewhere in South Western Ontario to Kitchener, ON

I was going to make it longer as I am on vacation, and I really wanted to take the ferry from Manitoulin Island to Tobermory to shave off some driving time.

I’m going to break up this blog into the above driving sections.  I’ll point out some interesting stop points and some of the beautiful must sees along the way.  I’ll also talk about my experience on this trip (as I’ve mentioned, I’ve done it before).

Travel Day 1: Dauphin, MB to Kenora, ON

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I departed Dauphin and decided to make a pit stop in Gimli, MB.  I really wanted to see the Gimli Glider Museum – I wrote a blog specifically about that — you can see that blog HERE.

Gimli, Manitoba

The town of Gimli is located on the west side of Lake Winnipeg The community’s first European settlers were Icelanders who were part of the New Iceland settlement in Manitoba, Icelandic immigrants began settling the area in 1875. Volcanic eruptions in Iceland spurred additional immigration to the Gimli and New Iceland area. Three hundred people left Iceland, arrived in Ontario and took a ship to Duluth (Minnesota), from there they made their way to Grand Forks, North Dakota, and took a steamer up to the mouth of the Assiniboine.  To this day, Gimli maintains a strong connection to their Icelandic culture and hold an annual Icelandic Festival. With the amalgamated with the Regional Municipality of Gimli, it now has a population of 2,246 as of the 2016 census.

Things I did while in Gimli:

a) The Viking Statue

I stopped in to take a selfie with The Viking statue, but, it was pouring down rain.  Regardless, I got out and got soaked to take a few photos (no selfies).The five metre tall statue stands in the centre of the small Viking Park. Around the base of the viking statue you’ll notice more hints at the Icelandic influence.

b) The Harbour Wall

Had it been nicer out, I would have taken a stroll along the harbour to discover the outdoor seawall gallery. The Gimli Art Club created 72 small murals that show Gimli’s history, landmarks from around Manitoba and important events, including the landing of the Gimli Glider.  I did get up as close as I could down First and Centre Streets to take a quick peek.  As you can see the weather was not cooperating at all.

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c) The Gimli Glider MUSEUM

On July 23, 1983, a full passenger plane ran out of fuel due to miscalculations and had to make an emergency landing at the defunct airforce base in Gimli which was and is used as a racetrack in the summer months. No one on board the flight was injured despite the very dangerous landing. The Gimli Glider Exhibit tells the remarkable story in depth through video, personal recollections of the 1983 event and important artifacts. I got into the pilot’s seat and tried to land the airplane myself in their mock-cockpit simulator —> see that blog here.

Afterward I grabbed some Thai food and hit the road … onward to Kenora

The scenery on this section of the drive was decent, however paled in comparison to what I knew I was going to see when I hit Highway 17, those views are beyond stunning.  There are some of the pics I snapped along the way.

To see video of day 1, click here.

Rushing River Provincial Park

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Much later than anticipated, we arrived at Rushing River Provincial Park, our home for the night.  Having arrived late, we missed “check-in” and the park office was closed – firewood and kindling are sold at the park office, so we were SOL for any firewood and it still had not stopped raining!

Rushing River is located just outside of Kenora.  It is a perfect spot for SUV camping.  I didn’t need electrical connection as I had my MotoMaster Eliminator PowerBoxbut the site does offer a variety of electrical and non-electrical sites well suited to any equipment ranging from a single tent to a large motorhome. As I pre-booked online, I was able to select my site and in my opinion I scored one of the best lots in the park – lot 65, a superb waterfront site that offers unforgettable views of Dogtooth Lake. My campsite came equipped with a picnic table and fire pit with grill. 

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With our 5:15 PM arrival, it was still light enough to get in a quick tour of the campground and set up the SUV for the night. Thankfully I had thought enough to bring along 3 starter logs and I had that to use as a source of fire/light.  Two kind gentlemen who were camping in tents at the lot next to ours, were thoughtful and brought me over 3 logs to add onto my mini fire.  About 10 minutes after I got a nice fire going, it started pissing down rain (again!), and into the SUV we went … for the night.

To see those videos – click here and here.

Travel Day 2:Kenora ON to Kakabeka Falls, ON

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Morning has broken, and I wish I could say the sun came out and it was going to be a sunny, dry kind of day, and it did not.  By the time my body naturally told me it was time to get up, it was still pouring cats and dogs.  So, I made the decision to hightail it out of there.  Too bad, I would have loved to have stayed longer, made breakfast there and taken a short hike along the Lower Rapids Trail or Beaver Pond Trail before hitting the road.

I rejigged the SUV and on the road we got.  First things first, time to get me a coffee, so we headed into Kenora.

First Stop ….

90° Longitudinal West

As I approached the village of Argon, Ontario, it was time for me to change my watch ahead, back to Eastern Standard Time.  You’ll know you arrive here when you see a large marker indicating the line between the Eastern and Central Time Zones. The time zone delineation marker is located in a small roadside rest area on Trans Canada Hwy 17.


The two-sided marker in that direction reads:

and are entering

While most of Ontario is officially in the Eastern Time Zone, the areas of west of 90° west longitude, are in the Central Time zone.  The Canadian government officially introduced Daylight Savings Time in 1918, but the towns of Port Arthur and Fort William (now Thunder Bay) had implemented seasonal time shifting a full decade earlier. In 1908 John Hewitson (a Port Arthur business man), had a desire to enjoy an extra hour of summer sun, so he petitioned the councils of both towns, both of which observed Central Time, to adjust the clocks to Eastern Time in the summer months and switch back in the fall. Both towns agreed, and on May 1, 1908 they “sprung ahead”.

Here is where you will also find a bronze placard dedicated to Sir Sanford Fleming who is considered to be the author of standardized world time.

There is also signage depicting the forest Trans-Canada Route, long before there were the modern roadways we enjoy, all travel was done on lakes and rivers.

Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

The Kaministiquia River has cut deep into the rocks to reveal 1.6 million year old fossils at the bottom of the falls.  The 40 metre high Kakabeka Falls is the second highest waterfall in Ontario and it has year round access.  The Boardwalk Trail is an easily accessible boardwalk and pedestrian bridge which provide SPECTACULAR views of the falls from viewing platforms on both sides.  It is easily accessible from the parking lot.


To see my visit to Kakabeka Falls, click here.

Before setting up the campsite, Ellie (my dog) and I decided to hike the Little Falls Trail.  It’s a 3.1 km, loop, rated as being moderate to difficult. The trail begins and ends from a point along the Mountain Portage Trail. It features a steep descent into the river valley, the picturesque Little Falls and a 30 metre ascent (I was totally out of breath). This was tough, but well worth it … check out these pics!

To see my hike to Little Falls, you can click the link here.

Kakabeka Falls Provncial Park offers tent and car camping in three campgrounds: Whispering Hills, Riverside and Fern’s Edge.  I believe two of them are seasonal sites, so I opted for lot 37 at Whispering Hills. The Whispering Hills Campground has a barrier-free comfort station, which I didn’t take advantage of (but should have, I could have used a nice hot shower).

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I set up the SUV for the night, started a nice fire, made myself some dinner and sat out and enjoyed the beautiful evening staring at the stars, reminiscing of when I used to go up to my dad’s camp in Québec and we’d all sit by the fire and star gaze.  I was feeling really grateful this night and was thinking about my dad a lot.

Eventually, it began to rain, so Ellie and I hopped into the SUV to watch the fire from the dryness of the truck and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning we got up early and decided to take one last peek at the falls while no one was around … before I started out looking for a spot to grab some much needed coffee.

You can see our evening and campsite here.

Travel Day 3: Kakabeka Falls, ON to Wawa, ON

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After grabbing my morning cup of joe, we headed out to find an adventure around Thunder Bay and found it at ….

Mount McKay Lookout Point

Even though I’d traveled through Thunder Bay a few times prior, I had never considered stopping at Mount McKay.  This time, since my goal was to “experience” the drive, I spontaneously decided to locate the lookout and see if I could summit it.

Mount McKay is a on Fort William First NationIt is the highest, most northern and best known of the Nor’Wester Mountains. It formed during a period of magmatic activity associated with the large Midcontinent Rift System about 1,100 million years ago.


Mount McKay is traditionally known as the “Thunder Mountain” (Animikii-wajiw in the Ojibwe language and locally written as “Anemki-waucheu”). The mountain is used by the Ojibwe for sacred ceremonies. The English name “Mount McKay” comes from William Mackay, a Scottish free trader who resided in the Fort William area sometime between 1821 and 1857.

On the way up the mountain road, to the left, you will find a memorial to the Ojibway elders.


The lookout on the lower eastern plateau has an elevation of 980 ft, providing a view of Thunder Bay and its harbour.


A small memorial commemorates indigenous people who fought in wars.

The mountain chapel is situated at the site.  It was erected on September 10, 1888 by Rev. Father Joseph Hébert and restored and dedicated in his memory in September 1939.

Hiking Mount McKay

Mount McKay is 981 ft above Lake Superior 1,585 ft above sea level. It is a flat-topped hill flanked by steep cliffs on three sides.

There is a path on the eastern face of the mountain that can be used for hiking.  Drive toward the lookout parking lot  – a gravel parking lot to the left, a few mins past the toll booth … you’ll see a sign that says “Welcome to Mount Mckay Lookout”, the trailhead is to the left of the parking lot. The hike is VERY steep and took about 35 mins to summit. It is ALL straight uphill with some narrow sections and loose rocks, and the views are worth it! Would definitely recommend, especially in autumn.

Had I had more time, I would have started at the bottom of the mountain and hiked from the base to summit.  Next time …

You can check out our hike to the summit of Mount McKay here. 

Terry Fox Monument

Next we moved onto the Terry Fox Monument which is situated on the outskirts of Thunder Bay. The statue was created by sculptor Manfred Pervich to mark the place where Fox was forced to stop his run on August 31, 1980. It is approximately four kilometres west of the exact spot where Fox ended his run, which is noted only by a private marker not readily visible from the road. The monument was dedicated on June 26, 1982, just days before the first anniversary of Terry Fox’s death.

The monument offers a panoramic view of Thunder Bay and its surroundings.

You can see the Terry Fox monument and views here.


Nipigon is a township in Thunder Bay District, along the west side of the Nipigon River.  The Nipigon River Bridge is a two-lane cable-stayed bridges, the first of their kind in Ontario, replacing the 1937 bridge. On January 10, 2016, the first bridge heaved apart but did not collapse, resulting in traffic having to reroute through the United States. However, one lane was re-opened to traffic 17 hours later.


You can see the Nipigon Bridge in this video.

Aguasabon Falls and Gorge

Aguasabon Falls is in Terrace Bay, right off of Hwy 17. The main viewing deck faces the side of the falls and down the gorge. It is an impressive sight and sound!  Combined with the Fall colours, it was stunning, I could have stayed so much longer and hiked the nature trail to the bottom of the gorge.


You can see the stunning falls and gorge in his video.

Little Pic River Bridge

West of the town of Marathon, the Little Pic River empties into Lake Superior. Just before it reaches the lake, the river is crossed by the Hwy 17 (Trans-Canada), which provides a vital road link with the town of Marathon.

According to the book Pic, Pulp and People: A History of the Marathon District, Marathon had no road connection to the outside world until 1953, when a Bailey bridge was swung over the river. The crossing of the Little Pic River was considered especially dangerous.

In 1958 a permanent bridge was completed, 740 feet long and 180 feet above the water, making it the highest bridge on the Trans-Canada and the largest truss bridge in the province’s Northwest Region.


Wawa RV Park

In Wawa, I stayed at a great little family owned and operated RV park, located on the Magpie River (at the back of the campground).  This was the perfect place to stop for me along the beautiful northeastern shores of Lake Superior because it was easily accessible off Hwy 17 and only about five minutes north of Wawa.  The sign for the campground is easily visible for the hwy.

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We arrived at the campground without a reservation, but they weren’t full and were very helpful in getting me a lot to stay at for the night. The park is on a beautifully wooded campground. They have full hook-ups, pull throughs and tenting (SUV camping is considered tenting). The washrooms and showers were clean. They have free Wifi (which I didn’t know, and could have used, I went way over on my data with the traveling).  I bought some firewood and went to my lot to set up for the night.  I was at lot 16.

Surprising or not so surprising, it continued to rain on and off.  We weren’t able to start a fire or sit out.  So, I listened to some podcasts and posted some TikToks with the back hatch open and enjoyed the sound of the falling rain.


If you want to see how perturbed I was that it was still raining, you can see that here.

Travel Day 4: Wawa, ON to Manitoulin Island

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With morning arriving, we packed up the SUV and headed into Wawa to get some Tim Horton’s for the road.  Today we need to make it as far as Mindemoya, Manitoulin Island, where we’ll be staying at my friend’s property.

Before getting out of Wawa, I wanted to hit up the Scenic (Magpie) Falls.  I’m all about chasing the waterfalls this trip and some bridges as well.

Scenic High Falls of the Magpie River

High Falls (aka Scenic High Falls or Magpie Falls) is just south of Wawa, off of Hwy17. There are signs, which say “Scenic High Falls”. You’ll drive about 2.4 kms down a gravel road which leads to the base of the falls.

The falls are wide. You can get right down to the base of the falls. There is also a path to the right up to the top of the falls. Standing 75 feet and 124 feet wide it’s definitely worth the visit. Just a few steps from the parking area you’ll find the main lookout with picnic area. There is also a short trail to the right of the falls that allows for different vantage points.


Had I had more time, I would have hiked to the Silver Falls which is about a two hour hike away down the Voyageur Trail.

You can see the video of the magpie falls here.

Old Woman Bay

Old Woman Bay is only 26 kms south of Wawa, so I didn’t have far to travel … this is the sight you’ll see as you descend down into Lake Superior’s Old Woman Bay.  It was an overcast day (still) while I was driving, but this view still gets me …


The last 2 times I’ve been here, the weather hadn’t cooperated much, so these photos will not do it justice in the least. This is a true beauty in the heart of Algoma.  The 3 km long sandy beach is populated with driftwood. Looking toward the horizon, the face of the Old Woman can be seen with 200-metre standing cliffs to the left. The bay horseshoes out to the main body of Superior to the north, leading you to Entrance Island.

Had we had more time, I would have wanted to hike the Nokomis trail –> next time.

The video accompaniment to Old Woman Bay is here for your viewing pleasure.

Kathrine Cove

No too much further down the hwy we came to Katherine Cove. This beautiful sandy beach is on the shore of Lake Superior. Picnic tables, benches and a restroom are available for visitors to utilize.  A short yet demanding Coastal Trail from the beach will lead you to the natural wonder, Bathtub Island.  Which as you’ve heard me say a few times now … if I had more time, I would have loved to hike it.

At the cove, you’ll find viewscapes that inspired the Group of Seven to paint throughout this region.  From Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa, from White River, Pukaskwa National Park and along the top of the Superior. Located along this route are interpretive panels, each telling a different story about the artists and landscapes they painted here. On the journey you’ll discover breathtaking scenery and peaceful sandy beaches, natural and area attractions, places to eat, stay and meet friendly people who live on the Big Lake they call Gitche Gumee, which loosely translated means “Big Sea” or “Huge Water.

Group of Seven at Katherine Cove

Katherine Cove video accompaniment is here.

Pancake Bay

Located on the shores of Lake Superior, Pancake Bay Provincial Park (Batchawana Bay) boasts of 3 km of superb sandy beaches and interpretive trails including the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout with views of Lake Superior. The sheltered sandy bay got its name from the fur trading era, when voyageurs would camp there on their journey from Fort William. By the time they reached the bay, their food supply would be low and would make pancakes for dinner, knowing that they would replenish their supplies in Sault Ste. Marie the next day.

From the Lookout Trail viewing platform, visitors will see across to Whitefish Point. This stretch of Lake Superior is known as the “graveyard of the Great Lakes” where the famed Edmund Fitzgerald sank in the fierce November gale of 1975.

Chippewa Falls

The 25 ft high Chippewa Falls can be seen from Hwy 17 and is a great place to stop and stretch your legs because of the roadside park right next to them.


At the roadside park, there is a plaque marks  the half-way point of the Trans-Canada Highway. The plaque describes Dr. Perry E. Doolittle, who is considered “Father of the Trans-Canada Highway”.  The Trans-Canada Highway runs from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia.

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Blind River

The Town of Blind River is located at the mouth of the Mississagi River on the North Channel of Lake Huron, so from this point, we’re no longer traveling along Lake Superior.

I didn’t stop in Bling River very long, I stopped quickly by the Mississagi River to take a few breaths and appreciate and to listen to some Neil Young, he makes reference to Blind River in one of my favourite’s of his “Long May You Run”, a story about the demise of his 1948 Buick Roadmaster hearse.

Well, it was back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift on the long decline
Long may you run.

And on the Wikipedia page for Blind River, under “Notable People” you’ll see mentions of three notables — and in that list you will find my former father-in-law … Tom Cassidy 

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You can see the video from Chippewa Falls to Mindemoya here.

Next stop …

Mindemoya, Manitoulin Island

The current name of the island is the English version, coming from the Ojibwe name Manidoowaaling meaning “cave of the spirit”.

I entered the island via the one-lane Little Current Swing Bridge, which crosses the North Channel at Little Current.

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The swing bridge was built in 1913 by the Algoma Eastern Railway. Originally usable only by trains, it was modified in the late 1940s to allow road vehicles also to use it. The rail service was abandoned in the 1980s, and the tracks were removed in the 1990s.

Here are some fun facts that I didn’t know about Manitoulin Island:

  • The island has an area of 2,766 km2 making it the largest freshwater island in the world, the 174th largest island in the world and Canada’s 31st largest island.
  • Manitoulin Island has 108 freshwater lakes, some of which have their own islands.

I was heading down to Mindemoya to stay at friends’ of mine’s cottage.  My plan was to still SUV camp, but to have a safe place to stay and then go for a hike with my friend the following day prior to catching the Chi-Cheemaun at South Baymouth the following afternoon.  Oddly enough, I didn’t take still photos of my time here.

I just shot some short footage for my TikTok which you can see here.  

I built a fire, sat around it and talk to my friend for a while.  I was more than happy when the rain held off and I could thoroughly enjoy my evening.  After finishing 2 little bottles of Freixenet (I treated myself), we were off to sleep in the SUV.

Travel Day 5: Mindemoya, Manitoulin Island to Kitchener, ON

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My friend Barb and I did a short hike before my I had to load for the ferry ride along the Bowermans’ Public Walking Trail in South Baymouth.  It was raining, the wood paths were slick, and regardless the views were beautiful as the walking trails made by Eunice and Dick Bowerman go through the beautiful forrest, which is still stunning this time of year.  For the most part, the trails are about a metre wide and extend in straight lines, however in several places steep rock outcroppings required the building of stairs.  There are also some corduroy paths over low lying wet lands.  

To view the video to that day, you can click here.

Perfect timing, as we finished our hike, we heard the horn of the Chi-cheemaun as it was entered port, so I quickly grabbed a slice of pizza and went back to my SUV to await the board.

I caught the 3:50 PM Chi-cheemaun ferry to Tobermory.  The sail is about 2 hours, and given the extensive amount of driving I’ve been doing the last few days, I was thankful for the rest.  

To view the video to that trek click here. 

Next stop …. Tobermory for debarquement ….

My initial plan was to stay around the area … maybe Miller Lake and SUV camp before heading home to Kitchener.  It’s a beautiful part of Ontario, I wanted to get to the Grotto, but, it wouldn’t stop raining!  And to be completely honest, I’d had it up to here with the rain – SUV camping is made a bit more difficult when it’s constantly raining out – you can’t light fires, you’re stuck in the back of your truck.    So, I decided to just head back to my hometown.  Kitchener is about 3h15 mins from Tobermory, so I hauled ass to get back home.

You can check out that TikTok here.

I’d be lying if I said I was a little bit happy to sleep in an actual bed, even while in Dauphin, I was sleeping on the couch or air mattress.

All in all that was an amazing drive from Dauphin back to Kitchener.  I will have to travel back at some point over the next little bit, by that time I’m hoping that the US border is open and that I can drive that way, to shave off some travel time and to experience a whole new adventure.

Have any of you traveled this route or been to some of these places?  

Amazing Feat of Flying: Visiting the Gimli Glider!

Gimli is the cultural heartland of Icelanders in Manitoba and the country as a whole. Gimli’s first European settlers were Icelanders who were part of the New Iceland settlement in Manitoba.  In Norse mythology Gimli is known as the most beautiful place in the after life, where only the worthy will be transported after death.

Other than being a lakeside community, Gimli is known primarily for two things:  

  1. its annual Icelandic festival and;  
  2. the Gimli Glider

I love avionics.  I’ve been obsessed since I was in my early twenties, mainly out of fear on account of heights and watching way too many episodes of Mayday/Air Disaster.  I was obsessed with flights gone wrong, not out of morbidity, but out of wanting to learn everything I could about planes and flying so I could be more “aware” for when I flew.  A bit neurotic, but instead of freaking me out more, it actually calmed me, the more I understood, the more in control I felt.  I eventually tackled my fear of flying by jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and then 2 years later registering to get my PPL (personal pilots license).  

I love the show Mayday, I’ve pretty much watched every episode, twice. Season 5 Episode 2 is the one about the “Gimli Glider”: Air Canada 143. Which is why I am sooooo excited to visit the Gimli Glider Museum in Gimli, Manitoba.

It’s July 23, 1983, I’m 9 years old, it’s a calm Summer evening and Air Canada flight 143 is on its way to Edmonton from Montreal (with a stop in Ottawa). Captain Bob Pearson and First Officer Maurice Quintal are both veteran pilots, and they’re flying a newly automated Boeing 767.  

Captain Bob Pearson’s uniform of the day

Up in the cockpit in the observers chair (jump seat)  is Air Canada Maintenance Control Supervisor, Rick Dion.  Dion is not a member of the crew on this flight, but rather he’s on the flight as a passenger with his wife and young son.  Dion is up in the flight deck to observe and discuss the brand new airliner with electronic flight equipment.  

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The chair above is the original chair, and was reupholstered to a 1983 appearance, but, the arms, belts and base are as they were on flight 143, and upon recovery from the airplane graveyard.  

Midway through the flight, things begin to go horribly wrong. The system alerts the pilots to a problem.  The plane is in danger of running out of fuel. Cpt Pearson decides to land as soon as possible and heads for Winnipeg. As he descends he loses one engine, then another. As First Officer Maurice Quintal performs crucial calculations, Captain Bob Pearson, an experienced glider pilot, takes manual control of the 767. Working with minimal instruments and hydraulics, and without flaps and spoilers, the crew nurse their crippled plane, the huge Boeing is falling from the sky.  They won’t make it to Winnipeg.  First Officer Quintal had been at Gimli during his military service, so he knew the nearby air base at Gimli and it was likely the closest landing strip … but … they don’t know that it’s been decommissioned. 

Meanwhile on the ground along the shores of Lake Winnipeg the day’s events at a race car strip alongside the Gimli airport were winding down.  Families sitting alongside their campers and trailers after the final race was held.  Barbecues had finished, cottagers were on their decks relaxing when one by one groups of people spotted a very large, very silent aircraft coming in.  It did not take long to realize something was terribly wrong. 

The only way for Cpt Pearson to get his plane safely down is to try a manoeuvre that only glider pilots would know about. Thankfully, Cpt Pearson knows a lot about aerodynamics, in the 1960’s he was a glider pilot and instructed and knows how to force the plane into a sideslip. 

As he comes in for landing, Cpt Pearson notices three boys on the runway, they pedal and try to outrun the plane, but Kerry Seabrook, 11 years old, was frozen. The jetliner slid to a stop just a couple of hundred feet in front of him.

Kerry Seabrook’s original bike

As Cpt Pearson touches down, his front landing gear collapsed, his rear tires blow. It is the first-ever 767 to land without engines does so without so much as a single serious injury.

What caused this plane to have a twin engine flame out?  The accident is blamed on a mistake in manually converting pounds to kilograms, which resulted in the aircraft carrying only 45% of its required fuel load.  Because there was a problem with the flight management computer, and it was intermittently inoperable, it meant that fuel for the flight would have to be measured and calculated manually. The crew needed to enter the fuel quantity into the flight computer in kilograms, but they mistakenly did the calculation with the density of jet fuel in pounds/litre. 

The Board of Inquiry found Air Canada at fault for the near disaster and commended Cpt Pearson and his crew for how they handled the potentially deadly situation. In 1985, Pearson and Quintal were awarded the first ever Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Diploma for Outstanding Airmanship.

Several attempts by other crews who were given the same circumstances in a simulator at Vancouver resulted in crashes. 

Cpt Pearson’s amazing feat of flying changed airline flying around the world! It is said that those new procedures also saved the lives of those on board the 2001Air Transat flight that ran out of fuel and glided safely to the Azores. And that even Captain Sully (of the Miracle on the Hudson) called Captain Pearson to thank him. This feat of flying was so well revered back on the day that it forever changed the training pilots received, no doubt that Captain Sully wouldn’t have landed that plane safely in the Hudson, had flight training not been altered to learn gliding procedures.

The Boeing flew passengers for another 25 years before ending her service with Air Canada, without incident.  She was retired from the Air Canada fleet in 2008 and is now located in the Mojave (California) desert airplane boneyard.  As you can see from a recent satellite photo, it is being pieced off for parts.

At her resting place in the Mojave desert, being parted out

The little museum has also been able to obtain other parts of flight 143 …

Trying to lock onto the runway
My flight path into Gimli

Urbex: The Little Ghost Town of Insinger, Saskatchewan

I was driving to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (say that 10 times fast) to visit some friends. As I traveled down Highway 16, about 55 km on the other side of Yorkton (from Manitoba) when a domed roof of an old Ukrainian Orthodox church peek out on the right side just over the horizon. It was fairly noticeable because as I’ve come to see, the prairie landscape is pretty flat.

Being an urbexer and not having done as much as I would have liked of it, I decided to pull over quickly and explore. As I turned, the rest of the little town Insinger appeared.

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Insinger now has a population of just 20.  

This church is called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Holy Ghost, a fitting name for a now ghost town church.


Surprisingly it’s not brick … it’s rectangles of asphalt shingles designed to look like brick.  

It’s not that old either, it was built in 1942 when Insigner was still a town.

Some of the square blue ceiling tiles have fallen, revealing squares of brown lathe behind them.

The robins egg ceiling dome is beautiful and the ceiling is covered in gold stars

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There were plenty of other abandoned buildings to explore in this town, but, because I had a destination to get to, I wasn’t able to explore the whole town, which I would have loved to.

I have plans to go back next month as I’m traveling through again to head out on a road trip to British Columbia.

20 Years Later. Where Were You on 9/11?

It is the JFK assassination of my generation.  It’s like asking where were you when Elvis died?  An event so big that it defines a generation.  So significant and relevant that no matter what else you may forget in your lifetime, this event is forever etched in your brain.

September 11, 2001 was the day that shook the world! I was 27 years old, when 19 cowardly men armed with box cutters hijacked 4 fully fuelled passenger jets and attacked freedom.  By the end of that horrific day, nearly 3000 people were dead.

It was about 9:15 a.m. I had an interview with an employment agency for a job I was interested in, downtown, about 10 minutes from home. All neatly dressed, I slid into my Honda Accord ready to rock the interview and land the job.  I turned on the radio to find some pump my self up tunes, however, the radio wasn’t playing any music.  The broadcast on my local station appeared to be describing something that was too unbelievable to be true.  I wasn’t even sure that it wasn’t some sort of hoax because it seemed all too impossible … 

Being a documentary nerd, I was all too familiar with the time a B-25 bomber flew into the Empire State Building during heavy fog in 1945. I automatically assumed this too was a tragic accident.  But how?  It was a beautiful sunny, cloudless morning in Southwestern Ontario, which is only an 8-hour drive to New York City.  When I arrived for the interview, the happenings in NYC were the talk of the office.  Then something happened that made it clear that the first plane was not an accident, United 175 had crashed into the South Tower.  The interview was short, only about 15 minutes (it was a pre-screen).  In any event, I felt as if we were both more interested in the events unfolding not too far from us.  Once the meeting was completed, I rushed back home.  As I hit a red light, at what I now know to be 9:37 A.M., I gasped as my ears could not believe that I was hearing that another plane filled with passengers had crashed into The Pentagon.

Just a block away from home when I heard about the attack on the Pentagon, I was even more anxious to get home and turn on CNN.  I needed to see with my own two eyes what on earth was happening.   This was all too unbelievable to be true.  And, to this point, my only reference was what I had created in my mind, a picture based on radio reported events. 

My friend Miranda and her children were staying with me for a bit, at the time.  I ran into the house eager to get to the TV.  Miranda and I sat downstairs on the couch, in the basement and watched in awe as the events of that day unfolded on my 55” big screen. 

Smoke was billowing from two of the world’s tallest towers.  I felt helpless watching people who piled four and five deep into the windows, some 1,500 feet in the air. I screamed in horror as they emerged one or two at a time from a blanket of smoke and fire and jumped.  Some held hands, others went alone.  I remember thinking that the conditions must have been absolutely horrific if they felt jumping from ¼ mile up was the better option.  Many blessed themselves before their leap of faith. Some tried to make parachutes out of curtains or tablecloths. One man hopelessly tried to climb down the building – this one scars me to this day.  I have intrusive nightmares or the odd flashback of that specific fall from time to time, even 20 years later.   I don’t know what it is about that one specific incident, but it’s irreparably scarred into my psyche.  They were the only visible fatalities on a day that claimed thousands.  

9:50 A.M. Devastation.  Together, we watched in horror as the South Tower of the WTC collapsed, a mere 56 minutes after the impact of Flight 175. As I write this, I can still remember that absolute jaw dropping moment vividly.  What on God’s green earth was happening?  Within a span of just 30 minutes, WTC1 and WTC2 would implode in heaps of ash and dust as thousands ran for their lives.  The Pentagon would be struck and Flight 93 would be crashed by its hijackers in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, assumedly on its way to the US Capitol Building or the White House.  I was completely disturbed by what I was witnessing. This was a catalyst to something big.  Was this the start of WWIII?  Rumblings started to flow across the news media that this was an orchestrated terrorist attack. 

My then husband was sleeping, he’d finished working night shift 7 hours prior.  In 30 seconds flat, I ran up 2 flights of stairs to wake him from his slumber, yelling “OMG! OMG! WWIII is starting, you need to get up!?  We rushed back down to the basement and for hours upon hours watched the fallout of the deadliest terrorist attacks in world history.  My eldest was at school, I felt the need to go get her, but my husband talked me into letting her finish out her day. My youngest was only 3 years old and completely oblivious to how her world was about to change forever.  

Those who came through the windows of the towers provided the starkest, most harrowing evidence of the desperate conditions inside”   ~ New York Times, Sept. 10, 2004

2008 Visit to NYC

Years later, in 2008, I took my eldest daughter to NYC.  I had it that I wanted to take both my girls to NYC to experience the magnificence of all the city has to offer with all its glitz and glamour.  And, I wanted them to understand the origins of 9/11, its implications and remember the legacies of those who lost their lives of that tragic day as well as the other lives impacted.

By the time we went to NYC in October 2008, Ground Zero, as it came to be known immediately after the September 11th attacks, 7 years had passed. Ground Zero was still a hole in the ground, and construction continued on the Freedom Tower foundations at the World Trade Center site.

Ground Zero 3

2014 Visit to NYC

The next time I visited NYC it was the Canadian Thanksgiving of October 2014.  I went with my youngest, it was her birthday.  Freedom Tower was up and ready to open the following month as One World Trade Center (it opened on November 3, 2014). The super tall structure has the same name as the North Tower of the original World Trade Center.   The new skyscraper stands on the northwest corner of the 16-acre World Trade Center site, on the site of the original 6 World Trade Center. 

We visited 9/11 MEMORIAL PLAZA as a tribute to the past and of hope for the future. The twin pools are set within the footprints of the original Twin Towers, each pool is approximately 1-acre in size. The names of every person who perished in the terror attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001 are honoured in bronze around the twin Memorial pools.

Kitchener Connection

Did you know that here in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada where I live, we have a 9/11 WTC memorial near Centre in the Square at the Firefighters Memorial Park forever linking our 2 cities together?

A rusted metal beam from the WTC stands at Firefighters Memorial Park.  It’s 3.43 metres long and the very specific size is no accident.

“There was 343 firefighters killed on that day so we asked for something that was 3.43 metres” 

~ Kevin Schmalz, former chair of the Kitchener Fire Memorial Committee.




On Travel: Churchill Good Eats

There were few staples in Churchill that I stuck to in addition to eating in, mainly because they were conveniently located close to my B&B … and they were open.  It could also be that they were the only available restaurants in Churchill (lol).  It’s a small town, things close early.  

So without further ado, let’s check out the Churchill eats.  

1 – Tundra Inn

As seen on the Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here with John Catucci, The Tundra Inn Dining Room & Pub is a favourite local and tourist hangout. 

They serve up home-cooked meals with a regional arctic twist.  It is also home to the famous Beyond The Borealis Veggie Burger made with Quinoa & Black Bean Patty, Havarti Cheese, Lemon & Coriander Mayonnaise, Avocado, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Toasted Brioche Bun, House Cut Fries – which I had. 

The other meal I had was the Spinach Dip – Cream Cheese, Spinach & Artichoke Dip Topped with Mozzarella Cheese Served with Toasted Flatbreads & Vegetable Sticks  I also added some hummus. Yum!


Beer deals to be had, check the board behind the bar for beer specials. The deal while  was there was a bottle of Labatt Light for $4.00.

The vibe is good, laid back, just as you’d expect in a small town. It’s the perfect place to enjoy an evening after a full day of exploring Churchill’s wonders. 

Dining room on one side, pub on the other.  

2 – Seaport Hotel

Whether you’ve come to Churchill as part of a tour group or you are here by yourself, like me, the Seaport Restaurant and Coffee Shop has you covered. The restaurant is fully licensed, the dining room has a seating capacity of 72 while the coffee shop can accommodate another 36.  

The food was decent.  I ate there three times during my stay.  I had the crispy chicken burger which was good but salty, as was the chipotle type sauce for my yam fries – which were good. The second and third times I visited, I had the club sandwich.  It was actually really good.  I had yam fries again the 2nd time and then I had a poutine the third time.  

Overall the food is decent pub style food.  I wanted to try the Jack Daniels ribs but they weren’t served until after 5:00 pm, I went for a late lunch. 

The bonus to the Seaport, and the reason it’s my fave, is that they have a patio – perfect for enjoying a burger and a beer on a gorgeous, sunny Churchill day.  

While I was there, it was patio dining only due to COVID (not sure why since The Tundra Inn had dine-in eating) and I was 100% ok with that …. the weather was stellar the whole week I was there!

Note: The patio only has 4-5 tables available, so you may have to wait for a table or go elsewhere.

“Food brings people together on many different levels. It’s nourishment of the soul and body; it’s truly love.”

– Giada De Laurentiis

Churchill Chinese Food

New to town as of August 2021, Churchill Chinese Food are using the kitchen at the Dancing Bear to offer delicious, authentic Chinese food to locals and tourists alike.  

They currently only offer take out, there is no dine in option.  

I ordered from here once during my visit.  I had pre-arranged a pick-up for 7:00 pm after my beluga whale kayak.  It’s not your Canadianized Chinese food, so expect more authentic dishes.  It was really good.  Definite recommend.  

Caribou Café

Dining out can get expensive, especially if you’re visiting for more than 3-4 days.  If you’re into saving money and less into ambience then, the café at the Churchill Health Centre in the Town Centre provides a budget friendly option.  

I had breakfast there, and for $5.25 I got 2 eggs, 2 toasts and 3 meats (choice of bacon or sausage). Other options such as bagels or muffins are available, as are a selection of juices and coffee.  

Prices are very reasonable!  A friend went for lunch and got a steak, homemade mashed potato and corn on the cob for $12.95!   

Related Blogs to Help Plan Your Trip to Churchill

How to Get to Churchill

Where I Stayed, Is a Must Stay

Exploring the Wonders of Churchill

Lazy Bear Café

I wasn’t able to enjoy this café, the 2 days that I went they were closed.  However from what I heard from others staying at my B&B … if you’re looking for the restaurant with the best ambiance in town, look no further than the Lazy Bear Cafe. The log-cabin style interior looks beautiful, and I’m sure the central stone fireplace makes you feel right at home. The restaurant serves Indigenous foods such as Braised Peppered Elk, Arctic Char and Manitoba Bison grace. They are also farm to table – they have their own local greenhouse.  

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(photos from the Lazy Bear Café website)

Note: the Café does not serve alcohol.

Note: It is the only place in town to get espresso.

Alternate Options

If you’re staying at a B&B or some place that has some basic amenities for you to make use of, you may want to consider buying a few things for your room or to make at your B&B.  

Set your expectations … this is a northern town, on the edge of the arctic with no road access – items are brought in my train or plane.  Prices are not going to be what you’re accustomed to.  I found that some things were wayyyyyyyy more expensive and others were more in line with what I was accustomed to paying.  For example a 24 case of Nestle water was $24.95! 

 – The Northern Store

The Northern Sore is the town’s all purpose store.  Fresh/Frozen Food.  General Merchandise. Clothing.  Electronics. Housewares and Liquor.  You get it all here.  

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While I was there, I stocked up on a loaf of rye bread $3.09, a package of lunch meat $5.49 and a Pho Instant Noodles $3.49.  I made a few sandwiches for lunch and for dinner one eve when I wasn’t feeling as hungry I had my Pho bowl.  

 – Tamarack Foods

Tamarack is a smaller local store further down on Kelsey Blvd beside Tamarack Car Rentals. They are usually open daily from 11:30 am – 6:00 pm. Prices are similar to The Northern, a few items had better prices.  

So there you have it folks, the places I ate while visiting Churchill. Overall dining prices weren’t extraordinarily more than I would pay where I live in South Western Ontario, given the cost of shipping goods up. The portion sizes were large, wear your leggings ladies. Alcoholic beverages also within reason to what I would pay where I live.

On Travel: Exploring The Marvels of Churchill

Are you ever in for REAL treat! There are so many adventures to be had in this little town of less than 1,000 …. take in as many as you POSSIBLY CAN … you don’t wanna miss a thing.  I stayed for 5 nights and I still had things I wasn’t able to do that I wanted to … I guess that means I’ll just have to go back 😉

This is a list of the things I did while in Churchill – in no particular order. This is my list of suggestions of places to visit, and it’s definitely not inclusive. As I said, there were many more things I wanted to do. It’s amazing how much there is to do in this culture rich town.

Northern Lights

Welcome to earth’s most spectacular light show. Churchill is one of the most popular Northern Lights destinations in Canada. Along with Whitehorse, Yukon and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Churchill’s northern lights expeditions have become incredibly popular with tourists from around the world. And while the rocky coast of Churchill means that there are plenty of amazing foregrounds for the auroras, one of the best places to catch the view is by the Inukshuk on the beach in Churchill or on the Beluga.  I prefer aboard the Beluga for its height and for its safety – lest there be any wandering bears. The Inukshuk provides a great spot to take some of the best aurora photos or time lapses.  

The auroras can be seen in Churchill up to 300 nights a year. They were really strong 3/5 nights I was there and was in awe each time. I was in constant wonder of what I was seeing and how beautiful they were. Every night put on a different show. I have about 100 photos taken over 3 nights of watching the lights dance in the sky. For now I’ll post a few.

Photo Hunt for Polar Bears

If you’re going to Churchill with the specific intent of seeing the bears, you’re best to go during polar bear season which runs from October through mid November (total of about 6 weeks). Polar bears come onto land every July when the Hudson Bay ice breaks up. In autumn, scores of these great white bears gather along the shores of the bay, waiting for the ice to form so they can venture back out to hunt their favourite food – ring seal. Pregnant females go inland into dens to have cubs in late November and re-emerge in mid-February, when they return to the sea ice.

That’s not to say that you will not see bears if you’re visiting during the Summer months. Tundra buggy tours still operate and some of the people I met said they saw 2-3 bears as well as other wildlife on their excursions.

I was quite fortunate. My main goal was not for the bears, but rather the belugas. If I saw a bear that was a “bonus” and boy did I get lucky. On my tour days with my B&B host, Angela Mak, we saw a 3 separate bears. I saw a momma and her cub on 2 separate days and a single bear walking solo (at different locations).

The SS Ithaca

Off the coast of Churchill, you will find the remains of the SS Ithaca cargo ship, a small freighter, originally built as the Frank A. Augsbury for the Canadian George Hall Coal & Shipping Corporation in 1922. 

She was chartered by the Clarke Steamship Company to deliver nickel concentrate from the works at Rankin Inlet. She sailed from Churchill on 10 September 1960 to collect her cargo and carried supplies to the settlement. She had delivered her first shipment of 2,700 tons of ore to Churchill and had loaded a small amount of mining equipment and building supplies for the return trip, when she encountered a storm with 130 kmh gale forced winds.

The Captain turned back toward the safety of the port, however, the weather was so bad he decided to drop anchor. The anchor chain broke, and her rudder was beaten off. Completely out of control, on 14 September, 1960, the vessel was driven into Bird Cove, a shallow gravel-bank 750 meters offshore.

The Ithaca was driven into Bird Cove, a shallow gravel bank about 750 meters offshore

Her bottom was completely ripped out when the storm pounded her on the gravel bank. The insurer, Lloyd’s of London, wrote the vessel off as a complete loss, and viewed the grounding as suspicious, therefore refusing to pay the insurance claim. All 37 crew members were rescued by the Canadian Coast Guard‘s CCGS Sir William Alexander and were taken to Winnipeg on 18 September 1960. The shallow water she grounded on meant that walking to the wreck at low tide was possible allowing for much of her navigational instruments, and cargo, consisting of two generators and some plywood panels, as well as mission supplies, were able to be salvaged. 

Today, the rusted wreck attracts curious travellers and photographers.  The ship is too dangerous to enter. Because of its position in the shallows of the Hudson, a low-tide hike to the Ithaca is possible. However, beware, polar bears are known to hang out in the wreck. If you want to attempt this hike, it’s best to hire a local guide who is experienced with both the bears and is familiar with the area.

Itsanitaq Museum 

The Itsanitaq Museum, formerly known as the Churchill Eskimo Museum is a must-visit for those who travel to town.  The museum has a collection of over 1,100 Inuit carvings and artifacts which are amongst the finest and oldest in the world dating from Pre-Dorset (1700 B.C.) through Dorset, Thule, and modern Inuit times.

The Itsanitaq Museum also houses arctic wildlife including muskox, polar bear, and walrus as well and relics of some northern explorations. 

There is no fee to visit the museum, donations are appreciated.  

The gift shop specializes in northern books, Canadian Inuit art, unique postcards, art cards, stationery, and local wild berry preserves.

Churchill Rocket Research Range

The Churchill Rocket Research Range is a former rocket launch site located about 23 km outside of town. The facility was used by both Canada and the United States for sub-orbital launches of sounding rockets to study the upper atmosphere. The site was scientifically beneficial due to it laying in the centre of a zone containing high aurora activity. Over 3,500 sub-orbital flights were launched from the site.

The complex was first built in 1954 by the Canadian Army’s Defence Research Board to study the effects of auroras on long distance communications. The program ceased operation in 1955, and the site was re-opened and greatly expanded in 1956 as part of Canada’s participation in the International Geophysical Year. Launches for the experiments started in 1957 but ceased in December 1958.

The site was one again re-opened in August 1959 by the US Army, in collaboration with the Canadian government, as part of its network of sounding rocket stations. In September 1959 it was used to test new solid fuel propellant systems with PVT-1, the vehicle that would evolve into the Black Brant. In late 1960 a fire destroyed many of the facilities. It was announced that the Black Brant test series would be continued with an additional twelve launches at NASA‘s Wallops Flight Facility during 1961-62, while the facilities at Churchill were rebuilt.

The US Army ended its involvement at Churchill in June 1970, and the site was taken over by the Canadian National Research Council to support the Canadian Upper Atmosphere Research Program. The site was used sporadically during the 1970s and 1980s and was largely deserted by 1985.

In 1994 Akjuit Aerospace, a Canadian company, signed a 30-year lease with the Canadian government for the Churchill Rocket Research Range with the goal of developing the world’s first commercial spaceport. Akjuit assembled a technical team of 21 firms led by the American aerospace contractor Raytheon to plan the development of the site into SpacePort Canada, including polar orbital launch capability. Akjuit planned to launch commercial polar-orbiting payloads using Russian rockets. Churchill’s location in the western hemisphere combined with its range-safety for firing northwards made it an ideal location, with the exception of the extremely cold weather which would limit launch seasons. 

Akjuit’s first and only rocket launch took place at 7:10 a.m. Central Time on 28 April 1998: a suborbital Black Brant IXB research rocket containing a physics payload for the Canadian Space Agency. Akjuit Aerospace ceased operations in May 1998.

Kayak With Beluga Whales

Besides polar bears, the beluga whales are one of the town’s biggest draws. And unlike the bears, you can easily get right up close to the white whales of the north. From June to end of August these social, white whales make their way into Hudson Bay and the Churchill River to feed and give birth. Visitors can observe these “canaries of the sea” (known for their whistles and chirps) by kayak, standup paddle board or on a Zodiac boat tour.  

I joined Sea North Tours for a Beluga kayak experience on the mouth of the Churchill River where it empties into Hudson Bay. Kayaking with these magnificent creatures at sunset was all but the best thing I’ve done in my life.  I loved every moment of the 2 hours I was on the water.  They came right up to my kayak and nudged it multiple times, at one time there were 3! I felt kind of like their rubber ducky in their river during playtime. At first I was scared I would tip, but once I got a better feel for my kayak, I was no longer scared, I wanted them to come right up, stick their heads out and say “hi”. They followed and swam beside it as I paddled, I got some decent footage with my iPhone, while still trying to be present and take it all in.

Miss Piggy Plane Wreck 

The cargo plane rests on a cliff edge north of the airport She was nicknamed Miss Piggy because of the size of the loads she carried from site to site in the North.

On November 13, 1979, Miss Piggy, a Curtiss C-46 freight plane, left Churchill airport when shortly into the flight her no.1 engine oil temperature rose, a drop in oil pressure forced the crew to descend and return to Churchill.  The aircraft wasn’t able to maintain altitude and force landed in rough terrain about a 1/4 mile short of the runway. Reportedly, the aircraft was overloaded.  There were 3 crewmen injured in the crash, all survived. 

Churchill Golf Balls

This obsolete building overlooking Hudson Bay was a radar station in the 1960s during the cold ware era. It was used to track launches from the nearby rocket range. Its exterior was painted in 2017 as part of the Seawall public art program. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go in and explore since I love urbexing. I definitely could have spent more time here …. the views from the top are amazing.

Cape Merry Battery -(Prince of Wales National Historic Site)

Cape Merry is a Parks Canada National Historic Site and is unsupervised. The site includes a cannon battery and some remnants of the old stone walls (partially refurbished). The site can be easily accessed from town. It was built to protect the fort across the river.

A plaque commemorates Jens Munk, the Danish explorer who first landed there in 1619. He was commission by Denmark’s King to seek a new Northwest Passage to the Orient.  In May 1619, his expedition of about 60 men sailed from Copenhagen.  They entered Hudson Bay in late August. Munk and his crew went ashore in 7 November 1619 and spent a terrible winter battling the cold and scurvy – only Munk and 2 of his men survived. They returned to Norway in July 1620.  His ill-fated wintering in Churchill is a great story for those who would underestimate the challenges of life in Canada’s north.

From the fort you can see the Prince of Wales Fort across the Churchill River as well as magnificent views of where fresh water of the river meets salt water of the arctic ocean.  Look out at the vast water views to see the belugas swimming.  

Cape Merry Cannon Battery


The Inuit meaning of Inukshuk is “in the likeness of a human” … Churchill has some impressive Inukshuks.  Travellers often gravitate to and photograph them in the daytime or with dynamic northern lights over the Hudson Bay (the large one on the beach is best for that).  I counted at least 4 in my time there.  

In front of the Inukshuk at the end of Kelsey Rd.

Polar Bear Jail

As you can imagine, living in a migration path and in a place where the polar bear outnumber the human population, life can be a wee but dangerous. A stroll through town and you will uncover countless signs pointing to where you shouldn’t go lest you risk being made a snack. On occasion, a polar bear gets a little too curious close to town. Dangerous bears are tranquilized when captured and are marked with a bright paint on the neck. Closer to winter, when the ice in the Hudson Bay has set, the bears are relocated by helicopter far from the town.  Prior to establishing the facility, polar bears which were considered dangerous used to be shot. The locals are very much aware that they are in the bears territory and they respect them. Visitors aren’t allowed inside the jail.  However you can check out information signage and bear traps outside the facility.  While I was there, I learned that two bears were trapped and taken to “jail”.  

The building is officially named “House D-20”, and was a former military morgue.

The holding facility was first established in 1982. 

The front exterior was painted as part of the Seawall Project.  

Beluga Tugboat / Beach

If you visit the Churchill beach, immediately behind the Town Complex you’ll find the remains of the Beluga, a former fishing boat which has been converted to a picnic structure.  It’s understood that the Beluga was stationed there to act as a safety spot in the event of a bear encounter – you can climb up the Beluga where the bears cannot reach you.  

The Beluga is also one of the best places in town to watch the moon rise over the bay and to catch the dancing light of the auroras.  The beach is also home to the largest Inukshuk in town and seems to be placed just right for photography lovers and enthusiasts alike. Swimming is not recommended (there are posted signed to not go onto the beach area), but it’s the only place where you’re going to get close to salt water without going to British Columbia or Nova Scotia, PEI or Newfoundland.  If you choose to ignore the posted Polar Bear Alert Program signage, be safe, have someone stand watch for you and plan an escape route.  There are also a series of BBQs and fire pits on the beach to enjoy a fire with friends or family.  

On the beach, you will also find a plaque mounted stone memorial to 3 youngsters who lost their lives – let this be a reminder as tourists … “Had they known.  Lest we forget.  The tides are strong and the rocks slippery when wet”.  

Wander the Ruins of Ladoon’s Castle

The story of Brian Ladoon is a bit of Churchill legend. Brian is either loved, hated, or a little bit of both by residents of the town. You can read more about him here. 

Brian dedicated his life to the preservation of the Canadian Eskimo Dog, he owned 5 Dog Sanctuary, which often attracted polar bears to his property. He saved the dog from extinction. The Canadian Eskimo Dog (Quimmiq) is the oldest indigenous domestic dog species still existing in North America. This rare species is an important icon in the Inuit (formerly Eskimo) history.In the 1970s, the Quimmiq was close to extinction, and Ladoon dedicated his life to keep them alive, helping to breed the dogs and see that they were cared for properly. He is either loved, hated, or a little bit of both by residents of the town. It was revealed that he had (as many suspected) been feeding local polar bears to keep them from harming his dogs (caught only when a bear killed one of his dogs after a night he had not fed the bears). People also strongly felt that he should not keep his dogs tied/chained up up in the middle of a polar bear migration path — they’d have no chance if they encountered a bear.

One of his many projects was his development of a castle-style hotel in Churchill on the Hudson Bay coast. The project was never completed, and the remains of it are often on the minds of many of those who travel to Churchill. You can find Ladoon’s Castle on La Vérendrye Ave as you leave Churchill, just before the cemetery. Brian died in 2019.

The Churchill Seawalls

Spend some time in Churchill, and you’ll likely notice a series of murals spanning the shores of the Hudson Bay. The SeaWalls CHURCHILL mural project was started as a way to educate and inspire the community and travellers to protect the oceans. Each piece takes inspiration from the natural history, community, resiliency, and heritage of Churchill.

Li-Hill, painted “THE BEAR” in less than 6 hours, IN THE RAIN, exposed to both the Hudson Bay and the Churchill River winds, using mostly aerosol BBQ paint from the Home Hardware store.

Sayisi Dene Village

The few remnants of this village is about two miles southeast of Churchill. It was established by the Department of Indian Affairs for the Fort Churchill Indian Band, known today as the Sayisi Dene First Nation. Forced to relocate to Churchill in 1956, they lived in squalor at a site near the present-day cemetery.

In 1966, they were moved to this site into bungalows built by the federal government. The transition from nomadic, caribou-hunting culture to non-migratory urban life was unsuccessful and numerous people died

Many of the houses were destroyed by fire and most of the people relocated to Tadoule Lake by 1973. Within a few years, the village was completely abandoned. The concrete foundations for numerous buildings remain at a site. The commemorative monument was erected in October 1999.

The federal government formally acknowledged its role in relocating the First Nation 60 years ago and offer $33 million in compensation. The message is too late for many of the community members who were taken from their happy homes and placed into a situation of agony, poverty and hopelessness. By 1973, 117 of the more than 250 members who were originally moved had already died.

Parks CanadaVisitors Centre at the Churchill Train Station

Parks Canada attraction is in Churchill’s historic train station. It offers a variety of exhibits which highlight Wapusk National Park, Prince of Wales Fort and York Factory National Historic sites. Experience the ecology and human history of Wapusk through the “Our Land, Our Stories” exhibits. Look into a life-sized polar bear maternity den. Explore the connection between Indigenous people and the caribou.

Jockville Heritage Site

I wasn’t able to find any information online about this site, just that it’s a locality in Manitoba. What I what told is that that the province of Manitoba moved the residents from this community into town, into Manitoba Housing, apparently for safety reasons. I’m not sure if this is accurate.

From my exploration, it appears as of this settlement was established in/about 1929.  One of the buildings on site has a handmade sign on the house which states that it was called 7th Ave Jockville and was previously surveyed by the Railways and Canals.

If anyone knows something more specific on this settlement, I’d love to hear about it. Please email me via the contact link or comment below.



There are diverse landscapes surrounding Churchill, from the boreal forest at its northern edge to the expansive sub-arctic tundra. More than 400 native plant species can be found here. I was here at the end of Summer, but there were remnants of colourful, the ground cover was filled with wild berries and downy white tufts of Arctic avens. 

Most of the landscape is glacier-sculpted boulders – where the sea gives way to rolling tundra.


The Hudson Bay lowlands are part of a rich ecosystem teeming with wildlife … polar bears, beluga whales, splethora of migratory and shorebirds, I saw only 1 seal …

Things that I wasn’t able to fit in during my 5 days in Churchill

  • Prince of Wales Fort
  • York Factory National National Historic Site
  • Sloop Cove National Historic Site
  • Hike to the Ithaca
  • Find a local to take me by boat to Nunavut

All in all no matter what it is you do in Churchill you will enjoy every moment of it. There are so many things to do. On days when I felt like taking it easy a bit more, I would take my book to the parquet on Kelsey Rd, across from my B&B, read my book and soak in the sun, after all, it is still a vacation 😉

Related Blogs to Help You Plan Your Trip to Churchill

How to Get to Churchill

Where I Stayed, Is a Must Stay

Where to Eat In Churchill

On Travel: Where I Stayed in Churchill is a Must Stay!

I can’t speak directly to other hotels, inns or B&Bs. However, I can say with absolute certainty that my experience in Churchill was greatly enhanced because of my B&B hosts. I couldn’t imagine my trip without them being part of it. I want to share as much as I can about where I stayed because I want you to experience the best of Churchill, the way I did.

I started off looking on, I usually use this site to book because of my Genius Level 2 discount. I researched all the ones that came up and to be honest it was the Iceberg Inns that had me.

  1. Every single review I read on (9.5/10 rating) or Trip Advisor (9.7 rating) were all about how amazing the hosts were, how friendly they were and that they loved their experience at the inn. Traveling solo, it was important to me to stay somewhere that had excellent reviews and that the hosts felt like family.
  2. I was also really wanting to take advantage of the Angela Mak tours and professional photography.
  3. The next thing was that the prices were very reasonable.

And with all that, I booked the Iceberg Inn.

About the Iceberg Inn

The building itself dates from about 1980, it used to be the old Sears Canada building back in the day.

Iceberg Inn (front)

Angela and Bill are the current owners since just before the pandemic … and are amazing!  I’d stay here again just for them.  They are soooo friendly and really just want their guests to have the best time while in town.  And, as I mentioned, it is one of the most highly ranked B&Bs in Churchill, and I understand why.  My whole Churchill experience was as phenomenal as it was, thanks to Bill and Angela!

The inn is located a conveniently short 100 metre walk from the Churchill Train Station and the Parks Canada Visitor Centre. 

All rooms are non-smoking. 

The inn offers common sitting and dining areas as well as use of the kitchen.

It also offers a communal microwave as well as dishes and utensils for guest use. 

Each room has it’s own private washroom, mini fridge and table. 

The rooms are identified by local animals, I stayed in Wolf.

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There is no eat-in dining service, however it is conveniently located within walking distance of all the restaurants and is situated directly across the street from The Northern Store which has groceries, clothes, alcohol etc. You can buy food and bring it back to the B&B, which I did on a few different occasions.

Guests have access to an on site washer and dryer at no extra cost.

All rooms include Wi-Fi.

I was greeted every morning coming out of my room with “Good morning Tina, how did you sleep?”. Bill already had my plate, coffee cup and utensils out on the table, My coffee was being poured just as a sat down. Ever the gracious host, he was there repeatedly to see if I or there other guests needed refills. Breakfast is available at $5.00/day which includes unlimited coffee and toast (rye bread or Angela’s homemade bread, if you’re lucky). The toast is served with butter, peanut butter and jam.  Angela has also been known to make homemade muffins – which were yummy!

The B&B also has an assortment of pop you can buy onsite @ $2.00/ea.  

As with the aurora borealis photography (an absolute must do!), the B&B also offers photography tours, guided by professional photographer and co-owner Angela Mak herself!  The tour includes the Cape Merry Battery, the Miss Piggy plane wreck, the Polar Bear jail, the SS Ithaca shipwreck and lunch at Northern Study Center.  After lunch, you visit the Rocket Research Range, Churchill Golf Balls, and drive down Launch Road (with the possibility to view polar bears and other wildlife). I saw 2 polar bears on Launch Road as well as an American Eagle, a Golden Eagle, a flock of Sandhill Cranes, a pair of Trumpeter Swans and more). Since your tour includes professional photos of your adventure, she’ll edit them and airdrop them to you. At only $99/pp for 2+ hours, this is a steal in my opinion. Other tours cost the same but with no professional photos. This is worth every penny in my opinion! 

Suggestion: I did this tour twice, and my suggestion is to bring water (it can get quite dry due to the gravel roads and salt water air) and a snack (you can be out longer than 2 hours sometimes).  You’ll also want to bring along your binoculars for scoping out wildlife and polar bears.  Wear a solid pair or running shoes or hiking boots – you’ll be hiking over some rocks and uneven terrain at Cape Merry (but there are pathways in the event you want to stay on even surface) and again at Miss Piggy if you’d like to get up on the plane’s wing and explore inside. You’ll also want to apply bug spray and/or your mosquito jacket/hat.


The accommodation offers a tour desk – that is Bill will help you arrange tickets for whichever tour you’re wanting to go on from Tundra Buggy to kayaking with the belugas.

The site also offers luggage storage prior to check-in and after check out – which I needed on both occasions. This allowed me the opportunity the explore while waiting for check in or my departure train.

Angela and I even went wild blueberry picking before my train back to Thompson, so I could have some for the ride back . Not too many owners would take the time out of their day to do that with a guest.

The environment that was my home for 5 days was a place where I felt safe, relaxed and very comfortable. Bill and Angela were the friendliest and warmest people I could have asked for. They went out of their ways to ensure I had a great stay and because of that, my trip to Churchill was one for the ages.

As they stay … come for the place, stay for the people (I wish I could have stayed longer).

Related Blogs to Help You Plan Your Trip to Churchill

Exploring the Wonders of Churchill

Where to Eat In Churchill

How to Get to Churchill

On Travel: Last Stop, Churchill – My Journey to the Far North

Churchill, Manitoba is as close to a frontier town as there is in Canada. Churchill is Manitoba’s northernmost community, and is located where the boreal forest meets the tundra, on the shores of Hudson Bay, bordering the newest Canadian territory of Nunavut.  The town sits on a narrow point of land bound by the ocean to the north and the Churchill River to the south and west. 

Second polar bear sighting

Churchill is the furthest North I’ve traveled in Canada, in fact, anywhere. Visiting this town in the far tundra north has been on my “bucket list” for ages and while I’m back here in Manitoba, renovating my house to sell, I thought “hey let’s do it … I’m here, why not?”. 

The town is known for its polar bears, beluga whales (also known as ocean canaries) and is one of the most premier places in Canada to see the Northern Lights dance in the night sky. These things and more have made Churchill the pinnacle go to place for adventure and wildlife seekers from around the globe.

In this blog series I share with you my personal experiences of life and tourism in this amazing town full of culture, flora and fauna.

Are you ready? Let’s go …….

The Basics

The town of Churchill has a year-round population of under 900. 

Churchill’s human history goes back 4,000 years, with the Inuit, Dene, and Swampy Cree all having a connection to this land and the wildlife that sustained them.

Churchill is touted as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, the Beluga Whale Capital of the World, and one of the best places to experience sub-Arctic tundra AND the Northern Lights (aurora borealis).

Polar bears come onto land every July when the Hudson Bay ice breaks up. In autumn, scores of these great white bears gather along the shores of the bay, waiting for the ice to form so they can venture back out to hunt their favourite food – ring seal. Pregnant females go inland into dens to have cubs in late November and re-emerge in mid-February, when they return to the sea ice.

The Northern Lights can be seen 300/365 days per year!

From June to September, approximately 3,000 Beluga whales visit the Churchill River basin and approximately 60,000 come into the Hudson Bay area. Not only can you go whale watching but you will also have the chance to get up close and personal to these incredibly friendly creatures.

How to Get to Churchill

Churchill is located on the edge of the Arctic. This remote Canadian town on the shores of Hudson Bay is 1,006 km north of Winnipeg.  There are no roads that lead to Churchill, you can only get there by train or plane (… planes, trains and no automobiles – insert John Candy and Steve Martin laugh here lol).


Air travel to Churchill is operated by Calm Air. The small Manitoba airline has flights from Winnipeg and Thompson through Churchill and up to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. Although flights to Churchill may be more expensive than the train, they usually only take about 2.5 hours from Winnipeg. While not cost effective, it is definitely time effective.  


Many travellers opt for the scenic route, myself included.  The Winnipeg-Churchill train is the only dry land connection to the community. The 1697 km journey takes about 45 hours from Manitoba’s capital of Winnipeg (count on it being longer,  there are often delays, be flexible with your itinerary).  The train travels at low speed due to the topography the rails lay on.  

I am currently in Dauphin, Manitoba, so, I drove to Thompson, Manitoba, about a 7-hour drive.  I could have taken the train from Dauphin, but I planned on making some stops on the way back to explore and it actually takes much less time to drive than take the train. The train to Churchill, takes about 19h20 to get from Dauphin to Thompson, as is goes through parts of Saskatchewan was well. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the sleeper cabins were not available, nor was the 360˚observation dome. 

The seats are quite comfortable and recline most of the way back, there is a foot rest which goes up to level as well.  There are no assigned seats in economy class, so I was able to choose my own seat. I located quad seating with two rows facing each other (if you can’t find one already turned, you can turn them yourself) …  perfect for sleeping.

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The seats have plugs to charge your phone or laptop.  There is no available wi-fi because there isn’t any internet service along the route.  You will not have service for the trip’s entirety, until just before you arrive in Churchill.  

Each car has a filtered water fountain available at no charge. 

VIA offers some on-board services such as sandwiches, snacks, coffee (it was decent) and alcohol (a standard 12 oz can or Coors light cost me $7.00).  

It cost me $144.90 for this leg of the trip (return), I used the 33% discount offered to people of Indigenous heritage – have proof of identification when you board.  You can book your train trip to Churchill via the VIA Rail website.  

Train suggestions:

  • bring a blanket and a pillow
  • bring food – I purchased a pizza from Quiznos for the train ride up
  • bring your own drinks, if you prefer not to purchase on board
  • bring a book to read (currently reading An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield)
  • bring a few games – I brought a deck of cards, crossword puzzle and Yahtzee
  • download some podcasts to listen to or some audio books
  • download some Netflix shows

Welcome to Churchill

This small and quaint town hugs the western shore of Hudson Bay, the town lies directly in the path of the migratory route for the largest concentration of polar bears that come ashore to hunt for seals every Fall. As I mentioned, it’s the Polar Bear Capital of the World, and the town is built in the bears migration path.  When the sun goes down here the locals know to watch their backs. Tourists are advised to do the same. An alarm sounds at 10:00 p.m. promptly, each night.  Don’t be alarmed (no pun intended). No one warned me upon arrival, I was scared half to death it was a warning that there was a bear currently in town. The siren (long and loud) is a voluntary curfew as part of the Polar Bear Alert program.

Upon arrival in Churchill, after 17 hours on the train

** If travelling via train, you will arrive at the historic Churchill train station.  Walking straight out of the station, about 100 metres will bring you to Kelsey Rd – the town’s main drag. 

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** The airport is just outside of town – you can likely make arrangements with your hotel, Inn or B&B to retrieve you.  If not, there is a taxi in town – Churchill Taxi – (204) 675-2345.

** Car doors are never locked in case a passerby needs immediate protection from a polar bear and polar bear costumes are strictly prohibited for treat-or-treaters during Halloween.

What To Pack :

Summer is a beautiful time to visit Churchill, the flora is teeming with colourful blooms, the beluga whales are swimming into the Churchill River by the thousands, and the long Summer days offer plenty of daylight to view incredible wildlife. I went from August 26-August 31.  It’s just at the end of the Summer season – the belugas are getting ready to leave and the polar bears aren’t quite ready to hitch a ride on the ice quite yet (that starts the beginning of October and lasts about 6 weeks), BUT my adventure DID NOT DISAPPOINT!  I saw everything I came to see and more.

Although Churchill is considered a subarctic climate, you may be surprised to hear that it can get quite warm in the Summer.  The 5 days I was there it was 21˚C-22˚C with the sun out, it was hot.  

My list is for the Summer months, I’ve not included the basics you should pack (that’s up to you).

Boots, Socks and Jacket: In the Summer you can get by with a solid pair of running shoes or hiking boots. I arrived in Churchill on August 26, 2021 and it was 22˚C, it was GORGEOUS!  This is my favourite weather.  I was comfortable wearing my Adidas slides while out and about around town, for any distances I wore my hiking boots.  

In terms of coats, I brought my light down filled puffer coat (that I normally wear for hiking) and a lined lumberjacket so I could layer. I didn’t require either of them during the day, however it did get cooler at night, especially by the bay watching the auroras.  

Hat and Gloves: I brought a pair of mitts and a pair of thin knit gloves.  I also brought a Carhartt toque.  I only used these in the evenings watching the Northern Lights.  But you never know when the weather will turn so come prepared for anything.

A Good Camera: Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my decent Sony Alpha, I wasn’t expecting to be in Manitoba as long as I have been, and I thought of it too late to have it shipped out to me.  Even if I did, I still haven’t purchased a 300 mm lens.  So, I managed as best I could with my iPhone 8 Plus which has dual cameras and takes decent photos. 

Thankfully Angela at my B&B is a professional photographer and offers town tours if you stay that the B&B, for $99.00/pp for 2+ hours  …. WORTH every cent! I will discuss where I stayed in a separate blog.

I also Airdrop swapped with others.  

Binoculars: You could use a monocular if you prefer, you just need something that can help you see at a distance. I found these helpful to view birds and scope out polar bears.  Binoculars are also an ideal way to view the night sky. Even inexpensive models can give depth to craters on the moon, and enhance the colour and shape of stars and planets.  I picked mine up for under $20.00 at Walmart.  

Deterrents: When visiting Churchill, you should be aware that a polar bear may be encountered anywhere at any time of the year and while not expected, be prepared (like a good Scout!).  Before your trip, discuss possible plans of action for dealing with bears in a variety of circumstances and be sure everyone understands what to do. The actions of each individual either contribute to or detract from the safety of everyone else. For information on how to deal with a possible encounter read this pamphlet here, specifically created by the government of Manitoba to address visits to Churchill.  

You can consider an air-horn and/or pepper spray (which may freeze in cold weather). 

I brought a bear whistle and a bear bell, which I also picked up at Walmart. I don’t know why they’re so much more expensive online, I purchased mine in-store for $3.98.

Bug repellent and/or bug jacket, mosquito net hat:  I can’t stress this enough.  Depending on the time of year you come, you should give serious consideration to bringing one or all of these items.  I can’t even start to count the mosquito bites on my neck and ankles.  It’s also a good idea to bring some After Bite.  

Lip balm and moisturizer:  Churchill has a subarctic climate.  It’s also on the ocean.  It could be salt in the air, the days out walking as the wind swept or traveling in the van with the windows open but my skin and lips were constantly craving moisture.

Reusable travel mug or water bottle:  The tap water in Churchill is excellent. I mainly drink water, from the tap if I can – I prefer not to purchase single use disposable water bottles or any type of single use bottle for that matter.  It’s a good idea to bring one, I did and I used it daily.  Also, cases of water up there are super expensive.  I’ll write about food prices separately, but a case of Nestle water was $25.95 at Tamarack Foods.  Do your pocketbook and the environment a favour by bringing a reusable water bottle. 

Ok folks …. that takes care of how to get to Churchill and what to bring …. tune in for the next blog …. “Things I Did” … where I’ll go through all the things I did while in town (which is pretty much everything a tourist would want to do).  I’ll also provide you with the historical significance and/or backstory of each of the site as well as some photos.  

Related Blogs to Help You Plan Your Trip to Churchill

Exploring the Wonders of Churchill

Where to Eat In Churchill

Where I Stayed, Is a Must Stay

Ready to start planning your trip to CHURCHILL?

VIA Rail Train

Urbex: Exploration of an Abandoned Bowling Alley

After three quarters of a century in the Cambridge area of Waterloo Region, the pins fell for the last time at this bowling alley on May 7, 2017.  The longtime family business sold the land to a developer, who plans to build apartments.  

The developer ran into financial problems and the site has been untouched for 3+ years (the property was on the market for $4.25 million). It has sat abandoned since that time and is quite the disaster on the inside. 

We came across the site as a second location when the place we were hoping to scope out beside this was one was impenetrable – it was an old antiques/junk shop.  

Before we get into this explore, I’ll share some photos I located prior to its doors closing in 2017.

This isn’t my typical type of explore, I prefer abandoned farm houses, they tend to tell more of a story. This bowling alley has become home to those who have none and to intravenous drug users. This is by far the most derelict site I’ve explored to date.  So … I guess it does have a story after all.  

There’s only one way in and out. It’s been scavenged by scrappers looking for copper to sell for some coin.  It’s super dark inside, the only light is from the flashlight on our phones. It has a stench of wet carpet, urine and discarded rotting food.   

Toward the back corner, there’s a bed – it’s made and there’s some personal affects with it. We happened upon a gentleman who was using the space as his home. He’s had some family issues and said that no one in his family liked him much and wanted him to leave (sad). He says he does his best to to keep the place as “tidy” as he can, kicking away and throwing IV drug needles toward a pile that no one ventures into.

It is only mildly reminiscent of a bowling alley that was the at the height of its peak 10-15 years ago.  

Despite it being sooooo dark – and mostly decimated – we were able to take pics of a few items (including but not limited to) that identified it as bowling lanes:

  • League banners that once hung from the rafters
  • An old nacho machine
  • Bowling ball returns
  • Snack and Drink Bar Menu
  • The old stove – and a pot from the kitchen
  • TV Score Boards
  • The alley’s Mascot costume

Although a very different explore than my norm, it was still an interesting location. There’s history in every place we enter.

IF these walls could talk, I’m sure they’d speak to all the fun times kids had here for their birthday parties. The giddiness of first dates. Of bowling records being broken and personal bests being set. What about the tales of friendship, comradely and competition? The laughter of bowling a gutter ball or the fist pump of bowling a strike …

Urbex: The Ongoing Story of the Eccentric Pastor Lee House

*** check back often, this is a living blog and will be updated regularly with new info ***

It has been a hot minute since I’ve posted … I’ve been embroiled in a landlord/tenant matter, wherein I repossessed my home from crappy tenants and have spent the better part of the last 6 weeks renovating it – they left it in such a shambles (ugh) … I’ll post on that separately, they completely ruined the house.   

However, while I’m in here, in Dauphin, Manitoba renovating the house, getting it ready to sell, I wanted to pick up the story of the Lee’s.  If you haven’t read the blog on the oddity of the Pastor Lee House in Haldimand County, Ontario or watched the YouTube video click here (blog) and here (video), for some background of relatedness.  It’s such an interesting story, they were such an eccentric family or maybe Gordon more-so. 

While exploring their abandoned house, my urbex partner, Thomas randomly found a photo of Gordon in Dauphin, as a child.   I took it to be a sign that I needed to continue researching this family.  I mean what are the odds that in an abandoned house with tons of stuff strewn all over the place, thousands of photos and slides messed about the 2 story home, that had been abandoned for years, that he would come across a photo taken in Dauphin and take a snapshot of it?  He wasn’t aware that I had lived in Dauphin from 2015 to 2017, nor that I was heading back to town to repossess my home.  Honestly, I didn’t even know he had found the photo until he sent me his shots and videos from the explore to create the content!  Ironic?  Serendipitous?   Coincidence?  I’ll let you decide … 

Here’s what we know so far …

From visiting their home and our previous research, we know that Esther obtained her diploma from the Moody Blue Institute in Chicago. Arthur was in the military and then became a Pastor. They purchased the house in Haldimand County, Ontario, which is now abandoned.  They had 3 children.  And, at one point in/about 1943 they were either living in or visiting Dauphin, Manitoba … but why?  

That’s what I’m going to try and find out while I’m here.

Here’s what I was able to newly locate … 

This information should get us started in figuring out why the Lee’s were in Dauphin, of all places.  

In or about 1925 Esther departed for Africa as part of a missionary group, I have a newspaper lead that they were doing missionary work in Nigeria – unfortunately, the article is too small to be legible. However, I was able to confirm this by locating the Caronia‘s ship manifest, which confirms the 32 year old was a missionary, heading to Minna, Nigeria.

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I was unable to locate Arthur on the ship’s manifest or any other manifest as of yet.

Apparently Arthur and Esther married there in 1927 (I have been unable to confirm this for myself).

At some point they returned to North America.   I have yet to determine when exactly, but according to the newspaper articles below, they were at least back in the U.S. by 7 Aug 1930.

I was also able to locate on information that Arthur and Esther in fact had another son, Walter who passed away in 1938 at the age of 5 of spinal meningitis (18 Nov 1932 – 19 Apr 1938). It’s said that he passed away in Africa, this part I am unable to confirm for myself.

I understand from another blogger that throughout the 1960’s Rev. Lee worked as a Teacher in Slave Lake, Alberta and retired in 1965. However, we have it confirmed that in 1948 the Lee’s had purchased their home in Haldimand County, Ontario.  So, how does all of this fit together? I have no confirmation that he taught in Slave Lake as of yet.

I also read a blog that said that Rev. Lee was a Pastor of Baptist churches in both Manitoba and Ontario.

We also have this to go on … the  photo that Thomas found during our explore of the Pastor Lee house.  

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Before we delve into this further  … Dauphin facts:

  • Dauphin has a population of 8,457 as of the 2016 Canadian Census, with an additional 2,388 living in the surrounding Rural Municipality of Dauphin, for a total of 10,845 in the RM and City combined. Dauphin is Manitoba’s 9th largest community and serves as a hub to the province’s Parkland Region.
  • You can get anywhere in town in about 5-7 minutes, unless the train comes through. 
  • It is actually situated on the 100th meridian, for anyone who finds that as fascinating as I do.
  • It’s known as the “City of Sunshine”
  • Norwex’s Canadian Head Office is located here.
  • It’s home to Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival and Dauphin’s Countryfest, Canada’s longest-running country music festival.
  • It lies along the Vermilion River just west of Dauphin Lake, and is 323 kms northwest of Winnipeg. 
  • Dauphin is near Duck Mountain Provincial Park and Riding Mountain National Park, just west of Lake Manitoba and Dauphin Lake and south of Lake Winnipegosis.
  • The French trader and explorer Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye named the nearby lake, Dauphin, in 1741 in honour of the heir to the French throne, the Dauphin of France (Prince of Wales)
  • The province was founded on parts of the traditional territories of the Assiniboine, Dakota, Cree, Dene, Anishinaabeg and Oji-Cree peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. 
  • As of the 2016 census, Manitoba had 1,278,365 residents, making it the fifth most populous province or territory in Canada (I came here from Toronto, the GTA alone has 6,254,571).
  • Dauphin was incorporated as a city in 1998.

Ok, so now that you have some tidbits of info on the “city” itself, you get that it’s small and it would have been much smaller in 1943 when the photo was taken. I was unable to locate the population of Dauphin back in the 1940’s but Manitoba’s entire population was only 921,686 in 1961.

The search for the house in the photo …. 

The handwriting at the back of the photo says this … “Donald Lee in centre with girls at Mrs Chase’s (not in view) house on first street north of railroad, across street from station. Dauphin, Manitoba about 1943. Looking west towards Vermillion River”

Ok, so let’s look at this map I created … 

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Locate the relevant points that she mentions:

  • The train station (on map as Dauphin Rail Museum) 
  • Vermillion River (on map as Vermillion Park & Campground and Vermillion River)
  • 1st Street – she doesn’t specify NW, but it’s implied by her saying “north of railroad, across street from (train) station” and also by her saying “looking west towards Vermillion River”.  Plus, it’s the only 1st St., the other is 1st Ave. 
  • Based on that information, I feel the house has to be located near the star I put near the Watson Art Centre.

I live only 3 blocks from where the photo was apparently taken.  Literally …. just down 2nd Ave SW (follow arrow on map) til I hit 1st Ave SW and turn right to get to the train station, the 1st right directly in front of the train station is 1st St NW.  Vermillion Park is directly at the end of 2nd Ave SW.  So, that’s where I’m going to start my search, I’m going to try and track down this particular house.  I’m going to check out the houses in the block of 1st Ave SW and 1st Ave NW AND 2nd Ave SW and 2nd St NW (looking Westward toward the River).  I know the area well,  I feel it’s doubtful that the house still exists or perhaps it’s been modified to look differently than it did back then.   

Ok, so here are some photos I took for point of view and real life perspective.

This is the Dauphin Train Station, it was built in 1912, and was standing while the Lee’s were here in 1943.  


Immediately in front of the train station – 1st Ave SW and 1st St NW


Below you can see The Watson Art Centre which is directly in front of the train station, it was established in 1905 and was the old fire hall, so that building existed when the Lee’s would have been here. Photo was taken standing in front of the train station looking westward toward Vermillion River.


I looked at the houses to see if they resembled the house in the photo OR if there was any possibility that the house could have been updated or added onto.  I paid particular attention to  the east side of 1st St NW because the photo says that the children were looking westward toward Vermillion River. However, upon further reflection it’s not immediately clear if the children or the photographer is looking west.   

This house has the most resemblance.  I initially took the photo as if the children were looking westward toward Vermillion River.


Then I took the photo from the east side as if the photographer was looking westward toward Vermillion River.


After side by side comparison – it does not appear to be the house in the 1943 photo even accounting for upgrades and improvements.  The window placements are off.

Now, it wouldn’t have been uncommon for prairie houses to be similar and side by side, especially if family owned – so I thought “what if it had a next door twin at some point?”  With that, I went back to double check and BINGO there’s a vacant lot where a house would have once stood immediately beside that house!  Could the house we’re looking for have stood there at one point?


Immediately across the street from the train station is a white building which is definitely not the house in the in picture. Maybe the house was situated there prior?

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It is not stated how far down the street the house it, just that it’s north of the tracks, across the street from the station, so I was assuming relatively close to the station … however, just to be certain  I went down to the end, until I hit River Rd. and only found 1 possibility but I don’t think it’s it, it was further down than I expected it to be and it doesn’t seem to match.   

There were also 2-3 vacant plots and a new building where Ashcroft Vision Care is now and the newer built Baptist church (from the 1 that was on Main St) which was built on 1st St SW and 3rd Ave NW in 1960 (below 1st photo).

Maybe the house was on 1 of these lands?  So, that’s a dead end folks … for now.  I’ll keep digging.

The (re)search goes on and on and on …

Ok, I’m back to doing more research …. using my account and doing some general Google searches to see what I can come up with.  

I was able to locate an account that has some interesting information linked to Esther herself, but encapsulates both she and Rev. Lee (the reason being is that the person who was doing the research was investigating Esther’s time at Moody Bible College).  

 I found a few newspaper clippings to be of interest: 

7 Aug 7 1930 – Albany, Misouri 

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20 Dec 1934Albany, Missouri

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20 Dec 1934 – Albany, Missouri

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Note: Albany is a city and county seat of Gentry County, Missouri, USA. The population was 1,730 at the 2010 census.  Esther was born in Gentry, Missouri. I’m guessing that Albany was her hometown, the reason being is that they consistently refer to her as “formerly Miss Esther Gladstone”, likely so those reading the newspaper would recognize her by her maiden name and come out to hear them speak.

Trying to fill in the gap …

Those newspaper clippings were still a full 9 years before the photo in Dauphin was taken … what did they do in those 9 years?  Did they return to Africa for another mission as one of the clippings  would suggest?

I decided to check to see if Dauphin had a Baptist Church back in 1943 and run on the basis that the other blogger’s notation was fact … that Rev. Lee preached in Manitoba.  I’m running into a bunch of dead ends so, no harm in trying.   I know there’s a church now on 3rd Ave NW but did one exist then?  The answer is yes it did, but it was in a different location, on Main Street.  Dauphin has had a Baptist church for that last 120 years.  

Maybe I can contact the church to see if they have a list of all the Pastors?  

Mrs. Chase, who and where are you? …

I decided to try and see if I could track down the Mrs. Chase as was documented and not in view on the back of the photo.  All I knew was that her name was Mrs. Chase.  I knew she was married because if the Mrs. and that her last name was Chase and nothing else.  I was able to find 2 male Chases with wives in the 1940 Canada Voters list for Dauphin … a Mrs. Earle Chase and a Mrs. Darwin Chase, but no addresses.   

Maybe I can hit up the land registry office?

Does anyone know anything? …. 

I have a neighbour, Amy, she’s been around town for many years – maybe she know something about Pastor Lee, Esther or of a Mrs. Chase?  Let’s ask Amy and see.  Stay tuned!

Ok, so, as of today (31 Jul 2021) that’s what I’ve been able to dig up on the Lees.  As I mentioned above, this is going to be an ongoing updated blog, so be sure to check back often.

HELP — Also, I’m open to help, if anyone knows how I can dig further into this or has any clues or tips — comment below.  

I find the story of the Lees fascinating for some reason, and I feel compelled to know more about them.

On Genealogy: MY Relation to Ezra CORNELL – Founder of Cornell University

I haven’t blogged in a long while, and while I’m at a dead end in another line of my tree, I decided to do more research on the Cornells. I wondered if it was the same “Cornell” that is synonymous with the Ivy League American University – Cornell.

My fifth cousin 6 times removed OR 7th great uncle’s second cousin twice removed whichever way you look at it, is Ezra Cornell (January 11, 1807 – December 9, 1874). He was an American businessman and education administrator. He was a founder of Western Union and a co-founder of Cornell University. He also served as President of the New York Agriculture Society and as a State Senator.

My relation to Ezra is two fold – direct blood line and in-law relationship as shown below:

Ezra was born in Westchester County, New York, the son of a potter, Elijah Cornell, and was raised near DeRuyter, New York. He was a first cousin, five times removed of Benjamin Franklin on his maternal grandmother’s side. He was also a cousin of Paul Cornell, the founder of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Having traveled extensively as a carpenter in New York State, Ezra, upon first setting eyes on Cayuga Lake and Ithaca, decided Ithaca would be his future home.

After settling in at Ithaca, NY, Ezra quickly went to work proving himself as a Carpenter. Colonel Beebe took notice of the industrious young man and made him the manager of his mill at Fall Creek.

Ezra Cornell was a birthright Quaker, but was later disowned by the Society of Friends for marrying outside of the faith to a world’s woman, a Methodist by the name of Mary Ann Wood. Ezra and Mary Ann were married March 19, 1831, in Dryden, New York.

On February 24, 1832, Ezra Cornell wrote the following response to his expulsion from The Society of Friends due to his marriage to Mary Ann Wood:

“I have always considered that choosing a companion for life was a very important affair and that my happiness or misery in this life depended on the choice”.

The young and growing family needed more income than could be earned as Manager of Beebe’s Mills. Having purchased rights in a patent for a new type of plow, Ezra began what would be decades of travelling away from Ithaca. His territories for sales of the plow were the states of Maine and Georgia. His plan was to sell in Maine in the summer and the milder Georgia in the winter. With limited means, what transported Ezra between the two states were his own two feet.

Connection to Morse Code & Western Union

Happening into the offices of the Maine Farmer in 1842, Cornell saw an acquaintance of his, one F.O.J. Smith, bent over some plans for a “scraper” as Smith called it. For services rendered, Smith had been granted a one-quarter share of the telegraph patent held by Samuel F.B. Morse, and was attempting to devise a way of burying the telegraph lines in the ground in lead pipe. Ezra’s knowledge of plows was put to the test and Ezra devised a special kind of plow that would dig a 2 feet 6 inches ditch, lay the pipe and telegraph wire in the ditch and cover it back up as it went. Later it was found that condensation in the pipes and poor insulation of the wires impeded the electrical current on the wires and so hanging the wire from telegraph poles became the accepted method. 

Cornell made his fortune in the telegraph business as an associate of Samuel Morse, having gained his trust by constructing and stringing the poles for the Baltimore–Washington telegraph line, the first telegraph line of substance, in the U.S. to address the problem of telegraph lines shorting out to the ground, Cornell invented the idea of using glass insulators at the point where telegraph lines are connected to supporting poles. After joining with Morse, Cornell supervised the erection of many telegraph lines, including a portion of the New York, Albany & Buffalo line in 1846 and the Erie and Michigan Telegraph Company connecting Buffalo to Milwaukee with partners John James Speed and Francis Ormand Jonathan Smith. Cornell, Speed and Smith also built the New York and Erie line competing with and paralleling to the south the New York, Albany and Buffalo line in which Morse had a major share. The line was completed in 1849 and Cornell was made president of the company.

Cornell’s sister, Phoebe, married Martin B. Wood and moved to Albion, Michigan, in 1848. Cornell gave Wood a job constructing new lines and made Phoebe his telegraph operator, the first woman operator in the United States.

Cornell earned a substantial fortune when the Erie and Michigan was consolidated with Hiram Sibley and his New York and Mississippi Company to form the Western Union company. Cornell received two million in Western Union stock.

Ezra made his fortune in the telegraph business as an associate of Samuel Morse (yes, that Morse as in Morse Code – Samuel F.B. Morse who developed an electric telegraph and then invented, with his friend Alfred Vail, the Morse Code  in 1838) , having gained his trust by constructing and stringing the telegraph poles between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, as the first ever telegraph line of substance in the U.S. To address the problem of telegraph lines shorting out to the ground, Cornell invented the idea of using glass insulators at the point where telegraph lines are connected to supporting poles. After joining with Morse, Cornell supervised the erection of many telegraph lines, including the Erie and Michigan Telegraph Company connecting Buffalo to Milwaukee. He earned a substantial fortune as a founder of the Western Union company.

Member of Republic Party

Cornell was a Republican member of the New York State Assembly (Tompkins Co.) in 1862 and 1863; and of the New York State Senate from 1864 to 1867, sitting in the 87th, 88th, 89th and 90th New York State Legislatures.

Cornell University and Free Library

Cornell retired from Western Union and turned his attention to philanthropy. He endowed the Cornell Library, a public library for the citizens of Ithaca. A lifelong enthusiast of science and agriculture, he saw great opportunity in the 1862 Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to found a university that would teach practical subjects on an equal basis with the classics favored by more traditional institutions. Andrew Dickson White helped secure the new institution’s status as New York’s land grant university, and Cornell University was granted a charter through their efforts in 1865.

This bronze statue of Ezra Cornell by Hermon Atkins MacNeil was erected on the university’s Arts Quad in 1919.

Cornell University derived far greater revenues than earlier land grant colleges, largely from real estate transactions directed by Ezra Cornell. Under the land-grant program, the Federal government issued the colleges scrip, documents granting the right to select a parcel of land. These colleges generally promptly sold their scrip. Ezra Cornell, on the other hand held most of the scrip, anticipating it would increase in price.He also redeemed some scrip for promising land or for rights in timber, most notably pine forest in Wisconsin. While the first land-grant colleges received around half a dollar per acre, Cornell netted an average of over five dollars per acre in 1905. 

Later Life

Ezra Cornell entered the railroad business, but fared poorly due to the Panic of 1873. He began construction of a palatial Ithaca mansion, Llenroc (Cornell spelled in reverse) to replace his farmhouse, Forest Home, but died before it was completed. Llenroc was maintained by Cornell’s heirs for several decades until being sold to the local chapter of the Delta Phi fraternity, which occupies it to this day; Forest Home was sold to the Delta Tau Delta chapter and later demolished. Cornell is interred in Sage Chapel on Cornell’s campus, along with Daniel Willard Fiske and Jennie McGraw.

Llenroc, home of Ezra Cornell

A prolific letter writer, Ezra corresponded with a great many people and would write dozens of letters each week. This was due partly to his wide travelling, and also to the many business associates he maintained during his years as an entrepreneur and later as a politician and university founder. Cornell University has made the approximately 30,000 letters in the Cornell Correspondence available online.

His eldest son, Alonzo B. Cornell, was later governor of New York. Since its founding, the University’s charter specified that the eldest lineal descendent of Cornell is granted a life seat on Cornell University’s Board of Trustees. Since Ezra Cornell IV took the post on November 17, 1969, the law was amended from specifying the “eldest male lineal descendent.”

In 1990, G. David Low, graduate of Cornell University and Space Shuttle astronaut, took with him into outer space a pair of tan silk socks worn by Ezra Cornell on his wedding day in 1831.

Honestly, I can’t even get over how a commoner like myself has so much history in her blood, her roots. If you haven’t had the chance, take a look at my other ancestral connections – too many to name. I’m again floored that his ONE LINE in my tree to America has yielded so many amazing finds.

Genealogy is my passion, I can’t wait to see who else I’m connected to. Stay tuned and follow for more …..

Urbex: Exploring an Abandoned Strawberry Farm

In this blog, we are exploring the abandoned Stoll Strawberry Farm in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo. It is a more recent abandon, 2017. We came upon this find as a “trade” with another urbexer.

The video version of this urbex can be viewed here.

We only had time to explore the house, we were losing daylight and will have to return later this week to explore the very large barn on the property. Be sure to stay tuned for part 2, coming your way soon!

I’ll categorize the house into 2 parts – the main floor and the upper apartment. Both form part of the same large home, but the upper floor appears to have been converted to a separate apartment to live in, whilst leaving the main floor relatively unused.

History on the house’s ownership can be found further below.

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Main Floor

The front entry to the house was not used and was covered in plastic assumedly to prevent the cold air from entering and to try to stop heat loss.

The main part of the home – the entry to the left – appears to be an abandoned part of the dwelling – it contains a large kitchen with original Lakewood woods stove, a dining room on the other side of the kitchen with an attached lounge. The main floor also holds a formal sitting room containing the most gorgeous fireplace with stunning inner hearth tiling. Where the stairs to the upper floor would be situated, it is drywalled off.

Lakewood Wood Stove

Oct 10, 1915


This section seemed to not be lived in on a regular basis as most of the owners belongings can be found upstairs in the apartment – which is the entryway to the right.

The most interesting items of this explore seem to be in the decayed addition at the rear of the house. The roof has partially caved in. Here we found old magazines – mainly from 1926 and 1930, an old Sears cash register and 4 deer hoofs.

Upper Apartment

The upstairs rooms were then made into an apartment, separate apartment in the house where the owner resided instead. The apartment has a look and vibe of the 80’s / 90’s; based on the carpet, the built in fireplace, the wood plank kitchen ceiling. We had just started the very large barn, but we lost daylight, so we will go back shortly.

What We Know About the Last Owner

The farm belonged to a 75-year-old retired strawberry farmer, who was mowing his grass on his tractor, pulling the mower behind him, in the late afternoon of July 19, 2017. He was going up a steep incline when the tractor tipped over onto him. Several passersby stopped, freed him from the tractor, and administered CPR. He was rushed to hospital, and later pronounced dead.

According to his obituary, strawberry farmer was born in Speyer, Rhein, Germany on December 3, 1941. He had a profound passion for farming and providing fresh food to families in the community. He started growing strawberries in 1975 in Germany amongst other fruits, vegetables and cash crops. He immigrated with his family to Waterloo Region in 1985 to continue the tradition of growing the well known Stoll Strawberries.


Conjecture: based on the presence of numerous local, English-language documents, memorabilia, and paraphernalia dating back as far as the 1910’s-1930’s, these may not have been the strawberry farmer’s items. It could be that he moved into the house and it had a considerable amount of stuff left behind. These items seem to slightly predate the Hallman family’s occupation of the house, but they seem to have been the most settled owners, the ones most likely to have last lived in the main part of the house, and the items are an appropriate age for Mr. Hallman and his wife as things they would have acquired in their 30’s and 40’s. It seems likely to me that these may be the remnant of possessions they brought with them when they moved, that their family likely didn’t care to reclaim and that the strawberry farmer’s family had no interest in either. This makes this site an interesting and somewhat rare example of a family home with actual possessions from several distinct groups of inhabitants, rather than just multiple generations of one family.

Ownership History

Research and information compiled by Thomas Little.

The original Crown grant is to a British land agent [Richard Beasley] in the 1790s.

By 1861, Wm. Hope (William Hope) shows up on one map as the owner with a house squarely where the current one is now. He shows up in censuses as a freeholder, so he would have had title to the land. However, he does not appear anywhere in the records of land transactions, but his neighbour to the north, George Proudfoot, does. The Proudfoot and Hope families show up repeatedly in connection to Ayr [a nearby town] and seem to be Scottish settlers more strongly connected to the adjacent township of North Dumfries who “spilled over” into a township mostly populated at the time by Germans. They are surrounded by other English and Scottish landowners in their area.

Wm Hope property

Toward the 1890s, the Richardson family gets more and more involved, and buying/leasing/mortgaging of the land becomes pretty frequent — it seems that both Proudfoot and Richardson families more or less divided up the corner lot between them, leaving a small half-lot parcel attached to the house after repeatedly buying strips adjoining their own properties.

During the early to mid 20th century it goes through a dizzying succession of hands: Becker, Huber, Hallman. The Hallmans become involved in the 40s and it seems to go to a Mr. Hallman in 1951. One of the longest owners in the 60s is a man named Horst Dreger. The Dreger family seem to have also been postwar German immigrants, if they are the same people — more research might turn up something interesting. Mr. Hallman dies in the mid-60s and is possibly one of the last “in earnest” inhabitants of the house. The late 60s and early 70s are very complex and seem to involve failed attempts by the Dregers to gain the whole parcel of land, while Mr. Hallman’s estate is having complex interactions with the Dept of National Revenue — he could have owed back taxes perhaps.

By the 70s at least part of it is in the hands of the Bayer family who transfer ownership of the land to a company presumably owned by them, maybe for tax reasons. By this point the land parcel is totally chopped up and it’s not clear which was attached to the actual farmhouse, or if anyone was even living in it. This is probably around the time the house started to seriously decay.

The Dreger family members seem to have sued each other in the 70s and this dominates much of the property record for this period. This very likely includes the part with the farmhouse. It seems likely the Dregers lived in the house or at least owned it, while the Bayers farmed the attached fields and had a complex ownership arrangement. The Bayers presumably lived nearby and had other farming operations.

The strawberry farmer steps into the mix with a single clear transfer of ownership from a Hallman family member to him and his wife in 1986. They paid almost half a million dollars — the land would be worth considerably more now. This is the final transaction on record prior to microfilming.

For more urban explore adventures … be sure to follow my blog 🙂

Urbex: The Truest Story About the Abandoned & Eccentric Pastor Lee House

This past weekend we explored the well-known urbex site – the Pastor Lee House in Haldimand County, Ontario. It’s been abandoned forever, has unfortunately been “trashed” and is still a time capsule of bizarre oddities.

The video accompaniment to this blog can be viewed here. Trust me it’s worth the watch!

We spent a couple of hours here … we could have stayed for the whole day poking around, taking turns wandering each room, uncovering different objects and parts of the story or making up our own and sharing them with each other. I’ll definitely be going again, there was just so much to absorb and take in.

Some call this property “creepy”, I prefer to call it eccentric, even interesting. The house belonged to the Lee family. From some of the research I’ve done, it appears as if Esther Gladstone Lee was born on November 3, 1893 (died 1997).  Her husband Arthur Lee appears to have been born in/about 1897 (died: 1971). From the framed diploma found in the house, she graduated from the Moody Bible College in Chicago on August 9, 1923. Not long after, she was married to Arthur and together they had 3 children: Gordon, Dorothy and Donald.

From the road, it resembles almost any other rural home. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that there’s something a little different about this property … the bizarre messages that trail off … painted all over the property are just the first sign.

“Mr. Barry Sheets and his wife, R.R.1 Caledonia opened this door without knocking! And sent thier (their) small child to ???. I was intending to give away four prize winning white roosters. However ?? for breeding. ??? was tricked.

Together they were 5 living in this small country home. They appeared to be somewhat musical from the piano in the living room. Slide negatives show family vacations and outings. There are plenty of video reel and cassette tapes strewn around the property. Oh the tales they would tell if someone took an interest in transferring them to digital (at the time of the visit, I didn’t have the app on my phone that transfers negatives to photo).

The house appears to have been in relatively decent condition until about 2012 from previous vlogs and blogs posted, and then some not so savourables seemed to get a hold of it. The house itself is located in Haldimand County and for reasons as I’ve just mentioned, I won’t be sharing the exact city/town or location.

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Family Info

Esther: Esther left behind a lot of correspondence and seems to have been well-connected and presumably well-liked by people in the area. There were also a number of local history books in the area (history of Renfrew County, On the Trail of the Conestoga) which means she likely had an interest in Ontario local history, pioneers, etc. Perhaps she had pioneer ancestry or she was interested in it from a religious angle. These may have also been Gordon’s. Esther’s health and wellbeing seem to have declined starting in the early 1980s: “A year later mother had a queer spell for two days and laid on the chesterfield and wouldn’t eat or talk. Mother was bother about…” (inferred 1980). She would have been almost 90 by then so it would not have been surprising. Esther died in 1997 according to her gravestone, which would have made her well over 100 years old.

Update – July 17, 2021: A search of my account shows her father as being one George Easton Gladstone (B:26 Oct 1858 Ayr, Waterloo Co., Canada, D:24 March 1928 Gentry, Missouri, USA). Her mother appears to be Ella (unable to currently locate her maiden name) (B:6 Oct 1870 Gentry, Missouri, USA, D:24 Jul 1948 , Gentry, Missouri, USA). Esther appears to have been born on Nov 3, 1893 in Gentry, Misouri. By 1920 the US Census has her living in Washington, DC as a “roomer”. We know that she graduated from Moody Bible College in Chicago in August of 1923.

 Balmoral United Church Cemetery in Hagersville, Haldimand, Ontario, Canada

Arthur: Researching Arthur’s military record is troublesome because of several other, much more famous Arthur Lees who were also in the RAF/RCAF. The only 24-year-old Arthur Lee in Canada in 1921 that is a plausible match is a farmer’s son in Alberta – unlikely for a man who apparently graduated from McMaster a few years later. There are no plausible 23 year old Arthur Lees. There aren’t few good candidates in the 1911 census either. It would make sense if Arthur was local to the area because of the McMaster connection and the specific Lee family history in the area, but it could be the reverse – Arthur settled in the area after his time at McMaster. Arthur could have also been American.There are no obvious candidates for Arthur among WWI military records, though he would have been a more appropriate age for that war than for WWII. Arthur died in 1971 according to his gravestone.

Update – July 17, 2021: I’ve been able to locate his actual DOB and location as being 11 Aug 1897 • Brockville, Ontario, Canada. So that removes the possibility that he may have been American. Now we’re getting somewhere. Since I’ve been able to confirm his actual birth information, I was able to narrow down my search and revisit the military records …. and I found them …. his Attestation Papers state that he joined the military on Oct 28, 1915 (he was 19 yrs old and 2 mths). His next of kin is noted as being his mother, Maggie (nee McVish) and James Lee, they lived lived in Mount Denis (which is a part of Toronto). He was listed as being Methodist. He was 5’7.5″, and was considered fit for the CEF (Canadian Expeditionary Force). Unlike my great-grandfather’s, there was no regimental # noted on his file – it does have a notation at the top left – “11th Field Ambulance” – so it looks like he was part of the Canadian Army Medical Corps.

More research has lead me to locate a document from the Library and Archives of Canada. For greater details, see this link here.

11th Field Ambulance

Left Halifax 22 May 1916 aboard ADRIATIC.
Arrived in England 29 May 1916.
Strength: 10 Officers, 179 other ranks.
Arrived in France 11 August 1916.
4th Canadian Division.
Demobilized at Toronto in May 1919.

Arthur Lee graduated from McMaster University in 1924, became a Reverand and traveled to Africa for missionary work. On November 7, 1925 Esther departed New York City for Africa as part of a missionary group from Sim International. In August 1927 the couple married in Africa.

Gordon: Gordon either has not yet died, he was not yet buried at the family plot, or the gravestone website hasn’t been updated. If Gordon were alive, he would be well into his 90s. There is a photo presumably associated with him, found by an explorer, which says “Fern Bertrand – This is the only girl I ever kissed and hugged. 1946.” He would have been 18 at that time. His hobbies and peculiarities make him being a lifelong bachelor unsurprising.

It is assumed that he was the family member who was interested in radio technology and electronics, UFOs, and dead/mutilated animals. 


Gordon seems to have been obsessed with electronics, television, radio, and other technology of the “golden age” of the 1950s-60s. This house would have been a collector’s treasure but unfortunately much of it seems to have been smashed, stolen, or has decayed through exposure to weather. This likely tied into his obsession with “weird” phenomena.

Gordon seems to have also had a strong interest in photography and audio/video recording equipment, with numerous film reels and cassettes around the house. Interestingly, many of these cassettes are labelled as “Found along [the nearby highway]”, implying that Gordon didn’t record them.

Some electronics around the property include:
  • Many, many old television sets, a combo unit upstairs of television + record player + speaker
  • What is likely a dosimeter made by the Victoreen company — not exactly a consumer item

Weird phenomena

Gordon seemed to have a fascination with “odd” phenomena such as UFOs, people struck by lightning, and strange happenings. It seems very at odds with his parents, who seemed to be very traditional.

Dead animals

The picture albums of dead animals are one of the most widely speculated-about aspects of the house. There are the photos of dead animals, some skinned, some decapitated – the pages were strewn throughout the house – they appear to have been part of a scrapbook at one time, just as the UFO scrapbooks had been. The photos included geese, possum and racoons. It could be that these were animals injured from passing traffic or by coyotes and Gordon had an interest in photographing them or something darker.

The oddest was a photo we found was of a coon propped up on rods on which he writes on the back “dead racoon, propped up on rods, I wished I could have trained it to be my watchdog!”

Shameless plug to check out the Youtube Vlog, but it’s worth the watch. Photos are great, 100%, I love photography, but I recently started taking up shooting video since it lends different. Here’s the link again. A lot of the stuff not captured by photo are in the vlog and I think we did a really great job at cutting down 2 hours of footage down to 19 mins or so.


Many of the photos seem to date from the 1970s or maybe 1980s. The nearby highway was well-known as a trucking “shortcut” in the mid-20th century for Detroit-Buffalo and other American trucking lines, and especially with the decline of parallel railways like the Michigan Southern/CASO, it would have seen an abrupt increase in trucking traffic, likely at all hours of the day and night, that local people and wildlife would have been unprepared for. Today this has largely abated as a result of the newer freeway that runs parallel.

Gordon seems to connect some of the animal deaths to rabies, which is possible in the case of animals like the raccoons. The sheer amount of roadkill would be explainable if the photos were taken over many years, and if walking or driving the highway was one of Gordon’s main pastimes – which would make sense if he spent his entire life living with his mother and needed to get out of the house.

Dorothy: Dorothy moved to London, Kentucky, and married Dr. Edward Lauber. Her obituary is very brief.

Donald: He seems like a much less impactful figure than Gordon or his parents, but nevertheless seems to have participated in “cleaning up” the property at some point around 1994 and helped Gordon paint the messages around the exteriors of the buildings. They seem to have been friendly with each other. It is unknown how much time Donald spent at the house as an adult and whether or not some of his areas/possessions might have been misattributed to Gordon — or perhaps they shared similar interests in areas like technology. Talking Walls site says he moved to Mount Hope. He had a wife (Joan) according to his obituary, but no children are mentioned. In his obituary Gordon is not listed as being predeceased.

Here’s what I do know. We owe it to Gordon and his family to not judge based on the tincy wincy bits and soundtracks we find by invading their home, a place they called safe and felt free from judgement. I just read a really great blog over at Dark Blue Journal about this and encourage to yo give it a quick read. Click link here. Plus, I hope we can all just be better.

For a family of 5, there were way more beds than than there ought to have been. The house has 3 bedrooms upstairs, well the 1 room is so small you can hardly consider it a proper bedroom, but they faceted it as 1. There were also 2 single beds in the front enclosed porch, 2 handmade bunkbeds in a back enclosed/addition to the house and a double sized bed right smack dab in the kitchen. There was also a cot/stretcher found at the top of the back crawlspace which connected both sides of the house. I have located nothing about this, so I am purely speculating here … maybe this was part of their ministry? If she and Arthur were part of the church (Arthur was a Reverend) then maybe they took in folks in need as part of their ministry, wanderers, people who were down and out or provided end of life care? Or maybe they just had a lot of visitors?

Other Bips and Bops of the house ….

Bips and Bops of the Exterior

Property mini timeline

The earliest recorded owner and likely first settler was Harmon Haynes, who lived in the area since at least the 1850s and possibly since the beginning of settlement. He would have been in his 40s then. It is difficult to track later ownership changes due to the constant restructuring of the county and township, which broke up records across different authorities and led to poor record-keeping.

It was purchased by the Lees in 1948 from a Russell Aden Murphy. In the 1921 census, Russell is living with his parents and was only 7 years old, meaning he was likely born around 1914 and would have been in his mid-30s in 1948. His father was 30, meaning he was contemporary with Arthur and Esther. Genealogy sites show the Murphys going back to the 1860s in Canada and seem to have lived outside of the county.

In 1952, there is a set of “release of legacy” actions by various seemingly unrelated people for reasons that are hard to understand, each being $100-300. It could have been people leaving small amounts of money in their wills to Arthur and Esther that was paid directly to their mortgage? This would be in line with the guess that they provided end of life care.

Also in 1952, Arthur and his wife grant a symbolic $1 to the directors of the Veterans’ Land Act, likely due to financial assistance they received in buying the home because of his status as a WWI veteran. The $1 is sent back in 1964.

In 1971, there is some land title activity relating to Arthur’s death, but it doesn’t list an actual title grant to anyone — presumably the land went to Esther and a title change/official grant wasn’t necessary. Paper records end in 2008, long after her death, with nothing more shown. Perhaps they also didn’t feel the need to record ownership changes as a result of inheritance, only transactions, but it shows the house wasn’t bought or sold before that point, and that Gordon is likely still the legal owner, if he is still alive. She may have died without her will being properly executed, which would put the house in legal limbo.

Dauphin Connection

I’m currently and unfortunately embroiled in a landlord-tenant matter with some tenants in 1 of my properties in Dauphin, Manitoba. I lived there for 2 years from 2015-2017.

Whilst my urbex partner Thomas was researching the family history, he documented that the Lees lived in Dauphin, Manitoba at least in the year of 1943.

Well isn’t that ironic, don’t ya think, a little too ironic (thanks Alanis for the lyrics) I’m heading back to Dauphin in a few short weeks to deal with that matter.

THE STORY of THE LEES isn’t over yet folks. When I’m back in Dauphin, I’m going to research them and see what I can come up with. We’ve also decided to go back to the house to see if we can dig up any more photos of their time in Dauphin. Why? What would have brought them to Dauphin of all places? Was it part of their Ministry? Hmmmmm ….

Dauphin is not a thriving metropolis, even now I think the whole surrounding community has approx 8,000. Back in 1943, it would have been so much less. To put it in a bit of perspective compared to Ontario, in which currently the whole GTA (Greater Toronto Area) has approx 6 million people, Manitoba’s population was only 921,686 in 1961.

For now I have this go start my search … and I know the location they’re talking about … I wonder if that house is still there?

Thomas also found a photo during the explore and took a picture of it (ironic) … the back of the photo says … “Donald Lee in centre with girls At Mrs Chase’s (not in view) house on first street north of railroad across street from station. Dauphin Manitoba about 1943. Looking west towards Vermillion River”

Thanks for reading, this has been an amazing explore and this is why Thomas and I do these explores. For us it’s not about being the first to a location, it’s not about taking the best video or the best photos … for us it’s about getting in touch with the people who lived there, their lives, who were they, what happened … for me it’s the connection and this story is still be to continued.

Stay tuned for Part II of the Lee story –> now completed, click here for Part II.

If you like what we’re putting out, please feel free to like, comment and follow for more awesome urban explores. You can also do the same for the YouTube channel.

Shout to to Thomas, who was able to locate facts, not just lore, or what other explorers have found and documented, but actual facts – which I have not seen online to date. You rock!

Urbex: Abandoned 1867 Heritage Farmhouse Explore


Added to Centre Wellington heritage list map January 2021.

Located at the north corner of **th Line East and Sideroad **. Lot **, Concession ** of Pilkington Twp. There are two L4C2s, one on the east side of the Grand River and one on the west (E and W). CN Fergus Subdivision ran through the lot along the northeast end until 1987. The CN Fergus Subdivision used to be the Wellington, Grey and Bruce (WG&B) Railway built in 1870. (redacted to protect location).

Click link here to watch the YouTube video of this explore.

There are 6 houses/properties on Lot * today (including abandoned), 5 out of 6 front onto Sideroad *. One of them is built in the former rail ROW.

It appears to have been abandoned for quite some time. Unable to identify an exact date – we were able to locate a student agenda belonging to a female who attended St. Anne’s School in Kitchener from the year 2000. I find it unlikely that this was someone who resided in the house it’s difficulty to understand why someone would attend an elementary school so far away from where they live (approx. 40 kms away, when there were schools way close than that).

This research was done after we explored the property, we came upon it out of happenstance, on our way to another property.

We could tell from being there that the log house was old – the logs appeared to be handcrafted cut not milled, I could tell by what appeared to be uneven little hatchet markings on the exterior logs (inside the house where the later applied drywall had been pulled down). You can also see in the one photo above, where as the years progressed, they tried to “modernize” the house by adding siding.

The earliest information available online about the property was the 1867 survey.

1867 Survey:

In 1867 L4C2 had:

  • David Black (freeholder)
  • John Everett (freeholder)
  • John Gale (freeholder)
  • David Milne (freeholder)
  • George Milne (householder)
  • John Swan (freeholder)

The ages of the outbuildings aren’t documented that I could easily access.

There was barn – the concrete slab to one of the entries says Weber IPPE. If anyone in the #urbex or #blogging community knows who or what Weber IPPPE (see photo below) is, please comment below. I wasn’t able to find anything.

There were also 2 what I would consider storage/drive sheds.

A bit About the Milne Family:

A History of Elora from 1906-7 says that David Milne and his wife Ann Scott came from Auchinblae, Fordoun, Kincardineshire, Scotland and settled in Pilkington in 1844. Their daughter, also Ann, married David Black, who shows up in 1867 as a freeholder — they likely subdivided the original farm so that David and Ann could have their own homestead. It seems likely that the log cabin is the original home or at least an early build, and was the corner lot that is fully cleared rather than the wooded “back acres” to the east. (link) It’s possible that the Sideroad 4 fronted properties were the subdivisions, or perhaps the reverse, though the Elora history seems to establish a Milne-Holman continuity.

Land registry information from the 1870’s shows more and more land going to David Black, likely the larger part of the lot (Geo. Keith below) ended up being larger.

Alex Holman first appears in land documents in 1876? but as the grantor, not the grantee, to David Milne — perhaps something complicated was going on. Alex Holman seems to have acquired all the 1906 land by 1896.

A bit About the Holman family:

A 1906 map shows 3 sets of names:

Full Title: Nichol and Pilkington Townships, Ennotville Village, Gluaysville, Alma
Full Atlas Title: Wellington County 1906

Alex Holman living where the cabin is now.

George Keith, living along Sideroad *

Misses Mary & Susan Swan, living at the corner of 2nd Line and Sideroad * on the other side of the WG&B tracks.

Holman genealogy shows that there was an Alex HOLMAN born in Dundas circa 1831. Alex HOLMAN’s wife Julia was born in Pilkington. Alex HOLMAN died in Pilkington and is buried at Elora. At time of death, he farmed at Lot * Concession 2 Pilkington Twp — that location. There is another Alex HOLMAN (his son) whose brother was born in the 1860s, who died not long after (1920s) in Traverse City Michigan. The Holmans seem to have moved to Michigan.

Alexander HOLMAN married his wife Julia in 1876 and by this point is listed as a widower and yeoman aged 44. (link) In 1887 his son John J. HOLMAN (28, carpenter) married Mary Agnes DRISCOLL. His mother is listed as Catherine NORTON, likely Alexander HOLMAN’s first wife. (link)

House Explore

The house itself was eclectic — upon entry you have the option to go in 1 of 3 directions – left, right and straight ahead down to the cellar. 

The entries to the living room and kitchen, respectively, have a bit of a Chainsaw Massacre vibe with the cold storage freezer strip curtains.  Who would put that in a house? I’m assuming the attempt was to keep the cold air out? 

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The house shows it’s many years of inhabitation.  Much graffiti covers the walls, someone in a vain attempt to hide the crudeness of some of the black graffiti attempted to cover it with red spray paint – no success.    

Attempts to “modernize” don’t fit with the cabin – very low ceilings which I’m sure would have been nice wood back in its original days.  Vinyl flooring, which I am sure back in the day would have been nice wood as well.  

The house has 3 upper bedrooms, small.  80’s-90’s wallpaper with equal flooring choices up there – with some colourful doors and frames. 

Later Ownership:

After Alexander Holman died, it seems the property went to Robert SWAN (descendant of John Swan?) and Edward HALL in the 1920s-30s. The Bird family also appears around this time.

The Wright family first appears in the 1950s.

1983: Slater deeded to Blair

1992: CN Rail to Twp of Pilkington (likely the rail corridor being sold)

1992: Blair to Poljanski

1992: Poljanski to National Trust (mortgage?)

1994: 266312: Poljanski to Wright

1994: Wright to National Trust (mortgage?)

1997: National Trust Company to Toronto-Dominion Bank

I’m unable find anything sooner than 1997.

That’s about all I was able to locate online about this property. I don’t know the exact details of the heritage designation, what I do know is that it would be a shame to lose another local farmstead.

Let me know what you thought of this explore – be sure to check out the YouTube version of the explore -> I’ve posted it again here for your ease of reference.

Urbex: Northern Ontario Abandoned Hotel Explore!

The Lookout Inn is situated just south of North Bay, in Callander, Ontario. It used to be a hotel with a dining area and patio overlooking Lake Nipissing. The two buildings became a popular destination for vandals over the next decade.

The well known and unique resort in Callander had officially re-opened its doors to the public in 2017. They repaired one of the buildings and opened Terrace Suites Resort. There’s a golf course on the property which sits between the old and new buildings. 

“The old Lookout Inn, we are going to have some engineering people come in and look at it to see if it’s restorable. If not we would have to demolish and decide whether we want to do anymore building on the property,” said 1 of the owners John Jameson in 2016.  

From the current state of the building and from something I saw posted online, it doesn’t look as if the current owners will be able to utilize the old hotel in the renovations of the current suites. After it closed in the 1990’s, the property has become derelict – the owner has said it will have to be torn down, but they are mulling future development plans for the site.


The hotel is pretty emptied and gutted, no exterior windows exist, however the glassless windows still overlook some of the most gorgeous panoramic views of the Lake Nippissing lookout. 

Some pretty cool graffiti.  The one part where the room is filled with water, it’s damp – nature is slowly taking over – moss covers the floor and old tubs.  

While there isn’t much to see in this abandoned hotel, it was still very cool to have been – sometimes it’s still better to have been late than to not have been at all – and if they’re going to be tearing it down in the next little while, I’m glad that I was able to urbex it prior to.

What’s the best place you’ve urbexed? Any hints or tips on the Ontario area? Comment below.

YES, I Washed my UGGS in the Washing Machine!

Who doesn’t LOVE a good pair of UGGs (or UGG look alikes)? I’m on my third pair — this pair is an UGG Classic Short II – super comfy, I can’t imagine my life without a pair of UGGs in them! And, let’s be real, UGGs aren’t on the cheap side either, with a price point averaging about $195 CDN + tax. I’ve had this pair for about 4 years and to be honest, at this point they owe me nothing, they have been perfectly good to me. However, as I have with my tall classics and my grey knits, I’ve been hard on them, and haven’t maintained them, I didn’t spray them, and never cleaned them after they got wet. This pair is on its way to the same unfortunate fate (the bin) unless I can salvage them somehow.

The biggest question to anyone who owns a pair of UGGs is … can I put them in the washing machine? The answer straight from the UGGSs mouth and anyone else in the shoe industry is an unequivocal NO! You cannot clean your UGGs in the washing machine. Authentic UGGs are made with suede which can easily be damaged if put in a washer. 

See, I take the word “can” in “can easily be damaged if you put them in a washer” as more of challenge – it can ooooorrrrr it cannot. And, since my poor beaten down UGGs are on the way to the bin if I can’t save them, the least I can do is try to bring them back to life and save my pocket book a couple hundred dollars.  

Suede is leather that has been chemically or physically abraded to produce a napped finish. Suede leather has more of a decorative finish than other types of leather. It’s a more delicate version of leather.

Knowing that, I’m still going to take the chance and throw them in the washing machine. I’ll let the chips fall where they may. At this point I’m not sure if the ending to this is going to be a success story about saving a pair of sad, old UGGs or the story of how I tried to save a pair of UGGs and ended up destroying them in the process.

Ok, so here are my UGGs …. watermarked, dirty and there’s a hole on the tip of the right toe … the poor things have seen better days … let’s see if we can save them and get a bit more life out of them …

  1. I tossed them in my front load washer on the delicate cycle (cold water wash and a cold water spin). I added 1 tab Kirkland detergent (I didn’t have any softer detergent such as a baby detergent). I also thought that putting my UGGs in with my hiking clothes (I don’t wear my UGGs for hiking, I had just got in from a hike and was washing my clothes) they wouldn’t bounce around the washer as much resulting in saving them from possible damage and precluding the hole in the tip of the toe from growing.

2) Once that cycle had run, I re-ran the washer on spin and drain 1 more time, as the load was still pretty soaked (because it was on delicate) and heavy.

3) So here are my UGGs fresh out of the washer … they don’t look ruined. They look clean – better than they have in a long while – but they’re wet – lets see what they look like when they’re dry.


I added Norwex cloths in them to absorb the some of the wetness and to help them keep their shape as they dried. I let them dry for about 18 hours.

4) Once they were dry, I then used my Horsehair Shoe Shine Brush and Crepe Suede Shoe Brush (items 1 and 3 below – this is the kit I own, purchased from Amazon) gently across the suede to restore its nappy texture. Once that was done, I took a lint roller and rolled it over my boots to pick up the extra suede from the de-napping.

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5) To fix the hole in the toe tip, I decided to use what I had on hand, and that was Adhaero Super Glue. My only goal was to seal the hole to prevent snow from entering and to keep it from growing. This fix was utilitarian not cosmetic.

6) The fluffy material inside UGGs is wool. The fleece had eventually worn down and became matted due to wear. I used my dog’s brush to unmat my UGG insoles – it worked – they’re fluffy and soft again (I lint rolled the inside too!).

7) The next thing I did was use some Rain and Stain Protector, I applied 2 coats. Applied the 1st coat, waited an hour and reapplied.


So, all in all, I feel good about giving my UGGs a new lease on life. Other than the standard aged crease marks and minor repair to the toe hole, they’re definitely still in good shape and washing them in the washing machine did not ruin them.

I can certainly appreciate that you wouldn’t want to do this regularly, but if it’s do or toss — I’ll opt for ‘do’ any day of the week. This revamp of my UGGs cost me $0.00 – it cost me a bit of time and a bit of elbow grease and saved me abt $220 on a new pair (for now).

After/Before – Amazing Transformation

Has anyone else washed their UGGs in the washing machine? Comment below.

Urbex: Exploring 3 Abandoned Farm Houses in 1 DAY!

Another awesome #urbex today – I was able to find not 1, not 2 but 3 abandoned farm houses to explore. I actually located 6-7 in a little cluster in Milton/Oakville – but am only going to post about these 3 today.


On a Cultural Heritage Assessment Report I found online, it indicated that a couple of these houses are listed as having been given heritage designation. However, to be honest, nothing about these houses seem to be aimed at bringing life back into them. I’m sure if I researched more – there are limitations to their protection and preservation. I fear that these beautiful nearly 120 year old homes will fall into such a state of disrepair that they will be too far gone for preservation.

As usual, I do not give out the exact location of the homes I explore, this post will be no different.

Property #1

Not a heritage home by any stretch. I would classify this home as being in the Hamilton (Flamborough) area. It has been built in phases, with the middle part being the main portions of the home being the first 2 on the left, the addition to the far right, seems to have been a bedroom – the exterior walls and doors were still very evident.

The house has been visited many a time, looks like it has been squatted in a few times as well. The house has open access (I believe in not committing not committing a B&E when I urbex lol). There are a few interesting finds in this home, which appears to have been abandoned in/or about 2007 based on the last height measurements on the kitchen/living room door frame (not confirmed). Some cool finds … interesting wallpaper on the walls, a Sovereign piano – Toronto – made exclusively for J. Faskin McDonald, Hamilton, Ont. I only found 1 article containing Mr. J. Faskin McDonald., it was in the Music Trades, Volume 58, he was part of “Hamilton’s Music Men”, and a really nice antique dresser – actually I had this exact dresser back in the day …. oh and the oddest thing I found was a dated pair of men’s dress shoes and Christian Dior men’s dress shirt …

Property #2

This property is an early twentieth century (c.1905), two-and a-half storey brick house that exhibits Queen Anne elements such as a high, wide and asymmetrical form, a steep pitch with multiple rooflines that are both hip and gable. Decorative scalloped shingling and a semi-circle window are present on the north elevation gable. Plain lintels are located above the windows and a plain cornice encircles the roofline. A wrap around verandah wrap is located on the north and west elevation. An exterior brick chimney is located on the east and south elevation. The barn complex which was located to the north of the house was demolished in 2015. Two gable roofed outbuildings remain to the north and south of the structure – I only saw one and it was filled with junk.

The property is formerly the Robert Emery Hall farmstead and milk house, and was known as Auburn Farm. The property is listed on the town’s Heritage List – approved November 2016 as a heritage landscape comprising of a farmhouse and barns in a traditional farmstead setting. 

Not sure how this house fits into the “heritage” perspective. The house is ransacked and appears to have been vacant since about 2007 – that’s the last calendar in the house – December 2007. The house with a 70’s/80’s feel kitchen is heavily vandalized. The cool thing about this home is that there is a servant’s quarters in the rear with a rear staircase leading from the quarters to the kitchen, bypassing the main bedrooms.

Property #3

The house itself has been abandoned and boarded up. Much of the original landscaping surrounding the property has been removed.

There was entry access at one point, but appears to have been recently re-boarded – we were unable to enter the house, and that’s ok. The standing barn was wide open, we were able to investigate there. The property is listed on the Heritage List as of November 2016 as a heritage landscape comprising of a farmhouse and barns in a traditional farmstead setting.


Stay tuned! More urbexing coming soon …. If you’re an urbexer out there – comment below.

Urbex: Exploring a Well Known Meat Processing Plant!

This weekend I did another awesome urban explore at an old abandoned factory in town.  I’m not gonna share the exact location. You may think it’s ridiculous to not share the location of a place you’ve explored. It is an abandoned building after all, what’s the big deal?  The reason I don’t share location information with just anyone is that urban explorers aren’t the only ones that will see and visit that place. If you openly advertise the address of an abandoned building, you’re inviting just about anyone on the internet to go visit. The only things I like to take are photos.  

The plant on the day of closing

This urbex had a personal feel to it for me. Not only is it a well known and loved staple in the core of my hometown, the very first house I ever bought in 1999 was right across the street from the plant (like 200m away). The smell of BBQ would waft over our yard every afternoon for the 2 years we lived there, sometimes if the air wasn’t moving – it sat thick and heavy.

Living so close to a factory can have its moments – I recall being awaken in the middle of the night by a police officer knocking at the door, asking us to evacuate as there was a leak at the plant. I assumed it was an ammonia leak from one of the AC or refrigeration units. Hundreds of workers on the night shift were also evacuated while firefighters contained the leak. We returned home the next morning, opting to not rewake the kids from their sleeps at nana’s.

You can watch the YouTube video of this urbex here. This well known Canadian founded the company in 1886 after injuring his hand on the job at the Dominion Button Works factory. Unable to work, he and his wife began making sausages which they sold door-to-door, which they kept up after he was able to return to work. The recipe was based on one his mother used for pork sausage. He later expanded (in 1924) operation into a butchering service and retail store next to his home. Built in the 1890’s, it was constructed to look like a home in case the business failed – the location was then on the outskirts of the town which was then called Berlin. The company grew and survived the Great Depression, becoming one of the largest meat producers in Canada. It specialized in wieners, luncheon meat, sausages, pepperettes and other forms of specialty and delicatessen meats for generations, and was the first company in Canada to introduce vacuum packaging.

The landmark plant’s 125 years of history came to an end in February 2015 as the very last pack of bologna rolled off the line and was celebrated by teary-eyed employees …. the last 97 of those years were at the mammoth, oft-expanded facility … only 3.5 years after Maple Leaf Foods announced it was closing the aging factory, cutting 1,200 jobs. Workers in hard hats and blue coveralls crowded around the final production run to watch their plant fade into history. The plant was simply too inefficient, too landlocked and too old to modernize.

The property southwest of the downtown core sat vacant for 3 years before it was announced that Auburn Developments purchased it.  The development firm plans to transform the 27.6 acres into a new mixed use neighbourhood.  The building itself went through a 6-month decommissioning process.

They’ve demolished the waste water treatment facility, the powerhouse, and the entire processing plant, leaving the warehouse and office for mixed used commercial offices/retail space. Finalized concepts offer a range of housing forms and densities on the site along with some office, commercial space and parks and green space.  The redevelopment will add 2,800 homes and 11 buildings to the site. Construction of The Metz development is expected to start this June and continue for the next 10 years. The plant’s history to the city and its legacy will live on in the names of some of the streets in the new development.

More urbex coming your way soon!!

What are some of your fave spots to explore? Comment below!

Urbex: Abandoned Leather Tannery Explore!!

On the coldest day registered this year, my friend Thomas and I decided to stay local for our #urbex and decided to explore an abandoned factory in town.  It has been abandoned for decades and I drive by it quite regularly,  for some reason it never occurred to me to explore it …. so 2 weekends ago, Thomas and I did just that and it was definitely worth it, even in the sub zero temperatures.  I could have stayed and explored longer than the 1.5 hours we were there – but in all honesty – I couldn’t feel my hands any longer – it was that cold out!

When I first arrived upon it, I actually didn’t know the history of the building or what it was used for, Thomas did and I had asked him to not share, so I could just explore with no preconceived notions …. turns out I was exploring the old Robson Lang Leather Tannery — or at least an abandoned storage facility for it — it appears as if the original tannery part has already been demolished.  

I’ll give you the history of the building as I know it to be — you can also check out my YouTube video for the full explore by clicking the link.

In 1963, Robson Leather (in Oshawa, Ontario) combined forces with Kitchener, Ontario based James Lang Leather Co. Ltd.   In the same year, Robson Leather Company also purchased tanneries in London and Barrie as well as one in Cobourg. Under the new business name of Robson-Lang Leathers Limited it became part of Canada’s largest tanning company.

The company stayed in business only 14 more years before its Oshawa doors were closed forever due to many strikes and a decline in business.   The entire Robson-Lang industry closed in 1986. 

The Kitchener building stands open and is easily accessible – despite this, I will not be divulging its exact location.  It’s pretty obvious that many other people have used and abused this place. A definite squat and play-area for locals. In fact, there were other “non-urbexers” in the property while we were there.  No idea why they were there, and I wasn’t about to ask them (lol).

I was able to locate a few articles on the site:

Barrie deaths investigated:
The Ontario Ministry of Labour is investigating reports of deaths and illness said to be linked to a company that operated tanneries in Barrie, Oshawa, Kitchener, and Coburg. The Simcoe County Injured Workers Association says that it has received reports of appalling working conditions at the plants, and the dumping of hazardous chemicals into city sewers and creeks. The company, Robson Lange Leather Inc. closed in 1986. Dr. Jim Stopps, chief of health studies services for the Ministry of Labour, said that 44 reports of death and illness are being investigated.

In 2016 there as a fire at the location:

A fire official at that time believed someone set fire to the abandoned warehouse. “It’s likely vandalism,” Blake Moggy, assistant platoon chief with the Kitchener Fire Department, said. “Somebody lit it on fire.” Click here for the link to that newspaper article.

Photo: Courtesy of the Waterloo Region Record
Wednesday, August 31, 2016

There was apparently an earlier fire at the site in 2013 … apparently a camper and boat parked outside the building caught fire in September 2013, also under suspicious circumstances. The exact cause of the 2013 fire was not determined.

Super cool explore … loved every minute of this one … stay tuned, next I’m hoping to explore a large, well- known factory that has closed its doors in the last few years shortly.

Rh- Alien Blood,Royal Blue Bloods and My Linage to King John I

Before getting into the meat of this post, it’s important to understand blood typing. Interestingly, 85% of the world’s population are Rh+ and only 15% are Rh-. Most of us don’t know our blood type (if you don’t, I strongly encourage you to find out, it’s so important, especially if you require a blood transfusion). I’ve known for many years, as it affected my pregnancies, I’m O-, I’ll explain why this is important a few paragraphs down.  

In 1937, Karl Landsteiner and Alexander Weiner discovered the Rh factor. Rh or rhesus protein is named for the rhesus monkey, which also carries the gene, and is a protein that lives on the surface of red blood cells. Their discovery thus changed the blood types from the four we knew A, B, AB, and O, to the eight we know today. They discovered the Rh protein while researching solutions for a medical mystery that killed dozens of babies each day. Their discovery led to the development of the RhoGAM® injection in 1968, which is used to prevent an immune response in mothers who are Rh-. If a pregnant woman who is Rh- does not receive RhoGAM, and is carrying an Rh-positive baby (which I was), she risks the health of future pregnancies because she has been exposed to the positive blood from her current unborn baby.  When a woman receives the RhoGAM shot, it protects her immune system from the exposure to the current baby’s Rh+ blood. If she does not receive the injection, her body will develop antibodies that could attack the positive red blood cells of babies in subsequent pregnancies.

Many months ago, I saw some posts come across my timeline proposing a theory that people with Rh- blood possess “alien DNA” since studies found that Rh- blood types do not have the key evolutionary gene from rhesus monkeys that most other humans do. This begs the question: if we evolved from monkeys, why would some people not have the rhesus monkey gene?

Looking back about 35,000 years, scientists believe that the blood type is linked to specific tribes/groups in France and northern Spain, mainly the Basque Region of France, who have the greatest incidents of this blood type at 35%.

The other day I was watching Kendall Rae’s YouTube channel (I’m addicted) and in came an episode about Rh Negative Blood Being Alien. She and her boyfriend, Josh, explained that most of the US Presidents possess Rh- blood and that it’s also a characteristic of the British Royal Family.  What’s interesting here is that all are distant cousins can be traced back a common ancestor, same for the US Presidents (except for one) – they’re all related to King John I.  As soon as I heard the name Plantagenet, I stopped the video and went back to my family tree on I had heard that name before, and then I found it in my relation to Louis VIII of France, click here to read that blog, I had just written a blog about him not too long ago.

Back in 2012 a 12 year old girl named BridgeAnne d’Avignon discovered that all U.S. presidents but for Martin van Buren are blood related. They are descendants of the same English king, John Lackland Plantagenet who is perhaps best known as Robin Hood’s enemy, and was the King who signed the Magna Carta in 1215.  Now if you’re not familiar with the Plantagenet’s, they are a dynasty that ruled England from 1154 to 1485. The dynasty was founded by Geoffrey Plantagenet (d: 1151), Count of Anjou. Approximately 190 seventeenth