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.

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 Ancestry.ca 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.

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!

Exploring the 102 Year Old Abandoned BC Copper Company Smelter Ruins

DID THE COOLEST THING YESTERDAY!!! I explored the BC Copper Company Smelter Ruins in Greenwood, British Columbia (BC). IT’S BEEN ABANDONED FOR 102 YEARS!


The weather on Big White (Mountain) called for rain all day, that was the perfect opportunity for a day trip! Initially planned to head to Penticton, BC and the weather was equally sucky there, so opted to head in the opposite direction and head down toward Beaverdell, Rock Creek, Midway and Greenwood.  I’ll post a separate blog on Greenwood, BC because I think it’s worth having a separate blog, it’s a super cute “city” with a colourful past and history. Today, I’m specially going to focus on the BC Copper Company Smelter ruins.

Visible to passersby just off Highway 3, travelling East (left hand side) is a HUGE black slag ridge and imposing  215 foot smokestack.

In searching for the entrance to the smelter, we came across this kind gentleman.  He owned a house near the Welcome to Greenwood sign. He wore a ball cap, had thin transition glasses on, which were in sunglass mode because he was outside gardening. IMG_7353He dawned a greyish/black moustache and had lightly greyed hair sticking out from his ball cap.  He described his little town, where he’d come from to settle there, and the inexpensive price of land.  He offered to take us to another abandoned mining town (City of Paris).  We rain checked and definitely will take him up on it some time in the future. He guided us to turn left at the road before you get to the Cango gas station to get up to the smelter (then turn left). 10 minutes or so into the conversation and, just as we were departing, I introduced myself,  he replied “my name is Pat”. This man not only looked like my dad, had some of his mannerisms … to boot his name was Pat. Ironically (or not) this weekend marked 5 years that we spread my dad’s ashes at the trailer (came up in my Facebook memories). Dad was undoubtedly saying “hi”.

The smelter was built by the British Columbia Copper Company, a new York-based organization that bought the Mother Lode mine in 1898. All of the material that was processed at the smelter came from the Mother Lode mine, which was about 8 kms away my rail. The smelter was erected on a 22-hectare site at the mouth of Copper Creek in Anaconda (just south of Greenwood), the smelter’s own little community.

The smelter operated 24 hours a day and during its 1st year in operation, 106,200 tonnes of ore were smelted.  January 18, 1902 marked a record day …. 416 tonnes (about 9 tonnes for every man employed), were smelted!

Throughout World War I the smelter operated at a reduced rate and on November 26, 1918 it closed its doors, forever. The plant was apparently sold to a Mr. Leon Lotzkar who then disposed of the machinery and gave the site to the City of Greenwood as a park.  Nothing has been done with the park other than erecting the gazebo type structure below, by no means is it a “memorial park”.


As instructed by our local friend Pat, we turned left just prior to the Cango gas station and parked at the entrance … gates are closed for driving access and there’s a sign that suggests you enter at your own risk.  Contrary to the sign at the entrance, the mine is not active, nothing has been mined here in over 102 years.


When you first enter you’ll see a house on the left hand side, I didn’t take photos of that (and I should have).  I assume this was the house of the person who operated and oversaw the smelter.

This must have been a very impressive operation, the ruins are massive!  Walking past the house, you immediately come to the large, and I mean large,  black mountain of slag. The smelter ruins mostly sit on the heavy ridge of slag. Very cool to see up close and walk on. Slag is the glass-like by-product left over after a desired metal has been separated (smelted) from its raw ore. Slag is usually a mixture of metal oxides and silicon dioxide. It was light (maybe a couple of ounces) “rock”, looked like glass and was very dark black/grey.  Every so often you come across slag in the shape of bells.

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The ‘bells’ are huge black slag cones which are referred to as “hell’s bells”.  They were a by-product of the smelter operation. Transported by bell-shaped rail cars (see last photo above – remnants of an old rail line), they were dumped onto the ground, red hot and glowing.  What a sight that must have been at night time – similar to molten lava from a volcano!

Walked up a bit further to find the entrance of what appeared to be a draft shaft and a side shaft.

Further up the trail appeared the smelter stack —- tada!  The original stack was built with sheet steel and was replaced by the present brick stack when the works were expanded in 1904. The brick stack is 36 meters tall, the highest in the province, and contains nearly 250,000 bricks.

Other building ruins have been graffitied – although not in keeping with the historical were pretty cool and created awesome photos.

A little further down from the building ruins, I came across remnants of mining materials which were not sold off.  These artifacts have been sitting and exposed to the elements for 102 years!  102 YEARS!  One looks like to could be some type of boiler or air compressor, the other large piece looks like it could have been part of something that belonged in the Blower Room.

Abandoned SINCE THAT TIME, the smelter’s huge slag pile and tall brick stack has become a landmark along Highway 3, with the site possessing a very appealing mystique. From the last I saw, the City was writing grants and looking for funds to develop the BC Copper Company Ruins into a tourist destination, that was in 2016, nothing yet.

I could have spent way more time at the smelter, really taking in the historical significance of where I was.  Getting really present to what an awesome piece of history I was standing on. I think it’s absolutely fascinating.

This is a must see/do in my books if you’re in/near Greenwood, BC.