Dawson House in Chesley, Ontario

So far I haven’t found an update for this house. It was put up for sale by the municipality in 2013. I found it on Google Street View but the images are from 2013, so no clue there.

It had been a museum at one time, the Chesley Heritage and Woodworking Museum. Most if it seems to be rental units now. Old buildings tend to deteriorate faster as rental units. (My brother has lived that experience with an old house he bought in Orillia).

Here are images of the Dawson house, in Chesley, from Google Maps. There are stained glass windows still remaining on most of the first floor windows. There is a mysterious bell at one side of the front of the buiding. If the town had to give up on it, there must be a lot of expensive work needed. But, it will be a shame to see this place fall down around itself.


The Old House on the 3rd Line?

I drive by this old house about once a month on the way to visiting my brother in Orillia. It’s wasn’t an abandoned house but old and houses close to a highway interest me. They show how the roadways have progressed.

Yesterday I drove by and I had a triple look because (I’m still not 100% sure) the house was gone. I could see a wire fence around the area, over the driveway. But, there was no sign of the house. There is a chance I just missed it but, I can’t think of anything else there with a driveway. I hope I’m wrong and the house is still there. Not that it’s going to last forever but I will be sorry to see it not there any more.

These images are screen captures from Google. I never stopped to take a photograph of the house. I just thought it would continue to be there.


Rosemary Hasner – Ontario Rural Ruins in Art

These images are based on photographs of Ontario rural locations, some abandoned but some just old and interesting.  Mixed media photography. I like the images with the postal marks on them. A personal thing from all the years I wrote penpal letters and still really like vintage postcards. But, my favourite of all of these is the one with the plain wooden house and all the greenery in the foreground.  I like the look of it, much less spooky than the other images. I think it has a touch of fantasy and is more interesting because it’s less forbidding and doom and gloom.

rosemary1 rosemary2 rosemary3 rosemary4 rosemary5 rosemary6 rosemary7 rosemary8 rosemary9

Via – Rosemary Hasner at Black Dog Creative Arts.

Save Ontario Shipwrecks


Save Ontario Shipwrecks is a Provincial Heritage Organization in Ontario dedicated to the study, preservation and promotion of an appreciation of Ontario’s marine heritage. Incorporated in 1981, SOS is a public charitable organization of dedicated volunteers from across the Province. Operating mainly through a group of Local Chapter Committees supported by a Provincial Board of Directors and Provincial Executive, our volunteers have undertaken many worthwhile projects and activities.

Source: About | Save Ontario Shipwrecks

Nottawasaga Lighthouse

I had this on my mental list of places to see already. It isn’t that far away. Another place to see and photograph before it’s gone.

Nottawasaga Lighthouse one of National Trust for Canada’s Top 10 Endangered Places.

Erected in 1858, the Nottawasaga Lighthouses was one of six Imperial Towers built to light the shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The whitewashed limestone light rises 95 feet above the shore, guiding ships to safety in Collingwood Harbour. It played an important part in the establishment of safe navigation routes along the coastal waters of Lake Huron following the opening of the Bruce Peninsula.

Deemed unsafe, the lighthouse was decommissioned in 2003 after an engineering study noted that the lighthouse’s exterior masonry, which had been damaged by lightning strikes and subsequent water infiltration, was at risk of collapse. A year later, a portion of the masonry crumbled. Though the Department of Fisheries and Oceans invested $400,000 to stabilize the remaining façade starting in 2005, it has since been abandoned and, without swift action, is unlikely to survive many more winters.

Source: Nottawasaga Lighthouse | The National Trust for Canada

Union Burying Ground

The location is available to the public. Not open to the public exactly, but not closed at any time either.

I did not go inside the old brick wall. Partly because it was tumbling down in places and I did not want to cause any more damage to it, not one brick more of it. Mostly because it looked so undisturbed over the wall. I just didn’t want to put my footsteps in there.

The grass over the fence was golden swirls. I was using the smaller camera and I don’t think it ever quite caught the colour of the grass. It was very golden, like something you would draw for a fantasy scene.

It was called the Union Burying Ground. Built in 1848 for the United Empire Loyalists in Ontario.

I’m working on uploading my photos into my own gallery. (Not part of WordPress). I’ve started with the photos I took from the cemetery we found in Burlington last week.  I will add a link to the other photographs once I get the software working the way I want. At the moment I’m having a battle with it over file sizes.

[PiwigoPress id=63 url=’http://wreckyratbird.com/ldbphotos/’ size=’me’ desc=1 class=’img-shadow’ opntype=’_blank’ order=’undefined’]


The Maple Farms Motel

maple farms motelsignI’m meeting my Uncle for lunch tomorrow. I looked up the restaurant on Google Maps to see how to drive there. I checked the street view and found this abandoned motel almost across the street.

It may already be demolished. Google’s images were not very recent. The motel was boarded up and behind a construction fence. The area is loaded with new strip/ box stores so quite likely the motel won’t last long if it is still there at all.

See No Pattern Required – Friendship Inn Maple Farms Motel – Road Trip To The Past for images of the motel taken from a brochure in the 1970’s.

Update – August, 2016

The hotel was gone. No sign it had ever been there at all.

maple farms motel maple farms motel1


Source for the last photograph: Michael Helmer Photography

Postcard of a Demolished School

If you’re in Toronto you could find out the original address on Broadview and see what is built there now. If you aren’t in Toronto try Google Street View. Looks like it was replaced by a new school. It`s back in the trees on Street View so I`m not 100% sure.

The imposing and grand architecture of the Queen Alexandria School on Broadview Avenue in Toronto is now gone from the landscape yet it is captured here on this vintage postcard for future generations. I believe the school was built around 1905 and demolished in the mid 1950s.

via – Queen Alexandria School Broadview Avenue TORONTO by TheOldBarnDoor

Broadview Street School jpg

The real challenge would be to see what (if anything) is left of the white house to the right in this colour postcard I found online.

Highway History Exploring

Ontario Road Map  – Road map collector. Site by Neal.

The King’s Highway – The history of Ontario’s King’s highways. Site by Cameron Bevers.

Ontario Highways – Site by Christopher J. Bessert, Cartographer, GIS Specialist, Highway Historian.

The Ontario Highwayman – Site by Chris Beach.

The King’s Highway Ends Site – Old site by Earl Andrew Washburn.

Ontario Road and Highways – Yahoo group (active).

Asphalt Planet – Ontario, Quebec and US road history and photographs. Site by Scott Steeves.

Historic Roads – Dedicated to the identification, preservation and management of historic roads. Site by Paul Daniel Marriott & Associates. Washington, DC.

Historic Bridges – North American bridges.  (Ontario link). Site by Nathan Holth.

misc.transport.roads – Google Groups.

Have you found a lost road and photographed it?

They aren’t that tough to come across. Read local history to find where routes were changed. Not every road grew into a bigger road, some were bypassed and forgotten. Those are the old roads to look for, or to start with. As you find old roads you will soon find other old and forgotten roads. Bridges too.

What about dead ends, do they count as a lost road or not?

Meanwhile, the links above will get you started with your own research and exploring.


Information for Highway Explorers

I found some US highway history.  Likely the information will be similar for Ontario and Canadian highways and roads but… that will be another post. So far I found a lot of Canadian (and Ontario specific) resources but I haven’t done the research yet.

Prior to the Federal Interstate Highway system, the United States was criss-crossed by roads built by for profit groups. During the 1920s many of these roads could barely be called roads as they were more mud, dirt and ditches than road. But, as Henry Ford continued to churn out automobiles, more and more of these state highways popped up across the landscape. Most of these roads followed old trails or Transcontinental Trails like the Oregon and Santa Fe. One of the first transcontinental highways was the Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco. It was a rock road and privately financed; Henry Ford wanted nothing to do with it because he thought roads and highways should be funded by the government. As the 1920s progress other groups formed to build and promote their own highways. By 1925, there were over 250 named highways, each with their own colored signs, names, and random sign placement. Without government oversight, many of these roads were re-routed into cities so that the clubs and groups that built them could profit from them.

In the midst of this chaos, the Federal government got involved in 1924 and started numbering all of these roads. Odd numbers ran North to South with the numbers increasing from East to West, and Even numbers run East to West with the numbers increasing from North to South. So, U.S. Route 1 runs along the Eastern Seaboard while U.S. Route 10 runs along the Canadian border.

When the Interstate Highways came along, the government decided to use the mirror image of the numbering system to avoid any confusion. Interstate 10 runs through the southern states while I-5 is in California. Thankfully, the government was wise enough to help avoid the classic “How could you get us lost?” fight between drivers and map readers. Where the two systems, the routes and the Interstates, meet in the middle of the country it was decided that there would be no Interstate 50 to avoid confusion with U.S. Route 50 which runs from Sacramento, CA to Ocean City, MD. This is the same for Interstate 60.

via –  9 Things You May Not Know About the U.S. Interstate Highways | From The Kitchen Cabinet

When the Interstate Highway Act was passed, most Americans thought it was a good idea. But when construction started and people, especially in urban areas, were displaced and communities cut in half, some started to revolt. In the 1960s, activists stopped construction on highways in New York, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans, which resulted in several urban interstates becoming roads to nowhere.

The red, white, and blue shields used to designate interstate numbers are trademarked by the American Association of State Highway Officials. The original design for the shield was drawn by senior traffic engineer Richard Oliver of Texas and selected out of 100 entries in a national design competition in 1957.

A major concern during Eisenhower’s presidency was what the country would do in the event of a nuclear attack. One of the justifications for the building of the interstate system was its ability to evacuate citizens of major cities if necessary.

via – 10 Things You Might Not Know About the U.S. Interstate System | Mental Floss

The Toronto Expressway Plans

What could be found from the never built, demolished or cancelled road plans? I didn’t (so far) read why the roads were not built. For just the sake of transportation I think the Gardiner extension out to Scarborough would have been a great thing. A city the size of Toronto should have more than one main route from one end to the other. Now we have the 407, a toll road, but it does seem to be a faster way to get through the city when we have not planned to stop over anywhere in Toronto.

As an explorer I like the road history. I notice the details on bridges especially yet I haven’t found a good time to pull over on the highway and get a few photographs.

Roads change how a city is built too. Buildings are demolished to make way for new roads and buildings are built to make use of those new roads too. City planning seems basically about people moving to me. I’m sure there is more to it, like safety but in essence it seems to be about making the city work, transportation being a very big part of that. torontoexpressway

Source: Missing Links and the 1966 Plan

The people behind the Missing Links site (because I like to know):

James Alcock B.A. (Urban Planning)

James Alcock is an urban planner and an expert researcher, specialized in analysing with objectivity the macro trends of the GTA transportation needs from all angles, and then coming up with a set of recommendations taking into account our motorists’ safety and the most efficient use of our existing infrastructure and budgetary resources.

Born in the U.K., he moved to Canada with his family in 1969 and settled in Toronto, graduating from the University of Toronto in Urban Planning in 1983 ( Honours B.A.).

James’ professional links with energy and transportation are very broad, which enable him a wide scope of analysis and a special ability to link various factors into a realistic proposal. As a matter of fact, he has held responsibilities linked to the Canadian car industry and market (through work on General Motors’ brands positioning, and surveying the burgeoning development of electric cars for a major manufacturer). He also contributed to the extension of Ontario Hydro power lines across the province. He even evaluated the availability of transportation and community services to a large portfolio of commercial properties managed by Merrill Lynch Real Estate.

Most recently, he was a research and analysis specialist at the Canadian Automobile Association, where he performed research for five government affairs specialists to help determine motorist safety policies in conjunction with the Ontario Trucking association, involving media and political contacts, and liaising with officers of foreign sister institutions in the US, Australia, and the UK.

James’s major achievement, on the Community involvement front, was the co-authoring, on his own personal time from 1990 to 1999, of ‘Get Toronto Moving’, the first ever citizen-designed transportation plan for the City of Toronto, produced as a contribution to solve the City’s growing gridlock problem, emphasizing a balance of new roads and transit with neighbourhood preservation. This plan was championed by the C.A.A. and won him the position of planning advisor to the Executive Committee of the Scarborough Residents’ Association.

Bruce H. Bryer B.A., B.Ed.

Born in North Bay, Ontario and educated as a teacher, Bruce H. Bryer is a veteran of the Toronto transit system, being employed by the Toronto Transit Commission for 25 years. He has cared about improving Toronto’s public transit system and has made many suggestions for the upgrading of the efficiency and safety of the system. Some of his ideas include innovative suicide prevention barriers at subway stations. He has also analyzed transit systems all over the world and made notes of the best that they can offer for Toronto. He is a strong advocate of smart card technology to ease and integrate public transit fare systems.

Bruce is an advocate of balanced transportation, and he strongly supports completion of Toronto’s long-shelved Queen Street Subway in order to relieve downtown gridlock and to improve transit service to Toronto’s central business district. He is responsible for putting together the Public Transit section of the ‘Get Toronto Moving’ plan.

Bill P. Lansing

Bill P. Lansing, President of the Citizen’s Transportation Alliance, was born in the heart of downtown Toronto. A university student and former professional driver, he takes great pride in his home city, and intends to improve upon it even further. He has travelled extensively throughout North America, and has always maintained an interest in urban freeway systems and rapid transit.

Bill was instrumental in developing the freeway and rapid transit plans for “Vision 2030”, which is the long-term vision of ‘Get Toronto Moving’ as well as responsible for the creation of our corporate logo and byline. A firm supporter of economic and political growth and development, he is currently active in promoting the CTA mission and recruiting new members.

Kevin Walters, P.Eng.

Born in Toronto, Kevin is a civil engineer with many years experience with roads and traffic systems. He is a strong advocate of balanced transportation and has made detailed analyses of Toronto’s traffic problems. Travelling to Florida, he noticed the efficiency of the offshore bridge system, particularly in Tampa Bay. His idea was to adapt this system to Toronto. In 1990, he authored the proposal for the Gardiner Expressway Offshore Extension and the Humber Bayway. This was forwarded to Ontario Provincial officials and greeted with enthusiasm. He also put together proposals to eliminate the flooding problem in the lower Don River.

From 1996 to 2000, Kevin was pivotal in fighting the demolition of the eastern Gardiner Expressway from the Don Valley Parkway to Leslie Street, which in time was proven to bring more traffic into his nearby neighbourhood, as he had predicted.

Kevin also came up with the Scarborough Highlands Expressway proposal for the Gatineau Hydro Corridor and all of the arterial road missing links. He authored the roads section of the ‘Get Toronto Moving’ plan. He is currently employed with one of the largest engineering consulting firms in Canada.

The Late Eli Ophek

Eli lived in the North York area of Toronto and was married with three children. A member of the Toronto Bay Group, he was an advocate of revitalizing Toronto’s waterfront. He was involved in many studies on the future of the waterfront. Eli proposed the complete removal of the Toronto Island Airport and its conversion to parkland for the public to enjoy. He advocated the construction of a new waterfront airport further east off the Leslie Street spit. Eli was an outspoken opponent of demolition of the Gardiner Expressway and supported the Offshore Extension as proposed in ‘Get Toronto Moving’. He highlighted the importance of Toronto’s waterfront to the ‘Get Toronto Moving’ plan. Eli passed away in 1998 and is sadly missed by the other authors of this plan.