Old Mill in Caledonia

Say farewell to the old Caledonia mill, which has sat on the banks of the Grand River since 1853.

Efforts to restore the last water-powered mill on the Grand River began in 1981 but have consistently been curbed, mainly because of the funding issues.

The Golden Horseshoe Antique Society, which ran the town’s annual steam show, took on the project in 1981 when the Grand River Conservation Authority threatened to tear the mill down. The latter acquired the property in 1979 with the idea of turning the site into a park.

The mill stopped grinding flour and feed in 1966. In the 19th Century, it put out more than one thousand 300-pound barrels of flour a week and shipped to Europe, Quebec and Western Canada. It operated as a feed store until 1975.

Source for the above photos and text: The wheel has finally turned for the old Caledonia mill | TheSpec.com

Too late to get any photos myself. This was due to be demolished and replaced by March of this year (according to the article). Not so many old mills left in Ontario.

Simcoe County’s Haunted Past

Originally posted to the Barrie Advance – Oct 29, 2009. I don’t know who wrote it, the name wasn’t with the article when I found it. But, I wanted to keep the information saved and available.

Welcome to any one of countless chilling experiences from the numerous spooky locales across Simcoe County. These sites may seem innocuous during daylight hours, but once the sun dips below the horizon and shadows begin to stalk across the landscape they can take on a darker, creepier taint. That’s when ghosts and ghouls crawl out from their graves to frighten the unwary. Or so legend goes.

Collingwood

Our exploration of Simcoe’s spooky sites begins in Collingwood, home of two famous tales of the paranormal. The first begins with the sound of creaking wood out on the water. Moments later a steamship emerges from the mist. The vessel appears to be a derelict; it lists badly, its hull rotted. Not a soul moves aboard. Then, without warning, the ship simply fades away. Countless encounters of this kind, with startled witnesses observing an ageless ship plying the waters of Georgian Bay, have occurred over the past century and a quarter. Many speculate that the spectral craft might be the Mary Ward, a steamship that ran aground in 1872, drowning eight crewmen who were swallowed by the inky depths and never recovered.

Collingwood Caves [www.sceniccaves.com] is home to an even older spirit, that of Leuantido, a beautiful Indian maiden cursed to walk among the rugged hills for all eternity. Though she was already promised, Leuantido fell in love with a handsome chief from another tribe. Disobeying tradition and her own father, she began a torrid affair with her beloved. She cherished the stolen moments they shared. Tragically, Leuantido’s brothers found out about her deception and took matters into their own hands, bludgeoning her lover to death. They rid themselves of the body by throwing it over the edge of the cliff, and watched in satisfaction as it plunged to the rocky ground below.

Leuantido couldn’t bear the thought of living alone, so she threw herself off the cliff. Her body crashed on the rocks below, beside the man she loved. Legend says her spirit is tied to Suicide Rock, and can be seen on moody days when grey clouds blot out the sun.

Penetanguishene

Penetanguishene has its share of ghosts, many of them concentrated on the grounds of the recreated 19th century military establishment, Discovery Harbour [93 Jury Dr., www.discoveryharbour.on.ca]. At least four spirits linger after death. The recently restored Officer’s Quarters is home to Private Drury, a young soldier who froze to death while standing sentry duty one bitter New Year’s Eve. An unidentified headless figure aimlessly wanders the grounds after dark, looking perhaps for his missing skull.

The most heartbreaking story is that of John and Samuel McGarraty, soldiers of the 79th Foot, whose weathered headstones are the only identified graves on site. They marched from Barrie to Penetanguishene in the sweltering heat of 1831. The detachment was about halfway through its trek when one of the McGarraty brothers became ill and fell to the side of the road. The officer in command refused to hold up the company for the sake of a single soldier, and so ordered his men to press on. Unwilling to leave his brothers’ side, the other McGarraty remained behind as well.

When a relief party was dispatched from Penetanguishene the next morning they found the lifeless bodies of John and Samuel McGarraty. One had succumbed to illness, while the other was claimed by the terrors of night, literally scared to death. They were found lying in each other’s arms. The brothers cling to each other still, appearing to startled witnesses as a misty pair.

Midland

Sainte-Marie among the Hurons [off Highway 12 in Midland, www.saintemarieamongthehurons.on.ca] is also reputed to be haunted. And why wouldn’t it? The bones of the tortured and murdered Jesuit missionary, Jean de Brebeuf lie here. Elsewhere, there are tales that the spirit of Etienne Brule, the French explorer who was killed by Indians in 1633, wanders the forests in search of vengeance. Indian legend says he’s often accompanied by his sister who appeared as a specter and breathed the smallpox pestilence onto those responsible for her brother’s death.

Orillia

Orillia has its share of ghostly tales as well. The Stephen Leacock Memorial House [50 Museum Drive, www. leacockmuseum.com] is a major tourist attraction and literary shrine, but it’s also a hotspot for paranormal activity. Some believe Stephen Leacock, the great Canadian writer, remains in the home he considered his sanctuary. But there’s said to be a darker presence as well that is responsible for a sense of foreboding and unease felt by some visitors. This malice is most often felt in the upstairs bedroom that belonged to Leacock’s son, Stephen Lushington Leacock, whose growth was stunted from an early age and led a troubled life.

Just across the lake is the hamlet of Uptergrove and St. Columbkille Church [4993 Highway 12, at Muley Road], one of the most famously haunted buildings in Simcoe County. Ghostly tales began almost as soon as the church was built more than a century ago. Eerie music will waft down from the organ loft, a figure in black hat and white face will float through the choir area, and mysterious candlelight will be seen flickering from the windows on stormy nights. Many believe the spirit responsible is that of a former priest, either the one reputed to be buried in the basement or the seemingly cursed Rev. Henry McPhillips, who lies in the graveyard and once found paperwork he was working on mysteriously completed in blood.

Barrie

Some ghost stories can be easily dismissed as hallucination, misinterpretation, or outright fabrication. Others, however, are far more difficult to discount. Such is the case with Barrie’s Simcoe Hotel [31 Bayfield Street], where fact, fantasy and history have come together to tease the imagination.

People have sworn they’ve seen a woman wearing a long dress standing motionless and deathly pale standing amidst the shadows of the historic building, or that sudden cold breezes without obvious source can suddenly caress one’s face. On one occasion, an ethereal woman was momentarily seen stretched out on the floor stretched out on the floor inside the hotel. What these eyewitnesses couldn’t possibly know is that in the bitterly cold winter of 1872 a woman named Elizabeth Meyer had frozen to death outside the hotel after a lengthy bout of drinking and her corpse was brought into the Simcoe Hotel to be examined by the coroner. It seems the poor woman is bound to the spot where she died more than a century ago.

Fort Willow

Take a brief side trip to Fort Willow [Grenfel Road, north of Highway 90], a partially reconstructed War of 1812 military supply depot where a young soldier was said to have been flogged and hung for desertion. The tragedy of his death ensured the soldier would not rest peacefully in his grave. Instead, he walks silently beneath the partially reconstructed palisade and through the eerie woods to this day. For those perceptive enough to see or feel his presence, he invokes sadness and fear, no doubt reflections of those the ghost himself experienced as he was sentenced to death.

Thornton

In the village of Thornton, a former hotel serves up fine fare under the watchful gaze of a tragic female spectre. The Thornton Village Inn [238 Barrie Street, www. thevillageinn.ca] is a beautifully nostalgic Victorian building and a fine dining establishment, its pleasing appearance and excellent food masking the dark stains of a terrible crime.

During the 19th century, the building was host to many travelers, but among the masses one pair, a young couple, stood out. She was beautiful and gentle, he abusive and unfeeling. One night, the woman and her cruel husband began to quarrel, and as it often did, the fight soon turned violent. The woman fell under a rain of insults and punches that left her body and spirit bruised. She was either thrown down the stairs from the second floor or fell as she ran from the assault. In either case, by the time her body had come to rest at the bottom, it was broken and lifeless.

Since then, “The Lady of the Stairs” is said to haunt the second floor of the restaurant. She can be seen standing atop the staircase, walking along the second-floor mezzanine, and looking mournfully down upon the village below from the second-floor balcony. Tradition states she appears most often on the anniversary of her death.

Ballycroy

Simcoe’s spooky tour ends in the real ghost town of Ballycroy, located near Alliston [off Highway 50, about one-kilometre north of Highway 9]. Though the village and its inhabitants have long since faded away, it feels as if time has stood still here and one swears the echoes of those who lived and died in the village can still be heard among the trees, along the empty street, and in the foundation holes.

One of the few original buildings to remain in Ballycroy is the former McClelland general store and hotel, now lovingly restored as a private residence. The handsome two-storey structure, itself a relic of a bygone era, is home to a woman from the past that refuses to pass on to the other side.

An elderly woman who stayed here was awakened late at night by a female spirit in a Victorian gown standing over her bed. The ghost stared at the groggy woman for a time, then asked in a hollow voice, “Why are you in my room?” Before the woman could give a response, the spirit faded from view.

Others have seen this spectre, presumably a former resident, over the years as well. Was it some forgotten tragedy that causes her to remain tied to the building all these years later, or is it perhaps an unusually strong affinity for the building?

Address Photography

Edward Donnelly, from California, in the US, posts photographs of address plates from buildings. How often do you pass by these house numbers and not even think twice about them? But, some are unique, old and interesting.

Address Photography

Do you have a house number visible on your home? Numbers should be easy to read, big in size, and a contrasting colour to the background they are affixed to. Placing house numbers on your mail box isn’t enough. These days not everyone has a mailbox and they tend to be smaller numbers, not so easy to read from the street.

I have large house numbers over the garage and another set at the front door of the house. No credit to me, the numbers where here when we bought the house. One of those little things people usually don’t think of when they move into a new house. But, a nice thing to give your home some extra character and a practical item too.

House numbers on Etsy, shop VEVA Designs Co.

SmartSign has more tips about house numbers.
Using clear house numbers is important! It makes life easier for your guests, for your postman, and for emergency service workers who might need to find you. The rules for displaying house numbers vary, depending on where you live. However, the following recommendations will ensure that your house number is placed where it can be seen by emergency responders, postal services, courier companies, and so on.

Placement :

  • The house number should be visible from the road or street in front of the property. As such, the house number sign should be placed on the side of the house that faces the road.
  • If the house is too far from the road, the house number should be displayed on the mailbox.
  • There’s a chance that you or someone else may park their vehicle in front of the mailbox; in this case, it’s suitable to paint your house number on your driveway. The number should be painted on the side of the driveway that faces the moving traffic.
  • If your mailbox isn’t in front of your house or near your driveway, post a house number sign in your yard.
  • The house number, whether displayed on the house, mailbox, or curb, should be unobstructed by objects such as tree limbs, bushes, debris, or decorations.
  • A house number sign should be placed in close proximity to the porch light so it can be seen at night. When that isn’t possible, invest in reflective house address signs.

Color :

  • Overglow can be blinding, and makes it difficult for anyone to see your house number.
  • The color of the numbers should be in sharp contrast to their background. Certain colors on reflective address number signs may glow too much under headlights, which can overshadow the number on the sign. This is a major cause of concern for emergency personnel.
  • White numbers on a black background is an ideal combination of colors when displaying the number on the house, mailbox, or curb.
  • Brass or bronze numbers should be avoided – they don’t offer optimum visibility at night.
  • When posting your address number or a sign on the mailbox, don’t use the same colors as the mailbox. Stickers with shiny silver numbers on a black background should be avoided, as well.
  • You can also mount a sign above or below your mailbox.

Design:

  • Use Arabic numerals. Writing numbers in words should be avoided.
  • Most local governments recommend displaying numbers horizontally.
  • While the color of the numbers and the background should contrast with each other, the alignment of the two should be the same. Avoid vertical signs with numbers aligned horizontally (and vice versa).

Size :

  • Always make sure you buy a sign that fits the post. Oversized signs are aesthetically unpleasing, and undersized signs are hard to read.
  • House numbers should be big and bold. According to the the International Building Code each number must be a minimum of 4 inches (102 mm) in height with a minimum stroke width of 0.5 inch (12.7 mm).
  • While the color of the numbers and the background should contrast with each other, the alignment of the two should be the same. Avoid vertical signs with numbers aligned horizontally (and vice versa).

A Ship with Ghosts Older than the Titanic

The S.S. Keewatin in Port McNicoll, Ontario.

If you are looking for a local ghost tour you don’t need to drive as far as Toronto.

My sister-in-law’s Father was a part of the group who keep this ship in good repair and run the tours and other public events around it. I haven’t visited it yet so the photograph here is not my own.

Photo Source: Older than the titanic with more ghosts & spirits than anywhere in the world – Barrie 360

Dump Diggers in Toronto

Just Rob Campbell on the site currently. The original link and photo were from 2008. Rob continues digging, finding and collecting old bottles (in his recent posts) and other Toronto based old treasures.

Dumpdiggers chronicles the adventures of low tech treasure hunters Rob Campbell (that’s me) and Tim Braithwaite as we research and recover antiques from forgotten historical sites.

Found site on Canada Blog Friends.

 

I Love a Good House

If my life had gone differently in my earlier years I think I would have become an architect. I love buildings and all the trimmings. I’m still trying to teach myself all the right names for the parts of buildings. I go out and take photos of old buildings, mainly derelict farm houses here in Ontario. I also like going to the main street of a small town or city and looking up. That’s where you see the fancy parts of old stores, homes and banks. Most of the old parts below have been renovated away.

Maybe I never would have been a great architect. I like the old stuff too much to make the modern looking type of building with more right angles than curves and more sensible and practical elements than elegant columns, gargoyles and gingerbread trim. It would be hard to design something just to stand there rather than to pose there.

I am still very attracted to anything building/ house related. Art with houses draws my eye. Even fiction about a house stops me long enough to at least skim it. The old woman living in a shoe caught my imagination from a young age. How did she live in that shoe? Did she use the laces to cool the house off in winter and then tie them up tight again to keep warm in winter? How did she put a roof on the shoe, was the sock still around to be stuffed over head? Did she make the eyelets for the laces into windows? Did she put the door back at the heel where it would have been strong but had that higher step down or somewhere else? So many questions. Living in a shoe didn’t seem that appealing all things considered.

I’d rather live in a castle, except I’d like a much smaller and cosier version of a castle than a real castle. A castle like Dr. Who’s Tardis, bigger on the inside than the outside could work well. Like the Tardis, no one ever seems to need to clean it either.

I have drawn my perfect house. It was harder to pick the location than the decide on what I wanted inside the house. But the harder part still was to limit myself to less rather than more when it comes to how the outside of the house will look. There are so many great old things that could be added. Small like old iron doorknobs to huge like a dragon sculpture taking up a large part of the garden.

I enjoy drawing unusual houses. I’ve drawn the shoe house. I’ve drawn a house made in a teacup. I’ve drawn a plan for how very small people would live in the standard sized world. I’ve drawn magical houses for elves, fairies and of course dragons too.

There is something special about a house, any building really. People make them, plan them, live and work in them. Keep them. Repair them. It’s saddest of all when a place is abandoned and left to the elements. There is a mystery to the abandoned places. Something time and people forgot. I never feel they are creepy or haunted. just sad and yet still dignified and majestic in some way. We give a house a power by it’s creation and everything we put into it beyond that point. You can’t just lose that when the house is empty. It’s there, right in the very design.

I think I would have been an amazing architect.

Lighthouses

Note – This was originally posted to a friend’s site which has been taken down. The links have not been checked since 2015.

What is it about lighthouses that draws people? People collect lighthouses figurines. People paint and draw lighthouses. People will stop to photograph a lighthouse even when there could be something else more interesting which they did not even notice in the shadow of that mystical, lonely, stark looking building poking the sky.

I think it is the romance, mystery, history and the feeling of adventure – surviving storms at sea and pounding waves. The idea of steadfast lighthouse keepers, daring rescues and pirates hiding their treasure exposed in the roving splash of a beam of light.

They are kind of fun to draw. Even more fun to be down at the water, hearing it, smelling it.

Photo Galleries of Lighthouses:

Lighthouses as Art:

Lighthouses Visited/ Documented:

Canadian Vintage Postcards

I have been a history fan since the day I first noticed old buildings with the carved and sculpted stonework, the majestic columns and the extras, like gargoyles. My Mother loves antiques. We still have some of the massive pieces of furniture which she told me were called Canadiana, over 100 years old made from trees far older than that even. The wood has become soft to the touch and the colour is lighter than the finished wooden furniture.

Anyway, nothing lasts forever. Isn’t that the sad part of history, architecture and antiques?

This is why I have always enjoyed finding vintage and antique postcards of old Canadian cities, towns and places I have been in the current time. In the old postcards you can see some of what once was and how a building (still standing) looked when it was new. The street views are my favourites. Horses still in the streets, sometimes sharing it with vehicles and sometimes, just horses and buggies. People along the sidewalks, some close enough to see a pattern in their clothes and the trimmings on their hats. Those were real, living people. Not a design someone created to add features to an illustration.

What do you think about when you see an old postcard? Travels? History? Collectibles and antiques? Maybe you see them for the art they are too?

Swift River, Yukon – A New Ghost Town

When does a town or village, become an official ghost town? At what point is it generally accepted or not rude to point out a place as abandoned beyond hope? Swift River Lodge closed in 2009. The owners, a brother and sister, left it when they could not longer run it due to lack of funds.

The most recent images I found show the buildings in the process of being torn down. In a report someone had said the population was 5 and then had gone down by 5. From that source the population seems to be zero now. I looked on Google Maps and there isn’t much in the area to be called a town or village. Maybe the town never was more than a rest stop on a long, fairly remote, highway.

Photos take by jimbob_malone, posted to Flickr. Thank you for permission to post the photos.

It’s not the only lodge or rest spot along the northern highway to be closed down or abandoned.  Source – Ghost Lodges of the Alaska Highway. But the story of highway motels closing up starts a couple of generations ago at least.

You can see a lot of abandoned motels along smaller highways. Places which had their best times in the 1950’s and 60’s, before the huge highways were built and many motels were cut off from the bigger source of traffic. Some of the old motels are gone, some were repurposed but you can still find others standing as they were when everyone left. (Beware of vagrants).

Cemetery Photography from Big Paul

This post is originally from Big Paul, on his photography site which has gone offline. I had listed the link in the ODP (now Curlie) and I tried to find another source for the content, but other than a Flickr group, there was nothing else to be found. So I am reposting this post, about cemetery photography, from the original site, as an archive. I did not repost images, they were not loading and the text is what I really wanted to keep. The instructions and advice are good and time isn’t likely to change that.

I love a good cemetery. That probably sounds morbid, but it’s not. They’re peaceful places, for one thing; hardly anyone ever bothers you. Besides, I figure that since one of these days I’ll be going into one and not leaving, it’d probably help to start getting used to them now.

On a more serious note, cemeteries have a unique sense of history about them that not many other places do. You learn a lot about an area – the way its demographics changed over time, mortality rates, the people who settled and built an area – by who’s buried there. You also realize that for all the expense associated with the death industry (and it is that), we just don’t do mourning like we used to. Don’t believe me? Compare headstones from the 1800’s or even the early part of the last century with what you get now; we used to send our dead out in style, versus sending them out in the equivalent of a Happy Meal container.

• Bring bags with you. Most cemeteries are well-kept. Some, however, aren’t, or they’re located in areas where people tend to use them as shortcuts (or, worse still, dumping grounds). If you see trash, pick it up, and don’t ever leave trash of your own behind.
• I say the following as someone who smokes a pack a day: Don’t smoke in the cemetery. It’s just tacky.
• Likewise, if you’ve got an MP3 player, mobile phone, or anything else on you that makes noise, shut it off.
• Bear in mind that many cemeteries are private property. You may be asked to leave; if you are, do so, since you’re trespassing if you don’t.
• You may also be asked what you’re doing in the cemetery. If that’s the case, be honest and respectful.
• Speaking of respect, a little goes a long way. If you see a family nearby visiting a loved one, or if there’s a service going on, put the camera away. The photo’s not so important that you have to be an asshole to get it.
• Some cemeteries actually have photo policies. Some may explicitly state that you’re not allowed to take photos (rare, but it happens), while still others will allow picture taking as long as you don’t sell the photos, or may require a special arrangement if you want to sell what you’ve taken. It can also be helpful to call ahead to find out.
• Watch your step. For one thing, you don’t want to walk over someone’s floral arrangements, flags, and the like. For another, you may come across uneven ground, or even sunken graves, from time to time.
• Disturb as little as possible on or around a gravesite. It’s one thing if a stone or plaque has a layer of leaves and dirt on it; there’s nothing wrong with cleaning someone’s resting place.* If, on the other hand, the marker is partially obscured by flowers, toys, or anything else left there by loved ones, leave it as it is.**
• One last rule of thumb: if you’re not sure whether you feel right taking pictures in a graveyard, ask yourself one simple question: how would you feel if someone were taking a picture of your or your loved one’s tombstone? I’ve thought about this from time to time, and I think that as long as someone’s being respectful, I wouldn’t get bent out of shape about it. You may feel differently, and therein, I suppose, lies your answer.

If you want to learn more about cemeteries themselves, there are two great resources. The first would be a local church or historical society, who can tell you a lot about the town and its families (especially useful if you’re not familiar with an area). The other is a book that you can easily find online, called Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography which explains burial customs, iconography, and the significance of certain types of grave markers. It’s not a photography how-to, but it’s invaluable if you’re as interested in the history of a place and its dead as you are in the photos themselves.

*One exception would be stones, since it’s common custom to leave stones on or near the grave marker when you’ve visited. This is most common in Jewish cemeteries, but I’ve seen it done elsewhere as well.

**One site goes so far as to suggest moving anything that’s in the way of your photos and replacing it afterward, which strikes me as a step too far.