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.

Ontario History in Rocks

I’d like to read the books by Nick Eyles, about Canadian geology. Two of his books are about Ontario history and places to see for the rocks.

Road Rocks Ontario and Ontario Rocks.

I have always liked rocks, one of the oldest and most enduring things on our planet. Really, is there anything that can top a rock for endurance and long life?

I studied physical geography in high school. A lot more than rocks and geology involved in geography but everything involves or stands on rocks at some point.

As an explorer of old places I especially like seeing the wear and tear caused by weathering. Bricks, stone, glass, wood are all changed by the wind and rain. One of the things being swept up by wind and water are rocks (sand, pebbles, etc.). Weathering of rocks forms the very ground we rely on. How can anyone not have a fascination with rocks and their history?

I Ordered Abandoned Manitoba

I have especially liked Manitoba since I first traveled out west from Ontario. I considered moving to Winnipeg, sometimes I still consider moving there. Winnipeg felt like a ruralized version of Toronto. I liked the local transit, the people I met and, more importantly, Winnipeg has great history and old buildings. I’m looking forward to the arrival of the book!

Update: the book arrived soon after I ordered it. It is wonderful. Highly recommended to history lovers and explorers in Manitoba (or anyone traveling in the province). 

Abandoned Manitoba by Gordon Goldsborough.

Dover has Europe’s Best Preserved Roman Lighthouse

I’d like to see that lighthouse. Of course, being England and a town on the coast, there are lots of old places and things (like shipwrecks) to see. The lighthouse would be special. Finding images of it from long ago would be great to compare with how it is now. I like finding lighthouses here, in Ontario. Unless something leftover from the Vikings is discovered, there won’t be any as old as this Roman lighthouse, in Canada. These images are from The Shepherds of Dover, on Facebook by way of the Bored Panda website. Source: We Moved To Live In The Worst Place In England, And Here’s What It’s Like | Bored Panda