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.
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.
Do you have something you tell people when they ask you why you explore the old places? I can say a few words about history, a love for the old workmanship, etc. But, there is more to it. Things I don’t put into words because they make me seem a sad and lonely person. I don’t feel that way about myself. But, if my photographs are about preserving the past and feelings of things lost, fading and forgotten… I think that says something about me. It makes me seem needy, vulnerable. So, I don’t have an answer for the question of why I explore, other than touching the surface about liking history.
The email I’ve cut and pasted below was from 2011. I thought it would be easy to send a reply back, but I’ve never managed to answer the question without feeling vulnerable or lacking sincerity. I could have sent a fluff answer. But, I don’t want to. Some day there will be nothing left of me but what I did, wrote or photographed. None of those things are permanent. My existence will slip through history, like most people. The least I can do is put integrity and honesty into the very little remnants there will be.
I think about this still. The question I thought would be simple to answer, but isn’t.
Thanks for sending the link. Your photos look wonderful. You’ve definitely got a better eye through the lens than I.
I’ve spoken to a couple of environmental historians and the message seems to be the same. For your collection to be of use to a historian for research purposes, it would need extensive metadata about exactly where and when the photos were taken. Preferably following a standard metadata convension used by professional archivists (eg, Dublin Core http://dublincore.org/).
The historians also believed that your collection is much more likely to be of interest to someone for research purposes in 30 or 40 years and that perhaps then the interest would be in you as a photographer interested in old buildings, as opposed to the contents of the photos themselves.
Having said that, the photos are great and if you’d like to write a few paragraphs about why you’ve decided to take them and why you think it’s important to preserve these types of buildings on film, we’d be happy to share the story and a link to your photos on our news feed. Our readers tend to have a keen interest in the past and how we can understand the past. Your knowledge of photography and preserving would certainly be worth understanding further.
Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.
I’ve seen at least a couple of small houses which have never been lived in. They were built to disguise equipment/ machinery for the telephone/ power company. It’s not so hard to recognize them because they all look about the same.
The image in this post comes from Google street view. This house is one I see every time I go to the local grocery store, it’s just a couple of streets away, in my neighbourhood.
Faux facades, fake buildings or whatever official name they have been given are interesting to find.
Have you seen any? You may not have noticed them. You may think your town is too small to have one, or any. It’s not the size of the town, however, it’s the location that counts.
- power relay stations
- cell phone infrastructure
- train tunnels
- emergency access
Sources for other fake buildings:
This is not preserving history. It looks like a skin graft that didn’t take. A mask to be taken off when the party is over. I haven’t noticed anything like this before, but, I’m not living in Toronto these days.
Worse than demolition? I don’t know. I doubt something left like this will be maintained with the same effort as the newer building which really is part of the structure. How likely is the old facade to be left to crumble away when it really isn’t needed. Just an attempt at making peace with local historians.
This is why I love the photographs of the original places. It is sad that photographic technology hasn’t always had all the options for colour and detail which we have now. Yet, what will people a hundred years from now think of our obsolete images? Nothing can really be preserved, it can only be kept a little longer.
London is filled with grafted facades, nearly two-dimensional artifacts held in place while updated buildings are constructed behind them; many seem to haphazardly half-disguise the boring new stru…
Source: Saving Face: ‘Ghost Facade’ Preservation Worse Than Demolition? | Urbanist
Our Scott Arnold spent the day in downtown Peterborough getting a great vantage of the city’s architecture and buildings from rooftops. Have a look at his great pics below (notice the Market Hall Tower stands out in many).
Source: Postcard Perfect: Rooftop Views Of Downtown Peterborough — PtboCanada
I went to Google Maps to get a better look.
Day time adventures are my personal favorite because I can take pictures and actually see the building in natural lighting. Although the buildings are losing their old looks, they’re gaining new characteristics such as vines and erosion that give them a unique, beautiful look. There’s a rich history to be accounted for once you really take a look at them. Each place has a story to tell.
Source: Your Guide to Urban Exploration | EVERYTHING EXCLUSIVE MAGAZINE
I prefer daytime adventures too. I like to see everything and I’m not looking around hoping to scare myself with ghosts.
Are you an urban explorer or a thrill seeker? I think it comes down to the camera you use and why you take photographs.
Are your photos more about proving you were there or getting a better look at what you’ve seen?
I pick my camera for the zoom up feature. I want to get a closer view of things I can’t access (due to distance, obstacles, ethics, etc.). I’m not hanging, one-armed, from a crane taking photos of my feet in mid-air. I like a camera which picks up colours, has a sharp focus and can handle being out in the rain on occasion. But, zoom comes first.
Why did you pick your camera? Does the camera really matter as long as it’s easy to carry and pull out for a quick photo?
Another way to tell if you’re an explorer is how you handle questions about what you’re doing.
If someone approaches you at the location do you run away or have a conversation with them? Even the police and security will chat and often leave you alone if you explain you’re just taking photographs and being careful not to cause damage or get hurt. If you hide and run away – there’s a reason for that. Either you want the thrill of escaping “the law” or you were there for the thrill and don’t want to get caught vandalizing or doing something else you shouldn’t have been doing.
Someone asked me why I explore and I’ve never found a good, single, solid reason. But, I know I don’t explore for the thrill. The element of danger, knowing I’m on private property, those are the things I don’t like about exploring. Those are the things which keep me from getting closer when I’d like to see more of a place.
For me the thrill is finding the old place, looking at the weathered buildings, the details in stonework, and trying to show what I’m feeling in a photograph. I don’t want to prove I was there but I do want to share what I have seen. I want to preserve it so others can see the places as I found them.