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?

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.

 

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

Sarnia’s Subterranean Rail Tunnel

Interesting the tunnel was never sealed off. Also, an alarm went off when the migrant came out on the Canadian side. Maybe it will get closed off now. Sarnia won’t want to have someone else go through and make insurance or legal claims against the city.

The Canadian portal of the St. Clair River Tunnel in south Sarnia. On the left if the original tunnel, opened in 1891 and now closed.

Source: Man arrives in Canada through subterranean rail tunnel, seeks refuge in Sarnia – The Sarnia Journal

Ottawa’s Old Train Station

Bhat Boy’s exhibition, called the Old Train Station, featuring scenes from Ottawa’s original train station downtown [was] showcased at the Orange Art Gallery.

“One of the things that really interested me is that the old train station was the hub of industrial Ottawa before it became a government town,” Bhat Boy said in an interview.

According to a press release, the old train station, built in 1909 and located across from the Chateau Laurier was closed in 1966.

The Grand Trunk Station officially opened in 1912, bringing historic arrivals and departures, including New Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry departing for the First World War before the station was renamed to Union Station.

It was the arrival and departure points for everyone from King George VIII and Queen Elizabeth, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and even Elvis.

Source: Ottawa Community News

The House is Long Gone

This was the first house I photographed with a digital camera.  Both the house and the camera are gone now. I bought a new camera, but the house was irreplaceable. To me the old houses become stoic individuals, one of a kind, the longer they remain abandoned. Please don’t vandalize, salvage, or take souvenirs. (I partially exempt garden plants because they are living things which can bloom again).