Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Accurate historical information on The Geo W. Reed & Co. Foundry in Montreal, Quebec, seems almost non-existent on the internet. One website claims that it was built in 1895 and manufactured coaches for trains until its closure in 1982. The site also claims that the foundry played a significant historical role during the second world war, employing over a thousand people manufacturing parts for planes and tanks. Other claims state that the building was constructed in 1910, and was once operated by Babcock & Wilcox, Western Steel, Westell-Rosco and Dominic Vadela Rembourrage. These claims have not been substantiated.
These days, it is most commonly referred to as 'The Graffiti Factory'. The gutted remains of the 3 storey building are now home to an ever changing canvas of graffiti works by local, national and international artists.
The first floor is a mud pit, which swallowed up my shoe and sock on this day in early July of 2011. After pondering exploring the building with one bare foot, I stepped back into the mud and dug out my shoe. With every step, my left foot squished in the muddy shell-toed Adidas shoe.
Brightly coloured graffiti of all kinds beautify this decaying structure. From the smallest of tags covering the fragments of tiny window pains that remain, to throwies and fill-ins, elaborate characters, pieces, and stunning murals perfectly placed between pillars, stealing my attention from the far reaches of each floor. On the higher floors, the windows have been smashed out of the massive skylights, and large beams of light slowly glide along the concrete floor as time passes throughout the day.
On the rooftop, under a glorious summer sun, the colours shine even brighter. Towering overhead is the Autoroute Ville-Marie, otherwise known as Highway 720, which is packed with commuters rushing in and out of the city of Montreal. Underneath the highway, the graffiti murals spread out like mould as far as the eye can see.
With no further adieu, come on in and explore 'The Graffiti Factory' with us. Ignore the constant squishing of my muddy footsteps.
The soundtrack to this exploration is the second single from my debut album Jerm Warfare. The song is called Everything I Touch.
Everything I Touch by jerm_IX
Every few months we return to Montreal to visit my brother and find new adventures. On this day, we also explored what remained of the abandoned, gutted, and semi-demolished Sifto Salt plant, which was also home to some quality graffiti.
Next week, we will stop in Montreal yet again, trying our luck at a few of the locations that have denied us access. This will be a brief stop however, as the hotel is already booked for a week in Quebec City. Stay tuned.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES
Saturday, May 26, 2012
On the road between the McCormick's Candy Factory in London and the Ceschi concert in Guelph, something catches our eyes.
The overgrown bushes are giving their best effort to conceal the Thames Centre Thorndale House from the view of passers by. But with hawk eyes we hunt for locations such as this, and stalk them like hungry birds circling fresh roadkill. It's patchy roof and collapsing porch peers out at us over the bushes like a voyeuristic peeping Tom, watching us drive by and acknowledge its presence. A quick U-turn is in order. This is when the excitement and nerves kick in again, and the questions that we ask ourselves all too often begin to shuffle through our heads like a deck of cards at a blackjack table. Is it abandoned, as it appears to be at first glance? Or does a reclusive hermit still reside in this squalor? Can we get inside? And if so, who or what will we come across? The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters sign on the mailbox always raises the stakes, doesn't it? If we do encounter someone inside, will they have guns, and will they be willing to use them on a couple of intruders? Stop worrying jerm, don't let your mind wander, do what you do.
Much like the alarm ringing at Knob Hill Farms, the BEWARE OF DOG sign in the window is a scare tactic, I tell myself. Approaching slowly, I step up onto the collapsing porch, which creeks beneath my feet. A gentle breeze is eerily blowing the curtain in and out of the windowless front door. Standing behind the curtain, I immediately make my presence known, as has become protocol at locations where I am not one hundred percent convinced that we are alone. "Hello! Is there anyone here? If so, we will gladly leave. There are two of us here, we are just photographers." A long silent pause ensues, followed only by more silence, and then eventually I repeat my statement as the door slowly creeps open and the pungent odor of yesteryear overwhelms my olfactory system.
Once inside, it is glaringly obvious that we are alone. Or is it? An uneasy feeling stays with me as I wander about, ducking under cob webs, quickly traversing the entire house to verify that no one is here. After clearing the house like a cop executing a search warrant, I attempt to open a door at the bottom of the stairs, but it is locked. Is someone in this room? That is my first thought, but the thick cob webs connecting the door to the door frame indicate that no one has opened this door in a very long time.
Convinced that we have the place to ourselves, the tension level dwindles and we begin to soak it all in. "This place has been abandoned for many years." I'm not sure which one of us says this, but one of us do, and the other agrees. Immediately after concurring on this statement, I spot the calendar, and approach it hastily, stepping over one man's trash, which was surely once one man's treasures. January 2011? That can't be possible. A quick GPS search shows vehicles in the driveway, including a school bus, verifying the troubling fact that someone resided in this squalor only 18 months ago. Further internet searches reveal that this house was standing in 1878, and at that time was owned by a Richard Logan.
Upstairs, furniture and personal possessions are stacked high in each and every room, and through my camera's lens I'm watching an episode of Hoarders that never made it to air. The cob webs are very thick on the second floor, and the decay is much more extreme than downstairs. It would appear that the previous resident may have had mobility issues and had not been upstairs in recent years. But who knows really, as it seems inconceivable that this house was occupied as recently as January 2011. But calendars don't lie, time is linear.
I could go on and on endlessly about this place in vivid detail, as it was truly a remarkable place to explore, but I guess it is time to let this old home speak for itself, and tell it's story via our photographs.
The soundtrack to this exploration is my debut single 'Glass House'.
Glass House by jerm_IX
The following information on one Richard Logan (the owner of the property in 1878) was sent to me by a fellow explorer.
The Logans migrated to the Colony of Upper Canada from Ireland approx. 1820. George and Elinor were among the early settlers in West Nissouri Township. They moved to Lot 17, concession 3 around 1825.
The book "Place Names of Ontario" states the Village of Thorndale was laid out by the Logan family in 1858. The map shows the village located on concession 3, lots 15 & 16 near George & Elinor's farm. In 1859 the village was named "Thorndale". Thorndale was the name of the large estate of their Irish neighbour James Shanly.
Burial: Age 91
Cause of Death: Hemorrhage causing compression of brain due to auto accident.
On the road again.
Please be sure to check out my brand spanking new website, where you can see all of my urban exploration and street art exploits, listen to my music, and buy my new album and tee shirts!
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES