Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Abandonment Issues: Campbellford Country Cottage
We hopped out of the kayaks, took a dip in the river, jumped into the car, and left the cottage in search of an abandoned house. We would drive until we accomplished this goal, we decided. We had already mapped and explored each and every abandoned house in a 20 kilometer circumference around the cottage, so we set our sights on Campbellford, where we could also accomplish one of Ninjas favorite missions: Hitting up a bakery. The air conditioned car was a motivating factor for this journey, as the temperature broke 42 degrees with the humidex on this day. That hot new Jerm IX album was blaring on the stereo and we were both rapping along as we cruised the back roads with our heads on swivels and the air conditioning on full blast. My hair was still soaking wet as we ordered pastries at the bakery in Campbellford. Minutes later, I wasn't even finished my chocolate eclair when Ninja pulled to the gravel shoulder of the road near the banks of the Crowe River and smiled at me. She didn't have to say a word. We put on our shoes and opened the car doors, exiting into a heat that could only be described as hellish. This was one of those rare occurrences that I didn't see what she saw, I was far too engaged with my chocolate eclair.
On the other side of a locked gate, a giant hemlock tree stood tall over an old wooden house. Outbuildings and a barn behind the house indicated that this was once an active farm, but it was far too hot to bother exploring them. Swarms of mosquitoes rose from the waist high grass and attacked like platoons of soldiers. A colony of bees were ranking officers in the same army as the mosquitoes, and guarded the back door, where they have stationed their hive. All other points of entry proved fruitless, so this was a suicide mission. I was stung seven times. These war wounds were the cost of doing battle.
Inside, we were greeted by the stench of a forgotten era. But with only one broken window, and all doors closed, it was fairly cool inside compared to the 42 degrees on the battlefield outside. This made the stench easier to tolerate. The first thing we noticed was The Watchtower (Jehovah's Witness magazine) dated July 15, 1963, sitting on the wooden floorboards just inside the door. Beyond that, in the corner, sat a wash basin, with a hand pump atop it. This sight repeated itself in other rooms, revealing that this old home was never outfitted with modern plumbing. Come to think of it, of course, there was no washroom.
There were mattresses and bed frames and cots in almost every room, leading us to presume that this old house was used as a cottage in it's latter years, and may have been rented out to guests or shared with family and friends. Inside a kitchen cupboard was a checklist dated 1954. This checklist listed the cupboards contents at that time, few of which remained. This validated the cottage theory.
Bags of Christmas decorations sat along a wall opposite two mattresses performing a balancing act atop a metal drum. The curtains and drapes were withering away, wallpaper was peeling, and decay was doing its thing. I reached down and picked up a bottle from the floor. It was an aged half gallon bottle of 80 proof McMaster's Canadian Whiskey, half full and painted orange. I set it on a shelf, took the photo, and didn't have a second thought about alcohol, which filled me with a sense of pride in how far I have come in my battle with alcoholism. In fact, I just checked the date, I have been clean and sober for exactly seven months today.
That feeling of pride aside, the highlight of this visit was what we came across in a back room: Rows of old theatre seats lined the wall, most of them still attached in rows of 4 and 5, with one oddball sitting off to the side. I've been told that these were the original seats from the Aron Cinema in Campbellford, which were replaced during renovations to the cinema in 1994. Cast iron legs with intricate patterns and detailing, gorgeous cherry backrests and arms, and red velvet padded seats. This is why I explore derelict abandoned locations. A glimpse into a forgotten past. Back then, people lived a tougher life, and put care and effort into the things that they made. And now those things are left to decay, and to be forgotten. I don't want to forget.
The WATCHTOWER dated July 15, 1963.
The kitchen is closed.
While peering out this window, Ninja saw a cop drive by. She kept watch for a few minutes while I did my thing, but he wasn't onto us. Several minutes later, she took another peek, and he drove by again in the other direction. Again, she played lookout.
It wasn't ALL yellow.
Fake flowers pulled from a bag of Christmas decorations.
Time is arbitrary.
Blinded by the light.
The curtains may have closed, but the story continues to unfold.
I stood on that chair to get a shot of the theatre seats and the legs bent out and collapsed under me. I surfed back to the floor gracefully, and landed on two feet. We laughed hysterically.
I sat in this theatre seat for a moment, and all of the world was a stage.
The beautiful old theatre seats with detailed cast iron legs, cherry backrests and arms, and red velvet padded seats.
Shhh. Quiet baby. Listen. The silence is all ours.
The mattresses perform a balancing act atop a metal drum.
I'm actually in the market for a new Thermos, but unlike some people that call themselves urban explorers, I do not steal from locations. Insert smiley face emoticon to convey sarcasm and subtle judgment here.
It was sweltering hot in the attic. I reached the top of the stairs and sweat immediately began to pour from my brow in the quick second it took to snap this image.
A quick jaunt back through the insect riddled war zone ensued. Followed by a nice drive back to the cottage, another dip in the river, and back from whence we came, downstream in the kayaks. We were chilling on an uninhabited island on Belmont Lake when the storm clouds swooped in overhead. A two and a half kilometer journey kayaking upstream was accompanied by a torrential downpour, complete with clapping thunder and lightning striking down all around us.
Once again, thanks for tagging along on our adventure. In the next post, we will expand on the decline of quality craftsmanship that I eluded to earlier, and explore a furniture factory that has been building beautiful furniture since 1835, and has had to close it's doors due to the lack of demand for high end quality furniture. This is a direct byproduct of the buy product mentality of the IKEA and WalMart generation. People don't produce or purchase anything of quality anymore because quality has fallen by the wayside, in favour of quantity consumption. This is a sad reality nowadays that has affected each and every sector of the marketplace. Stay tuned for that post, it's something special.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES