Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Abandonment Issues: G.W. Martin Lumber Mill


While lounging lakeside and soaking in the sun at one of our family cottages (on Diamond Lake) this past weekend, I received a message from a fellow explorer about an abandoned Veneer Mill in nearby Wilberforce. We arrived at the location the next morning only to discover that it was in the latter stages of demolition. I sparked up a conversation with a local at the general store and our discussion eventually shifted from the demolition of the veneer mill to other abandoned buildings in the area, including the ruins of the Standard Chemical Plant in Donald, which we explored last year, and the G.W. Martin Lumber Mill to the northeast in Harcourt.

After stopping at a unique antique shop and conversing with the eccentric gentleman that has filled his home from top to bottom with antiques, including thousands of bottles, and purchasing a few items from him, we were back on the road. We crossed over a small bridge at the southern tip of Algonquin Park, where a river empties into Benoir Lake, and then into Elephant and Baptiste Lakes, and there it was, the G.W. Martin Lumber Mill.

Martin Lumber logo

Logging began in this area in the 1800s, and continues to this day. The mill at this location was one of three in the Baptiste Lake area, and was promptly rebuilt after being destroyed by fire in 1930. An internet search revealed that the G.W. Martin Lumber Company still operates a transportation service, with one driver and one truck in their fleet.

On this day, the transport truck is parked in front of the massive warehouse, and no one is around for miles, but for the occasional vehicle passing by and four or five young children jumping from the nearby bridge into the river below. Machinery and stacks of lumber are peppered about the massive fields, amongst the many buildings, most of which are easily accessible. The kiln rooms that once dried the timber sit empty, but for the singing sparrows dancing above our heads. Care is taken with each and every step on the unstable floor down the long hallway above the kiln rooms, as we photograph the kiln room control boards and valves. Calendars, permits, and paperwork found in desk drawers all read 2004, indicating a likely date of the mill's closure. Back outside, deer frolic and forage in the distance in the open pasture, as the long weeds tickle my poison ivy covered legs.





















Back outside, wiping sweat from our brows.









Forklifts and wood piles block all of the entrances into the large warehouse building, but where there is a will, there is a way, and then there is a dirty explorer with a small cut on his back inside of the building. The dance and song of the sparrows continues inside on a much grander scale, echoing in the vast open emptiness. My whistles join the symphony, to the tune of 'An Episode of Sparrows' by Astronautalis. A stray cat adds his voice to the choir and cries for attention, standing beside an RV parked inside and surrounded by a posse of white plastic chairs. A quick jaunt from end to end, and then I squeeze back outside.




Near the front entrance, a long narrow building is in a sad state of decay, collapsing in on itself. The small rooms inside still contain bundles of printer paper, small machinery parts, and boxes full of company records, partially buried under fallen ceiling tiles and insulation.





Back in the car with our exploring urge satisfied, we crank the AC, crank the music, and hit the road back to the cottage. Life doesn't get any better than this. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to pack up, after returning home for two days of work, we are heading back to the cottage.

click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Abandonment Issues: Ramara 8 Brechin House

living the good life

In September 2011, Ninja and I came across the Ramara 8 Brechin House on our way to Awenda Provincial Park, where we spent a week camping and exploring the area. Most notably on this trip, we explored RCAF Edgar, Project Turnaround, and St. Joseph's Hospital in Parry Sound.

The Ramara 8 Brechin House was well hidden in the dense forest at the end of a muddy driveway, with a disintegrating couch sinking into the collapsing concrete porch out front. Most of the ceiling tiles had fallen, and the roof had rotted out. Outside the back door, an early addition had collapsed, blocking entry or exit. Plants were growing on the muddy bedroom floors, and the green carpet on the stairs had been reduced to threads. The DC Comics wallpaper above the plant life in the child's room and the remaining furniture were the only interesting remnants left inside this house that was in an extreme state of decay.

Ramara 8 Brechin House
Ramara 8 Brechin House

A warm welcome
a warm welcome

Poppin' chairy
poppin' chairy

Goodnight vision
goodnight vision

Green carpeted stairs
green carpeted stairs

Christmas in Semptember
Christmas in September



marvelling at the wallpaper

Brechin the law! Brechin the law!
Brechin the law! Brechin the law!

The great outdoors
the great outdoors

Oscar the couch
Oscar the Couch

A shitty little shed is abandoned across the road, not even worthy of the mention I just gave it. However, amongst the long grasses in the expanse of the property behind the shed, I found an old sopping wet 20 dollar bill, which I dried out on the dash and spent on Appleton Estates Jamaican Rum, which was one of my sauces of choice for years before I sobered up in late November, 2011.

click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES