Monday, November 11, 2013

Abandonment Issues: Alderwood Collegiate Institute / Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School


It's time to take you back to school.

Today's class consists of five students, let's take attendance. Ninja IX, Rashomon, Benfoto, Jerm IX, and an exited Johanna, who is on her maiden voyage into urban exploration, are all present.


We creep five deep down the hallway, educating ourselves on the tattered condition of the abandoned high school. Then as if the bell rang, we individually enter our separate classrooms. The clicks of cameras and soft crunching of debris under gently stepping feet are all that can be heard beyond Ninja's soft voice whispering and drawing me closer. She is at the front of the class teaching. Mrs. IX, with her flowing blonde hair and beautiful smile, reciting to me the lesson and diagram on the brain and brain functions still adorning the chalk board. I lean in and kiss her, probably fulfilling some subconscious childhood fantasy.




We have only been inside a mere matter of minutes when the silence breaks. We are staggered, five of us stalking down the long hallway and into the library when the distinct sound of heavy footsteps pounds directly overhead on the second floor. Our eyes widen and all of our senses are heightened simultaneously. In this moment we are mannequins on high alert.




The mannequins come to life, all of us, with the whispered 'is it or is it not security' conversation, which is followed up by 'how are we going to play this' talk. I abandon the group and venture forth alone, exploring in virtual silence, hoping to capture as much as possible before those footsteps can find me. I'm in fast forward stealth mode going in the opposite direction of the footsteps.

Game on.

I love this feeling. This is exactly how I wanted to spend my 36th birthday.




We were aware that the sales office was about to open in the newly renovated cafeteria at the front of the school, but certainly didn't expect security inside.

Before we continue into the dark hallway before us, lets get our bearings and a feel for where we're at.


The Alderwood Secondary School opened in 1955 and was the first high school constructed in the Alderwood area of the former city of Etobicoke, in Toronto. That same year it was briefly renamed Alderwood High School and then quickly changed again to Alderwood Collegiate Institute. The school's team name was the Alderwood Rangers and their colours were khaki, gold and black. At it's peak, there were 786 students enrolled. The Alderwood Collegiate Institute closed in 1983.

The school was then used briefly to film the CBS children's show the Edison Twins, before being given a second life. It was ceded to the Catholic School board and became Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School, opening in 1985 with 300 students and 17 staff members. The team name was the Redmond Redhawks and their colours were navy and blue. Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School moved to a new location in 2006.

The school has sat vacant for the past 7 years, but for a brief period in 2010 when it played studio yet again, this time for Stephen Spielberg's television series Falling Skies.

The land was recently sold to a developer and the sales centre in the cafeteria is now open, as I lurk down the hallway behind it. The school was reincarnated once, but now it's fate is sealed as the demolition is slated to be completed by the spring of 2014 to make way for new residential units.




Freshly awakened from mannequin state, I have splintered off from the group and pushed forward through the debris filled hallways and now find myself alone in a large atrium.


I should turn back to the group, I think to myself whilst reaching out and unassumingly opening a door. And all of a sudden the whole world is a stage.





I quietly skulk back to the group and we continue to explore the ground level in stealth mode, pausing at every single sound one another accidentally make traversing debris.




Ninja and I have splintered off again and are ever so cautiously ascending the stairs to the second floor, getting closer and closer to whoever is up here.




Silence is imperative as the slightest sound would echo through the halls and down to the southeast corner where the footsteps had previously thudded overhead. Getting caught is avoided at all costs, but the mission is to explore the entirety of the school and I'm accomplishing as much of the mission as possible. I'm loving this. Happy Birthday, Ninja whispers to me. And so in silence we explore, the two of us, holding hands and celebrating a happy birthday in stealth mode, heading directly towards the unknown represented by the footsteps.




We lurk and pop in and out of classrooms like actors in a silent film about romance and spies.




It sounds dramatic, and it feels it too, in the moment, but quite honestly, the stakes aren't all that high in this little game we are playing. That is part of the allure of these adventures, the rush. The risks are so minimal in contrast to the rewards. I've yet to be cited with a $65 trespassing ticket, but that is the only real risk. The rewards are endless and even include the joy derived from the risk itself. What draws me to these abandoned buildings is the emptiness within and the lack of what once was. But plain and simple, like an innocent child playing tag with friends, it is unbelievably fun to do this dance with security guards. It's a rush, especially when you just keep winning.




We have all regrouped in the area of the second floor that the footsteps were heard. Whoever it was, they are gone now. So we breathe deep and let our tensed up shoulders down, instantly noticing that the hallway has signs of possible fire damage but the ceiling tiles do not appear smoke damaged or burnt. Rashomon speaks up and informs us all that this was the set of Falling Skies.





Satisfied with a successful mission, we all pack up and exit gracefully in single file.

On the side walk out front, only moments later, the Security guard walks right past us and then re-enters the school, none the wiser.

And on that note, class is dismissed.

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


Daniel Efosa Uyi said...

hey nice post mehn. I love your style of blogging here. The way you writes reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: You May Be Judging Other People Much More Than You Think .
keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Good job! Had goosebumps as I was looking over the pictures. I went to Redmond back in 85 when it opened. Sad to know its being knocked down.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this post was awesome and spectacularly fantastic!! I too plan on exploring this place cuz I want to know what it was like there back then. That theatre looks so much better than the theatre we have now in the new Redmond...... I am a student who goes to the new Redmond, the one beside Humber College. I never really knew anything about the old Redmond until I did my research..........
Can you please tell me, did they actually have security guarding the outside of the school??? I don't want to get arrested or anything lol when I choose to explore it.

Anonymous said...

I was a student at A.C.I. from 1963 to 1968. The changes that you presented to me were a mixture of amazement and sadness. Time moves on and change is continuous. Very nice work. Thanks for bringing back some very good memories for me.

Anonymous said...

How would you go about contacting you, as you a are missing a few key pictures to your album. You are missing the gym, the art rooms, the english rooms, and underneath the stage and a above the stage, the audio room for the theater.

Anonymous said...

I was a student at that school b/w 1996-1999 and loved the school…I can see my old classrooms in some of the photos and fondly remember my time spent there.

The new school looks great and I've never gone into it but I'm sure it doesn't carry the same atmosphere as the old Redmond…I can also see in the pics that thieves have come and made out with anything they could already that's worth any money.

Anonymous said...

damn the memories of going to school here and graduating there - perfect place to film a horror movie now :-)

Lolo Parrothead said...

Great, thanks for the memories. I spent my time at ACI from 1966 to 1971. Some of the best years of teenhood with Mr. Livingstone, the drama club, junior ans senior bands. The theatre pictures made me smile as I remember all the time I spent there.

Lolo Parrothead said...

Thanks for the memories. I was a student at ACI from 1966 -1971. The aud. pics are awesome as I remember fun times spent their with Mr. Livingston, the kids from the drama club, and both junior and senior bands.

Anonymous said...

I was a teacher at Fr. Redmond for a few years. I loved the tall pine and the beautiful magnolia tree that thrived in the school's interior courtyard. Looking at the dilapidated old place from the outside then and now, you would never imagine that a lot of terrific learning at all levels took place there. What worried me and my colleagues a bit was the asbestos insulation discovered in various hallway ceilings. The stuff was "entombed" with special wrap during a summer in the late 80s (roughly). It's not a good idea to be conducting photo reportages or any other kind of bold exploits in that building in its current state. Spielberg's pyrotechnics may have dislodged more than just extraterrestrials...

Anonymous said...

I was a student there in 91-95, and have since moved away, I am so sad to see that they are tearing down a piece of my youth. Thank you very much for your pictures, it took me back. Many memories were made there and still live there. If anyone my years or older look at these pictures, were all probably wondering "where is the pic. of "Scum Alley".

Peter Thomson said...

1961 - 1965:9M/10H/11G/12G - I helped get the 2005 ACI reunion started to celebrate 50 years of ACI. Great memories from there. So sad to see it this way.

Anonymous said...

It's trippy enough to see the building in shambles but it's even more trippy watching it in Falling Skies. It was so cool watching them film it.

Anonymous said...

Good read & well-written. Those pictures make you feel like this was another lifetime ago. The old Redmond always looked and felt like an abandoned factory, only fitting Spielberg used it to film a show about alien invasion haha.

Unknown said...

Wow this takes me back to memories from the late 70's some good and some not so much. Glad you got these pics before it is gone forever. Anyone remember playing in the abandoned Booth brick site that was right next to the school,it's a park now but when I was a kid we would ride our bikes and play down in there.Good bye old times.

Your humble eavesdropper said...

It was because of your post that I knew I had to make a visit. Since you posted your images, the school has gotten a lot worse. Now, water drips from the ceiling, there's the smell of fire in the girl's changeroom that leads to the gym, and you can barely take a step anywhere without landing on broken glass.

Here's what I found:

Unknown said...

Thanks to each and every one of you for your comments. I absolutely love to see, hear and feel these connections that people have with these locations. Thank you so much for connecting and contributing here on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this location. When I first went there were people filming a zombie movie there. When I went back, it was unfortunately gated up and looks like it will soon be demolished.

Michael Duffy said...

I cried seeing the pictures of this near famous school! The trial of Ontario Housing. But I am a stickler for facts. The school opened late to 340 students and 18 staff. Attendance peaked at 1,154 in 65/66, and averaged 1,100 or more from 62-74. The politics and greed of the school board killed the school. Taking programmes out forced students to other schools.

ToSp said...

Hi there,

thank you so much for the pics of the abandoned school.

I just saw it in the Falling Skies series on german TV an i'm a fan of those abandoned places.

It's sad to see this school goes abandoned or removed for new homes. But that's life.

Greetings from Germany, Berlin

Steve Philips said...

Searching Google Satellite for old schools and came across a field where A.C.I. used to be. I typed in ACI and found your blog. Excellent pics of the old girl, glad you could shoot her before they took her down. The best is of the Auditorium, I remember when the Leafs won the cup and we all got the chance to see the final game there, I was so excited. Well done and many thanks.