Ghost Towns of Ontario

Ghost Towns of Ontario

Ghost Towns of Ontario

Ghost Towns of Ontario

Ontario Provincial Parliament Building by TMAB2003

Ontario Canada has an astounding number of Ghost Towns. Some count over 200 locations! In the 1800s the government spurred development of the providence by creating a number of Colonization Roads. These were roads that penetrated deep into the wilderness and were meant to allow people to claim their 100 acres of land. Many of these roads wandered along rivers and connected existing trails and roads to create rudimentary transportation network across the providence.

Unfortunately many of these towns never grew very large. Farming was found to be pretty hard. Land would give out within a few short decades and become barren. Many people in these towns turned to timber or mining, some turned to servicing travelers along the roads. This just prolonged the inevitable fate of these towns.

There was also a large amount of mineral exploration in the eastern part of the providence. As we have seen in other places, former boom towns become ghost towns really quickly when the mines run out, or become unprofitable.

The Towns

Esmonde Ontario

Esmonde Ontario

Esmonde Ontario was a small settlement that sprang up along the Opeongo Colonization Road along the Ottawa River in to the Madawaska Highlands in the mid 1800s. Like many towns along the Colonization Roads, it was meant to be a farm town. Unfortunately the land proved to be unsuitable to farming and played out quickly, so settlers turned to timber.

At it’s height Esmonde had a population of 25 people. But they built a saw and shingle mill, a school and both and Anglican Church and an Roman Catholic Church. When the Ottawa, Arnprior and Parry Sound Railway (which became the Canada Atlantic Railway,) opened in 1893 traffic along the Opeongo Colonization Road disappeared totally. This finally killed the town completely.

Today, the Roman Catholic Church still survives and is in use. Other notable buildings are the former town hall, now a community hall, and a small selection of farm buildings. If you have pictures of the church, or the statue in front of it, please post them below!

Esmonde Ontario

Farm Buildings in what is left of Esmonde

Dacre Ontario

Home in Dacre Ontario

There is not a lot of information about Dacre Ontario. This despite the fact that it was the largest town on Lake Opeonogo, and was divided into Lower Dacre and Upper Dacre. It’s history is closely tied with nearby Mount St. Patrick. If you know more about the history of this town, please comment below.

Abandoned barn in Dacre

Abandoned barn in Dacre

Home in Dacre Ontario

Home in Dacre Ontario

Balaclava Ontario (Renfrew County)

Balaclava Mill Building

Balaclava Ontario was established as a timber mill in 1855. The mill was erected on Constant Creek by Duncan Ferguson and Donald Cameron. By 1860, the town had several houses, a hotel and a blacksmith shop. The mill was acquired by the Richards family in 1868. They operated the mill for the next 91 years.

Balaclava Mill Building

Balaclava Mill Building

The mill was rebuilt in 1936 after a good deal of the original edifice was destroyed by fire. By the 1950’s, the area was exhausted of timber, and the mill was only producing a few thousand board feet a year. The mill was able to produce one million board feet a week at peak production. In 1959, the mill was shut down and the store closed as the production moved away.

Today there are still a few residents in Balaclava. Many of the original homes are still standing, but all are on private property.

Stone Foundations

Millbridge Ontario

Hogan's Hotel in Millbridge Ontario

Millbridge Ontario

Millbridge Ontario originated as a small community at the entrance to Hastings Road to serve travellers. It quickly grew to being one of the road’s most important settlements and soon became the chief community of Tudor Township. The town was first settled in the mid 1850s along Jordan Creek. The fledgling community was known as simply “The Jordan.”

About that time, two Veterans of the Crimean War Captain Ralph Norman and his wife setup a trading station here. Mrs. Norman was a nurse under Florence Nightingale, and both run the shop in military fashion. Captain Norman was said to always wear his full uniform. The Normans soon established a mill on the creek and the location became known as “the mill by the bridge” eventually shortened to Millbridge.

The first school in Tudor Township opened in 1859 in Mill Bridge. Both the first and second schools houses were destroyed in fire though and classes had to be moved to the town hall.

The Millbridge Post Office was opened in John Bull’s shop in 1860. He ran it until 1866 when it was moved to Ralph Norman’s store. He ran the post office until his death in 1911.

Millbridge’s population grew to 100 people in 1871. It had a hotel, an inn, a boarding house, blacksmith, carpenter and two stores. Mrs. Charlotte Potter ran the boarding house while John Armstrong was the carpenter, George Bigelow the blacksmith, and William Harper the township clerk.

In the mid 1880s, the Millbridge Fair was a huge attraction. The population had grown and the town now had three general stores and two blacksmiths. At the beginning of the decade, there was only one hotel. In 1866 it had three.

The big event that changed the town was the arrival of the Central Ontario Railway in 1883. The railroad station was established near Hogan’s Hotel a few kilometers to the east. This sparked a new building rush and at Millbridge Station. The new community here became known as Hogan before it faded away. The hotel still exists although it is now a private residence.

Hasting’s Road was never well maintained though. This led to the eventual abandonment of Millbridge. By the 1920s the town was gone, although the Post Office managed to stay open until 1969 when it was closed due to cost-cutting measures. Today the town still has many of it’s original buildings, but they all private residences.

Hogan's Hotel in Millbridge Ontario

Hogan’s Hotel (Now a private residence)