Blink and you just might miss the Mina Rollason farm along a road in Southern Ontario. The farm is quiet these days, the only sound to be heard is the wind as it caresses the leaves of the tress hovering over Mina’s house.
Mina Jean was born on August 5, 1916 to a feisty Scotsman Duncan Campbell and his wife Kate in Windsor,Ontario and she was the oldest sibling of Norma, Annie, Glenn and Lloyd. The family later relocated to London, Ontario where Mina met her future husband Reginald. The couple had a son Ronnie and a daughter Rosalie who had the distinction of being the first baby born to a Canadian soldier after the Second World War began.
While her husband was away fighting in the Second World War, Mina kept the family together and had many hopes and dreams for their future. After the war the family purchased a farm and had a third child, Rolly. The picture perfect family that Mina had envisioned didn’t last though, for less than five years later Reginald had left the family to pursue his own life goals – goals that didn’t include raising three children on a farm.
Mina was determined to raise her family on her own and decided that the farm was going to remain their home. Mina was not raised on a farm but was determined to learn any necessary tasks to provide for her family. Mina butchered her own pigs, made her own bread, grew a garden and canned, pickled and preserved everything that she was able to harvest. She raised chickens for meat and eggs and customers were always ready to buy her surplus. Her food products from her kitchen which were sought after in the community. The proceeds of her food sales was enough to put Rosalie through Nursing School.
Many of the local brides had their showers catered with trays of sandwiches, tarts and squares as well as a wedding cake that were all prepared by Mina. Mina loved to make people happy and would spend more hours preparing the food she sold than she ever charged for.
Mina also served as a 4H homemaking club member. She sewed both her own and her children’s clothing and became skilled in creating crafts These skills led to her obtaining a job at the Thames Secondary School in London for ten years before she retired at age 65. Mina was an avid hockey fan and once had her neighbours over until 3:00 am listening to the hockey game on the radio. She surprised many of the teenaged students whom she taught baking by being able to list team names, numbers and statistics.
Mina was gifted in that she was able to quickly learn new skills while being able to teach others those same skills – something she did while teaching classes at the YMCA. Mina’s daughter in law remembers her teaching the grandchildren macrame, crochet and knitting at the same time she was canning peaches in a steaming hot kitchen.
Mina was stubborn and of the generation that didn’t necessarily believe in doctors. Her father had never taken a pill in his life and Mina didn’t intend to either. This attitude caused problems when Mina turned 90 and required medication.
Mina loved all of the animals that lived in the woods surrounding her farm – chipmnks, squirrels, raccoons, family dogs and many cats. Uncaring pet owners began taking advantage of this by dropping off their unwanted pets by Mina’s mailbox. This is somewhat evident to today’s explorer walking through her house today – litter boxes can be found in many of the rooms and there is an unmistakable scent of cat urine.
Mina enjoyed a long life and passed away on April 2, 2011 at the age of 95.
The farm remains as she has left it approximately four years ago and in some of the rooms the electricity still works
View as you approach the house. A patio door is ajar, inviting you in.
Clothes hang in the closet. World War Two documents were to be found in this bedroom.
The kitchen suffered a broken water pipe in the winter of 2015. When I revisited this location water was pouring out. I was going to turn the water flow off but the water was flowing over top of a power box.
The smell of cat urine was overwhelming. Mina had been a cat lover, we found litter boxes inside.
The house is what I’d call a time crapsule. Still very much left the way it had been, but having been picked over and not quite “untouched” looking.
The doors were removed from this cabinet when I returned in 2015.
The house has now been almost entirely cleaned out. Photos: Motleykiwi (below)
This abandoned rural farm house is called House of Dangers. It’s name stems from the open well hidden in the grass. On September 9, 1938, a twenty-five year old Second Leutenient American army pilot named James Breathitt died on the property. Breathitt was flying a P-35 Pursuit plane. the cause of the crash was said to be bad weather.
The house once belonged to the Eddie family and is located beside the Eddie cemetery. William Eddie settled here after arriving from Scotland in 1834. The cemetery was established in 1845. The first burial was Alex McBean in 1847, the brother in-law of Mr. William Eddie.
This aging piano has now fallen through the floor.
Camp 30 located in Bowmanville, Ontario is the site of a former prisoner of war camp used during the Second World War. The prisoners were from Nazi Germany. This is the story of that POW camp – and some kittens.
After the war, the property was returned to the boy’s school.
Camp 30 has been caught in a tug of war between the Kaitlin Corporation who owns the property and would like to build a subdivision on the property, and the Jury Lands Foundation who is attempting to preserve the site.
In 2013 the property made Heritage Canada’s top 10 “List of endangered places of 2013” due to the developer’s intention to demolish the property. The buildings were named a National Historic Site which resulted in halting the demolition plan. The developer has expressed an interest in donating the buildings to the municipality however the cost to restore the buildings could reach as high as $15,000,000.
Some citizens would like to see a museum built on the site of Camp 30 which is Canada’s only remaining P.O.W. camp, others would like to see it become a community center or coffee shop. For now, the property is abandoned and sits unattended, unprotected and badly vandalized.
After a day spent exploring the Toronto area, I drove as quickly as I could to reach Camp 30 before sunset. We arrived at Camp 30 by 8 PM and upon exiting the car we could see (and smell) that something was wrong. Smoke could be seen billowing the upper windows of one building. We walked around to the rear of the building and observed two teenage boys walking away from the building.
I went inside the building to find that a bonfire had been lit using part of a wooden pallet. Arson is nothing new when it comes to abandoned buildings but this was my first time encountering one.
Given the potential for the fire to spread to the walls, my friend notified the fire department and provided a description of the two males we had seen leaving the area. The response time of the fire department was less than five minutes. The police arrived and took a statement. We hadn’t seen the youths lighting the fire so it could be they weren’t involved.
Had I not arrived 20 minutes late, had we not stopped for gas, had we not walked through a cornfield earlier only to discover a shed we would have arrived before this fire was set. As the fire department and police were taking care of the situation I remarked to my friend, “This is going to bring us good karma”.
The police indicated that these calls occur almost every day. A suspicious fire already destroyed one building in 2009 and the cycle of inevitable destruction is ongoing.
Once a building is abandoned, attempts are normally made to try to preserve it from vandalism and mischief. Boards will be put up, doors will be locked and security will make the occasional patrol. Graffiti will begin to appear on the outside of the buildings and glass will be broken. Unless something is done to continually monitor these buildings, someone with enough patience will find a way inside.
When interior access becomes available at an abandoned location, the graffiti spreads like a plague and almost every pane of glass becomes broken. We’ve seen it happen in abandoned hospitals, houses, and schools. Unless the property owner continually maintains security of their property it can easily be destroyed completely in a month along with it much of the resale value.
At Camp 30, attempts had been made to place large boulders in front of the doors and to place fencing in front of windows. Now makeshift ladders have been erected leading to the now smashed windows. Doors that once were blocked with boulders are now open. Security used to check up on the property regularly but the patrols are sporadic now. The fencing placed in front of the windows has somehow been bent down to ground level.
With an absence in security and the remote location of this property, the vandalism has left the buildings completely trashed.
My partner in karma and I continued to explore while the fire department and police finished their work. By 9:20 PM the sun had set and it was time to leave. My friend decided to have a quick cigarette before we left.
As we were standing outside the car, I saw a small dark animal moving through the grass next to the road. I asked, “Is that a squirrel or chipmunk in the grass?”
We didn’t pay much attention to it however it continued to rustle about in the grass just a few feet from us. As we moved closer to the grass we realized that these were two small kittens.
My next reaction was exclaiming, “Oh shit! A wonderful day spent exploring now ends badly.” along with a few other expletives. My mood soured because I knew we couldn’t drive away at this point – it was out of the question and I didn’t like being faced with this situation. I’d have to ensure these little kittens were safe before I could leave here.
We picked them up, one was a small tabby cat and the other a black cat. The kittens appeared to be no more than eight weeks old. We waited for a bit to see if a mother or other kittens would show up, but none appeared. Not sure what to do we decided to approach another group of people who were exploring Camp 30, to see if they might want the kittens. Just as we neared their car they drove off unaware of our wanting to speak to them.
The decision was then made to put them in my car and take them somewhere – we just weren’t sure where. I thought about looking up the local animal shelter and dropping them off but it was 9:30 PM and I didn’t have internet.
Fortunately my explore friend, who was not necessarily fond of cats, offered to take them to his place. We began to drive back home which took approximately 90 minutes due to construction along the highway. I was concerned that they might urinate or defecate inside the car, cat urine having a strong scent that’s difficult to remove.
It was painful to listen to their tiny meows from the back seat. After approximately 10 minutes my friend picked up the tabby cat (“Bowman”) which he proclaimed was his own, while the black one (“Blackie”) which was proclaimed to be mine, cowered in the back seat.
My exploring partner indicated that his girlfriend was more of a dog lover but I knew that he wouldn’t be able to resist these lovable little things. At one point along the journey I turned on the interior light and glanced over. There was this tiny cat (Bowman) curled up with her eyes almost closed, ready to go to sleep. She was looking up with her small eyes at this large tattooed exploring man who had plucked her from the grass not more than 30 minutes earlier.
At this point it dawned on me just how dependant these little things were upon us now. They had no food, no shelter and no mother to feed them. They were in good health, certainly not afraid of us, well groomed and not feral. The human and feline bond was already being established.
We stopped at a drug store and I picked up some litter and cat food. I gave my new adoptee the three minute guide to caring for cats and dropped the three of them off at his home. In an hour or so his girlfriend, the dog lover, would meet these little kittens.
Three things were certain on this day:
One was that every event of the day led to us finding these kittens. Had there not been a smoke break, a gas stop, or any of the other interactions that took place this day, it is quite possible we wouldn’t have been standing at the side of the road when these two kittens made their appearance. Perhaps they would have been there regardless when they heard us.
The second certainty is that this day saw two acts of karma.
The final certainty is that I knew my explore partner and his girlfriend would warm up to these kittens. As I was driving home I received a text message from my explore partner which simply read: “My girlfriend wants to sleep with them now. I will get you for this.”
We are all interconnected.
I worried that perhaps we’d taken these kitten from a mother who would be distraught and searching for her offspring.
It did not sit well with me. I sought the help of numerous people from Facebook who lived in the area by asking if they would visit the area and try to locate either more kittens or the mother. There were negative results. I also placed an online ad indicating that two kittens had been found in Bowmanville, again with negative results. There are no houses in the immediate area, although there is housing further to the north. I am satisfied that we did the right thing and saved these two little gals from a poor future. Were these kittens dropped off or did they stray too far from home? The online ad remains up just in case.
As for Blackie and Bowman, Blackie was quite small and we were initially concerned that she might not make it. I am pleased to inform you that as of tonight they have been adopted by a couple who own two older female cats. My friend felt that the kittens would receive the mother-like guidance that they might require. Where Blackie was initially shy and would hide, by the time she left for her new home she would come running every time my friend walked in the door.
I’ll close with the final words from the other half of this story who wishes to remain nameless: “A part of me is sad to see them go, but way better in the long run for them to be with cat people.”
This house is one of the top abandoned locations I ever had the privilege of exploring in Ontario. It was shared with me by a photographer known as The Secret Lens. The house sits along a main road in a small Southern Ontario town. The land is used for farming and the house could be easily mistaken for being lived in. It was purchased by John and Katerina in 1951.
I don’t have any information as to what happened to the family except to say that it still remains in the family name.
When I visited in 2015 the power was still working.
The era is evident with this cool pole lamp, a modern fixture of the 70’s.
What could be the master bedroom with cool wallpaper put up over that crappy wood covering. Is it any wonder the wallpaper didn’t stick? The safe box you see on the dresser had a hand grenade inside of it. I was never able to find it as it was hidden by others who found it, but it was there.
The bedframe is certainly vintage.
The living room is perhaps the highlight of the house. The old reclining chair, wallpapered stairs, and the aerial television.
Looking at the opposite end of the living room we see another pole lamp and not-that old couch.
A quite old clock radio (AM only) and a smaller clock clearly go back several decades.
In the kitchen is a hutch with collectibles placed on the shelves, a bottle of alcohol and some papers.
Down in the basement you’ll find it’s not so much different than that of the upper living room. Carpeted floors, old television and chairs.
There is water damage in the kitchen.
Katerina was born in Slovakia on April 29, 1910 and died August 13, 1968. John was born in 1905 and passed away in 1993. Based on the items inside the house it looks very much like John would have moved out around 1968 and perhaps went into a retirement home.
I returned in 2018 to a much different house.
The living room has been largely cleared out and a drum kit has been set up.
The basement has been filled from corner to corner with Christmas ornaments and assorted boxes. It’s difficult to navigate. What will become of this time capsule? Who can say.
Abandoned psych hospital with morgue in St. Thomas, Ontario
In August of 1937 construction began on a hospital in St. Thomas, Ontario which became known as the Ontario Government Hospital, St. Thomas. It was built on land belonging to six farm families. The 460 acres of land was able to provide crops for the facility’s food and produce.
The hospital opened on April 1, 1939 and took in its first 32 patients. By August the number of patients was close to 1,100 people. The maximum capacity is said to have been reached in 1958 with 2,238 patients. At the time the St. Thomas Psych had a reputation for being the finest mental health hospital in Canada due to its modern design. It also provided jobs during the recession.
World War II
When World War II was declared, the hospital was leased to the Department of National Defence. The last patients were transferred out on October 31, 1939. Supplies for the R.C.A.F. began arriving three days later.
Sixty thousand men and women from every country in the British Commonwealth, as well as American volunteers with the R.C.A.F. were trained here. The school was known as, “No. 1 Training and Technical School”.
The school was equipped to handle more than 2,000 students at a time. They offered six-month courses for aircraft electricians and aero-engineers, air-frame and instrument mechanics and training for fabric and sheet metal workers.
With the local economy now being increased, St. Thomas responded with drop-in centres offering free coffee and sandwiches for R.C.A.F. personnel, dances, and other activities.
By October 1942, 20,000 ground crew personnel had graduated from the school.
Patients were relocated to other parts of the province. The hospital was returned to the Ontario Department of Health and reopened to patients in 1945.
Patients were able to take part in the farming and food production process which contributed to feelings of self-worth and contributing.
Beginning in the 1970’s it was decided that rather than confine people to institutions, that through mental health transformation patient care should shift from that of an institutional model to helping patients learn to live productive lives in the community. It offered patients hope and recovery.
There was a nurses residence on the other side of the highway (Sunset Drive) and underground tunnels provided transportation. A bicycle at each end of the tunnel allowed nurses to quickly make their way from one end to the other.
In 1988 two patients at the hospital were given day passes to allow them to work. One patient earned enough money to purchase a car. On March 31, 1988 one of the two men told his boss that he wanted to “leave early and get laid”. The two men drove to London where they found a fourteen year old girl waiting for a bus. She was abducted and beaten in the car on route to the factory where one of the men worked. The girl was thrown into a river where she later walked to a nearby house for help.
The St. Thomas Psych Hospital was taken over by St. Joseph’s Health Care in London as part of a reorganization initiative ordered by the Health Care Restructuring Commission (HSRC) in 1997. HSRC directives called for the divestment of a certain number of long term specialized inpatient beds from St. Joseph’s to hospitals across southwestern Ontario and the construction of two new specialized mental health care facilities, one in London and one in St. Thomas. The report recommended significant transitional funding to build community resources that would offset the eventual closure of beds.
A modern state of the art hospital was built on the grounds of the existing hospital in St. Thomas. It opened in June of 2013.
The hospital has taken on several names: Ontario Hospital, St. Thomas Psych and St. Thomas Regional Mental Health Care.
The colours blue and green were often used on walls as they created a calming atmosphere.
While exploring this facility in 2015 we found a pigeon trapped inside. It was flying into the walls in a panicked attempt to escape. Using a pair of gloves, one of our crew plucked it and let it escape out a window. We then closed the windows to prevent a recurrence.
February 2016 – OPP warn explorers to stay out of the facility.
January 2020 – Actor Jason Momoa intends to film a post-apocalyptic television show inside the former hospital. It will be titled ‘See’ and will be released on Apple TV.
This breathtaking mansion has 7 bedrooms and 6 bathrooms and sits on 6,500 square feet of land. It’s definitely out of place among the multi-million dollar homes that surround it. Once you step inside, you’ll understand why. It was also a marijuana grow operation.
It was locked up tight for many months but in 2019 access became available. The house was built in 1982 making it only 38 years old.
It’s alleged that the owner rented the home out to a tenant for $3300/month. That’s an incredibly high price in my opinion. The tenant then used the property to legally grow marijuana. The tenant was eventually evicted for non-payment of rent. (Canucks747)
As with most grow operations, alterations were made to the home which sealed its fate.
The rear door of the house had a metal gate installed to keep out thieves. You can imagine the criminal element would take an interest in this place. There are also security cameras.
Most every room has been altered to allow duct work to snake through it. Walls have been removed, the fireplaces sealed with expanding foam and power outlets loosely wired in obscure locations. Above you can see the remains of a marijuana plant.
There’s soil scattered throughout the house and you can find the odd amount of ‘shake’. Despite the turmoil inside the house, the exterior appears normal. The backyard has a patio set and deck.
The rear of the house has been fortified and there are security cameras in the front. It’s unlikely this house will ever be sold.
Motleykiwi and I were driving the GTA area when we passed this gorgeous abandoned mansion. At the time there were workers on the property and they’d just started demolition. We waited a short while until 5 pm when the workers left for the day.
The baseboard and door trim has been removed which I think was because the demolition company planned to save it. This house had ceiling medallions, recessed wall shelves, two staircases, a stone fireplace and a basement bar.
We returned shortly after the workers left for the day and found entry to be quite easy.
I’m sure this beautiful home will be replaced with some ugly housing.