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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Abandoned Ontario Part 1: Old Killaloe

Hey everyone!

As I mentioned in my last post, I just got back from a week-long trip to Ottawa. While I was there, my friend Max had the great idea to do some exploring in nearby ghost towns. We decided on exploring Renfrew County, which is just an hour out of Ottawa and has some amazing old pioneer settlements. Max, Stef and I packed up a car and headed out for an interesting Sunday adventure.

When researching locations to visit we used a website called Ontario Abandoned Places. It's an interesting site where users can report ghost towns or abandoned buildings in an area, and also provide the GPS coordinates, photos and the history of a location. The first location we had decided on was the Biederman Lime Kiln, which is a beautiful stone kiln that hasn't operated since 1930.

I honestly thought this location would be the easiest to get to compared to some other off-road locations. All we had to do was find the old quarry road and drive until the end. We found the road without any problems, but then encountered an unexpected roadblock.

A bridge had recently been removed, leaving us standing in front of a stream that was at least 6 feet deep. So we decided to try driving up a parallel dirt road to see where that would lead us. This lead to our second unexpected roadblock.

Cows, and lots of them. Just as I was driving up the dirt road the herd charged out from the forest. They seemed rather defensive of the car, so we opted to go on foot to see where the road lead. As we walked, the herd of spooked cattle ran ahead of us. We ended up coming to a similar bridge that had been removed. The whole area had recently been renovated, which was clear from piles of gravel and dirt.

Looking at satellite images now it might still be possible to reach the old kiln by continuing up the dirt road, but we decided to head to our next destination since we had a full day ahead of us. Besides, we had been thoroughly excited by our run-in with the herd of cattle.

Our next location was Old Killaloe, a ghost town near the current town of Killaloe, Ontario. As it turns out, Killaloe is the birthplace of my favorite Canadian pastry: a beavertail. Essentially it's a deep fried pastry that's usually coated in cinnamon and sugar, chocolate or hazelnut spread. Naturally we had to stop for a bite.

While there, we also took some time to explore Station Park. This was the site of the old train station, now a park for the town. It was very picturesque and quaint in the way that small towns always seem to be. There was even an admirable community library with books safely stored in tree trunks.

After taking in the town of Killaloe, we got back in the car and drove for a few minutes to old Killaloe. Old Killaloe was settled in the 1850s and was quite successful for several decades. In the 1890s a railway was to be built through the area, but had to be placed several kilometers away from the settlement. Over the years most settlers began moving closer to the railway. Today there are still several houses and farms in the area, but most are abandoned.

Our first location was an abandoned house. Signs of squatters were everywhere, especially since the house was listed on the Ontario Abandoned Places website. Chairs were pulled up on the porch and empty beers were all over the property. It had Stef and I a little creeped out, but we found the surroundings very interesting. Unlike us, Max was unfazed.

Our last stop in Old Killaloe was the general store, which is actually still open one day a week or by appointment. Unfortunately the store was closed on Sundays, but the building itself presented a nice photo opportunity. There were also a few items out in front of the store, including a gorgeous hand-crafted canoe.

After spending a bit of time in Old Killaloe we decided to head off to our next location since we had few more to visit...

I'll end this post here for length's sake and continue the adventure in another post.


  1. This is such a cool adventure day. Can't wait to hear more about it! I really like the outdoor tree library! And the details on the canoe are insane. I hope you get a chance to see the kiln during a future visit :)

    1. Thanks Mel! Maybe I'll have to take a visit again to see if the old kiln is still accessible :)

  2. Such an awesome post! the idea for the trip is pretty creative and different than other things you usually write about ;) I'd love to join in if I could!
    You had so many unexpected roadblocks it's probably for the best you didn't reach any further :P
    The beavertail pastry really made me laugh, it actually looks like a beavertail haha :$
    You made it to some beautiful places eventually... I guess you can never know where the road will take you!
    I was looking for some more scary trip stories though :P

    1. Thanks so much Reut! I have a feeling you would have really enjoyed the trip. It was exciting and adventurous, but also a little dark sometimes... which is definitely good because it leaves you thinking about life. Fortunately our experience wasn't too scary...I wasn't worried so much about anything spooky, I was terrified we might run into an angry squatter!

  3. Love these pics!! It's funny because I never consider my province to be all that big but I've never heard of this town?! Great pics! Ha and what the heck is a Beavertail?! I think it might be what us Northerner's call an "Elephant Ear" ha. So random how just a few miles away, things are so different!

    1. Thanks Jessica! These are all very small towns north of Ottawa...I don't even think many people living in Ottawa have heard of them! Chances are Elephant Ears are the same thing as Beavertails. I go to school in BC now, and out here they call them "Elfen Ears". Funny how we all have different names for the same deep fried idea! haha

  4. I love adventure outings like that! what a wonderful post. The beavertail made me laugh and the books in the tree-trunk are awesome!