Touring Ghost Towns and Abandoned Places in Southern Saskatchewan (Episode 223)

Touring Ghost Towns and Abandoned Places in Southern Saskatchewan (Episode 223)

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Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the DanOCan YouTube  channel. I am glad you have either chosen to come   back here for another DanOCan video or you're  visiting us for the first time. Either way,   welcome! So, I'm doing another video from the  basement of DanOCan headquarters here. So I   thought I would kind of go back and take a look  at the very first Ghost Town Convention which   was held in 2007 in Hallonquist, Saskatchewan.  Now, you're probably asking yourself “What is  

a ghost town convention or what was a ghost  town convention?” and I may as well start   right from the beginning. It was the brainchild  of Mike Stobbs who you can find here on YouTube   at Mr Heated Jacket’s Quebec Garage. Mike  was -- or still is actually -- a fantastic   photographer and he had -- as many of us do  -- a real affinity for abandoned places and so   he came up with the idea and I'll put the post  here. So, this is going to look really dated even   though it's only 15 years ago but this is how  we communicated before social media exploded.  

This was the Ghost Town Forum or the Ghost Town  Chat page and Mike, who was posting as Impala SS,   put it up on September the 27th 2006 with the  idea of “Hey, let's get together next year and   go tour around a bunch of different ghost towns.”  So the name he originally had proposed was “Ghost   Town Heaven in 2007” which eventually morphed into  Ghost Town Convention, and the duration of three   or four days ended up becoming two days but the  basic idea was there. It's hard to imagine now,   where abandoned photography and ghost  towning has become such a popular   online activity with tons of pages dedicated to  it, but back in the day it was not easy to find   other people who shared the same passion. And  so Mike had this brainchild and ran with it  

and it was a really amazing experience. None  of us – well, I shouldn't say that. There was   ten of us that made it that first year and, you  know, most of us had never met any of the other   people before. So this was coming together in  a ghost town in Saskatchewan and meeting with   a bunch of strangers who we just knew shared  the same interest and it really was a success.   So, now, this picture here doesn't really look  like much -- and it's not -- but I put it here   because this is the first photo I ever took on  a Ghost Town Convention. This is a picture of a  

light fixture inside the curling rink at the  ghost town of Hallonquist, Saskatchewan and   this I put this up here because it really shows  how little I knew about what I was doing when it   comes to photography. I never considered myself  a photographer; I never have considered myself   a photographer, but going out and meeting Mike  and shooting with people who were photographers   really opened my eyes to different styles. And  this is a photo that, you know, I was basically   trying to emulate what I saw Mike doing and it  never would have occurred to me to take this   picture until I saw somebody else doing it. I was  more of a “documentation” photographer -- still   am -- like I basically try to shoot and show you  the whole scene and Mike really opened my eyes to   the shooting of detail. So that's why this one's  here -- not an interesting photo and don't worry,   it gets better from here. This is the curling  rink at Hallonquist, the building that we were   just inside where I took the picture of that light  fixture. Hockey rinks and curling rinks are kind  

of the lifeblood of Saskatchewan. Even to this day  I think and, you know, along with grain elevators   they're kind of one of the iconic buildings of the  life on the Prairies. And, yeah, this one was in,   you know, pretty decent shape considering it  obviously had not been used in a number of years   and was sitting there in Hallonquist, abandoned.  This one here is a shot of an interior of a car.   I've always been fascinated with dashboards and  car Interiors. Even as a kid -- and I don't know   why that is, but they fascinate me and they  always make I find really interesting subject   materials even though this particular photograph  is horrible in it's exposure. But I just thought  

it was kind of neat. I mean, I really think we've  lost something with cars, you know, the pure   mechanical nature of the way cars used to be with,  you know, gauges and levers and push buttons and,   you know, everything was analog and mechanical  and nowadays with all the digital displays and   touch screens and everything cars just don't hold  the same charm. I don't know what the evolution of   cars is going to be like but, you know, maybe  in 50 - 60 years people will look back at the   cars of today with the same nostalgia I have for  cars of this era. This was a car that was just  

sitting out in the field. What I love about it  is that the keys are still in the ignition like   somebody just parked it there one day and never  came back. I also love the traditional pine tree   air freshener still hanging from that knob in  the middle. I don't know if that's the choke   or a cigarette lighter -- I think it's probably a  cigarette lighter if I look at it closer, but it's   amazing to me that, you know, cars…you just park  them and they just sat there and stayed there for   all I know this car's still there today. This was  another this is probably a blacksmith shop or some   sort of, you know, mechanical shop in Hallonquist.  I just thought it was really cool, the old sign   there above the door that says Hallonquist, I  believe was from the train station that used   to be in the town. The tracks and everything  were long gone even in 2007 when we were there. 

This picture here is an old truck that  was sitting in Hallonquist. You know,   I really like this photo. As much as I love to  look back at my early photography and talk about   how bad it was, I like this image. That little  cloud in the upper left corner there kind of  

fills in the blank spot in the sky. This is  again another Mike Stobbs influenced photo,   and this is a photo I never would have  thought to take on my own until I started   following around Mike and seeing what  he did. So, I thought it was a really…   you know, it's not the greatest photo in the world  by any stretch of the imagination, but I do kind   of like how the shadow cuts through the Fargo  on the hood emblem there and the detail with a   little bit of that spider web on just to the left  of it. So, it's kind of like it. Like I said,   it's not the greatest photo of all time, but it's  pretty good for pictures of mine from that era. 

This one here is still in Hallonquist. This  is an old white building on the right there,   is an old General Store. You can kind of  see, you know, that spot where things are   cut out which probably was a front window at  one point. This is a style of architecture we   used to see a lot on the Canadian prairies,  this slanted corner door entrance. You don't   see many buildings like that anymore, at least I  don't think you do, so it was quite notable for   that and being one of the buildings left in the  town, I thought it was an interesting subject.

And this one here, I just included because this  is very typical of the way people would dispose   of their trash back in the early settlers' days on  the Prairies. You know, this was a foundation of   a building or the basement of a building, and  when you had stuff you needed to get rid of,   you just pushed it into the hole and let nature  take its course. There are a lot of places even   in Calgary to this day where if you're on the side  of a hill, you'll start to uncover old tin cans,   bed frames, and things from when  it was still farmland and whatnot,   and people would just push their trash over  the side of the hill and call it a day."  So, we moved on. Uh, this is now the town  of Braddock or what's left of the town of   Braddock or Brad-dock, depending on how you want  to say it. This was the site of an old school.  

The school was long since gone, but you can see  the wooden sidewalk was still there in front   with the weeds growing through it. And this  house here, or what's left of a house here,   is notable for a special reason, and I'll get to  that in a moment. But, uh, this was one of the few   remains of a building in the town site. Just kind  of that little front porch area remains now. What   made this super interesting was on this Ghost  Town convention trip, my neighbor at the time   actually grew up in Braddock and so he knew the  area very well. He decided to join us on this uh,  

Ghost Town convention and share some of  his stories from growing up in the area.   This is him here. His name's Don. As far as  I know, he's still alive. I haven't been in   contact with Don in over 10 years now. But like I  said, what made this special is this is actually   the house Don lived in as a child. This was his  parents' house. It used to be a two-story house,   and he stood around there and told us stories  about growing up and playing in the yard and   helping dig, you know, dig the foundation and dig  the basement and things for it. So it was quite,  

uh, it was quite interesting for us to have Don  there and actually hear from someone who lived   in this house as a child. And it was also quite  emotional for Don. He was going to be coming back,   I think about a month later, to attend a school  reunion at the Townsite, but this was the first   time he had been back and seen his old family home  in quite some time. Next up, Walsh Valley School,   as you can see on the sign there, 1920 to 1960. So  this had been abandoned for 47 years at the time   of our visit. I don't really know exactly where  this is or where this was. I don't know if it's  

still there or not. There's another view of it  there, kind of taken from the other side. If you   were a firefighter, that first photo was kind of  looking at the Alpha side. This would be kind of   looking at the Charlie-Delta side. Yeah, that's  a neat building. I say it is a neat building.   I don't know if it's still there or not, like I  said, here's a shot from inside. You can see it  

was pretty intact inside. You could clearly see  where the chalkboards were, and the paint was   still not too bad. In terms of a lot of abandoned  schools, this one was in pretty good shape inside.   Another view here of the chalkboards. The name  that really stands out there is Arlene Sally Sowa   or Sawa. I'm not a stalker, but for interest's  sake of seeing what I could find, I did a quick   Google search for Arlene Sowa and/or Sawa. I found  an article or a listing online that mentioned that  

she got married in the nearby town of Hodgeville  in 1982. So, if anyone knows Arlene, let her know   that this video is out there, and that -- at least  as of 2007 -- her writing was still on the wall   in the school at Walsh Valley. A couple more shots  here of some names written on the walls, primarily   from 1984-1985. I suspect that they probably did  some sort of school reunion in that era. So again,   pause the video here and zoom in and see if you  can recognize any names if you're from that area. 

This is another view, still on the  school. You can see the school is   the small building there on the horizon,  in between the other two buildings. So,   this was a farmyard. I'm making a bold  assumption that this was the farmyard   of the person who probably donated the land for  Walsh Valley school. That was very typical in  

the day, that a farmer would carve off a little  corner of his property and donate it to become   the school site for the area as the areas were  developing. Everything about this photo is just   classic ghost town, or I should say classic  Saskatchewan. You know, you've got the flat land,   the grass, the abandoned building, the one solo  tree standing there off in the distance. I mean,   it's not a great photo in terms of its composition  or whatnot, but I think it's a photo that really   captures southern Saskatchewan and the  spirit of the Ghost Town Convention.  Moving into the evening of day one, this is one  of the elevators in Neidpath, Saskatchewan. Again,  

not really a great photo as the sky is horribly  exposed, and the elevator itself is underexposed,   so you know that I managed to capture the worst  of both worlds in terms of this photo. But it's a   grain elevator, it's a photo of a grain elevator,  it's a documentation shot to show what was there.   I haven't been to Neidpath in probably seven or  eight years since I was there. I understand from  

other people in the area that the elevator is  still there, or the elevators are still there,   but I understand they're in quite bad shape.  I believe even the cupola of the one has   since fallen, so perhaps even both of them.  Those elevators are not long for this world,   and soon pictures hopefully better than  this one will be all that we have left.  So this is the next morning, and we started  our day in Hodgeville, Saskatchewan.   This grain elevator in Hodgeville, I believe, was  demolished just two, maybe three years ago. The  

last few years time has kind of changed, so this  elevator, from my understanding, no longer exists.   But again, not a great picture, but it's at least  the picture and it exists. The picture does,   not the elevator. Downtown Hodgeville, I like the  contrast in this one of the sense of you have the   classic wooden grain elevator in the front, and  you have the concrete grain terminal in the back,   so I always kind of feel sad seeing this one, you  know, that the Hodgeville wooden elevator had to   spend its last days looking down the track at its  eventual successor. Next stop. Saint Boswell's.   Saint Boswell's is a really interesting ghost  town; there are no real buildings left at all,   but what is left are all the concrete sidewalks.  I'm just gonna show you here a little bit of   history of the town from the sign that was at the  gate. Basically, what I really like about this is  

it shows the importance of the railways in those  days. The town was in one spot when the railway   came through; the railway was on a completely  different side or area, so what do you do? You   move the town to the new spot. Saint Boswell's  was a thriving town from 1919 to 1929, then slowly   started to diminish. That's the other thing about  a lot of these towns: they had a fairly short   history. They were booming for a short period of  time, but the Dirty 30s and the Great Depression   did a lot of them in, and Saint Boswell's is  no exception to that. Saint Boswell's 1918 to  

1975. The fascinating thing about it is Saint  Boswell's is one of the few towns, I feel, of   that era that actually had concrete sidewalks. So  when you visit the town site of Saint Boswell's,   the concrete sidewalks are still there. A lot  of towns of that era just had wooden sidewalks   which have rotted away or been pulled up. These  sidewalks are still there, and there's a nice view   of Saint Boswell's: a wooden sign, the sidewalk,  the trees. When you visit Saint Boswell's, it's  

quite possible to really see the grid of the town  laid out because of those sidewalks. You can still   see where the streets were and the tracks through  the field here with the sidewalks on both sides.   Another sidewalk goes through the trees, and there  were still some foundations left. There were some   places where you could still see the concrete  steps that used to lead up to a house right   next to the sidewalk. Of course, everything's long  gone except the concrete. Yep, another shot there   of one of the remaining sidewalks. Saint Boswell's  is a great little town to visit to be able to walk  

around and see the remnants of a town and see  the grid and layout of it so quite interesting.   Next stop was Bateman, Saskatchewan. Here's a  shot of the classic railway sign in Bateman,   and what I believe would be the corner  of Railway and Main. In Bateman,   the Bateman Historical Museum is housed in  this false-fronted building. It wasn't open  

when we were there, and I don't know if it's  been open at any point in the last 30 years.   So we didn't get a chance to see what was inside  that building, but it's a neat building just by   itself, even if it wasn't the Historical Museum.  There were some grain cars still on the tracks,   and from what I have heard and from what I can  see on Google Earth, the tracks at Bateman have   long since been pulled up. This was the highlight  of Bateman, Saskatchewan. And this is an example,   you know, instead of the wooden one-room  schoolhouse, this is your more, you know,   two-three room brick schoolhouse. And to me,  this is really the sign of a prosperous area.   If you scroll or you look in really close, the  date on that school building is 1921, and so for   a place to have a brick building of this size  functioning as a school in the 1920s when most   places were doing the one-room wooden schoolhouse,  I think is really, really remarkable. And it was a  

great looking building. Here's a shot from the  inside. I don't know if this was a renovation   project that was partway through and stopped or  if this was the initial stages of demolition,   like I said, I don't really know. But this was  kind of the state of the interior of the school   back in 2007. And when you would go to the back of  the school, the entire rear half of the school had   been demolished, and you know, it looks like they  basically brought in some heavy equipment and just   pushed the walls in into the foundation. So we  were lucky we were there when we were because we  

got to see part of the school still standing.  In this shot here, you can really see how the   back half of the school has been demolished. So,  I suspect this was an addition, which is probably   why it was the first part to get demolished. That  entire school has long since been demolished.  

Next up, Shamrock, Saskatchewan. This is just a  documentation photo of classic early 20th-century   Prairie architecture - the false-fronted building.  This was the town's post office at the time we   were there, presumably a general store. You can't  really see it in this photo, but you'll see it in   the next ones that are coming up. That building  on the right on the false front of it says “pool   hall”, from what I can tell. "So, if we zip  ahead to the next one here, this is a Google   Street View image. I was first of all amazed  that Google had visited Shamrock, Saskatchewan.  

Even more surprised they had visited  Shamrock, Saskatchewan twice. This is   the first image from 2009. You can see it's not a  huge difference from when we were there in 2007.   But if you jump ahead from 2009 to 2013, you can  see the building has since been closed up. All the   signage that indicated it was an active post  office is gone. The little vending machines,  

the newspaper machine, and things out front of the  building are gone. The door has been boarded up,   and the Lucky Dollar sign that was on the little  building to the right is long gone. I really just   wanted to get a close-up of that sign while it  still existed. Hopefully, somebody saved it, and   it's not or it wasn't lost to thieves. Hopefully,  when the building was shut down, the owner took it  

somewhere, and it still exists. Right next to the  Lucky Dollar, or the Lucky Buck, I guess, is one   of these classic playground metal horses. You can  still find these occasionally across the Prairies.   I absolutely love these. We had them in our  playground in my hometown as a kid. They were  

always a lot of fun, but I think anyone who grew  up in a town that had one of these has one common   memory, and that's burning the crap out of your  legs when you sat on them on a hot summer day.   You know, it's things like that that really make  growing up in the era of the 1970s and the 1980s   really special, actually. And I do feel sorry, and  I know this sounds like such an old man comment,   but I do feel really sorry for the kids of today  who don't get to experience the things that we   did. Whenever I see one of these on the Prairies,  I make a special effort to take a picture of it   because they hold a lot of sentimental importance  for me, and they're great pieces. I don't know if  

this one still exists, but they're still out  there. So if you find them, give them a ride,   take a picture of them, and let's keep that memory  going. And of course, when it comes to pieces of   infrastructure from the past, I'm a huge fan of  old gas pumps. This one is what I would consider  

a bit more modern of a gas pump. These are the  gas pumps I remember growing up with, and my   dad showing me how to pump gas or letting me pump  gas. It usually had that little sight ball on the   side with the little balls inside or the little  spinner that would go around that I always found   fascinating. This was a close-up of the other  side of that pump. You can see this dates from   the era when we still dispensed gasoline using  gallons in Canada. If I'm reading this correctly,   gas was 92 cents per gallon. So anybody out there  who remembers buying gas in gallons and can tell   me what that basically kind of time frame this  would be from, I'm going to assume in gallons   it's going to be the early to mid-70s. 92 cents  a gallon, not sure when that would have been,  

but it must have been right at the end of  the gallon era before we converted to liters.   Next shot here is another documentation shot  of a grain elevator. As you can tell from   the side here, Corderre, it's a pure Saskatchewan  classic wooden grain elevator. John Deere tractor,   what more do you want? Uh, this was on Main  Street in Coderre. The building on the left   is obviously the main subject of the photo -  an old general store. I've heard from people   that this is long gone, which doesn't surprise me.  There wasn't much left of it when we were there,  

but you can definitely see on the front of  it where it clearly says General Store. Great   building, sad that it's apparently no longer  in existence. This was a shot taken through   the window looking inside - still some of the old  freezers and coolers and things that were inside.  

This one here is really not a great photo  at all, but it kind of captures why I like   ghost towning. I mean, this is just a  tricycle inside an abandoned building,   but when you're exploring abandoned buildings,  you get to put your own story together. Looking   at something like this, I can't help but think  of the child that was given this tricycle. Was   this a Christmas present one year? Is this  something that his or her parents saved up   for months to be able to afford? What memories  were created on this tricycle cycling around   the town and exploring as a young child? Who  did it belong to? There's a whole story there   that no one will ever really know. And when you  explore these places and see these things, you're   free to make up your own stories and take your  personal experiences and implant them into the   objects that remain. So, you know that tricycle  was some child's world most likely, and kind of,   you know, it's kind of sad. It deserves  a better fate than what it was left to.  

Another one here, obviously taken 14 kilometers  from Shamrock. This is very typical of the back   roads in Saskatchewan. This is actually  a Saskatchewan highway in a lot of cases.   I kind of just threw this in. I have to laugh  because there was very fresh oil on this road,  

and this was 2007. I think I sold that truck  in 2012 or 2013, so five or six years later I   still had the oil from this road embedded on  the wheel wells of my truck when I sold it.   So I just included it there because it's  very Southern Saskatchewan in a nutshell.  

Another old truck. We're getting to the end  here but another old truck. I captured this one,   or included this one, again horribly exposed --  the sky is completely overexposed but I threw   this in mainly for our American viewers because my  understanding is that Mercury pickup trucks were   a very Canadian phenomenon and that you really  didn't see Mercury trucks in the U.S. You know,   great patina on this one. This one here --  I mean, the glass is intact, this would be   would be -- I say, I mean this is, you know, 15  years ago I took this photo but this truck as it   sits there would be a great project for somebody.  Here's my neighbor Don again, this is on our way   home from Ghost Town Convention. So this is after  Ghost Town Convention had wrapped up and we had  

said goodbye to everybody else. Don was traveling  with us. We stopped here, this was I believe his   grandparents homestead in Saskatchewan so  that he wanted to stop and see. This was   near Braddock on our way home he wanted to stop  and see where his grandparents farm was -- or   what was left of it. And this was the remains of  their home and that stone wall that you see there  

I, you know, if I remember correctly, what Don  was telling us at the time is that, you know,   he helped his grandparents build that wall when  he was a very young child. So there's another   shot of the stone wall and Don kind of looking  at the remnants of his grandparents place. And, yeah, that's kind of gonna wrap it up. I  think, you know, I think we owe Mike Stobbs a   huge debt of gratitude for coming up with the  idea, for organizing it, making it happen,   going out getting permission for us to visit  these places and bringing together a group   of individuals who otherwise probably never  would have met each other. It would be at one  

of the future ghost town conventions that  I would actually meet Emily so, you know,   it literally was a life-changing experience for me  down the road. I'm not sure what else I can say.   Like I said, I owe Mike a great debt of gratitude  for setting this up. A lot of the people who were   on that very first Ghost Town Convention -- I  think there were 10 of us in total -- you know,   a lot of us are still in contact today. Much  easier now with social media and things than   it was back in the day just communicating through  forums and things but absolutely great experience.  

Mike would run the Saskatchewan Ghost Town  Convention for 10 years so we had our last one in   2016. I made it to nine of the ten that were held.  Other people started the Alberta one that kind of   took off and ran for a while until COVID hit.  My friend Matt Tolton runs one in Manitoba that   we haven't been able to get out to see because  working in the business we do where summers are   busy season it's kind of hard for us to take, you  know, at least a couple days to drive to Manitoba,   two days to do the event, two days to come  back, one day to recover…kind of hard to take   a week off in the summer so we haven't done  Manitoba yet but we really hope to one day.   So, anyway, thank you so much for watching. I  don't know if I said this in the last video but   we broke the 1000 subscriber mark thank you so  much to the 1000 -- 1024 now, I think -- that   are subscribed. We really appreciate your  support and we'll see you in the next video.

2023-03-22 09:11

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