When one thinks of ghost towns, one usually envisions a series of abandonments associated with some goldrush in the dusty south-west. In Ontario, there are just as many 'ghost towns' as there are in the wild west. Due to the sometimes harsh environment and construction materials, these places exist only very rarely.

A ghost town, simply put is a town that has been abandoned, usually because the economic engine that sustained its population had failed. Other reasons may include some type of natural or human-caused catastrophe. In Simcoe County in Ontario, the 'gold' was found growing as far as the eye could see.

In the primeval woods, 45-metre (150 foot) white pines were common and some soared to 60 metres (200 feet). Today, over a hundred years after white Europeans left thousands of acres of stumps, it can be difficult to find a white pine over 30 metres (100 feet) and remnant old-growth white pine stands are few and far between.

In 1879 Joseph Budd erected a sawmill and small "village" to house his workers on this site. This small hamlet was known as Josephine, in Vespra Township named for his daughter. Joseph Budd was the last of the great lumbermen who cut the great primeval white pine forests around the Simcoe County area. Josephine was positioned well on the sprawling perimeter of the Minesing swamp where the dominant species were cedar, alder, black ash, soft maple, spruce, popular, and white birch.

For years, Josephine was a "flag stop" on the North Simcoe Railway, for passengers travelling to and from Allandale. This branch line serviced the junction at Colwell and terminated at Penetanguishene and would stop, 'on flag' at Josephine on Saturday's only. At the mill, many carloads of lumber were sawn for the farmers, when barn raisings were popular.

The Post Office opened in 1884 with Joseph Budd as the first and last postmaster. The same building housing the Post Office also served as a school (with Ms. McQuay as Teacher) and a Methodist church. A fire swept through Josephine in 1885 and destroyed almost everything but was quickly rebuilt. After all the larger trees were sawn, the mill still was able to operate but in a lesser capacity and produced shingles and staves as late as 1914.

Buildings / Structures of Interest:

At the site, you will see some remains of the worker's housing, Joseph's house, and some other ruins, including a unique stucco outhouse.

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