Oro Rural-Ex

aka - The 'Crime-Scene' House

The Township of Oro-Medonte is located just a titch north and east of Barrie and has previously offered up a number of decent abandonments worthy of exploration. This lovely abandoned farmhouse provided decent photographic opportunities and a good number of personal effects left behind by the last denizens.

Those who have had the pleasure of exploring with us know we deeply respect each property we visit and the privacy of the owners. Shown here is our very own JuicyFruitKisses knocking of the (boarded-up) door to ask permission to photograph . . . no owner could be found.

We checked the washroom (read: outhouse), out back and still could not find anyone. Personally, I rather like outhouses . . . you might say I have a 'leaning' for these comfortable commodes.

Speaking of commodes, I am starting to feel that this post is developing a theme . . . perhaps even its own movement. According to a recent survey, this model 245 PortaPottie beat the competition checks down. A poke with a prudently long stick produced a sloshing sound . . . we're hoping its rain-water.

Moving along - we discovered the remnants of a vintage television in the field behind the house. I could not find the remote control so had to 'manually' switch channels using a "dial". I kept getting the same program where this crazy red-head is jeering at me.

As we continued our reconnoiter out back, we also discover that the previous occupant may have been a fancier of outdoor motorised winter sports. We suspect this hobby had a short life . . . from 1969 to 1971.
We found covers for a 1969 Moto-Ski as well as a 1971 Ski-Doo Nordic, shown below with the garish product brochures from the day.

We probed the remnants of the barn which also contained a limited number of items (including another toilet). Observing that the structural integrity was questionable, we left . . . we were sort of 'tired' of this anyway.

On the way back up to the house, I ate a bit more on my memory card with these two shots. I realised two things as I took these . . . (1) no farmhouse is complete without a rusty wheel-barrow parked in the middle of a field and . . (2) I was taking a lot of black and white images.

It is now the part of the post where I explain the alternative title - Oro 'Crime Scene House'. JFK spotted this in the middle of the overgrown track just behind the house.

That's right, several yards of OPP crime scene tape and a 12-gauge casing. If any readers or members of the local constabulary know what may have gone down here on the 7th Line, please let us know.

Near the back door was this relic from another time . . . a time when smiling uniformed milk delivery staff would provide dairy goodness in these metal cases. Don't get too reminiscent, this was also a time of manual channel changing.

Evidence found inside the house from periodicals and fashion faux-pas indicate that the domicile was last inhabited in 1995. We also learned that the previous owners enjoyed vodka and Dobel (a product of a Mexican mistake between tequila and kahlua).

This house was constructed in a day where electric base-board heaters was just a wet-dream of your local utility. We see here the stove flue piping its way up through the upstairs bedroom and then outside.

Attached to the bedroom upstairs was this room featuring a funky tile design and this lovely old-skool hi-fi stereo console. Unfortunately it appeared that a raccoon used the console to dump in . . . repeatedly.


UrbEx Potpourri

A brief word on urban exploration 'scouting'.
It's not too unlike the months or years of academic or scientific research with the potential of a big discovery at the end of this drudgery.

Left- An abandoned development gone bust in Innisfil.

I personally do not relish the hours of on-line research, scanning newspapers and driving across God's creation of Central Ontario to find a potentially good location to explore.

Following are a number of places I had visited over the course of the last three days. Some locations were simply stumbled upon,
some are the labours of the aforementioned research, and others are old haunts of mine I had just dropped by to update myself. Hence the title of this post 'UrbEx Potpourri'.
Be advised that, like an experienced building hacker, not all my visits are provided here as any attention may put at risk any future exploration.

Base Edgar

We were informed by our associate neX that there may be film crews at the abandoned radar base, possibly filming episodes of Canada's Worst Driver. A discreet inquiry to a communications official with CTV confirmed that filming was indeed in progress and expected to wrap up by the week's end.

At the time of our visit, the base was absolutely crawling with film crew and site security. They had even patched up some of our favourite holes in the fence. The risk-to-reward ratio was not worth venturing in further to discover who may had been selected 'worst driver'.

Some odd barriers the set builders constructed at the maintenance yard
and a purple bus (? wtf ?).

African Methodist Episcopal Church - Oro
A Canadian National Historic Site

From the plaque
Built in 1849, this church is the last vestige of one of the oldest African-Canadian settlements in Upper Canada. Here at Oro, former members of the Loyalist militia from the War of 1812 established the only Black community sponsored by the government. Free Blacks from the northern United States later joined them. Located in the heart of a strategic and vulnerable region, the community guarded against an American invasion via Georgian Bay. This church is a testament to the contribution of African Canadians to the settlement and defence of Canada in the 19th century.

Between 1830 and 1850 some 24 Negro families who had fled from slavery in the United States to freedom in Canada were settled in Oro Township mostly on the concession running north of Shanty Bay, known back in the day as Wilberforce Street. In 1849, they acquired this piece of land for a burying ground and built this Church. Several of these first settlers were soldiers of Captain Runchey's "Company of Coloured Men" who fought the Americans in the War of 1812. The next wave of settlers were freemen from the Northern U.S.

Left - A late 1940's photograph of the Church.
Top Right - Davey Thompson, a grandson of one of the first settlers, and his brother . . .

Right - James Dixon Thompson, the last descendant of the original settlers still living in the area. He died at Barrie's Royal Victoria Hospital on Sunday December 18th, 1949 at the age of 72.

Typically, this church is closed to all but by appointment only but on my drive by, I was fortunate enough to find a care-taker showing a couple through.

The Church suffered neglect due to the lack of funds to keep it repaired. It had also sustained heavy damage due to vandalism (in the early 1960's), and damage due to a vehicular accident in 2004.

Also, someone had broke in and stolen several pews. More recently, a$$-hat geo-cache nuts are using the site and have disturbed the grave-yard with some digging.

Oro-Medonte Abandoned House

I am not a particularly big fan of abandoned houses unless they are older structures or still have an inventory of personal effects left by its previous occupants.

This house had neither.

The house was fairly sterile and appeared not to have had anyone except for some local idiot vandals in. A washer, toilet and old big-a$$ television in the garage was not even worth the bother of a shot.

Abandoned Innisfil Dream

From the road, you see a gate, rusty chain and lock and boarded up gatehouse . . . very intriguing. The boulevard is choked with weeds and vines climb the street light standards. All I need now to complete this UrbEx dream is a 'No Trespassing' sign . . wait . . there it is. Lovely.

This is one of those 'stumbled upon' finds located near cottage central in Innisfil Township by Lake Simcoe. Apparently a planned subdivision but only a model house and short street is all that was constructed before the project went bust.

The local a$$-clown vandals went straight to town on this one. There was not one sheet on intact drywall left inside.

Very sad.

Anywho, as mentioned before, scouting can be fairly boring but I would not say unproductive. From the trips on these three separate days, I have at least three hot leads on what may be the next big urbex ticket. If successful, I will have these posted in the next few weeks.

Also - more newsworthy than UrbEx, one of the older buildings in downtown burned down in Barrie Sunday afternoon.

These two images from Simcoe.com showing emergency personnel and equipment responding.

Barrie Fire & Emergency Services responded to a large fire Sunday afternoon around 1:30 p.m. to 67 Dunlop Street West, formerly Pharaoh's Pita but now home to Earth and Sky Connection, a spirutual medicine shoppe, owned by Tamare White-Wolf and two other businesses. Above the stores were approximately a dozen apartments leaving the tennants homeless. The adjacent Imperial Cinemas evacuated movie-goers as a precaution during the fire.

A man was watching efforts to put out the fire from a lawn chair on a nearby rooftop. To police officers, he was a bit too close to the fire for their liking, but refused their requests to get off the roof. Officers arrested him for public intoxication, and released him when he was sober.

Five fire trucks, 30 firefighters, several police cruisers and paramedics responded. Although there were no injuries, the building was lost. Springwater Township and Innisfil fire departments provided coverage at Barrie fire stations while firefighters were still on scene late Sunday night.

The last major fire to occur in downtownBarrie was the blaze which destroyed the Sam the Record Man Store at Five Points in January of 1994. Hopes, prayers, and best wishes to Tamare White-Wolf, the other business owners and former tenants for a rapid recovery and return to normalcy.


Molson Brewery 3

This is the third exploration into the former Molson brewery in Barrie.
For the first two adventures, look here and here.

From Left to Right in the Pipe Gallery -
CrossFire, JFK and yours truly.
UrbEx Barrie's very own JuicyFruitKisses and our good friend CrossFire from UEKW were in attendance today, both of whom had expressed a deep desire to explore the brewery. Having already put two explorations through a limited portion of the facility, one may suggest that perhaps I start an Urban Exploration adventure tour company.

I have already thought of that but could not think of a creative way to describe the nature of my illegal trespassing business within the business license application. Anyway, its always a pleasure to socially interact with other explorers , pick up on useful tips and perhaps find something very interesting overlooked previously.

Here, JFK, like a ghostly apparition, flows down the hallway to the boiler room.

Portions of the facility not previously explored that were covered today included the barley storage silos and the dimly-lit basement housing various process equipment.

JFK hamming it up for the camera.
Apparently there may a 'un-natural' gas hazard present in this room.

I am always fascinated by gauges, levers, pulleys, and dials at an industrial abandonment. I visually attempt to recreate the manufacturing processes by following the process piping and studying any labels still attached to equipment.

I could not determine what this lever did but if I were the process engineer, I would have it spring a trap door in the lobby.

From the boiler room area, stairs led down into an absolute blackness. This is the moment where I remember that I wanted to pick up an LED flashlight and chuck my little mag-lite out. Fully descended, we discover that the basement is basked an eerie glow from fluorescent tube lighting in. This room has not seen anyone from the maintenance department for quite some time.

Highlights of this exploration for Crossfire and JuicyFruitKisses were definitely discovering evidence of the former marijuana grow operation. Watering and fertilizing schedules were scrawled on the converted brew vats.

Not the best shot to say the least but my only one showing our exploration of the barley silos. There are three rows of four silos, all connected via passageways to allow access to the drain valving. As the thick walls provide structural support for the silos above, the doorways resembled those on a battle ship or submarine. Very nautical, without the smell of seamen.

In this large room is where I imagine where the bottling equipment may have been installed. All has now been removed by the contractors working on decommissioning the facility and preparing for the ethanol operation.
With no handrails, aggressive pigeons, open holes and a good drop from this second floor catwalk, this is no place for a complacent explorer.

One could almost hear the equipment rust in the boiler room here. Again, my interest is captured by the valves, pulleys and chains.

It is my wish that one of these days, I find an operational pneumatic tube system in a building to send rotten eggs to an unsuspecting explorer in the next room.

Reception on this old television was quite terrible . . . curious. There are quite a few TVs of all sorts, sizes and ages in these two or three adjoining rooms.

As I mentioned, this is my third trip to the brewery. You may have noticed that we have already posted shots very similar to these previously. I just can't help myself, I had to take another set.

A lonely bus seat near the boiler room, removed from its vehicle still parked in the bay.
Another shot of the 'pipe gallery' in the boiler room.