2.01.2008

UrbEx Time Machine

When exploring, I, like many other urban explorers I have talked to, love to imagine what the abandonment may have looked like 'back in the day'. This is not saying I wish to be part of those times at all. I am saying that it would be thrilling to view that location through a type of 'temporal looking glass' to distantly witness the bustle of lively activity.

One such place which has been completely erased from this physical plane and only does exist in the past is the former Prisoner-of-War facility just a short drive north of Barrie, Ontario. Although it was not always an internment facility . . .

Near Gravenhurst, the Minnewaska Resort was built in 1897. This establishment catered to the well-to-do of Toronto, seeking vacation at the time when the lakes of Muskoka were plied by a small fleet of regal steamers. The Minnewaska closed its doors and was promptly seceded by the Calydor Sanatorium to deal with the devastating tuberculosis disease. Where the Muskoka Sanitorium accepted people from all walks of life, the Calydor, located only a short distance away, was private.

With the introduction of antibiotics, the prognostics for a
tuberculosis patient was good and the hospitalisation time greatly reduced. With the outbreak of World War Two, the need for confinement facilities for prisoners of war brought a new use for the buildings and the premises. With the Calydor already in decline, the government took over management, rapidly converted the buildings and grounds and accepted the first prisoners in 1940. At anytime, the new 'Camp 20' held around 500 prisoners which were guarded by veterans of the previous war and other younger Canadian soldiers.








(L) German Prisoners being marched from the Gravenhurst train station to the camp.
(R) German Officers posing for a photograph at the prison camp.

With the war won, Camp 20 closed in 1946, but not for long. The Gateway Hotel opened up for business in 1949. Ironically, this kosher hotel catered to Jewish vacationers from Toronto. This hotel closed in 1967 and the location became a camp for youth but was soon destroyed by fire.

The grounds are now deserted, located on the edge of the residential area of Gravenhurst there is nothing there but some old concrete footings to mark the location. There is a rumour that after the fire, some of the damaged structures were bulldozed into the lake and may still be viewed by recreational divers.


Another location which needs very little imagination (and no 'temporal looking glass') to step into the past is this Mill . . .

Can you identify this place ?











Some more hints . . . If you grew up near the Greater Toronto Area, you may very have visited it on a school field trip . . .












If you guessed, the Blackcreek Pioneer Village, you would be correct.

It is recommended that you pop by Roblin's Mill at Blackcreek Pioneer Village, if you are an Urban Explorer who enjoys poking around old mills. This one has been restored very nicely and you just might learn what the heck that broken thing-a-ma-jig is you were photographing at your favourite abandoned mill.

Happy & Safe Exploring Everyone !

4 comments:

Alex said...

Damn, that's pretty cool!

Kosher Resorts said...

Many explorers of abandonments find the decay of uninhabited spaces to be beautiful; many of these explorers are also photographers. Some abandonments are heavily guarded with motion sensors and active security. Others are more easily accessible and carry less risk of discovery. Abandonments are also popular among history buffs, 'industrial archeologists,' 'ghost hunters' and fans of graffiti.

Anonymous said...

Your missing out on alot of amazing abadoned building still standing in Muskoka. Your an UE, so grab your camera and head north. Need some pointers of some places to exlore? Just off the highway there are 2 abandoned houses with easy access points. The first is located next to algonquin automotive and across from scandura right off HWY 11 heading into Bracebridge. It was occupied by a family for the last 22 years at the least. The dad committed suicide and the family moved out. It is still in decent shape but will soon decay. The other is on Muskoka Beach road just past this other house. It is located across from the Habitat for Humanity re-store and is quite the exploration spot. So many vandals have made their way into this house, but it is still worth the visit. I have only heard interesting stories from explorations of this building. EXPLORE ALREADY!

Neil Koven said...

I worked there as a busboy and then promoted to a bellhop (going from $10/wk to $7.50) back in 1960 when I was 17. It was an interesting summer and I have tales to tell--some good and some bad.