Base Edgar Rainy Day

This is probably the fourth trip out to the old Base. We had not specific objective today other than to shoot a short 2.45 minute video (posted to Google and YouTube) . . . Unfortunately the heavens opened up and drenched us.

A brief note on the origin and history of the Base.
Built as a radar station for the Canadian military in 1952 as part of the 'Pine Tree Line', this base closed in 1964. Approximately 170 military personnel served here. With their families living in the Private Married Quarters (PMQ's) on site, the total population (at it's height) equaled approximately 350 people and had all the trappings of a small town such as recreation centre, firehall, store, school, and church.

It was sold to the Province of Ontario in 1964 and operated as the Edgar Regional Centre or Adult Occupational Centre under the Ministry of Community and Social Services. The Ministry maintained the site for the mentally hanicapped until it closed under the Mike Harris regime in 1996.

For more images and stories, check our other posts here, here and here.

Due to the heavy rain, we skulked predominantly inside the Oakwood residence and were rather hesitant about venturing further into the base's other abandoned structures . . . because we're made of sugar.

Here's what we looked at today.

Most likely the most 'un-abandoned-looking' room at the Oakwood Residence. This former laundry room looks just as good (and as clean) as some apartment laundry rooms I have used previously.
Except for the blown-apart door and blank round casings left by SWAT tactical training exercise, nothing out of the ordinary here.

I will guess that this room, and the one adjacent to it was mission control for the mentally-handicapped patients at the Oakwood. Since there is an isolation room (think rubber room) at the end of the hall, I will further guess that the CCTV played some crazy programs during prime time.

I for one never seem to tire of looking at peelers . . . not that kind of peeler you sicko - the peeling wall paint common to most abandonments. My favourite type of peeler would most certainly include those with several layers producing a chaotic cacophony of colours.

Speaking of peels, I rather liked this wall here. A lovely mocha colour on salmon puke. Some lighter elements of white, and baby-blue accentuate the plywood boarding.
What insanity drove them to paint the electric heaters with a standard latex is beyond me.

The rain did lighten up enough for us to tear off to the vocational trades building. During a previous urban exploration meet here, I did not get a chance to properly shoot this interesting metal catwalk which leads from the second floor of the building.

Perhaps my next trip will not be marred by an untimely downpour.
Remember kids wear your rubbers so yer socks don't get wet.


Molson Brewery 2

Molson Brewery Exploration - Part 2 (Mol-Ex Deux)

The second trip to the brewery re-visited some areas of interest and covered a lot of new ground. Also, we have our second video posted to Google and YouTube which compresses a four hour exploration into approximately four and a half minutes.

If you have a slower connection, take a break and let it load up . . . it's worth it.

In this exploration, we are joined by Jef (aka T2WT) formerly of the Hammer, now re-located more locally to UrbEx Barrie's area of operation.

This is the first time we have explored with Jef.
As we discovered, he loves heights and roof-tops.

Speaking of roof-tops, I was mildly surprised to be able to see almost the entire length of Kempenfelt Bay out to Shanty Bay from this vantage point on top of the silos.

This is the covered walkway on top of the silos from where the previous image was taken. I was not surprised that birds have found their way into most of the areas but was taken aback to find raccoon cr@p up this high . . . I'm thinking either climbing gear or a new breed with opposable digits.

It would have been a lot easier to have taken the elevator but Rustblade's story (fire department rescue) stands as a warning beacon to other Urban Explorers hoping to take an easier way up.
Here, is the elevator motor looking in fairly good shape.

I toured Jef through the brew-house. It's unfortunate that we were not afforded the opportunity to see this space with the massive copper kettles still in place.

This is an image taken in the mechanical penthouse at the very top of the brew house.
Although the removal of the stairs here may provide a degree of distress to those suffering from vertigo, it does provide an unobstructed view 6 floors down.

A large number of explorers I know go ape-$hit over dials, gauges, buttons, control-boards and switches.
This location is chocked-full of money-$hots like this for those 'gauge-ophiles'.

The ground floor, presumably where the bottling line was once located, has been completely gutted by the contractors.
Here, Jef makes his way up the stairs for more interesting UrbEx fare.

In one of the mechanical rooms upstairs is this odd-looking piece of equipment, possibly used in the transfer of barley grain.
If you are a former Molson employee or perhaps someone with brewery knowledge, please leave a comment and let us know.

We now arrive to the infamous area of the facility. Here are some of the old beer vats which were converted into incubators for marijuana seedlings. These were highly efficient as both temperature and humidity could be precisely controlled.
Dirt and irrigation tubes were still on site. We also found a lot of stalks and pot-dust in the drying room.

This image will be filed in the WTF folder.
A mural on the back of this door shows a chilling creature from Dr. Seuss climbing through a window into your nightmare.

Remember kids, UrbEx Barrie is taking only photos and leaving only footprints even if there was more pot debris laying around.


Molson Brewery 1

Molson Brewery Exploration - Part 1

My very first urban exploration video now posted to Google Video and YouTube. Your comments and constructive criticisms are most welcome.

This scout had turned into a brief sortie into the facility. Perhaps as a result of my previous experience at Naples Pizza location, I had decided to take immediate advantage of this newly discovered point-of-entry.

This wall mural is visible from Highway 400 from the second windowed floor.
Given some of the graffiti placed on walls and doors by the former employees during the plant's last days, I'm surprised no-one touched this.

The grain silos are full of . . . absolutely nothing!
Once properly retro-fitted, these silos may make a suitable location for ballistic missiles.

The retro-fit by the new Ethanol company seems to have slowed or even halted. This school bus seat had been set up just inside the rear roll-up doors offering the contractors a makeshift break area.

Several areas of the facility has had large sections of roofing and walls removed, presumably by the contractors for removing larger pieces of equipment no longer required. Squadrons of pigeons now roost within the facility . . . UrbEx tip - Explorers, wear appropriate head ware.

Most likely left by a former brewery employee in their locker, this foot-loose shoe had made it halfway up this flight of stairs.
It's 'sole-mate' was not located in the general vicinity.

Adjacent to these tanks and vats is a large pit, which once held one of several massive copper brewing vessels. Now for something completely different - the cost to manufacture a copper penny is 0.8 cents, but due to its valuable copper content, the penny actual is actually worth closer to 2 cents.

Due to this facility's massive size and kilometers of hallways, stairs, and catwalks, I suggest that Explorers take time to ensure they do not get lost or disorientated. It would be a poor idea to leave a trail of bread crumbs (see above pigeon reference).

That's the post for now. Be sure to check back soon to see more exciting material from my Molson Park explorations.


The Molson brewery in Barrie closed down in 2000, throwing more than 300 employess out of work. The facility sat idle and eventually leased out sections of the former brewery to several tennants, some who really wanted to 'grow' their business.

Acting on a tip and surveillance, more than 100 police officers raided the facility and found one of Canada's largest marijuana grow operations -- with kilometres of irrigation piping and 1,000 hydroponic lights covering an area the size of a football field. This facility, in plain view of the busy Highway 400, held tens of thousands of marijuana plants with a street value of tens of millions of dollars.

There were millions invested alone in just the equipment and is thought to have been the largest and most sophisticated marijuana factory in Canada.It took the Police two days to clear the building, and then sevearl weeks to conduct forensic work.

Northern Ethanol is planning a major retro-fit of the facility to meet the demand of regulated ethanol content in vehicle fuel in Ontario. The project is currently experiencing delays due to the several issues including cold feet by the new mayor and concerns from local residents. There may not be much longer to explore the facility before the new owner moves in.


Naples Pizza

The Danger of Waiting too Long . . .

Most cautious Urban Explorers like to scout out a place first before even thinking about attempting to gain entry. This allows a bit of site research to evaluate the risk-to-reward ratio. Sometimes however, being too cautious will leave you empty-handed. Take this recent scouting trip downtown to Naples Pizza.

My days and weekends generally do not take me downtown. I first noticed that this building was unoccupied about two months ago. This was rather obvious because of the hoarding on the front doors and the upstairs windows open allowing the foul weather in. To follow-up, I then visited again with camera in hand a month ago.

I reviewed the images I took that day for possible points-of-entry into the building. I looked for sales signs or any other postings. I did not see any which may mean either renovation or demolition, both of which could deny an enjoyable exploration. The business number had been re-assigned and the current owner was not obvious.

On a third trip about two weeks ago, I checked out traffic flows in front of the building and noted business hours of adjacent businesses and tried to get an understanding of the daily routine of residential neighbours. I took a stroll by the building with a ‘mis-delivered’ courier envelope and tried ground-level doors. The back stairs looked completely unsound and ready to collapse without warning.

It was during the third trip that I had decided that the best way in was to follow the pigeons through a second floor window using the roof of the adjacent business. Since I already had their hours of operation, I knew when best to go.

I did not like this sort of entry because the adjacent buildings were higher and would leave me exposed. This then dictated a night entry which brought about a whole new set of issues. Climbing into a window into a very dark room does not allow a thorough assessment of the integrity of the floor. One might also knock something over in the room and break it . . . certainly not what I’m attempting to aspire to with regards to my motto of ‘Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints’.

With my night of exploration planned during a week-night (there is a busy bar across the road doing brisk weekend business), I swung by one last time during the day. To my horror, a demolition crew had already started on the building and had the back-half already down.

I immediately drove around to an elevated parking garage behind the building which afforded a good view of the damage already done. Within the rubble and the on the now-exposed second floor, I was able to see furniture and other personal effects left behind by the former occupants.

Even though all these items were eventually going to the landfill, I missed a golden opportunity to digitally document the lives lived within those walls. What a loss.

The building was completely demolished by day’s end. My advice, be cautious but don’t take your time about it.