A Dying Breed: Ontario’s Forgotten Abandoned Houses
In the year 2001 the population in the small town of Milton, Ontario was just over 31,000 people — making this an ideal small town in the province to raise a family.
Now, in 2016 the estimated population in Milton is well over 100,000 with projections of 228,000 by 2031. Milton is a town surrounded by farmers fields and the Niagara Escarpment and divided by the 401 highway. This small town that is west of Mississauga, north of Burlington and Oakville and not too far from Toronto and right on the 401 quickly became the ideal place to start a family with an easy commute to work. Now as you travel between Oakville or Burlington into Milton it’s hard to notice where one city ends and the next one begins.
Milton is just one of many Ontario cities that are building homes all over what were once vast fields and family farms. As developers purchase land and as builders wait for the permits and for the lots to sell, what’s left behind are the houses that used to run those farms. Farms where the kids learned the importance of a hard days work, where the farmers made a living on blood and sweat and hard work and a place where city dwellers could escape for a long country drive with the family.
In a 2015 Toronto Star article titled Ontario farmland under threat as demand for housing grows we learn of a farmer named Don Howard who is a fifth generation farmer north of Newmarket. Nine years ago Don’s mother sold their land to a developer and Don now pays that developer rent to live and work on his own family farm — but he is living there on borrowed time. The article states that developers are “…banking that urban sprawl will soon find a new home among the York Region towns and hamlets that form an island, slated for development, right in the heart of Ontario’s 10-year-old protected Greenbelt zone.”
There are surely many more “Don Howard’s” out there in his same situation, I have personally had conversations with a handful of men who are living on land now owned by developers, their family homestead left abandoned and derelict, waiting for the eventual development of more modern cookie cutter housing. Farmers living on borrowed time in homes that have been there for generations, homes with charm, character and hours upon hours of stories from the many years.
These old and derelict houses are what curious explorers and photographers like myself and many others seek to document and photograph before the urban sprawl takes over.
We still have back roads and we still have lots of open countryside but take a drive anywhere in Ontario and head down any of those country roads and it won’t be long until you start noticing all of the abandoned and forgotten houses that are scattered all over the province.
Some of them are visible in plain sight, some of them are hidden behind years of bushes, trees and overgrowth and some are down long driveways and well hidden in what was once a farmers field.
Shattered windows with curtains flowing in the breeze, screen doors open and barely hanging on, crumbling roofs and siding hanging on by a screw. Old rusty farm equipment left in the fields, barns with fallen roofs, left to become an eventual heap of wood that will end up being the “authentic barn-board kitchen table” sold for $2,000 at Pier 1.
I have written about the abandoned houses of Ontario many times from 25 Abandoned Houses From Across Ontario to Abandoned Buildings Are Full of Lives Left Behind and Here’s What I Found While Taking Photos of Abandoned Homes.
Now, for the next in my ongoing series of documenting the many abandoned houses left behind all across Ontario, here is a brand new selection of the derelict and abandoned houses I’ve visited and photographed in my travels around the province.
Thank you for taking the time to read, I look forward to your thoughts and feedback in the comments section below.