Ghost Towns of Ontario, Volume 2
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
Janet Arnett is the former campus manager of adult education at Ontario’s Georgian College. She is the author of Antiques and Collectibles: Starting Small, The Grange at Knock, and 673 Ways to Save Money.
Empathy for his subject is the outstanding characteristic of this work. To read it is to know that Brown is fascinated by Ontario’s past and thoroughly enjoys exploring the relies of now-abandoned settlements. This is his second volume on the subject. Like the first, it is rich in anecdotes and local color, maps, and photos.
The first volume surveyed ghost towns in the southern part of the province; the present volume starts in the south, covering ten sites not included in volume one. For the bulk of the book, however, Brown moves north through “cottage country” and into the territory around Sudbury, Timmins, Thunder Bay, Geraldton, and Kenora. Here the pioneer period was harder, more rough-and-ready, more picturesque — and more recent. The boom-and-bust nature of mining produced a proliferation of abandoned villages. Brown introduces us to these and to a good assortment of derelict fishing stations, deserted lumber camps, and towns left behind by a shift in rail traffic.
The author uses the state of these fascinating ghost towns to underline weaknesses in Ontario’s heritage legislation. Rather than preserve and restore, too often the policy is to bulldoze historic buildings or simply abandon them to vandals and the weather.
Photographing ghost towns is a prime interest for Brown, and his descriptions of the sites frequently include a mention of photographic possibilities. Historic photos are often teamed with his own work to give a “then and now” view of a ghost town.
He covers 50 sites in this volume, adding substantially to the 100 or so covered in volume one. The description of each site combines present-day and historic information in a highly readable manner. It’s a book for those on outings, but also for armchair historians.