Weathered grey and surrounded by long grasses, pieces of history lay abandoned. All over Canada on the back roads, far from town, these relics of a time gone by are left to the elements in farmer’s fields, forgotten forests and in spots many describe as the middle of nowhere, to wither away and die alone. These houses come in many forms; sometimes the roof has caved in or the walls have collapsed and it lays in ruins. Others may be in various states of deterioration and every once in a while there is a rare find: a house that is still standing. Albeit a mere shadow of what it once was, the house stands tall and beckons me to visit.
There are many people who say that abandoned houses are creepy and haunted as they are often used as the sets in horror movies and ghost stories. I’ll admit that there have been times when I’ve gotten an eerie feeling when I’m nearing a house and left feeling spooked. That’s rare though, most of the time I think they are fascinating, especially when the houses still hold signs of life, something that gives me a sign that a person was once living here. I like old places and while any of the abandoned houses are interesting to investigate I most like houses that tell a story. I like them because you can almost feel the history behind it.
The signs of life don’t have to be big; it’s most often the little things that catch my eye. When I see a section of wall paper or paint still clinging to the wall, I can’t help but wonder about the people that chose it. The colorful linoleum in the kitchen must have been carefully selected by someone who wanted a bright floor and the window in the living room, the only one on the house painted red, must have a story too. Someone took the time to paint it for a reason. On the front porch, beside the door sits a chair, it’s material and stuffing gone; a metal skeleton where a young girl once shelled peas or a farmer, after a long day in the fields, put up his feet to watch the sunset. As I walk around the land I look for other signs of farm life: a well, a piece of equipment, another building. I try to envision what it was like to be coming home to this house because at one time there were people who were walking up the path, tired from a day’s work or in the driveway, full of happiness to be home.
My grandparents had a farm and walking through these abandoned acreages and old houses can stir up memories. Maybe that’s why I see something different in the houses and the land that surrounds them. Maybe that’s why I feel some kind of emotional attachment to these long forgotten castles, filled with peeling linoleum and faded wall paper.
Tonight, as I walk back to the road, the evening sun is beginning to cast shadows. The prairie dogs, sitting up to get a better look at me, call out to each other, and then scurry away. The wind is whispering through the golden prairie grasses and it’s getting cold. I turn away from the old chicken coop and the barn. I walk up passed what’s left of the well, the sleigh that has grass growing over it and back passed the house, to my jeep. I turn once again to look at the old house. Instead of seeing a building that is slowly falling down I am seeing a home where a family grew up, children played and farmers watched their crops grow. I am seeing that this abandoned house was once a home. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.
To see more photos of abandoned houses please go to my Facebook Page.