Touring Ghost Towns and Abandoned Places in Saskatchewan (Episode 224)
Hello everyone and welcome back to the DanOCan YouTube channel. Yes I am back in the basement here at DanOCan headquarters and we're gonna do another Look Back video, this time at Ghost Town Convention 2008. This was the second Ghost Town Convention that was ever held and if you want to learn the history of it and you haven't watched the last video go ahead and do that now and then come on back to this one because this is going to be fun. So I promise you this video will be shorter than the last one. Now, for the last one I had about 300
photos to sift through and I pared those down, by the time I recorded the narration and told the story the video was a full hour long so the video you saw uploaded was a very cut down version. I think I got rid of about half of it and got it down to half an hour. I was a little more meticulous in cutting out pictures this time time because I had over 500 images to sort through and I know a lot of you don't have the time to watch a half hour video, so this one I'm going to go a little more rapid fire -- despite what it seems like so far. Let's get right into it. So, first picture we're looking at here is from the Ardath United Church. Ghost Town 2008 was again organized by Mike Stobbs and was hosted or centered in the town of Ardath, Saskatchewan and the most prominent building in Ardath was this brick United Church. In the last video I talked about how curling rinks are right up there with grain elevators in terms of iconic buildings on the Canadian prairies and here's another one. This is the curling rink in Ardath
and this time instead of doing a crappy detailed photo of a light fixture, I took a bit of a wider shot so you can actually see inside the curling rink. There's what would have been two sheets of ice there and then a central walkway down the middle with those railings. Another view there, kind of looking at the entrance where you would have come out of that door and onto the ice surfaces. This one here I included mainly because I really liked the framing of all the leaves and grass growing around basically forming a natural ring around this truck.
Now this is the Ardath community center and this was really Ghost Town Convention 2008 headquarters. Just to the left of the main door there you can see a long row of narrow windows and apparently that was the town's jail cell at one time. Now, the story went that a fella -- I can't remember if he was a fugitive on the run or if he had gotten lost in a snowstorm -- but either way the police had tracked this fellow down and by the time they found him he was dead and frozen to death in kind of a bent position and they had to bring him back here to the jail cell in Ardath and basically hang him from the ceiling until he thawed out and was straight enough so that then they could bury him. Like I said, I don't know a lot of details, I don't know how true it is or not, but that was the story we were told. We didn't see any ghostly active while we were there
at the Community Hall. Now if anyone's going to be haunting the Community Hall, it's going to be this fella -- and I'm really sorry I forget what his name was, I'm sure Mike Stobbs will chime in in the comments below and let us know because Mike had talked with him and, you know, basically secured and rented the Community Hall from him. But this fella -- here he was probably in his late 80s maybe early 90s at this time in 2008, he's since passed on -- but he was so proud of his community center and of course with wooden sidewalks and the building shifting the door would not swing open clearly without scraping on the wooden sidewalk in front of the building. So this fella went back to his house and got his tool kit out and started hammering and planing away on the sidewalk so that our the door would swing open for us easier. It didn't matter to us that the door kind of got stuck on that sidewalk but he was not going to have it unless it was absolutely perfect, that was just the pride of ownership that he felt in maintaining that Community Hall. So
I took these images because I felt they really captured the spirit and the pride of ownership that he felt about the Ardath Community Hall and, for all I know, we were probably the last group to even rent that hall but he was going to make sure we had nothing but the best experience. So this is a photo from inside the Ardath Community Hall. Very typical of small town community halls -- you have a stage at one end, some long tables, some -- you know -- orange chairs.
And what's really remarkable was this. This is a hand painted curtain up on the stage and I don't know whatever happened to this or if it's still in the Community Hall but, again, that craftsmanship and pride that went into the creation of this of this curtain and painting it. It was a remarkable artifact and I hope it still exists. Another neat thing in Ardath was this. This is actually a bank vault. The bank itself is long since gone but this was the vault that was inside the bank and this is the entrance to it. It was really hard to find this. If Mike hadn't known that this was there you would never find it on your own because you had to wander through the bush and kind of duck under branches and things to get here. And this is what's inside, there was basically an old couch or
part of a couch and a chair that looks like one of the chairs from the Community Hall inside the old bank vault. Very very cool and a neat little feature of Ardath I'm going to assume is still there, mainly because it's made of brick and not many people know about it. I didn't tell you! Moving on to Bounty, Saskatchewan, this is the old Bounty Theater. Now this theater is no longer
there but I am happy to say it has been preserved. A group of people got together and managed to raise enough money to have this moved out of Bounty and it's now located near the museum in Outlook, Saskatchewan. I've heard it is awaiting restoration -- or at least the last information I found online said it was awaiting restoration -- I don't know its current status but it is no longer in Bounty but it still exists. Another look here at the Bounty Theater, trying to get a little artistic here with kind of a little bit more in-depth closer shot a little bit of a Dutch angle there. I really like the old mail boxes in front and that Bounty Theater sign, of course too. This is typical of one of the streets in Bounty. Bounty was, at this time,
not completely uninhabited. The last census information I found said it was dissolved as a village in 1997 and as of 2001 the population was about six people. I don't know what the population was at Bounty at the time we were here but it was one of those places that always kind of had a feeling that was just a little off and I don't know if it's just me, but if you've ever gone to a ghost town that's not completely uninhabited but there's just enough people around to make you feel like you're constantly being watched? That was the feeling Bounty always had for me. Funny enough, six years later Emily and I would be back in Bounty in the winter and I would actually get our Jeep stuck in a deep snow drift and somewhere in the course of digging it out so that we could back out and get out of town my handheld GPS receiver fell out of the vehicle so I lost it. Never did
find it, had to replace it so, you know, Bounty and I have always kind of had a bit of a love-hate relationship. But if you ever found a Garmin Dakota 20 around 2014 in the town of Bounty, let me know I'd like to have it back! This here is another quonset style building, I don't know if this was a curling rink or not, as you can see it was marked "no trespassing" so we didn't really get up close or go inside but I just love the fact that it still had that wooden hand-painted sign on there telling you about the Bounty Fair in July of 1962. Now if you're planning on visiting Bounty today I should warn you that my understanding -- and someone will correct me if I'm wrong -- is that all these lots have now been purchased and basically the entire town site is sort of a no-go zone. I have not been there personally since 2014; I don't know what the situation is there so I just put it out there as a warning and as a heads up if you are visiting Bounty be aware that you may be on private property. I don't know the status of the town at this time. This is an abandoned church at Bounty almost hidden behind the bushes and the trees there but it was sticking out enough that we could get in there and took a couple pictures from the inside. It looked like it was mainly being used for
storage now there was some dentistry equipment on the far left of the screen there you'll see a old x-ray machine, a few vestiges left of its original use as a church, you can see center-left the pulpit is still there, but just the more of a shell than anything. Also in the last video I had talked about how I enjoy looking on concrete sidewalks and trying to find dates written on them. This is an example here where, I believe it was Mike had come along and cleared off this edge of the sidewalk, and you can clearly see PW 1948. So if my math is half decent that would have been 60 years prior to our visit that
someone had put their initials in that concrete still there. Probably still there to this day. Inside one of the abandoned houses in Bounty, this is kind of again where I was trying to get a bit of an artistic flair to some of my photos. I really like this photo this reminds me of the scene in Ghostbusters when Sigourney Weaver is sitting in her chair in her apartment in New York and that glow starts coming from the kitchen and then the arms come out of the chair and grab her and pull her in -- that is what this reminded me of a lot. Moving on to Conquest, Saskatchewan and, of course, you can't start any visit to a Saskatchewan town that has a grain elevator without showing the grain elevator and Conquest is interesting in the sense of it has two of them remaining. I believe they're both still there as of today -- again, this was all taken in 2008.
The service station, Sibbald Motors in Conquest. rRally interesting building. I love the architecture. I don't know if you would call this an art deco style -- I'm not an architect by any stretch of the imagination nor do I play one on YouTube -- but that rounded front of the building really makes this one stand out. Closer look at the door,
I love the way the paint has faded from this one and there's still blotches of red showing through. I just thought it was a really neat looking door and I love the color on this one. Took a couple shots through the window just so you could see what's inside there. So lots of shelving, few little things left kicking around there, both of the front counters.
Another shot through one of the other windows, kind of looking inside...an old stove there, mostly used for storage from what I could tell at that time. Another one here where the photo really is all about the color and the way the rust from the sign has started to drip down the side of the buildings and stain the stucco. I just really -- again, I really like that up close detailed photo with the fading and the colors. Next stop is Laura, Saskatchewan. I'm sad to report this church no longer
exists in any form. In 2008 when we visited it wasn't in the best of shape to begin with. Another look at it here, I mean you can really see the roof on this one has started to sag and you knew it was in trouble. It looks like that scaffolding had been used as some sort of bracing to try and keep the church standing however it was a losing cause and it wouldn't be too long after our visit in 2008 that the main building portion of the church would collapse and all that was left for the longest time is that bell tower that's to the left of the building in this image. The bell tower stood there for quite a while -- it too is now since long gone and the site has been cleaned up so there's really no remnants of this church left in Laura at all. Stuck the camera through the one of the open windows and took a photo of the inside. You could see that the pigeons had pretty much had their way with the inside so there really were no fixtures left from its days as a church but I felt it was important to document the inside of it as best we could without actually going in.
Next photo here, I believe we've moved on to Harris, Saskatchewan -- again, this was pre-geotagging days for me so I don't have exact locations but I believe this was near Harris. I love this photo. I love the old barn, the old out building, the pump in the foreground, the grass waving in the wind. I really wish I had composed it slightly different and not had the pump and the barn overlapping there; I would have rather had those two stand out from each other a little bit more. I mean one of the things to keep in mind on a ghost town convention is -- you know, in 2008 I think there were 12 of us on this -- you're typically moving around in a group and so you have a lot of people around you who are all looking at and taking photos of the same subject matter you are so I maybe didn't frame this one exactly as I wanted, probably because I had people on the left and right of me and there just was no room to shuffle around and you don't want to fall too far behind and get separated from the group so you don't want to wait till everyone else is done so you kind of got to capture what you can while you can. I post this one here as a warning. This was an old cistern or well that had been covered over with wood. A lot of times when you are walking around in abandoned farm yards or places of that nature,
there were wells and cisterns and things. This one was fairly easy to see but they're not always easy to see and it's a very real risk. It was not that long ago, maybe two years, where someone who was out doing abandoned places exploration -- I believe he was in Southeastern Alberta -- actually was out by himself and fell into an old well like this and perished so I mean it's a very real risk.
You always need to be aware of your surroundings and be careful of where you're stepping. Now I'm going to get the name of this town pronounced wrong I have always called it Tessier using the more French pronunciation my understanding is that locals in Saskatchewan call it Tessier so I'm going to try and remember to call it Tessier. This is the grain elevator looking down at the railway tracks in Tessier. And this
photo here I included because it really shows to me the importance of the grain elevators on the Prairie towns. When you look at this photo you can really tell -- yes, the main subject is the school, the old school in front -- but that grain elevator stands out and is visible from every corner of the town. Whenever a grain elevator is demolished the town really loses part of its identity and this photo I think really shows that. I mean, we're on the
opposite side of town here but that grain elevator is still standing there on the horizon and really is just such a beacon and a landmark for the whole surrounding area. Also in the last video, I had talked about the General Store at Hallonquist and that unique architecture with the angled door and the overhang...here is another example of it from Tessier. Still in Harris, looking across the tracks at the museum. The old water tower used to sit right beside the railway tracks, the foundation is still there, the water tower itself has been moved over to the museum and has been restored and actually inside the base of the water tower they have exhibits. The old steam engines always had to be able to replenish their water supply and so these water towers really were the lifeblood of the railway and there's not that many of these old wooden water towers still around so it's really good to see the one in Harris has been saved and preserved. This is the old Harris Hotel. It's still there to this day. I've never actually been inside of it.
What I like about this hotel is it's a little bit of a different style than the other ones we typically see on the Prairies. A lot of the classic Prairie hotels are square boxes and very rectangular in nature...the Harris Hotel with that hip roof style -- I believe that's a hip roof, again not an architect-- really just is...it's very unique and different compared to many of the hotels that stood along the railway tracks in these small towns so it's really nice every time we drive to Saskatoon I always make sure to take a look over and make sure that the Harris Hotel is still there and I also love of course the patina on that sign up on the roof. Good look here at the Harris grain elevator.
This is taken from the north side of the tracks, looking to the south. You can see the caboose and the water tower just poking through on the left side of it there. Moving on to Feudal now. Feudal did not make it into my Best Grain Elevators on the Prairies
video, that was partially an oversight, partially because it's very similar to Bents. Bents did make the video but Feudal is a fantastic elevator. I really love the lighting on this photo and I also love how the old driveway operates like leading lines taking you right into the image.
I'm really happy with this image even though it was only shot with an old Canon Powershot S3IS. inside the Feudal grain elevator, here's an old price list for barley dated from 1963. I just included it because I thought it was kind of interesting to see an artifact from the 60s still inside the elevator. Feudal grain elevator is still there it still exists, we were just there a couple years ago looking at it so that's a good sign. Also still there
is Hillview School, dating from 1907. Your classic wooden prairie schoolhouse, absolutely fantastic building. Never been inside of it, didn't try to go inside of it, but again it's just remarkable that it still exists. It had just celebrated 101 years when we were there in 2008 so you add that 15... 116 years old and still there, at least as of a couple years ago when we were by.
And that brings us to Bents. I know you saw the Bents grain elevator on the best grain elevators video and definitely we're going to see the Bents grain elevator here in a bit. This is the old General Store at Bents, absolutely one of the best abandoned buildings I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing. A look inside here. That building through that doorway to the right side of the photo was actually the old post office in Bents, there were still the wooden mail boxes and things inside.
Bents is a town that, as I mentioned in the other video, really was a victim of its own success. In terms of being a ghost town, it got way too much attention, way too many people visited it, and not everyone who visits ghost towns -- unfortunately -- treats them with the respect they deserve. In speaking back in 2008 with some of the people who had seen the Bents General Store earlier just a few years earlier, these shelves used to be stocked with merchandise and items and it was in a much better state and condition but, unfortunately, you know, vandals, thieves, people with less than noble intentions got wind of it and Cents suffered a lot for it. Another look at the old General Store. I know one of the things that was mentioned to me when we visited that, you know, you can see those mutton bars up in the windows on the top floor. Those used to be still intact in all the windows on the main floor so, again, just people being idiots and stupid and ruining things for those of us who truly appreciate it.
And the the General Store building is still there. As I talked about in previous Bents videos, Bents is on private property now, the road to it has a chain across it and is marked as Road Closed , No Trespassing -- so it's not a place you can visit without permission. Back in 2008, Mike secured permission for us to be there. And, yes, the Bents grain elevator, the all-time classic. Probably, I would say, the most photographed Saskatchewan grain elevator -- probably right up there with Dorothy in terms of the most photographed elevator on the Prairies. It's amazing how in 2008 it was in such great condition, relatively speaking. When we visited in 2021 -- I guess it was December of
2021 -- most of that driveway on the right side there had collapsed the cupula was tipping over and has since fallen so Bents really doesn't look like this anymore, unfortunately. It was a great grain elevator. It's still there as a, you know, shadow of its former self but this was kind of it, I think, at its peak level in terms of ofaAbandonment. And this one here,
I just like this photo. I like the different angles looking up at the grain elevator, a couple birds in flight there, and whenever I see this photo it just reminds me of the feeling of awe that you get when you stand at the foot of a grain elevator and look up. And if you've never done it, I highly suggest if you get the chance, to do it just because these buildings -- yes, you know you can stand at the foot of a skyscraper in the city and look up and you can't really see the top. The fact that you can see the top of a grain elevator makes it both majestic yet still human scaled, if that makes any sense, and just the peacefulness that comes from being near a grain elevator really makes them remarkable structures to get up close with. oOerview of Bents, this is the main street...kind of have the dance hall, the General Store on the
right side...the elevator on the left, the two dirt tracks through the grass. Beautiful place, very peaceful. Again, private property now. That night we had some really amazing clouds right around sunset so I took a couple silhouette shots here of the Bents grain elevator, again trying to be a little artistic and to just really capture the feeling of the ghost town. And we will wrap up this one here with a shot of the Bents General Store with the moon over top of it. Amazing place and, I mean -- really -- that can be said for all of Saskatchewan when it comes to ghost towns. So, like I promised you, I said I would make this one faster and a little bit shorter and I think I did that. Appreciate you watching and if I don't get out and do
some adventuring, I'll probably end up doing the 2009 Ghost Town Convention for the next video, but we'll see how that goes. Thank you very much and we'll see you in the next video!