ghost town ontario

Balaclava & Newfoundout – Ghost Towns


I love picture books and websites about Canada.  I peruse them searching for places to visit, especially communities lost to time.  Not long ago I had read about a couple of ghost towns near Ottawa, Ontario. The author, a very popular Ontario resident who not only writes about but photographs this beautiful province, had mentioned an area referred to as the “forgotten land”.  Forgotten by whom? By the residents who briefly called these lands home? By the government itself?  The thought of this “forgotten” land intrigued me.  Maybe, just maybe it had been forgotten on purpose! Muuaaaahahahahah….

Taking note of two towns in particular, Q and I made our way to our first destination – Balaclava, Ontario. A bustling lumber community in its day, Balaclava is found in Renfrew County nestled on Constant Creek.

mill, balaclava, ghost town
entrance to mill
mill, ghost town, balaclava
abandoned mill

Upon entering the town, Q and I were excited at our first glimpse of the abandoned buildings and ransacked mill. Parked along the water’s edge, we exited the car anxious too begin photographing this memory from the past.  My camera was up to my eye when I heard Q speaking.  I couldn’t make out what he had said and was about to inquire when I heard a woman’s voice respond.  I lifted the camera away from my face and noticed two women standing and conversing with Q.  Awesome!  More ghost town hunters to join the fun, I thought. Well, as I was about to find out, they weren’t exactly ghost town hunters.  No in fact, it turned out these ladies were residents of Balaclava, along with a few other families situated down the road from where we stood.

balaclava, ghost town
town general store


HOLD UP!  Isn’t Balaclava supposed to be a ghost town?  Isn’t a “ghost” town supposed to be filled with nothing but ghosts?  Lets be real here.  If a rundown, abandoned building or two makes for a ghost town then Ontario is loaded with them starting with it’s largest city Toronto.  Hell, there are thousands across this country by this definition. I have to admit I was disappointed and maybe a wee pissed off.  Honestly, all the excitement, fun, uncertainty and definitely creepiness drained quickly from the experience once we found out people were still living among what was supposed to be remnants of life long ago. The only saving grace might have been if people had just started moving back to the area. But no, the ladies confirmed they’d been there forever.

So after some quick photos we hopped in our car and drove to the next town.  Newfoundout, a very Maritime sounding name, had officially been declared abandoned in 1948. Grown from the government’s colonization plans to move immigrants into the area, the offer of free land was enticing to many seeking a better life in North America.  But free land doesn’t feed your children when the soil cannot grow crops and the topography and weather of the area make it a hostile environment to live in.  With schools and shopping far from this off beaten path the locals were left to fend for themselves.

road to Newfoundout
road to Newfoundout


After a long drive down a narrow, windy, rocky, bush road we finally arrived at Newfoundout.  I was pleased that no one was living in this ghost town.  Unfortunately, almost everything has been reclaimed by nature or time and only fragments of some barns are what remain on what is now private property. If you didn’t already know a town had once been here, the bits and pieces of buildings did not make it obvious.  Newfoundout looked more like an abandoned farm rather than a town but it was still pretty cool.


I had read how this area of the Ottawa Valley was remote and readers were warned to proceed with caution.  These warnings seemed a bit exaggerated to us, but hey who are we to judge? We’ve only done a road trip in the arctic where you can drive hours if not days and see no one.  The funniest part was that once we were at the cusp of the middle of no where at Newfoundout’s doorstep, our cell phones had full bars!


For whatever the reason it has been forgotten, whether the crappy soil or inhospitable environment, this area along the Opeongo Road is a beautiful drive.  If you are visiting Ottawa, take a road trip this fall to see the beautiful colours.  Or, if you are into abandoned buildings and a possible “ghost” town, search out Balaclava and Newfoundout and tour the memories of long ago.

And once you’ve made it back to civilization, forget you were ever even there….

~True North Nomad

Where are some cool ghost towns you’ve visited?  Know of any abandoned buildings with a creepy past?  Talk to us in the comments below.

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57 thoughts on “Balaclava & Newfoundout – Ghost Towns

  1. I learned a lot about Canada in this post. Living in North Carolina, I tend to think of ghost towns just being in the western part of the US. Who knew you also had them in Canada? (I’m showing my ignorance, aren’t I?)


  2. Thank you for sharing your travels; your adventures and photographs are a mesmerizing tribute to your beautiful country. Great work…you’ve got us all daydreaming!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You DID capture the place beautifully (as usual). Loved that I could FEEL the worn out barn wood and visually hear the sounds. LOVED IT! Definitely makes me want to go there! It also reminds me of some beautiful older places we had in Mississippi and Texas (but like you, I like the old weathered worn adventures) – ghosts or not, peaceful and historical. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What I like about looking at old structures is the manner of construction. I am not a Doomsday Prepper but I always think what could I do if I had nothing and had to start again – and I look at the old ways when true pioneering was still the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thats a good point. We’re so caught up in technology doing things for us I often wonder if it were all of a sudden to disappear how would we survive… who remembers how to do things on our own.


  5. Sounds like cool places Lily; adventures off the beaten path are right up our alley too. I was thinking about the concept of ghost town. Maybe its just a matter of a place that is a ghost of its former self, what do you think?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My mother grew up in Nordegg, Alberta–about 100 miles west of Red Deer. It was a coal mining town, but the market for coal declined and the mine was closed in the 1950s. Soon after, the town closed. It’s now maintained as an historic site.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I actually have been to Nordegg, too funny! Another town listed as a ghost town but you’re right – its a historic site and very touristy. Small world – we keep crossing each other’s path across the US and Canada. I’m in New York right now and the leaves are starting to change. I was thinking it must be well on its way in Michigan!


  7. Wow. Its true that we will never touch these towns you have just described. I recalled reading somewhere (perhaps on NatGeo) about such towns in the Russian far east too. Guess Canada is just as large a country too! Keep these stories coming!

    Liked by 2 people

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