A Successful Tour of Rural Norfolk (Simcoe Area)

Posted in Abandoned House, Norfolk County with tags , , , , on March 19, 2019 by countybandits

On March 9th, I spent the afternoon touring up and down the Windham roads between Simcoe and Delhi. I ended up working my way over to the opposite side of Simcoe, venturing out past Cockshutt Road. Things started out slow but definitely heated up! I have a good haul of photos for you to check out, along with a mental list of places I desperately want to get ‘up close and personal’ with. A couple of these houses are questionable as far as “abandoned” status, making me wonder if they’re just momentarily empty or if they’ve completely crossed over in to total abandonment? I’m not totally sure.

While on this tour, I made a couple of observations. One, the Windham roads are brutal; probably the roughest (paved!) roads I’ve traveled in some time. Yikes… I hope for the sake of local residents that they improve once the frost subsides. Two, there are some interesting place and road names in Norfolk. I snapped some photos of my favorites from this tour. Finally, a very sweet young woman saw my truck pulled off to the side of the road and me wandering around (she didn’t see my camera) and turned around to check if my truck had broken down. A beautiful soul – thanks for looking out for me, whoever you were.

Now, on to the good stuff…!

The first home I encountered on this tour was pretty unassuming, but I thought it was worth documenting because I would bet money it’s over 100 years old. I’m a sucker for any century farmhouse, no matter how plain-Jane she may be! I’m not completely sure what the status is of this place, since the hydro meter is still on the home. The lack of traffic in or out, combined with the dangling porch light and emaciated barn make me think it’s long empty.

The second and third homes I came across were right down the road from each other. They’ve definitely seen better days, and I doubt they are much longer for this world. I would also estimate both of these farmhouses are over 100 years old. I wonder when they were left to rot away?

I had no idea there was a place in Norfolk County called “Rattlesnake Harbour”. I wonder what the history is behind that unique name? I took a photo of that – and a couple other – interesting signs. (Sadly, there was no school on Egypt School Road. I felt cheated!)

The next abandoned old farmhouse I came across was right on one of the busy main roads, so naturally it looked “well explored”. I imagine the inside is completely trashed and the boarded up windows tell me that they were all smashed out long ago. I did however enjoy the snail graffiti. Kind of ridiculous and amusing!

This home was on the same property as another empty place. I feel like they were both more ’empty’ than abandoned, but I wasn’t really sure. I only photographed this older farmhouse, as the other home was sort of a ’60’s era, white brick rancher and not terribly interesting. I wonder what the story is with this property? Oh, a word of caution – watch that first step on your way out the front door!

I had accepted that I wasn’t going to find any brick beauties on this tour, and that was okay. Not every tour can be a winner. On what was going to be the final road I explored on this tour, I found not one, but TWO stunning homes. I was both shocked and elated! The brick home was my first find on this road and I loved every charming detail about it. The millwork, corbels, stained glass and the yellow brick accents. So lovely! When I looked at the photos after downloading them from my Nikon, I noticed some details in the middle of the stained glass above the front door. I cropped and enhanced that area of the stained glass, revealing a stunning blue bird. I love this home and I would give anything to take a look around inside. I want to see that stained glass with sunlight filtering through it…

Just a little further up the road I found the last, and most stunning home of the day. This impressive stone house took my breath away. I don’t get to see too many of these old stone beauties as they are few and far between in our area. I am hoping that someone is working on restoring this iconic home, but I can’t say for sure what’s going on. A couple of the windows looked like they were recent replacements, which gives me hope. There was no evidence of any recent visits to the home as the snow was undisturbed; perhaps the person doing the reno took the winter off. I would love to see this house brought back to it’s former glory. It could be absolutely magnificent.

I hope you enjoyed the fruits of this Norfolk County tour. If you need me, I’ll be daydreaming about sipping a coffee in front of a roaring fire in that stone house…


Two Beautiful Brick Farmhouses from Norfolk County

Posted in Abandoned House, Norfolk County on March 9, 2019 by countybandits

Alright, can we just pretend I haven’t been gone for another 3 years?

I’m unsure how some mysterious time vampire continues to creep into my life and steal entire YEARS from me, but here we are! I was chatting with a fellow abandoned place photographer on Instagram (his handle is @marksoergeldesigns) and it inspired me to try and get some new content up on this blog. I checked out the page for the first time in ages and noticed WordPress advertisements had taken over… oops. I seemed to have let my payment method lapse that was taking care of keeping this page ad-free! I quickly corrected that and now the County Bandits blog has once again been dusted off and will see some fresh content.

This first farmhouse is a throwback to right around the time I moved to Norfolk county. I checked the date on these and was shocked to see May 2017! Had it really been that long?! I was driving down a country road just a couple of kilometers from our home and spotted a glimpse of this brick beauty hiding among thick trees, set far back from the road. I parked at the end of the long lane way and double checked that there was no mailbox to be seen; something which I have always taken to be a good indicator that a home has been empty for some time.

I walked up the long lane and took some photos of this simple Ontario farmhouse with my iPhone, all the while hoping that it was indeed empty! It was in wonderful condition and I was delighted by some of the brick details. I love this style of home and the property is simply gorgeous. When I returned home I googled the address fervently, hoping it would pop up somewhere for sale. No such luck. Could you imagine owning this place? I can envision it restored to pristine condition, with all that overgrown landscaping trimmed back to show off this timeless country home. Maybe one day I’ll get lucky and see a for sale sign out front… one can dream, right?

This second home was the only result from a short, and otherwise fruitless, excursion around my corner of Norfolk County in search of abandoned places. I first saw this empty farmhouse a decade ago when I came to the area for a job interview, strangely enough. Looking back I seem to recall that it showed evidence of a fire, but that could be completely false since it was so long ago. Maybe the burned house was next door? Or close by? Bits of information are sort of filtering back through as I think back on it. The mind does play tricks sometimes, so I am not really sure. From the photos today, I saw no evidence of a fire, but I do see the brick starting to fall off around that first floor window.

Other than the crumbling brick, the home appears to still be quite solid – perhaps thanks to the steel roof? I absolutely love the “quoins” and the nice brick details around the windows on this home. I would have liked to get a better variety of photos of this home, from different angles… but my phone went off and I had to high-tail it out of there and take care of an emergency situation. Next time! I am glad to have at least captured some photos of it today, so it will at least live on in photos if something happened tomorrow. I have regretted not photographing many houses that disappeared into a pile of rubble or ash before I had gotten the chance.

Thanks for reading, even after all these years! I’ll do my best to stick around for a while and hunt up some new abandoned places to share.


A Photo Tour of Rural Norfolk County

Posted in Abandoned House, Norfolk County, School with tags , , , , , , , on September 12, 2016 by countybandits

I set off on a tour today with no destination in mind. Armed with my camera and an iced coffee from McDonalds, I drove around for at least an hour before I found my first abandoned house all the way in Norfolk County. I always start to think that I’m not going to find anything and then – bam…! A pleasant surprise pops up out of nowhere. These first two abandoned houses were actually next door to each other. They were both posted ‘No Trespassing’ so I did not set foot on either property; I just photographed them from the road.

One concession over, my good luck continued with a very cool one room school-house. While it appeared plain Jane at first glance, it had a surprise in store for me. When I walked around it, I noticed that the bricks had extensive carving in them! I wonder if it was the former students who left their permanent mark on this old school?

One property over from the little school, I found an abandoned Ontario farmhouse. This home looks like it’s in the final stages of demolition. I’m sure it’s days are numbered.

dsc_0202 Further up this fruitful country road, I drove past a ‘Bridge Out – Local Traffic Only’ sign. I decided to ignore it and I’m glad I did. I came up to an ‘abandoned’ bridge, blocked off with cement barriers. I walked across it gingerly and snapped some photos of the wood and iron relic. It was a cool find!

The final discovery of my day was this beautiful brick farmhouse, hidden away by a tall crop of corn. I would have loved to creep down the laneway and get up close and personal, but the road was fairly busy and other properties were close by. Maybe some other time.

There is a huge amount of Norfolk County left to explore, and after today’s findings I’m very excited to continue my exploration. I need to be a little more systematic in my approach so I don’t miss one single mile of road. Norfolk has a lot to offer and I don’t want to miss a single historic home.

Until next time…



A Saturday Drive Around Haldimand County

Posted in Abandoned House, Haldimand with tags , , , , , on September 3, 2016 by countybandits

After a gloriously long sleep-in today, I decided I would like to spend the rest of the day getting some use out of my Nikon. With no solid plans for a destination, I headed out to tour around Haldimand County and see what I could discover. I’ll organize my findings individually below.

After at least an hour of driving up and down sideroads, I finally came across the first abandoned place of the day. I had almost relinquished myself to the fact that I would not be seeing anything abandoned in my travels; in fact I had just said it to a friend! This home is located outside of Cayuga, and is set far back in a field. Luckily I had a zoom lens. Sad to see a home with such beautiful masonry and classic style rotting away.


Closer to Selkirk, I passed by this hidden farmhouse. I parked in the laneway and was greeted with a “Property under video surveillance” sign, but since I was only there to take a few photos during the day I wasn’t too worried. I didn’t poke around too much as I didn’t want to get myself in trouble with an angry property owner.

I caught a glimpse of some bricks and a steel roof as I drove by a heavily treed property also in the Selkirk area. I parked in the little bit of laneway that wasn’t completely grown over with tall weeds and attempted to get back to the house. Unfortunately I was not as successful as I would have liked. The weeds were so tall they were above my head. I had a t-shirt on and was getting scratched all to hell by burrs and thorns, and mosquitos were having a feast on my arms! I also didn’t want to inadvertently anger a hive of bees or anything like that, which is always a concern at this time of year. I did get a few photos but maybe come winter, I will revisit this one.

I’m sure Haldimand County has many more abandoned places to discover, but this was the extent of my findings today. Once fall arrives and the tree branches are bare, it will be easier to see hidden homes and barns. It will also mean the end of the bugs – something I look forward to as I try not to scratch these mosquito bites. A small price to pay for having these adventures, right?


A Crumbling Brick Beauty in Scotland

Posted in Abandoned House with tags , , , , , on August 28, 2016 by countybandits

I finally made it back to Chatham-Kent to pick up my fixed and functional HP desktop computer (which I am posting from now, hooray!). On my trip home, I exited the 401 at London and took a different route home, hoping to see an abandoned place to photograph.

My wish was granted when I rolled in to Scotland, a small community in Brant. A beautiful, but very dilapidated brick home caught my eye immediately. I had to do a couple passes in my truck to figure out where I could park; the home had no laneway nor were there any side streets nearby. I found a small utility yard and backed my truck up to the chainlink fence, grabbed my camera and walked the short distance back to the house.

No one seemed to notice or care that I was wandering around the home, but it was the middle of the day and I had my camera around my neck. I suppose I looked like I had a reason to be there. The front windows and doors of the stately brick home were boarded up, but were open on the sides and rear. The roof and floors were almost completely caved in and I dared not risk setting foot on the small shreds of flooring that remained.

I’m unsure what this style of home is called, but I could see how beautiful it would have been in its prime. The windows were large and let in a flood of natural light. The rooms seemed like they would have been spacious and the house felt like the perfect size. I loved the layout and would love to clone it brick by brick and live in it today. I hope my photos capture that airy country feeling the house still has about it, even though it’s a mere shell of what it once was.


A Hidden Gem in Malahide Township

Posted in Abandoned House with tags , , , , , , , on August 21, 2016 by countybandits

Recently I invested in a Nikon DF, a uniquely styled DSLR that looks like an old film camera. I didn’t really consider the problem of post-processing my images until after I had the camera in my hands from Amazon. I currently use a tiny Kangaroo portable desktop computer; fine for web browsing and blog posting but not capable of running Photoshop et al. I did have an older HP desktop tower in the basement collecting dust with an I7 processor and pretty decent specs. I dug it up, wrangled it to my truck (it must weigh 15lbs) and headed down to Chatham-Kent to have my wonderful friend breathe some life back into it.

I decided to take the scenic route and head down Highway 3, hoping to see subject matter worthy of the DF. After a while I realized I probably wouldn’t see much on the main highway so I started to weave down sideroads. Somewhere along the back roads of Malahide township I passed a white farmhouse with a yard full of old vehicles and equipment. Right next to it, so hidden by overgrown trees that I nearly missed it, I caught a glimpse of a gothic window surrounded by gingerbread trim. I turned around and did a slow drive by. Yes, there was another farmhouse hidden on the lot beside the initial white home! I turned around again, parked my truck as far off the narrow road that I could, slung my camera around my neck and jogged up to the hidden property.

Initially I tried to get photos from the road, but the trees and shrubs were so overgrown that it was impossible. I took a look around at all the weeds and overgrowth, glanced at the flip-flops I was wearing and decided to hell with it – I’m going in. Possibility of poison ivy and thorns be damned. I’m so, so glad I made that decision because I was rewarded with perhaps the most beautifully preserved Ontario farmhouse I have seen to date. I bounded around it in my sandals snapping photos as quickly as I could, peering in the windows and being in awe of what I was capturing. I had to work quickly since my truck was sitting halfway on the road with the 4-ways on and I was trespassing in broad daylight.

This farmhouse looks as though the owner left, the door was boarded up and the clock was stopped. The home boasts the original glass in every window, original wood siding, original carved tulip-motif gingerbread and all the original wooden baseboards, doors and staircase intact inside. Even the delicate lace curtains framing the front door look to have been there for an eternity. What I wouldn’t give to own this beauty and carefully restore it, maintaining as much of that amazing originality as I possibly could. A large tree branch has fallen on one side of the roof so I feel the home’s days are numbered. Enjoy the photos of this old Ontario farmhouse that remains in a bygone era.


(PS – These photos are NOT post-processed in any way… I still haven’t managed to find a free day to retrieve my computer!)

The 1885 Church – Photos from GPSguy

Posted in Abandoned Church, Niagara with tags , , , on June 5, 2016 by countybandits

With the help of a friend – GPSguy – I am able to share some photos of the interior of the 1885 Church from my previous post. He was kind enough to explore the property and grab a few photos through the windows, before getting shouted at by a neighbor! It turns out the power is still connected to the church, and the interior is relatively clean. A new lock on the front door also indicates someone is caring for the place.

I wonder what the owner’s plans are for this century building? The exterior is certainly falling into a state of disrepair and would need a significant amount of money, time and energy to bring it back to it’s former glory. I think it would make a lovely little home… but one would need deep pockets to make that happen. Thanks again to GPSguy for this glimpse inside the church.