Archive for the Commentary Category

A 3 Year Hiatus – Finally Over!

Posted in Abandoned Church, Abandoned House, Commentary, Haldimand, Niagara, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 16, 2016 by countybandits

Life is crazy. Perhaps that is a bit cliche to say, but it really has been the case for the last few years. My career has consumed every part of me, taking all my waking hours and leaving me exhausted and worn down by the time I manage to escape and head home (if I even got to go home, which usually, I did not. Life on the road…). The long hours, 7 day work weeks, stress and pressure of my job completely drained the creativity and adventure from my soul. I recently turned 30 and sort of had an epiphany, or maybe just really got tuned in to what I already knew deep down inside… that this is absolutely, 110% not how I want the rest of my life to go.

Yes, I make a generous salary and yes, people around me have often commented on the ‘luxuries’ I am able to afford… yet, all of it means absolutely nothing. The realization that things – material items, possessions – mean nothing and have zero impact on your happiness and satisfaction with life… has hit me like a freight train. I have completely re-arranged my priorities in life and am creating a plan to exit my mainstream, high paying, high stress career and downsize my entire life into one that I can manage on a shoestring budget. The quality of my life comes from my relationships, my family, my creative spirit, adventure and freedom. Spending all my hours slaving to make someone else rich has done nothing but leave me empty and miserable.

So, what does this realization mean for this blog? Well, it means that the Bandit is back, and back with a rekindled fire in her heart. I have never stopped looking for abandoned houses and old barns wherever I go. My eyes are always scanning the landscape for that one telltale broken window or overgown laneway, completely devoid of tire tracks. I have seen so many in the past 3 years, all of which I was just too busy to stop and take a quick photo. Every time I would tell myself, ‘I’ll do a tour around on my next day off…’ which of course never materialized. No more! I am making a promise to you, the dedicated readers who still check this page, and you, the fans who still email out of the blue and ‘Like’ our Facebook page – The Bandit is back and I have so much to share with all of you.

Thank you all for never forgetting about the County Bandits. This is the 9th year of hunting and adventure; hard to believe! Today I have 2 places to share, so lets get to it!

The first is a tiny white Church in the Township of West Lincoln. Built in 1885, it is now abandoned and I often wonder how long it has sat that way. One of these days, I am absolutely going to go take a peek inside the windows and snap some photos that way as well. Looking in the front windows from the road, I can see a bookshelf and some other stacked up furniture. I wonder if there are beautiful original pews inside? For the moment I will have to keep wondering, but watch for an update on this beautiful country Church.

This second property is located near Empire Corners in Haldimand County. I’m not sure it truly qualifies as abdoned so much as it just seems… empty, but I really wanted to post it because of an anomoly that appeared in one of the photos. I drive by this century brick farmhouse every day on my way to and from work and admire it each day. I finally stopped on the road and snapped a few quick photos from my iPhone and then carried on before traffic approached from behind me. I sent these photos to a friend and never thought too much about them. A few weeks went by and my friend send me a text that said, hey, I think you captured a spirit in one of the photos of the house. He cropped and zoomed in on the anomoly, so enjoy the original photos and draw your own conclusion.

Until the next adventure,


32 Previously Unposted Photos from Lambton County

Posted in Abandoned House, Commentary, Lambton County with tags , , , , , on October 27, 2012 by countybandits

Our email has been exploding lately. People have been liking our Facebook page, messaging us, and leaving comments on the blog. We even had our first donation to the gas fund! Thank you SO MUCH “mccfrank”! We apologize for being absent and leaving the blog idle for months; it’s never our intent, but life always finds a way to becoming increasingly busy. Seeing all the likes, comments, messages and traffic volume that has been coming to the blog has rekindled our passion for abandoned house hunting, and I promise you that we will be back on the trail as soon as the snow flies. Thank you to all our fans who continue to support us, even when we are off being consumed by our jobs and far-less-fun obligations.

I decided to take a peek in the County Bandits folder on my desktop and see if there were any more photos I’d not yet posted. Jackpot. I found a folder containing 32 wonderful photos from Lambton County, spanning from just around Dresden, to Petrolia and Sarnia region. Without further ado, I will post them here for your enjoyment. These were all taken in January of 2011.

This first brick home sat not far from Dresden, if I recall correctly. It’s a beautiful Ontario Farmhouse complete with lightning rods and a detailed porch. The strange thing about this place, and little bit creepy, was the coffin shaped wooden box sitting on that porch!

Incredible doesn’t even begin to describe this ‘abandoned’ mansion in Petrolia. This is the Sunnyside Mansion, built in 1891 by the Fairbank family. Situated on a main road in Petrolia, the home is a familiar site to many people from Southwestern Ontario. At the time these photos were taken, the home was empty but possibly being restored or worked on. There had been a fire and rumor had it that there was a fight going on with the insurance company, so progress was at a standstill. As of today, I honestly couldn’t tell you what the progress is or how the house is looking. There are several websites dedicated to the history of this home; google “Sunnyside Mansion Petrolia” or “Fairbank Mansion Petrolia” to learn more about it.

The Accomplice and I have a fondness for yellow brick Victorian homes, as you may have noticed by now. This Lambton County home, in the Sarnia region, has been a longtime favorite of ours. It’s absolutely stunning and the fact that it has been left to rot makes us feel ill. Inside, the floors are completely rotted away; the last time we stopped in to check on the place the porch had nearly fallen off the back. Such a shame. I hope the place is still standing because it is truly magnificent.

These final two homes are also in the rural surrounds of Sarnia, just down the same road from each other. The little wood sided home is very quaint and sealed up tight, marked no trespassing. All we did was photograph it from the road to be respectful of the posted warnings. The brick Victorian farmhouse just up the road was visited by us on several occasions, and there are more photographs of it somewhere. The basement was full of canning jars, most of them still filled with ancient preserves. The main level was trashed completely, with all the cupboard doors in the kitchen thrown open, drawers hanging out, newspapers, food, garbage strewn around the floor… all the furniture upside down and so on. The upper level was no better. I imagine trespassers had done this to the home, but there were bottles of anti-psychotic medications mixed in with the debris littering the kitchen. One will never know what the real story was here.

Thanks again to our fans and supporters for never losing interest in our abandoned house hunting adventures. We promise there’s more to come.



A Drive Down Courtright Line, Lambton & Some Interesting Search Engine Hits

Posted in Abandoned House, Commentary, Lambton County with tags , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by countybandits

In my effort to unearth any and all my old photos, I found many that I had completely forgotten about and never got around to posting. The following images fall into that category. I shot these on May 28th, 2008 and I wish I had made a post about them at the time, because at the present moment I have no idea why I was even on Courtright Line that day. I do remember shooting these pictures however, and being fairly impressed that I had found 3 abandoned houses on one short stretch of road. Such a sweet score doesn’t happen very often, but if it’s going to happen anywhere – Lambton County is the place.

I really enjoy being able to share the stories that accompany the abandoned places we explore and photograph, but unfortunately I know nothing of these 3 houses. Since I don’t have any exciting information on them, I’ll share my thoughts on some popular searches that lead people to our site. I love viewing the site stats and seeing what brought people here, I find it fascinating.

“what kind of things can you catch from going in old abandoned houses” — This one made me laugh, because the Accomplice and I often discuss how many years we must have taken off our lives by now from entering these abandoned houses. We’ve seen plenty of asbestos insulation around old boilers and pipes, and walked through more raccoon feces than I’d care to admit. The smell of cat urine has been so strong in some places that in one instance, it actually made the Accomplice sick to his stomach (was it wrong for me to find this hilarious? I’m not bothered by the smell myself). So while I’m not sure if there are specific things you could ‘catch’ from these places, they can definitely be pretty nasty.

“what is valuable from a abandoned houses” — We get asked about finding valuables or antiques in abandoned houses quite often, but our answer isn’t as exciting as most people hope. The truth is that these houses have been abandoned long before we ever came across them, and we are certainly not the first people to walk through them. If they are open to nature (doors freely open, windows broken, holes in the walls / roof), then chances are slim to none that ANYTHING of interest is left. We have seen a few neat things, like vintage dresses and appliances, old iron beds, some portraits – but nothing of any real value or rarity. If you are hoping to come into some riches by exploring abandoned houses, you will likely end up with criminal charges before you end up with something of value!

“gingerbread trim, gothic trim, metal gingerbread molding” — I suppose this isn’t quite as interesting as the first two, but a lot of searches come in from people looking for information on gingerbread trim for old farmhouses. For our own 150+ year old Ontario farmhouse restoration, we purchased reproduction vinyl gingerbread pieces. We figured this would save us the huge headache of trying to repaint wood gingerbread every so many years, and would resist splitting or breaking with age. We ordered our pieces (custom made!) from Wholesale Millwork and the price was really reasonable for what you’re getting. Inside our house, we ordered a reproduction tin ceiling from Imperial Production along with some other trim pieces. Hopefully this information is helpful to someone out there.

Now, on to the photos, and as always please feel free to comment.


The Infamous Snobelen Road Property

Posted in Chatham-Kent, Commentary, Demolished with tags , , , , , on July 21, 2011 by countybandits

Several years ago, we came across this article in the Chatham Daily News – “Demolition Ordered For Longtime Eyesore”. How could we resist going for a drive to check it out? We packed up our camera gear one evening and headed out that way to view the property, and what greeted us was truly a sight to behold. The entire place looked more like a junkyard or landfill than a residence. We parked along the side of the road and stepped out with cameras around our necks. Countless vehicles rotting away, piles of tires, old school buses,  transport trucks, garbage, scrap metal and camping trailers were just a small selection of the junk piled all around us there. We managed to get a small number of photos of the true prize amongst the chaos; a dilapidated but beautiful brick century old home, almost completely obliterated from view by the trash.

Within a minute or two, a family member approached us asking if we were in fact there from the Chatham paper. When we said we were not, she asked that we not take any more photos which we were happy to oblige. She did however chat with us for a moment or two about the house and growing up there. She recalled the night she was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom when the roof collapsed. Two members of the family continued to live in the house until it was demolished, which is hard to imagine as this woman also told us there was no running water nor had there been for years. Although this wasn’t exactly an abandoned house, it certainly looked the part. I am happy that we were able to photograph it then, and share the photos and story here 3 years later.


A Pleasant Surprise For Once

Posted in Commentary on July 19, 2011 by countybandits

I managed to dig out our old external hard drive (the one that warns you to scan and fix before using it every time) and spent the last hour or so copying every house related file and folder I could find. I must say I didn’t expect to find as much as I did! It’s not all there, but there’s a ton of stuff I recognized from old posts, as well as a large amount of photos I’ve never posted. I was pleasantly surprised by all this content. It looks as though I’ll be busy sorting through this for some time. I’m just thankful to have it all, as many of these houses we’ve photographed no longer exist. Expect to see more posts in the coming days, and get updated as it happens on our Facebook page or Twitter.


Rebuilding and Restoring

Posted in Chatham-Kent, Commentary on July 19, 2011 by countybandits

Why does it always seem that some evil befalls this poor blog? Most recently, the entire thing was wiped from the internet through an odd series of events. When we lost the .com domain a couple years ago, the blog still existed and we were able to put it on this domain. This time around, we didn’t get so lucky.

With the help of my wonderful brother, we were able to recover all the text entries, but no photos. All the photos from this blog (which dates back to 2007!) are spread across about 4 hard drives, maybe more. In time, I will recover them all and place them back with their appropriate entries.

Please be patient and check back with us frequently as we rebuild and restore this blog from the ground up. You can become a fan of us on Facebook, where we will be posting progress reports! Like us HERE. We also have a Twitter account you might like to follow, which you can do HERE.

For any newcomers, this blog is dedicated to the exploration of abandoned houses, schools and buildings in Chatham-Kent, Ontario and the surrounding counties.

~ Bandit

Return to 7th Line…

Posted in Chatham-Kent, Commentary with tags , , , on January 20, 2008 by countybandits

The farmhouse on 7th line had sat undisturbed by us for almost a year until last night. It had weathered the rainy spring, the searing hot summer, half of a frostbite inducing winter, and remained sitting steadfast at the end of the long, bumpy driveway leading up to it. Everything looked the same, the smashed windows, the overgrown weeds, the rotted porch, the bed frame just visible inside an upstairs room, which amazingly still had an intact window. The intact window that had briefly held the face of a man last April.

During our blogging hiatus, we had the good fortune to meet some local fellow house hunters. As a group, we explored an old insulbrick farmhouse along Highway 3, a Monestary by the lake, and even made a return visit to the “house full of memories”, which is a story in itself. Last night, three of us decided to brave a return trip to 7th Line. My accomplice, myself, and a fellow hunter. Soon, word spread of the planned trip, and three more were in for the adventure. We took two vehicles, plenty of Maglites, some protective measures, and as much courage as we could muster up.

When we pulled in the driveway, the full moon was illuminating just the outline of the large brick house. There were no lights, no cars, no bicycles, no signs of life whatsoever. The accomplice and I figured there would be no happenings this time, as there were last time we attempted to enter the house. Surely whoever, whatever, was there had moved on. The cold was enough to make your fingers hurt within a minute or two, and freeze the inside of your nose with each breath. How could anyone bear to stay in a drafty old brick house with no apparent hydro or running water?

We walked cautiously up to the house, making our way up the formed concrete back steps. The back door wasn’t wired or locked shut, although a rusted padlock was hanging nearby, doing nothing. I stayed outside, on the edge of the porch, with my 6-D cell Maglite held on my shoulder. The rest of the group made their way inside, and I kept watch just outside the door. I watched and listened as everyone stepped forward, carefully, through the front entryway and ventured slowly in to the kitchen. It wasn’t long before there were strained whispers and footsteps shuffling backwards towards the door. I asked, what the hell was going on? I couldn’t hear much since I was outside…

Only a moment later, everyone was making a hasty exit and moving towards the vehicles. Apparently, once people had made their way to the decimated kitchen, a racket started right above them on the second floor. Creaking of metal bedsprings, thumping, and eventually, clearly defined footsteps. Someone said they could hear breathing, heavy breaths… another said they swore they could hear a low whispering. As we left the place, and headed up the driveway, we moved our flashlights over all the windows. The Accomplice caught a movement in an upstairs window, but that was all. We saw nothing more.

Who, or what, is living in the 7th Line farmhouse? A house littered with raccoon feces, mould, broken glass and fallen plaster? Where there is never a light on, no sign of electricity, no evidence of a mode of transportation, all the way at the end of a lonely country road. Unfortunatley, we have never made it past that kitchen area to see the rest of the house, and unless the current tenant decides to move away, we may never get any farther.