Balaclava: Ghost Town

Balaclava is a ghost town in the Bonnechere Valley (pronounced by the locals in a very English way as Bonch-er) part of the larger Ottawa Valley, near Renfrew.

The sawmill, the most impressive ghostly building, was built in 1855 and rebuilt in 1936 after a fire. It was actually used until 1959 or 1967 (the accounts vary) when local timber stands became too depleted, and the mill was no longer economically viable. Actually, reading between the lines, it would appear that the mill’s glory day had passed long before then. Whenever it occurred, however, the closing of the mill turned Balaclava into a genuine ghost town.

This mill was water-powered, but an odd factoid is that it was taken to court under early anti-pollution legislation way back in in 1903 for dumping sawdust in the creek. A sawdust burner was subsequently constructed, and it still stands (see third photo, below).

Balaclava Sawmill

The sawmill from the south side

Balaclava Sawmill

A different south-side shot

Balaclava Sawmill

A little to the north, the sawdust burner is visible in the background

Balaclava Sawmill

The sawmill from the north side

By the 1860s, the town had acquired both a blacksmith and a hotel. I have every reason to suspect that the building shown in the next two photos was the hotel. Whether it also housed the smithy and a general store, I know not.

Balaclava Hotel ... Maybe

The old hotel, which perhaps served other functions as well

Balaclava Hotel ... Maybe

A closeup of part of the old hotel

Beside the hotel is a red barn-like structure on the little lake. I imagine that it’s possible that this could also have been the smithy.

The Last Shot from Balaclava

A red barn-like building beside the lake to the south the hotel

I don’t know the name of the lake, but the sawmill is on Constant Creek, so this could be Constant Lake … or not … because Google Maps refuses to reveal this top secret.

Especially For LP: The Lake at  Balaclava

A view of the lake in autumn. I don't know its name, but it could be Constant.

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21 Responses to Balaclava: Ghost Town

  1. Oh boy! IF walls could Talk!! Great shots Ac….Happy weekend!!
    hughugs

  2. Hilary says:

    Beautiful ruins, AC. Is it just the way the shingles are lifting and my imagination or is there the shadow of an old sign.. perhaps the word “hotel” on the green roof?

    As for Google.. you need to know how to ask him nicely. 😉

    http://travelingluck.com/North+America/Canada/Ontario/_5926988_Constant+Lake.html#local_map

  3. Linda says:

    Those are some interesting old buildings. You have a great eye for picking subjects, and a good camera doesn’t hurt either.

    Mom always said she like to hear it rain on a tin roof. It looked like one had a tin roof.

  4. Dimple says:

    The sawmill reminds me of the one where I worked for many years. It is gone now: the area has been restored to such a point that you would not know a thriving factory was ever there. It supported many families in its day.

    Beautiful photos, especially no-name lake!

  5. your shots are incredibly beautiful!
    the angles are really awesome as are the coulrs!
    i’m impressed!

    happy weekend!

  6. ooops! i meant to say colours!

  7. Ginnie says:

    Hey I thought Balaclava was a sweet Turkish pastry and now you tell me it’s a ghost town ! I’ll bet that’s an eerie place at night …

  8. AC, what a wonderful place to explore photographically. The colors on the old buildings and in nature are wonderful. You stated this was a ghost town now and I was curious as to whether or not it included any former homes too.

  9. Diana says:

    I love that you and Cuppa find these neat places! You really ought to try Geocaching while you’re out and about! Love Di ♥

  10. Lorna says:

    It’s unsettling to hear “ghost town” and “google” in the same breath (if you read fast enough, and I do)

  11. KGMom says:

    Abandoned places hold a charm all their own. Your photos remind me of the abandoned silver mines we visited in Utah–large buildings just sitting there, now no longer in use.
    I see, in the comments above, that someone did find the lake name. I was going to add that Bing Maps has a Constant LAKE Rd. near Renfrew, Ont. Hence, your surmise is likely correct.

  12. Ruth says:

    The weathered boards and sunlight make for very nice photos. I wonder how long some of the sagging structures will stand?

  13. Love your HDR shots, especially the one with the sawdust burner. We missed a lot of fall color by spending weeks at the beach so I’m enjoying getting them second hand through your blog.

  14. Frank says:

    What a wonderful place for a photographic ramble! You took some great shots. I love the look of weathered timber. The lines of the grain, the cracks between timbers, are given added depth by peeling paint. Good stuff.

  15. QMM says:

    I visited the other day but guess I did not leave a comment. I came back over to look at those photos. They look like paintings. I found an old abandoned structure similar to the first one. It did not look like a conventional barn. I bet it was a sawmill. I did paint a picture of it. Gonna have to see if I can find it. Thanks for the visit. You folks have already had Thanksgiving day, I know.
    QMM

  16. PBS says:

    Beautiful photos and fun to look at. But I just read in our paper today that they are tearing down an old feedmill/store to make a parking lot! So sad. Glad to see that those old buildings are still standing.

  17. Hilary says:

    Shhhh .. you’re quiet. I hope all is okay with you and yours.

  18. Jinksy says:

    What stunningly beautiful photos the old town allows. The third from the top I’d love to hang on my wall! 🙂 ♥

  19. Joy says:

    The first 6 photos are fantastic–great texture, color, compostion. They look like paintings. The red barn is nice–but the ‘lake’–ick! The old hotel is fabuloso!

  20. Pearl says:

    Lovely captures. I’ve not been to that area.

  21. Kila says:

    Imagine the stories…

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