20 abandoned towns to add to your Canadian road trip itinerary – National
Did you know that Canada is full of abandoned cities?
Canada began as a place of small colonies, many of which grew into large cities. But not all colonies are destined to grow indefinitely. Several towns were founded and in many cases flourished for a time, before the inhabitants gave up and sought their fortunes elsewhere. These spooky abandoned cities in Canada might not be as famous as the bustling big cities, but they are fascinating nonetheless.
If you’re moved by images of abandoned theaters, barns, and TVs, you should put Bounty on your to-do list. According to Abandoned Playgrounds, Bounty lost its village status in 1997 because so many people had left. It was a thriving town at the time, with a theater, its own newspaper, and even a professional baseball team.
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Butedale, British Columbia
Plunging directly into the ocean, Butedale Falls on Princess Royal Island really should be one of Canada’s must-see waterfalls. Next to the falls you will find the abandoned buildings of what was once a thriving town revolving around a salmon cannery built in 1911.
Founded in 1903 as a mining town, Bankhead is located in what is now Banff National Park, home to some of the best hiking trails in Canada. The mines here supplied coal to the Canadian Pacific Railway and the boilers of the Banff Springs Hotel. Atlas Obscura says mining operations closed in 1922 and residents moved out.
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Sure, there’s a place in Canada called Canuck, but that’s certainly not representative of what the country is like. Once a thriving community, Canuck’s population began to decline in the 1930s. Today, no one lives here. It is located just north of the US border and about 12.5 kilometers west of Climax.
Technically, Dorothy is not a ghost town as it still has a handful of residents. However, it is full of abandoned buildings hinting at the city’s golden age, now long past. According to Ghost Towns of Alberta, the village got its post office in 1908 and experienced a boom in the 1920s with the arrival of the railroad before its residents began to disappear.
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According to Saskatchewan Ghost Towns, Robsart was founded in 1910. The arrival of the railroad brought an economic boom, but the town declined with the Great Depression, a well-known story. Today there are only 20 inhabitants and tons of abandoned buildings.
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Nemiscam was founded in 1915 when residents of the nearby town of Bingham approached the railroad parallel to Highway 61 in southern Alberta. According to Ghost Towns of Alberta, the town’s decline began in the 1940s when people moved to Foremost instead. Today, Nemiscam has only two inhabitants.
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Flowerdale once boasted a post office, general store and mud house, but soon it too faced the struggles of the Great Depression and hundreds of farmers left the area. The Sunnynook District wrote that the surrounded fields were allowed to regenerate, and most of the descendants of the original settlements are engaged in herding cattle on the vast grassland.
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Stanley, British Columbia
Stanley emerged in 1861 during the Cariboo Gold Rush and, according to the Cariboo Regional District, once had a larger population than nearby Barkerville. Today, the only building still standing is the former Lightning Hotel.
Embarrassment was named for the river and not for the verb. The town was founded in 1913 as a siding on the Alberta Coal Branch Line. As coal-fired locomotives gave way to diesel engines in the 1960s, Embarrass fell into decline.
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Hamlet of Bender, Manitoba
Bender Hamlet shows that diversity in Canada is nothing new. According to the Manitoba government, the village was founded in 1903 as the first Jewish agricultural settlement in the province. It was abandoned later in 1927.
Exploits, Newfoundland and Labrador
Memorial University of Newfoundland claims that Exploits on Burnt Island was founded in the late 18th century and by 1874 there were over 600 residents. The town was a trading center and a base for fishing and sealing. People started leaving in the 1960s and today there are only seasonal residents.
Tungsten, Northwest Territories
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, Tungsten was once home to the nation’s largest mine producing — you guessed it — tungsten. The mine was built in 1960 just outside Nahanni National Park Reserve, one of the most beautiful places in Canada, according to Slice. However, the town was deserted in 1986.
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Lemieux, Ontario was founded in 1850 and began as an industrial town and farming community. According to Ontario Abandoned Places, the town was abandoned fairly recently: between 1989 and 1991. The reason was that the ground the town was built on made it vulnerable to landslides.
Dawson City is one of Canada’s hidden gems. It is also the closest community to the oldest town in the Yukon: Forty Mile. According to the Yukon government, Forty Mile was founded in the 1880s after the discovery of gold nearby. In its booming years, Forty Mile had a reputation as wild as Dawson City: among the businesses there were 10 saloons and several distilleries.
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Redwater may seem like just another ghost town, but it’s actually home to a gruesome past. According to Ontario Abandoned Places, in 1909 the local telegraph operator was brutally beaten and died while telegraphing for help. The town was abandoned in the 1950s after the Redwater sawmill closed.
Saguenay Fjord National Park is one of the best places to visit in Slice in July. While in the area, you may also want to visit Val-Jalbert. Founded in 1901 and abandoned in 1927 when the local pulp mill closed, the town has been preserved and functions today as a living history site.
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According to Ontario Abandoned Places, Altona was founded in the early 1800s when Mennonites moved there from Pennsylvania. Altona Mennonite Church was built in 1852. Today there are still churches, schools, a general store, and a few homes, but most of the buildings have been condemned and abandoned.
Canyon City, Yukon
About 6 kilometers from Whitehouse, along the Yukon River, is a fascinating interactive archaeological site. The Canadian Encyclopedia indicates that from 1897 to 1900, Canyon City was one of the most important transportation centers in the Yukon. It served as the end of the Canyon and the Whitehouse Rapids Tramway, meaning most travelers to and from the Klondike gold mining fields likely passed through Canyon City at the time.
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New Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
There are many campsites in Canada, but few are on the site of an abandoned city. New Yarmouth Campground in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park was once a farming community with a school, but was abandoned in the 1950s.
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