Taking a trip back in time is as easy as visiting one of the many abandoned towns littering Canada’s rural areas. In them you’re sure to find some of the ghosts of former residents—or at least the ghosts of their ambitions. Many ghost towns were the sites of mills, mines or farming communities that couldn’t survive economic downturns.
Today, All that remains of these communities is evidence that people once worked and thrived there, until circumstance forced them to leave. Here are just a few of the creepiest ghost towns to explore across Canada.
Dorreen, British Columbia
A mining and agricultural community, Dorreen was home to around 300 people at its peak. Today, there’s just one year-round resident—Dulsa, the hamlet’s caretaker—who is joined in the summer months by cottage owners. Located about 48 kilometres northeast of Terrace at the foot of Mt. Knauss, the town is best accessed by hiking or ATVing in. Its isolated location has allowed the abandoned general store, railway stations, and many cabins along the Skeen River to withstand the test of time.
Kitsault, British Columbia
While it’s easy to think of ghost towns as belonging to a pioneer era, Kitsault is a contemporary example—but that doesn’t mean it’s any less spooky. Owned by an American mining company, residents of Kitsault were given until the auspicious date of October 31, 1983 to leave their company-owned homes when prices crashed. Built for around 1,200 people, the Northern B.C. site now has hundreds of abandoned buildings, including 90 homes, 200 apartments, a hospital, shopping mall, restaurant, movie theatre, sports centre, and bank. And really—is there anything creepier than being trapped in the ‘80s?
Established in 1916, at one point this southern Alberta community was home to about 150 residents. Its bustling main street featured general stores, a bank and a blacksmith. But faced with dust storms, drought and the economic downturn of the 1930s, the hamlet nearly perished. Today, visitors can find streets of abandoned houses.
Millbridge & Millbridge Station, Ontario
A bustling community in Eastern Ontario, Millbridge and its neighbouring town of Millbridge Station had three hotels, a railway station, and saw mills. There was also a schoolhouse, post office, church, and community centre. It was built in the mid-1800s, and the town’s settlers left in the early 1920s when they realized it was poor farmland. Many of the structures from the original towns remain, some of which are now private residences, such as the red-bricked Hogan’s Hotel.
Arguably one of the best-preserved ghost towns in Canada, Val-Jalbert was founded in 1901 near Chambord. Once a site of opportunity, the entire village was abandoned within a few years after the town’s pulp mill closed in 1927. Now a registered heritage site, visitors can explore the town’s original buildings, including the papermill, as well as visit the nearby Ouiatchouan Falls, which are higher than Niagara Falls. Keep an eye out for ailing spirits though—the town was hit hard by the Spanish flu in the early 1900s.
Ireland’s Eye, Newfoundland
Described as picturesque, this abandoned Maritime fishing community was originally settled sometime in the 1600s. The little island thrived for nearly half a century before its remaining population moved away in the 1960s as part of the Fisheries Household Resettlement Program. While most of the buildings have since decayed, visitors can still find remnants of buildings—including the church—as well as the town graveyard.