The eeriest ghost towns in Canada



Slide 1 of 32: From the end of the Gold Rush to unforgiving weather, there are many reasons why towns and villages across Canada’s provinces and territories lie abandoned. Some it's possible to visit (but only travel when it's safe to do so) while others are best viewed through the lens of fabulous photography. Click on if you dare...
Slide 2 of 32: There’s no doubting the striking but remote location here: 133 miles (214km) from Whitehorse off the Alaska Highway on the edge of Kluane Lake sits Silver City, a former gold-mining town. It was Dawson Charlie, of the Tlingit First Nation people, who first made a claim to the precious metal in the area in 1903, during the early 20th-century Gold Rush.
Slide 3 of 32: The prospectors left long ago and these days the unkempt wooden buildings are gradually being swallowed by Mother Nature. There’s still enough to attract photographers and visitors to this former trading post – once the home of the North-West Mounted Police barracks – including shelves where rusty cans remain in place and long-abandoned trucks.
Slide 4 of 32: The town is a popular photo stop, and mid-July to September is the best window for a visit – the weather is at its mildest and the vibrant pink Yukon fireweed is in bloom, framing the crumbling buildings. If you are pulling up here, be mindful that, while the structures are open, much of the timber is rotting rapidly and potentially dangerous. The town sits on privately-owned land too, so be respectful.

Slide 5 of 32: In the 1920s, around 500 people lived in this village in Alberta. Today the count is just eight – and after the final train rolled through in 1999, it seemed any hope of prosperity was lost forever. Things are looking up nowadays though, as it has become a well-loved stop on the ghost-town trail. While some buildings have been done up by the remaining residents, there are many that still lie in a derelict state.
Slide 6 of 32: Usually during summer you can join free guided tours to see the abandoned houses, stores and the stunning grain elevators. In town on the last Saturday of the month? The pizza night with live music is the best way to meet locals and uncover the best stories and legends. Do check the village's Facebook page for the latest arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic, however. 
Slide 7 of 32: It was a combination of dusty coal and regular strikes that saw an end to Bankhead’s time as a mining powerhouse in Alberta. Bankhead was established in 1903 with the idea of supplying coal to the railroad and to hotels for heating. There was plenty of the fossil fuel to be found, but it was particularly brittle and not well suited for either job, contributing to the town's eventual demise.
Slide 8 of 32: A series of strikes likely led to its downfall too. Industrial action won workers here an increase in wage, but it also put the mine in a financial fix, and in 1922 it closed completely. The site is inside the boundary of Banff National Park, meaning it has been illegal to mine here since the 1930s, and the future of this natural space is protected.
Slide 9 of 32: In 1926 many of Bankhead’s buildings were removed to other parts of Alberta or demolished. A set of stairs that belonged to the Church of the Holy Trinity remains, although the top portion was moved to Calgary. Bankhead Railway Station (pictured) was lifted by its foundations and relocated to near the Banff Hostel on Tunnel Mountain Road.

Slide 10 of 32: Another of Alberta’s abandoned spots, Glenbow is around a 40-minute drive from the city of Calgary. Glenbow’s heyday was short-lived, lasting from 1907 to 1927 when a sandstone quarry was being worked nearby. After the quarry’s closure in 1912, many residents left in search of jobs. Today, the village lies eerily empty.  Discover what to see (and eat) in Calgary
Slide 11 of 32: There's a rather unexpected sight in this ghostly mining town in BC: rows and rows of old Brill trolley buses. Many of these coaches were used in Vancouver until the 1980s, but there are other examples from Regina and Winnipeg in the town too. Originally, they were brought to Sandon to be refurbished, though this never happened.
Slide 12 of 32: Sandon was another once-thriving mining town that fell victim to the drop in silver prices in the 1920s. Then a flood in 1955 swept away many of the historic buildings. The original City Hall, dating from 1900, and the Powerhouse remain standing today. America's eeriest ghost towns are terrifying too
Slide 13 of 32: You’ve got to be pretty determined to get to Ocean Falls – the remote town is only accessed via a plane ride from Vancouver to Bella Bella (Waglisla) and then a ferry or seaplane. Tucked into Cousins Inlet among a string of islands, it’s at least a day’s journey from Vancouver. But for those who have a passion for seeing and photographing abandoned towns, it’s worth the effort.
Slide 14 of 32: Positioned in a coastal fjord, Ocean Falls’ selling point was generating hydroelectricity. The Bella Coola Pulp and Paper Company opened a plant here in the early 20th century and for many years industry thrived in this town, thanks to the high demand for paper. Pictured, is a worker sorting logs, which would later be pulped, in around 1935. However, by the late 1960s the site’s buildings had dated, costs became exorbitant and operations in the town were wound down.

Slide 15 of 32: In its heyday around 3,500 people called this place home, but by the early 1980s only around 70 residents remained. Today much of the town lies in ruins, including this five-story apartment block, likely built in the 1950s.
Slide 16 of 32: Probably the most striking of the deserted buildings here is the Martin Inn. Once one of the biggest hotels on Canada’s West Coast, it played host to scores of visitors in its 300 rooms, but has now been left to wrack and ruin. In this photograph, urban explorers have captured the extent of the decay in one of the bathrooms.
Slide 17 of 32: This former lounge in the hotel is in a similar state of shocking disrepair. Visitors here are warned to be very cautious, as Ocean Falls’ notoriously rainy weather, coupled with the decay, makes these abandoned buildings treacherous.
Slide 18 of 32: Located on Lake Bennett, this town started life as a boat-building hub in 1897, growing to a proper town with 15,000 people who flowed in during the Klondike Gold Rush. The town was important during the construction of the White Pass and Yukon railway. But the completion of the line in 1900 saw an end to Bennett's purpose and it fell into decline. All that remains is St Andrew’s Church and the ghostly reminders of its previous fortune, such as wharf pilings and scattered glass bottles.
Slide 19 of 32: Normally it's possible to camp at Lake Bennett, which is now managed by Parks Canada and part of the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site, however, the area is closed for the 2020 hiking season. But even in regular times it’s a remote place with no amenities, so it suits more experienced campers.
Slide 20 of 32: Thanks to the nearby Bralorne Gold Mine, the small town of Bradian didn’t just shine during the Gold Rush in the 1870s, but saw another spike in its fortunes during the Great Depression. In the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, Bralorne employed hundreds of men bringing prosperity to this quiet corner of British Columbia, around 200 miles (322km) north of Vancouver.
Slide 21 of 32: The mine shuttered entirely in 1971 and gradually the town faded. For many years Bradian was owned by one family, the Gutenberg's, who undertook some restoration works. Recently it has been reported that Bradian was sold for over CAN $1 million (£587,000) after it was put on the market in 2015.
Slide 22 of 32: Fort Steele first prospered in the 1860s when the Gold Rush brought hordes of prospectors to the area. Later the town caught a second wind in the 1890s when silver, coal and lead were discovered in its mines. Sadly, it wasn’t to last. Decline set in during the 1910s after Fort Steele was overlooked by a new railway route.
Slide 23 of 32: These days the town has found a new lease of life as a noted tourist attraction and has recently reopened to visitors. Around 80,000 people visit each year to experience what life was like during the Gold Rush in this attractive spot, not far from Banff National Park. You can even make a weekend of it with a stay at the recently renovated Windsor Hotel too.
Slide 24 of 32: Travel around 30 minutes southeast of Drumheller – itself known as the world’s dinosaur capital – and you’ll come to the hamlet of Dorothy. Located in Alberta’s Badlands, the town still has a few steadfast local residents – but there are abandoned relics from the early 20th century lying untouched and boarded up.
Slide 25 of 32: Dorothy was once a go-getting pioneer town, growing to around 100 residents at its peak during the 1920s. The prosperity brought by the nearby railway line didn’t last, however. Dorothy’s school shuttered in 1960, and both of the hamlet’s churches closed their doors to worshippers in the 1960s too.
Slide 26 of 32: Like many rural spots in southern Alberta, farming was a key industry and Dorothy once boasted three grain elevators. Now only one remains. Look closely and you can still see the lettering of the Alberta Pacific Grain Company, a firm long-since taken over.
Slide 27 of 32: From the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg to Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, Nova Scotia is packed with famously pretty sights. One of the region’s more off-the-beaten-track experiences, however, is seeing the smattering of abandoned properties near Blue Rocks, on the province’s south coast.
Slide 28 of 32: Eastern Points is a collection of islands, jutting out into the Atlantic. In summer temperatures hit 86°F (30°C) plus, while in winter the harsh weather can bring battering rain and cruel winds that last many months. The not-for-the-faint-hearted conditions are among the reasons why this community has remained largely abandoned since the 1960s. 
Slide 29 of 32: There are a few inhabited buildings, once home to fishermen and mainly occupied during the summer. Many of these dwellings have been passed from generation to generation and you can see a former general store, homes and eerie piers which lie empty and decaying. The best way to take it all in? On a kayaking tour with local company Pleasant Paddling (booking required so check for availability) who offer guided excursions to navigate the calm waters in summer. Don't miss our full guide to Nova Scotia
Slide 30 of 32: Just over an hour’s drive southwest from Saskatoon lies the tiny town of Bents. Its heyday came in the 1930s when one of the last stretches of railway was built into the Canadian Prairies. The trains were halted in the 1970s, when the running of them became financially difficult and the population of Bents gradually fell away.
Slide 31 of 32: The buildings that remain include one of the two huge grain stores from the 1920s, with an abandoned tractor discarded at the front. Inside the general store there's an eerie pair of ice skates hanging on the wall and row after row of empty shelving.
Slide 32 of 32: In addition to a community hall there are several homes still standing too. In one, sits this incredibly creepy TV set, with a spider-like smashed screen. Here are 50 other reasons to fall in love with Canada

Abandoned and creepy spots in Canada

Silver City (Kluane) Ghost Town, Yukon

Silver City (Kluane) Ghost Town, Yukon

Silver City (Kluane) Ghost Town, Yukon

Rowley, Alberta

Rowley, Alberta

Usually during summer you can join free guided tours to see the abandoned houses, stores and the stunning grain elevators. In town on the last Saturday of the month? The pizza night with live music is the best way to meet locals and uncover the best stories and legends. Do check the village’s Facebook page for the latest arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic, however. 

Bankhead, Alberta

Bankhead, Alberta

Bankhead, Alberta

Glenbow Village, Alberta

Another of Alberta’s abandoned spots, Glenbow is around a 40-minute drive from the city of Calgary. Glenbow’s heyday was short-lived, lasting from 1907 to 1927 when a sandstone quarry was being worked nearby. After the quarry’s closure in 1912, many residents left in search of jobs. Today, the village lies eerily empty. 

Discover what to see (and eat) in Calgary

Sandon, British Columbia

Sandon, British Columbia

Sandon was another once-thriving mining town that fell victim to the drop in silver prices in the 1920s. Then a flood in 1955 swept away many of the historic buildings. The original City Hall, dating from 1900, and the Powerhouse remain standing today.

America’s eeriest ghost towns are terrifying too

Ocean Falls, British Columbia

Ocean Falls, British Columbia

Ocean Falls, British Columbia

Ocean Falls, British Columbia

Ocean Falls, British Columbia

Bennett, British Columbia

Bennett, British Columbia

Normally it’s possible to camp at Lake Bennett, which is now managed by Parks Canada and part of the Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site, however, the area is closed for the 2020 hiking season. But even in regular times it’s a remote place with no amenities, so it suits more experienced campers.

Bradian and Bralorne, British Columbia

Bradian and Bralorne, British Columbia

Fort Steele, British Columbia

Fort Steele, British Columbia

These days the town has found a new lease of life as a noted tourist attraction and has recently reopened to visitors. Around 80,000 people visit each year to experience what life was like during the Gold Rush in this attractive spot, not far from Banff National Park. You can even make a weekend of it with a stay at the recently renovated Windsor Hotel too.

Dorothy, Alberta

Dorothy, Alberta

Dorothy, Alberta

Eastern Points, near Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

Eastern Points, near Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

Eastern Points is a collection of islands, jutting out into the Atlantic. In summer temperatures hit 86°F (30°C) plus, while in winter the harsh weather can bring battering rain and cruel winds that last many months. The not-for-the-faint-hearted conditions are among the reasons why this community has remained largely abandoned since the 1960s. 

Eastern Points, near Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

There are a few inhabited buildings, once home to fishermen and mainly occupied during the summer. Many of these dwellings have been passed from generation to generation and you can see a former general store, homes and eerie piers which lie empty and decaying. The best way to take it all in? On a kayaking tour with local company Pleasant Paddling (booking required so check for availability) who offer guided excursions to navigate the calm waters in summer.

Don’t miss our full guide to Nova Scotia

Bents, Saskatchewan

Bents, Saskatchewan

Bents, Saskatchewan

In addition to a community hall there are several homes still standing too. In one, sits this incredibly creepy TV set, with a spider-like smashed screen.

Here are 50 other reasons to fall in love with Canada

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