I never wonder why I do this.
I’m intrigued by the history of the areas I live in, how people lived in another time, and why they up and leave their homes, abandoning what may have been precious items.
I make up stories in my head, some of them inspired by Criminal Minds episodes, and I don’t share most of them with you. I’d rather you not know just how dark my imagination can be. Ha!
I share what history I learn and the pictures I take. I hope to inspire others to learn more about the history around them and to wonder who our ancestors were and how they lived.
I don’t want to instigate vandalism and salvaging.
The sad truth
Vandals and scavengers exist among us.
It’s why the Facebook groups that celebrate abandoned photography in Alberta and B.C. are kept closed to public viewing. Admins demand that members do not share specific locations. Some express consternation because they want the right to explore the properties those before them have discovered.
Farmhouses and barns have been stripped of precious wood, claimed by those who feel they have a right to it since the property appears abandoned.
A similar discussion arose just yesterday. One member said:
In the past, If a person just went in, without damaging anything to get in, took some photos and left, I’d be okay but a few years ago someone basically stripped the entire farmhouse of all sorts of things including cupboards, flooring and more.
More often than not, the structures stand on private property. Some are posted, others are not. Canada has laws about trespassing and photography and smarter people than me have written about them.
My American requests that I do not enter property that’s posted. It sometimes hurts to pass a derelict property, because all I want to do is take pictures, but I respect that he doesn’t want to have to bail me out of any county jail.
Another member of the Facebook group said:
As a landowner with old buildings, having dealt with this, we don’t mind the photographers, we do mind the lack of respect. When in doubt, put the shoe on the other foot. If you had a cool artifact in the middle of your garden in your back yard in town, how okay would you be with strangers crossing your property line to check it out? Whether their house is nearby or not, the principle is the same. We love people that appreciate our treasures and can capture them so well,.. We also love people that respect boundaries and get permission.
Also, if other landowners are like me, some are having massive problems with all the idiots that wreck it for the good – cut fences, trespassing ATVers, hunters within 100 yards of my home, etc. So if I catch you in/at my old buildings, you’re going to initially see a very ugly side of me, because I’m already mad about the 8 other idiots I’ve dealt with this month. When all you want if a really great shot that would preserve the beauty and history on my land. Please do us both a favour and come talk to me first so we can both avoid that initial confrontational conversation.
It occurred at the onset of my ghost-towning career and I remember raging at the idiots who stole from all of us the opportunity to visit this historical landmark in Shrewsbury.
And yesterday, I raged again.
I received an email via this site from Bill Rodgers, who’s helping Paul Melnyk with a website about his Stocks Meadows property.
You may recall Stocks Meadow as the hippie commune I wrote about in Spring 2014. The Great Escape got stuck in the snow and two strangers in search of target practice helped me and Shep out. They took us up to the “abandoned” commune and showed me around.
The initial email said:
Paul’s property is not abandoned. He is overwhelmed by the vandalism caused by people constantly trespassing, trashing and using his property for target practice and ATV. Your blog post, among others we have found, are having the effect of worsening this problem. Paul is at his wits end trying to deal with this constant intrusion and destruction. His plan had been to try and restore the buildings on the property, but every time he returns the work he has done has been destroyed and worse done on top of it. His vehicles and equipment have been stripped or stolen.
The hippie commune is common knowledge around Kelowna. A 2014 Daily Courier story highlighting the grave of Rev. Philip Stocks makes no mention of the land being private property. I learned of it through my then-fitness trainer, whose dirt-bike pals make regular use of the area. And when I mentioned it to my then-landlord, he helped with directions.
That didn’t make me feel any better in thinking I may play a part in the destruction of private property. If you found Stocks Meadows through OurGreatEscape.ca and helped yourself to some vandalism or made off with some precious hippie artifacts, you suck.
Return the property and, while you’re up there, do some cleanup for Paul.
If you learn about Stocks Meadows through this or the original post, be aware it is on private property.
Even if they do not see a sign (people tear them down), please do not trespass. If they end up on the land by mistake, please treat it with respect and leave as soon as they become aware they are trespassing. We should also mention, because there are people who will trespass on purpose and do things like shoot guns and set traps, it could be dangerous for innocent adventurers to venture onto the propety. Guns they may hear but animal traps they will not!
Rodgers and his company, JBCR Virtual Solutions, are building a free WordPress website for Paul, featuring photos and history of the area. To make amends, I’m placing an Editor’s Note on the initial post and submitting several of my pictures to the website.
If you’re an adventurer or ghost-towner, respect No Trespassing signs and take a little caution when you don’t see any. The property may very well be abandoned but that doesn’t mean someone doesn’t own it.
Everywhere else, leave only footprints and take only photographs.