In 1897, the Harrison’s built a flour mill to process grain into flour for local farmers. A year after opening, they added a large stone warehouse.  The mill was operated by three generations of the Harrison family.


Originally powered by steam, the mill was converted to diesel engines in the 1930’s and then electrical current in 1947. An associated workshop enabled the Harrison’s to make repairs on site.  As well, they did mechanical work for others until dismantling the shop in 1955.

In the 1940’s the family purchased a lumber business and built a new lumber yard adjacent to the mill in 1962. They phased out the lumber business in 1972 but continued to mill grain until the late 1990’s.

The two grain elevators were built in 1928 by Federal Grain Limited.  They were moved to this location late 1940s.


The facility is believed to be the oldest mill in Western Canada.

Information obtained through the Manitoba Historical Society.


In the search for a car in the tall grass of a farmer’s field, we came upon a sign, off in the distance, unreadable to the naked eye.  Further investigation, deeper into the bush and through waist high grass, led us to a private cemetery on private property.  We were able to find one marker.


After inquiry at the local town office we discovered that this private cemetery was the final resting place of 14 individuals ranging in age.  The oldest recorded death was 1890.  This is the final resting place of the elderly and unfortunately, the young too.  Deaths were recorded as appendicitis to drowning.   Except for one, markers were hard to find.  So sad.


I’ve have visited this location a couple of times now.   The first time was hard as it is Reg’s old home and after his family moved away it was the victim of terrible vandalism.  I can’t imagine going back to my childhood home and seeing it in such disrepair.  So, the first time I was there I did not go inside.  I explored the property with Reg and heard about all the things he built and did as a young man with his Dad, his brother, his dog.  I know which trees he planted as a boy and the tree he calls Grandpa’s willow.  I enjoyed the view of the Long River through the property, winding and weaving and winding and weaving again.  The rock road they made across the river at a shallow, narrow point where they could drive their vehicles across.  That him and his new bride made this home their home for a period of time before they moved away to B.C.

Reg’s grandparents immigrated from Russia in 1926 and began farming in the Holmfield area.  Reg and I have something in common, we are both first generation Canadians.

The second time we went, my family joined us and we explored more of the back country and we just walked and talked.  Again, I explored outside before finally deciding to go in.


There are a lot of neat little places and finds all over this property and you could literally spend days here exploring.  We walked through pasture and along the river, we found beaver dams, lady slippers, driftwood.  Reg pointed out the fence posts he recalls pounding in as a boy. And he showed us the rock where he buried his dog.  The property is holds a dear place in his heart and he speaks with such pride of what it was when he was a boy/young man.


This is also where I have taken some of my favorite still shots of barbwire, old posts, hammered in nails in a granary.  And I now know how he lost the tip of one of his fingers in an auger accident.

When I think about my visits to the Sawatzky Homestead I think of all those things and the photo Reg took of my husband and my daughter crossing the Long River.  What a Dad wouldn’t do for his child.  Makenna slung over Cade’s shoulder carrying her through the water and rocks while holding her “dragon horn” she found on our walk.


Or the photo of my on the old jalopy car he had as a toddler.  He dug it out of a scrap pile and tried to sit inside it realizing the only way to ride it now was on top of it.


Great memories for all.



This old store was opened in 1886 by businessman Frank J. Messner. In addition to selling merchandise to the surrounding community, he also served as the local postmaster from 1901 to 1919. When Mr. Messner retired in 1919, he sold the store to William Collis who operated it for the next 57 years. In 1976, Mr. Collis sold the store’s contents at auction. It was later restored to the way it looked originally and is now used as a museum.

On this day we were lucky enough to get a personal tour of the building.


This was a real experience and a whole lot of nostaglia for my shooting partner.  As a boy he remembers coming to this store with his Dad to purchase supplies for his family farm.  What a treat to be able to go back in time with him and listen to his stories about this store, being in the building, standing at the counter, sitting at the little bench drinking a Coke and being there with his brother and his Dad.  It was neat to know that some of those things have always been in the building.  That some things never change. I know that he won’t like that I’ve posted a photo of him, but being inside these buildings with someone who has experienced what is inside first hand is part of the excitement.

Thank you Reg, for taking me back in time with you and sharing this with me.  This was special.


If this building is ever open for a tour, I recommend you go.

CHURCH – a bibical assembly

This lovely little church, the pride of its small town, still holds a yearly service.  A personal tour of this building, previously arranged, filled us with more history than we could absorb.  I think it would be amazing to see some wedding photos taken inside and outside of this old buildings.

The construction of this church began in 1906 and was finished in 1908 and was formally opened by Rev W.R. Johnson.




In 1888, John Menarey (1850-1928) moved to Manitoba from Seaforth, Ontario. Arriving with his wife and four daughters, they settled on a farm near Holmfield, Manitoba. He broke land for growing crops and built a log house and barn on a small hill with a prominent view in all directions. A son and four more daughters were born there, and all would eventually attend school in the area. In 1910, this house, constructed by a local mason was built.  It featured field stone walls and a metal mansard-shaped roof. Menarey sold the farm in 1920 and went to live with one of his daughters in Winnipeg whee he died on January 20th, 1928.

The former Menarey residence now sits abandoned. It is a designated historic site and is listed on the Manitoba Historical Site.

June 3 2018 (3).JPG

I can tell you that the current owner of this property is not a fan of trespassers.  We were granted permission onto the property and entrance into the home.  When we went back about a week or two later, he would not allow us to go inside a second time.

This is also where I found my second purse of the day.


This is also where I found out what a terrified baby raccoon sounds like when its calling for its mother!!!  I can tell you that I navigated the steep narrow staircase like a ninja.  I didn’t think I could move that fast on a dirty, narrow staircase.

This is a beautiful old home which is structurally sound considering it is standing out in the wide open of the harsh elements of prairie weather.  Heat, rain, wind and bitterly cold winters.  The metal roof has maple leafs imprinted on each panel.  The detail is amazing.  Each room was painted in a different color.  It had a spacious upstairs and out the windows you could see for miles over the flat prairies.

If you find this home, please do not enter the property without permission.  It is surrounded by a “hot” fence.




Strange title for an abandoned home.  But its an accurate reflection of the story of the unwed daughter of the widower that lived in this home.  Miss M was left on the shelf, unmarried, living and caring for her elderly father in this abandoned home.

Her family originated from Ontario and in 1922 after her mother’s death her father moved the family to the area.

The family moved to this site in 1929 and spent 40 Christmases here.  The father made use of the wood on the land making neck yokes and handles for axes & shovels, etc.  They had milking and beef cows and a lush garden.  Mr. M sowed his last grain crop of the age of 80 years old.  Shortly afterwards, himself and Miss M moved to town because of his ailing health.


Miss M. lived in this home with her father and I am told that on occasion she would call ahead to the bus garage and make arrangements to be picked up at this home and get a ride to town in the AM when the kids went to school.  She would spend the day in town running her errands, attending her appointments and who knows what else.  She would then return home, on the bus, with her bags and belongings in tow and get dropped off back at home.

We did not have permission to enter this home but could see in the front porch/veranda area.  Inside the windows I could make out a light fixture hanging from the ceiling and there were curtains still in the window.


I am positive that if I had gotten into this house, I would have found my second purse of the day!


Further inspection of this little home showed that it was truly showing the signs of wear, age and abandonment.  The one wall on the far side is caving in which is why this veranda hangs so.

I wonder if her father made that handle on that shovel in the background, by the chair?

I love how this little bachelorette was taken care of while taking care of her father.  One phone call and she was assured a safe ride to and from town and then she would return safely home.


The Fairdale School District was established formally in May 1883 and a frame school building was erected in what is now the RM of Killarney-Turtle Mountain.  In 1897, the schoolhouse was moved by a local family to where it last stood and was later destroyed by fire.   It closed in January 1968. Available information suggests the former school building was used as a granary and was present at the site as recently as 2005.  A Manitoba Historian attended the site in October, 2011 but all that was found during the visit were some fire-charred wood fragments and the bricks from its chimney. A rock monument nearby commemorates it.

Among the teachers of Fairdale School were A. L. Davidson (1883), Irene Arnott (1911), and Mrs. Devona Kentner (1967).

Unfortunately, this is all that remains of Fairdale School.




This is probably the house that truly started my obsession.  This was Reg & I’s first outing together and I really had no idea what to expect. Reg says my expression was priceless as we rounded the driveway and I finally spotted the house through the trees. For days afterwards I went back to this property just to look at it.   We had permission to enter the property & home.  I was surprised that homes like these are still out there.  That they are being preserved.  That land isn’t been broken from corner to corner for fields.


For the sake of keeping this property secure and free of further unwelcomed visitors, I won’t reveal the name of the property owners or the ancestors who lived there.  I was lucky enough to get a bit of the history on this place and even know of some of the later renters of this home.

I will mention that the home is now occupied by raccoons who do not appreciate unannounced company or company at all.

After parking and taking some shots from the outside I make my way toward the front door.  To my surprise, I see this old player piano!!  Not long after we visited this old beauty, someone was there, moved the cover on the keys back and didn’t move it back.  The keys were exposed to the elements even more than they already were and the keys were ruined.  So very sad.


I then made my way, hesitantly I must say, because I truly am a bit of a chicken shit, through the door.  This was a whole new experience too!  I had only ever taken photos from the road.  Now I had permission to enter!!  I didn’t know where to look or what to take photos of.  I was in awe.  The first thing I see is this staircase.  I wanted to see the railings that were attached.  You instantly start to picture how you think this house looked before everyone left.  Before the windows broke, before the masked bandits took over.

I take another step in and around the corner to what was what left of a stone fireplace across from a bay window.  I start to imagine the furniture that may have been inside, where they put the Christmas tree.


As my make my way around from the fireplace and the living room I step into what I imagine was the dining room.  This leads into the kitchen and in this kitchen is an old stove.


We make our way up the stairs, I’m hesitant of what critter will greet me as my head pops up above floor level.  We come up to the bathroom, the tub and toilet are still there.  And a shower curtain!  The upstairs is where the new tenants spend most of their time.

This was also where I found my first purse.  Every house I stepped foot into that day, I found a purse.  Being respectful, I didn’t open them to see if there was anything inside.

From upstairs I can look outside the 3 big windows out of the front of the house, in the area that hangs over the veranda where the old piano now stands.  What a beautiful yard this would have been.


This was the homestead of a family that still farms in the area. The home was later rented out and is used by the local kids to hang out and party.

I love, love, love this old house.  I think its still one of my very favorites.


On Mother’s Day my family wanted to fish!  Works for me, I guess.  I just take a book and my camera.

On this day as my husband drives around searching for the perfect fishing spot,  I search the area for roofs and old buildings.  On our travels through the back roads I spotted this old house.  Not familiar with the area, no maps in hand and no neighboring houses around, all I could get were some road shots.


Its a lovely stone home nestled up against a tree line.  A big brown barn stands out in front.

It wasn’t your standard home.  Rectangular, one-storey.  You can see the bay window on the side and the way the home changes direction off the front entrance.  Lots of corners, windows and doors.  And bricks, not stone.   I imagine it was a beautiful home in its glory.


In 2016 we drove by this house on the way back from Swift Current to Regina.  This past December, the 28th (2017) to be exact, during a wicked cold snap, I insisted that we stop.  I wasn’t out there very long because it was -47 with the windchill and this house is right on the highway.  I snapped a few quick shots.


I would have loved to have seen the inside.  There was no evidence of a driveway or anything and there wasn’t a lot of snow but it was just t0o cold to stand at the side of the road for to long.


If I ever find out more, I’ll post.  And maybe one day I’ll get out that way when its not freezing cold out.


This “quaint little church” was built in 1913.  It was built as a Methodist Church but little consideration was given to denomination.  Settlers who attended the Church included Russell’s, Arnott’s, Mitchell’s, Nay’s, Rigby’s, Fisher’s, Smith’s, Lamb’s, Mustard’s, McKnights and Kerr’s amongst others.



Andrew Stewart was the first minister of the Church and Dr. Allison was the longest serving minister (10 years).

The local ladies groups raised money for the Church by holding fowl suppers and making quilt squares to sell  which raised $400.00.

Many weddings and funerals were held in the Church as well.

It closed in 1972 but was still used for 4H Achievement meetings, family gatherings and UCW meetings.

Considering its over a hundred years old, I would say its in remarkable shape.  Being relatively new to this hobby, I did not venture inside so, I will go back and I will have a look to see what the inside is like. The outside has also been well-maintained given it is age and its exposure to the harsh, cold winters on the praries.

As you can see the sun setting from the West makes for a beautiful picture in very quiet country.

A night shoot is a must.


There is something about these long legged birds.  They are so graceful to watch.


The Blue Heron is one of my favorite birds.  We see a lot of them around here but I usually don’t have my camera or he gets away to fast.  Not this time.  He was a very photogenic bird.  We started our photo session on one side of the bay, he walked across to the other side on the edge of the ice and stayed here until I left.

Spring is a great time to shoot birds in our area.  We have the heron, loon and all sorts of ducks that stop by on their fly over my little part of the South and they make their way North.


This school is located on private property.  Most of my fellow abandoned seekers will know this location and have more than likely been to this site already.

This school district was established formally in the Spring of 1885 and the first school was built for a minimal $440.00. The first name requested for the school was Maple Leaf but it was rejected as another school was already named so.  There were 10 children enrolled in the school and the first teacher was Mr. Thomas Atkinson.  A new school was built in 1905/6, the old one being remodeled as a house which was completely destroyed in 1942. The present school building dates from 1906, when a one-room structure was built of concrete blocks, a building material unique to the early twentieth century.  The district was dissolved in January 1967 and at one point the school was said to be used as a granary.


I don’t know a whole lot about this property except for what I have found online and through the town’s history book.  I found out about it many years ago from my neighbor who attended the school and posted a photograph of herself in front of it on her Facebook page.  She told me the location and for many years I had the info tucked away and finally went there in May to check it out.


I wish I could have seen this place when the bell tower was still attached.


This is another place that I will revisit as my experience grows.


This is another site that I will revisit and reshoot.


First thing I must add is that this building is on private property.  So if you happen to find it, please be sure that you get permission before entering onto the property.


The first school district this school was built for was organized on May 16, 1885.  Trustees were appointed and the school was built for $500.00.  When the school opened in 1886 the first teacher was Mrs. Rae Richardson and the enrollment was 17.  It consolidated with a bigger school district in 1968.  The last teacher at the school had 7 students.


After I’ve visited a site, I needed to know its history.  Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes not.  This school was and is still well known for its baseball team.  I was fortunate enough to find plenty of info in the town’s history book.  The teams that played out of here were very successful and good.


I imagine myself back here one night when the sky is clear attempting to take night shots of this history filled building surrounded by stars.  I must also say it looks amazing with the sunset in the background.

I love this old school and the landowner has welcomed me to keep taking photos here.



This is one of the first places I ventured out to to.  I had no idea that this was here and it was actually a friend that told me about it.  I took my daughter with me.  Its a neat little place but to be honest with you, I wasn’t sure what I was expecting or what I should take photos of.  I need to go back, I need to go inside and I need to recapture this place.  Since these photos were taken I think I’ve grown as a photographer and will be the first to tell you that these are not great shots.


There is a lot written about this Church in the history books for this area but I think this sign outside sums it up pretty well.  My understanding is that this church still holds a yearly service but I don’t know if that is accurate or not.  Whoever takes care of this place does an amazing job.  It is in very good condition and the area is well kept.


I would love to try to shoot this at night, one day.  And I’ll go inside.  I think this would also be the perfect place to take pictures of your special day.


So in April I attended a course put on by Chris Atrell.   He had me take my camera off auto and push buttons.  I sat through the theory part of the course but did not attend the night shoot as I did not have a tripod.  I figured I had taken enough away from the evening and that when I was ready, I would do the course again and learn the night photography part of it.  I went away excited and ready to figure out this camera once and for all.

I spent a few evenings at the beach taking photos of the sunset and the birds.  I could play with my exposure and depth of field and all the other buttons and it wouldn’t matter what happened.  So that’s what I did.  I hauled my bag out and sat there with a good friend who shares the same interest as me but her too, never has had the time to learn the ins and outs of her camera. We bounced ideas off each other and different settings.

If you’ve never been, sit with Chris through one of his courses, his photography is incredible, to me anyway cause he to loves the old abandoned houses. He has so many tricks for night photography and he sure knows how to find all those old abandoned homes. The thing I really like about Chris is that he delivers his information in a way that doesn’t scare you, it excites you and it makes you want to try and do what he does.  He walks around the class, checks to make sure you’re where he is and if you can’t figure it out, he’ll do it for you.  I think the other thing that I liked about him is that I was interested in what he was interested in, the abandoned homes, etc and as I said, he delivers it in a way that is easy to understand.

The course also made me want a new camera.  My SX60 HS is considered a point and shoot camera but it has an amazing zoom lens.  The lens would cost a fortune to buy alone.   That being said, a point and shoot is still limiting in its aperture settings and much more. It’s not a bad camera by any means but I knew a DSLR would hopefully let me go to the next level, if I could get there. I had to see what I might be missing by not having a DSLR.  I found an older Rebel with the lenses I wanted for a good price so I bought it.  I told my husband that I would sell it if it didn’t work for me. Well I like them both and I do find that I use the Rebel more than I use the SX60, sometimes. I think that if you know what your camera can do and you know how to use all the settings, it doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have, you can get good shots.


Long ago, as long as I can remember, I loved photography.  I took pictures of my dog, I took pictures of my friends, I took pictures of random animals, I took pictures of anything that caught my eye.  My Aunt Darlene took pictures and they were good.  One even made it into a calendar.  I wanted to do that too.

When my film was full, my first camera was a 110mm,  I would save up my money or beg my Grandfather for some and walk over to Superstore and get my photos developed.  When they brought in the one-hour photofinishing service, I was beside myself.  I would drop my film off and I would wander around the store for an hour and wait…did they turn out, did I get any good ones?  Hoping that the one shot I got of so and so wasn’t blurry. Oh the anticipation.  Some times I would get double prints just to have or to give away.

Times have changed.  I no longer have a 35mm, I have two Canon’s.  A SX60 HS and a Rebel XSI.  I don’t have a preference, they both serve their purpose.  Ask Reg, I talk to my cameras too.  Sometimes they don’t do what I want – or better yet, I can’t get them to do what I think they should do.

Fast forward 30 years and here I am hunting for old houses.  I drive up and down the gravel roads and search for abandoned homes, armed with my RM and back road maps.  Then I call the land owners, tell them what my plan is and get permission to enter onto their property.  Most times the person will tell you about the property.  Even better, first hand information.

I can spend hours on a property and not even realize I’ve been there that long.  For me, its my medication, release.  I find it very therapeutic.  Cheap therapy. Out in the fresh air and just enjoying the scenery around you.

I will admit that I am hesitant photographing people.  My daughter will let me take photos of her and she’s a great subject.  I would try taking portraits but I’m worried that I would disappoint someone.  I need to build my own confidence or, I need to just take the plunge.   I want to try night photography, I’m scared.  I’ll get there though, I’m getting braver and braver everyday.