NAME: Balaclava
COUNTY: Renfrew
CLIMATE: Snow in winter
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Spring summer or fall
COMMENTS: One occupied dwelling. Visit Ghost Towns of Ontario for more info.
REMAINS: Sawmill general store blacksmith and a few assorted outbuildings

Balaclava fits the Hollywood version of the 'picture perfect' ghost town; a row of ramshackle buildings with sagging roofs, huddled along a narrow road, while doors and windows creak in the wind. The only thing missing are the tumbleweeds rolling down the middle of the road. The remains of Balaclava also include an impressive old water powered sawmill, one of the last to operate in Ontario. If you look closely, you can still see pieces of machinery and wagon wheels inside the building. The sawmill was built in 1855 and purchased by the Richards family in 1868. Interestingly, the Richards family was taken to court in 1903, on an early piece of anti-pollution legislation. Apparently, the Richards had been using the stream as a disposal unit for all their sawdust. The stream was becoming clogged and another mill, further downstream, complained. The Richards lost and shortly after that, added the huge burner, which still stands today. The Richards family operated the mill until 1957, when they sold it to Donald Dick, Although Balaclava had been a busy industrial and farming centre throughout the latter part of the 19th century, for some reason it was bypassed by the railways. That, along with failing farms and dwindling lumber supplies signalled it's demise. Stubbornly, the mill continued to operate on water power until 1967. When it shut down, Balaclava became a ghost town. There is still one occupied house in Balaclava. Well kept, with brand new sky blue aluminum siding and a large For Sale sign in front, it presents a striking and humourous contrast to the buildings across from it. Submitted by: Jeri Danyleyko

Ontario has more than 200 ghost towns but only one has the distinction of having a "classical" ghost town setting. Balaclava has that distinction for it is the site of one of Ontario's last water powered sawmills. The first sawmill was built in 1855. The mill changed ownership in 1868 and was held by the new owners and family until 1957 when it was acquired by new ownership. Much of the original mill was destroyed by fire in 1936 but was quickly rebuilt. In its heyday, the mill was producing one million board feet of lumber per week. The mill continued to operate for only a few years after 1957 and ceased operations when the surrounding timber supply became depleted. Much of the town still survives but without inhabitants. If you plan a visit, bring your camera.Submitted by Henry Chenoweth.

Courtesy Jeri Danyleyko

Courtesy Jeri Danyleyko