Famous Ghost Towns in Canada

Abandoned houses in Val-Jalbert, Quebec.
Abandoned houses in Val-Jalbert, Quebec.

Canada is a vast country, and though it is home to around 35 million residents, they are not evenly distributed. In fact, Canada is one of the least densely populated countries in the world.

The country is highly developed today and mostly relies on the service industry, but there was a time when factories were scattered all over the country. These factories provided jobs for people who came from far and wide to settle in. When the factories closed or the mines dried up, the residents left until there was nothing left in their wake except for remnants of buildings and the lives left behind. Here is a list of some of the ghost towns found across Canada.

6. Rowley

Editorial credit: Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock.com.

Rowley is a ghost town in Alberta, found near Drumheller. Rowley's population was never huge. In the early 20th century, there were around 500 residents in the town, and this was the height of its population. Today, only five people reside in Rowley! However, the surrounding area has been restored into a popular tourist attraction, with restored historic buildings. It has even been used as a movie backdrop.

5. Kitsault

Kitsault is found in the extreme north of British Columbia, near the border that is shared with Alaska. Its original population growth was due to a molybdenum mine that opened in 1979. Molybdenum is a material used for strengthening building materials. The town began to empty when the price of molybdenum fell drastically. The empty town today is owned by a private citizen and is not open to the public.

4. Bankhead

Bankhead is a famous ghost town in Banff National Park in Western Canada. Bankhead was previously a successful coal mining town. However, substandard living conditions led to striking miners, the longest of which lasted eight months. Eventually the mine became unprofitable. In 1930, Canada forbid all minig of coal in its National Parks. The mine eventually shut down, and today Bankhead is a common stop for tourists.

3. Nordegg

Also in Alberta, Nordegg has been abandoned since 1955. The area used to be home to a coal mine that eventually became obsolete when society became to turn away from a reliance on coal. Before the mine was shut down, it had been the site of a terrible accident that had killed 29 workers. There is now a monument to the victims on the site.

2. Barkerville

Barkerville, British Columbia, can trace its origins back to the Gold Rush. In the 19th century, when many of the gold mines in California were beginning to be depleted, prospectors set their sights on British Columbia. Barkerville was filled with so much precious gold that it wasn't long before the town's population started to balloon. However, it wasn't long before the gold around Barkerville was over-sourced as well, and residents left the town just as quickly as they had arrived. Today, Barkerville is preserved as a mueseum called "Barkerville Historic Park".

1. Val-Jalbert

Val-Jalbert, Quebec, was first established as a town in the very early 1900s. The source of its growth was a pulp mill that produced materials for newspapers. Interestingly, the decline of this town was not due to the depletion of its resources but was instead due to a wave of the Spanish Flu, which preyed upon the town's population. The flu had a large effect on the small number of people living in the town. In 1929, the mine closed. Today, the former town of Val-Jalbert is a popular ghost town.


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