Monday, March 26, 2012

If These Woods Could Talk

I live near the ghost town of Swords.  It's not much to look at, and you certainly wouldn't notice anything driving by except a big old white house.  It's one of those blink-and-you-miss-it kind of situations.

I've known about Swords for some time, but have only recently begun to research it's establishment and history.  I've passed by the old general store countless times, driving or running, and I have always been curious about the building.  I wasn't aware that Swords was actually designated a ghost town, or that it had such a rich history.

To start -

Swords was originally called Maple Lake Station, for obvious reasons.  The Ludgate Lumber Company began logging in the area in 1894, which led to the development of the town.  A school was built in 1904.  Houses and other buildings popped up as well.

The Sword family were a prominent family of the area, and soon the town changed it's name to Swords to avoid confusion with another Maple Lake Station.

Buildings that stand today include the general store and the school.  The general store is located 2.25 km south of my house, and the school about 1 km farther south.  Immediately south of the general store are two houses.  One was purchased in the last few years and work has been done to start restoring it.  All work appears to have halted, however, and the property is once again up for sale.  Immediately beside that house and a bit father back in the woods is yet another house.  There are plenty of outbuildings that have collapsed.

I have poked around these properties a bit, and they're fascinating.  I want to tell you their stories, present and past, and I will.  History will unfold as the present does.

I visited Swords yesterday with my Grandfather.  Some words that he spoke stuck with me, as they always do.  He said that the thing he feels the most when he sees places like the old Swords general store are people's stories.  The lives that have been lived.  Their memories, hopes and dreams.

People make a place what it is.  It's a ghost's town, and I wonder if there are any hanging about.  They're there, I'm sure, waiting in the woods to tell me their stories.  I'll tell you what I find out.

What's happened here?  What does the future hold for the ghost town of Swords and it's surviving structures?

There's much to learn.


  1. Interesting that the railway opened up this part of the country. It was part of the Booth Railway network. Which was the Canadian Atlantic Railway, which became the Grand Trunk Railway, which became the Canadian National Railway.

    Booth himself was an interesting historical character, living to the age of 98 and at one time was the world's largest producer of lumber.

    Ghost towns are cool and I agree with your Grandfather that each have their own stories. Having worked on the Railway gangs in the north, we would often come across totally isolated ghost towns of various sizes. You could not help but to think back to what they would have looked like at their peak.

    1. I knew this post would get your attention because of the railway connection. I intend on exploring that further in future posts. The snowmobile trail (which the store proerty borders, or sits on) is actually the old railway.

  2. Very interesting start to the story of Swords. I look forward to reading more.

  3. Replies
    1. Cathy - Swords is located about 3km south on Tally Ho/Swords road off of hwy 518. About 25 minutes outside of Parry Sound.