The old hollow house on Tannery Road

Abandoned house on Tannery RoadI am oddly fascinated by this abandoned and decaying house. It sits at the top of the first hill you come to if you turn east off Cooper Road (north of Madoc) on Tannery Road. (Named, as I learned today from my friend Doris, for a tannery that operated long ago right at the intersection of Cooper Road and the road that now commemorates it.) There is something starkly beautiful about the house’s dark, crumbling frame against the backdrop of a bright blue sky. Here is another photo:

Tannery Road House 2

I took both these pictures back in mid-April, before the spring’s foliage had really started; when you drive by the house at the moment (i.e. in late June), you can barely see it for all the branches and greenery. But on a bright fall or winter or early-spring day, it really stands out.

I think it’s not just the interesting lines of the house that draw my eye to it. I think it’s also the natural curiosity one has about the lives of the people who once lived there, back when it was a regular inhabited place and not a crumbling wreck. I believe I may actually have once, long ago in my childhood here in Queensborough, known a family that lived in it, and perhaps that adds to the house’s mystery and allure. What ever become of them? What ever became of everybody who lived here? Does anyone who once inhabited the place ever stop by to look at it, as I do, or to poke around in its remains for a reminder of something from their own childhood?

The house has its secrets. And I suppose they will stay with it.

29 thoughts on “The old hollow house on Tannery Road

  1. Hi Katherine, maybe some of the other readers will have information about this. I’m with you … I often wonder who lived in abandoned houses, why the houses became abandoned, why they sit there in such shape, etc. It’s all very interesting, and if the walls could speak …

    Speaking of past lives, and houses in your area, I’m wondering if you ever knew of an elderly woman by the name of Mrs. Moon. I remember her from the late 50s and mid-60s. The story is that she lived in the Queensborough area (although maybe it was Cooper, Hazzards Corners, etc.). The interesting part of the story is that even at her age (I’d say she was mid-70s), she would walk into town (Madoc) almost every day, and then walk back home. I used to see her often, always with a satchel to carry her parcels and groceries, and sometimes using a parasol to shade herself from the sun. She had a son, Johnny. Does any of this ring a bell? There was an interesting story about her house, too.

    • Sash, your mention of Mrs. Moon rings the vaguest and most distant of bells. I think I might have heard of her, but I don’t know that I ever saw her on those walking trips to town. What a thing!

  2. Mrs. Moon and her son Johnny lived in the home pictured above. They are both long gone now, I think the property may still belong to a family member living away from this area.

    • You are kidding! How uncanny is that, to think that the people I was thinking of are the people who had the house that Katherine photographed. Really, I had no idea of where Mrs. Moon lived, just that it was in the Queensborough area, and I’ve often thought of them.

      She would often stop and chat for a few minutes, and we often wondered how she could stand the long walk to and from town so often. Thanks for the information; I feel like a puzzle has been solved.

      • Indeed: a puzzle solved (rather inadvertently), and your excellent memory was right yet again, Sash. But it’s such a sad story too. There was a lot of that kind of sadness in those days – and I suppose there still is, though perhaps it’s not as public as it once was. It makes one think.

      • Well, it certainly IS a puzzle solved, isn’t it? I had always wondered about Mrs. Moon after we moved, because we saw her so frequently. I was about 3 1/2 when I first remember her passing our house. She was using a parasol and she explained why she used it, even when it was not raining. Also, she showed me something that she had in her satchel — parsley. Yes, Mrs. Moon introduced me to parsley, which I had never heard of or seen until then.

        And now we know about the mystery of the old house. Small world, isn’t it?

      • It is indeed, Sash. I find it so interesting that it was Mrs. Moon, of all people, who introduced you to parsley! (My introduction came much later in life – when I was in my mid-teens. As I am sure you well know, fresh herbs weren’t something most people used in the Madoc area when we were growing up!)

      • Mrs. Moon was a kind woman, and the part that amazed most of us is that she would make that long walk into town (and back) almost every day. I wasn’t sure of the distance so I went to Google Maps and they’re claiming it’s approximately six kilometres each way. That’s a good, long walk for anybody, but she was in her 70s. Yes, I still remember that day when she explained parsley, but the really interesting part was when she told me why she was using an umbrella even when it wasn’t raining. And, now, with climate change and all, so many people are seeing the benefit of parasols. Not only a kind woman, but a wise woman; thank you, Mrs. Moon.

      • It would be really, really interesting to know Mrs. Moon’s background. Your description of her walking activity (not to mention the parsley thing) makes me think she might have been a refugee from the early- and mid-20th-century troubles in Europe, perhaps Eastern Europe. Is that a possibility, do you think, Sash? Did she (for instance) speak English with an accent?

      • Hi Katherine, I can’t remember an accent. I do seem to remember Mrs. Moon’s voice was of a normal pitch (not a low voice, not a soprano-ish voice, just a regular tone to it.) I remember that she always (as far as I can recall) wore long dresses (mid-calf length or longer) and they were usually in dark tones, dark grey or black. I seem to remember Mrs. Moon wearing a straw hat and, of course, she wore glasses. But as for an accent, I don’t remember anything like that. I wonder if anybody else from the area would remember. Still, we could never get over her making that long journey almost every day. We would see her going into town maybe mid-morning and then coming back in the afternoon. Knowing this, I wonder now if she had survived her husband, which may or may not account for the darker clothing, and I had never heard of a Mr. Moon (except for Johnny, her son.) Mrs. Moon always seemed to be cheerful and happy to speak to people, although I’m sure her feet were killing her from all of that walking.

        I still think this is so interesting. Here I’ve been wondering for years whatever became of her, and you’ve been wondering who lived in that house, and now we both have our answers.

    • Oh my goodness, Anne, thank you for the information! That was not the family I was thinking of when I said I thought I knew who once had lived there. You know so much about local history and lore!

  3. Love this entry….it appeals to my sense of history, mystery and built heritage. I too wonder about the people who lived there, and the lives they lived. Their hardships and their wondrous moments. And which of those took place in the home. Its reminiscent of a 1784 Loyalist home in New Brunswick……27 babies were reputed to have been born in the house:

    http://www.kingstonnb.ca/Built%20Heritage/Paddock%20House.html

    • “History, mystery and heritage” – very nicely put, Mark! And my lord, that tiny 1784 house: most people today would call it a shed, wouldn’t they? To think of all the people who lived there (and all the babies born)… it is really something.

  4. Abandoned houses like these are one of my favourite things about Ontario — for their history, mystery and heritage. In a field near the farmhouse where we lived in Inkerman, Ont. (the place where we had the pet pig), was a house very like this one. We wandered through it just once: In one room was nothing but a long, long braid of hair. In another, the floor was covered with handwritten letters. My sister scooped up as many as she could and my mother spent days afterward reading the letters aloud to us. I was 5; I can’t remember the letters’ stories. Phew –but yes. History, mystery, heritage.

  5. Katherine et al – if memory serves me right, I believe the reason for the daily treks into town by our mysterious Mrs Moon were to provide housekeeping / cook / laundress duties to village chatelaines and their families… While there, she would also shop for groceries she could not grow herself, to lug home in her large tote(s)… I too remember her kind, though tired face, and indeed her attire replete with umbrella raised on a hot summer’s day… If there were an accent, I’d vote in favour of a British or Scottish flavoured one…As a young lady, I recall my Mom always stopping when coming upon Mrs Moon as she walked, and insisting against her protests that she only had a little further to go, that she get in our car and allow us to give her at least some respite from her day, whether at the start, or end of same… Mom reinforced how hard this dear lady had to work to make ends meet, and seems to me that there was some event – that left her becoming the bread-winner and sole provider….

    • Thank you, Ruthanne. It’s good to read another account, and I often wondered if Mrs. Moon had a job in town, keeping someone’s house, etc. Yes, she must have had it very hard in life, trying to make ends meet, and having to work so late in life. And that walk into town and back must have been a killer. How her feet must have ached, especially after a day’s work. As my grandmother used to say, “young people today don’t know the meaning of a hard day’s work.” That was told to me when Grandma found out that I was getting four consecutive days off over Christmas — something unheard of in her day.

      • Yeah, right … “kids these days”. That was a bit softer than the tone my grandmother used! LOL I can still hear her going on about it.

      • Uhhh, not that I can remember. But, “you kids don’t know the meaning of a dollar” was!

      • I meant to ask … do you know someone who used to moan about the hike to school in winter? Sounds like there’s a story there!

      • I think that’s the pretty standard old-timer line! Not so much as in moaning about it, but as a way to show the “kids these days” that they have it way easier than they can possibly imagine.

      • Come to think of it, my mother had commented about the long walk to school in winter, and how much they appreciated the offer of a ride by a passing farmer. She wasn’t doing it in the “kids these days” tone, but just as a bit of reminiscing. I guess if we “kids” had walked a mile or two to school like that, maybe we would be saying the same thing.

        Which brings me to this: Kids these days! Nobody knows how to write! They all rely on their phones! (Just joking, but it is pretty much the truth.)

    • Oh wow, Ruthanne, thank you so much for sharing this memory! It’s incredible to think of the hard life Mrs. Moon must have had, though it’s lovely to hear of the impression of kindness and goodness she left with people like you and Sash, despite the hardships of her life. Inspiring, actually.

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