I showed up in Owen Sound long after the demise of an industry that engulfed a few city blocks for nearly a century and a half.  The buildings were empty and exposed to the elements.  The people, ideas and the dreams had moved on.

I think most of us have felt abandoned at least once in our lives.  Our buildings don’t meet current needs, our facades don’t convey the right image any longer, our infrastructure is no longer in fashion and we don’t like the way our windows and doors function anymore. Needless to say, there is always a mess that needs to be cleaned up!

I photographed these images on a Spring morning in 2001, just days before the buildings were to be demolished.  I was granted a few hours to go beyond the protective fencing that surrounded the site.  The following images speak to me of what was, what is and what is to come (a little imagination is necessary).   There is beauty in the ashes – wait and watch for it!

abandon  /  verb  (trans.)
1.  give up completely (a course of action, a practice, a way of thinking)   – discontinue (a scheduled event) before completion
2.  cease to support or look after (someone); desert  – leave (a place, typically a building) empty or uninhabited, without intending to return.  – leave (something, typically a vehicle or vessel) decisively, esp. as an act of survival  – condemn 
     someone or something to (a specified fate) by ceasing to take an interest in or look after them.
3.  allow oneself to indulge in (a desire or impulse)

 William Kennedy & Sons (est. 1860 Owen Sound, Ontario) was a family business until 1951 and became Black-Clawson-Kennedy in 1961 after the sale to the Black-Clawson Company of Hamilton, Ohio.  The company closed it’s doors in 1997.  “Kennedy’s machine shop and foundry advertised “Castings of every design.” Indeed, they built farm implements and equipment for every type of saw, grist, flour and cement mill. In the foundry they also built water-wheel hydraulic turbines, which drove machinery before electricity. Kennedy always took a leading part in the development of new industries including the pulp and paper business, mining, the railway and later the development of hydroelectric projects.” (The Kennedy Empire, Grey Roots Museum & Archives)

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