Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Abandonment Issues: Globe / Nicholson File
Along the banks of the Ganaraska River that weaves through the southern Ontario town of Port Hope and empties into Lake Ontario, stands what was once known as the Globe File / Nicholson File manufacturing plant.
According to the Globe File page on PortHopeHistory.com, "Frederick Outram established the Globe File Manufacturing Company here in 1888, on the former Beamish Mill property. In 1901, Globe File was sold to the Nicholson File Company of the United States. Nicholson was subsequently taken over by Cooper Industries in 1972, and remained in Port Hope until NAFTA (1994) led to its being moved to Mexico."
According to the real estate listing, the building is 7800 square feet, with two elevators, light fixtures and a hydro station. The asking price is $799,000.
Harnessing the renewable energy provided by the Ganaraska River, the plant and its machines were powered by water and steam. There are several signs indicating that portions of the building may possibly have been used as an auto-body shop at some point between then and now.
Below is a Nicholson File catalog page I found online.
This plant is quite dangerous to explore, and the explorers in this story took some risky chances that some may say border on stupid. Don't try this at home, well, you know what I mean.
In Febrauary 2011, the first room to welcome these explorers was the northeast portion of the plant, along the river. A junk pile stood floor to ceiling in the corner, mostly furniture, as well as a raccoon carcass. A boat sat prominently in the centre of this large room, a row of skylights high above. Inside the boat, the floor was sketchy, while the outside had been tagged. Two cars rested on flat tires behind the boat, their windows smashed, glass littering the seats and dashboards. I know absolutely nothing about cars, but I've been informed that the green one was a 1974-75 Plymouth Valiant, and the yellow one was a 1977-78 Renault Le Car.
Bright green moss announced itself like high end art on the red brick walls. The building was sealed tight, almost too tight. The exterior windows and doors had been boarded and welded shut with whatever was nearby. Plywood, 2x4s, wooden skids, metal grates and wires are nailed, screwed, welded and tied up sporadically to the window and door frames. The roof was caving in in several places, and snow piles littered the floor beneath each hole, like little white dunes and dremlins. A colourful assortment of powdered paint pigments formed a divided spastic rainbow on the ground. All of the doors out of this room appeared to be sealed tight.
Things are not always as they appear.
Somehow, on the other side of a door, two flashlight beams bounced down a dark hallway and faded into the natural light coming from the holes in the roof of this next room. It was a massive room that made up the back of the central portion of the plant, and it was packed with the most random assortment of file folders, clothing and carpets, appliances and fake plants and everything else you can imagine. Rows of shelves held boxes of tools and papers and paint and so on. Some shelves had rusted out and the contents had fallen and spread across the floor, which was covered with it all. Traversing this room was very difficult in places, especially attempting to access and test the exterior doors, which were sealed tight, beyond piles of everything you can imagine. A hoarders paradise. Everything seemed so old. 'My iphone is the only thing present to prove we hadn't time traveled to the past', one explorer thought to himself. Snow lightly dusted into the room from the holes in the roof as they made there way back to the dark hallway, then through it and back past the boat.
Outside, moments after a hilarious slip and slide adventure on what turned out to be a concrete slanted wall under the snow, they were standing on the edge of the roof. The snow was thigh high and they looked back at the path they had just carved into it below, they then turned to look at the path ahead. A climbable window into a large room excitedly stood 15 or 20 feet across the roof. The roof full of holes, covered in heavy wet snow.
The body can't react to what the eye can't see, and with all that snow the eyes couldn't see the roof. The eyes couldn't see it's bulges and holes, its imperfections. So the feet treaded carefully, one step at a time, like an alcoholic would say to another alcoholic. Testing tentatively the weight of an explorer against each square foot of roof of a building built in the 1800s, factoring in the weight of the snow and the distance to the floor two-stories below and the indeterminate time frame since this building was up to code. The explorers became tense and silent, communicating with hand motions as if the reverberations from their voices would have been the straw that might break the camels back. Heartbeats fluttered at techno music paces and that truly alive feeling took over. That truly alive feeling that you can only feel once you've come to the edge of losing your life. The truly alive feeling that one feels in the wake of a failed suicide attempt or a near death experience.
The second floor of the central portion of the plant is where they stood, between white brick walls. The next room was mammoth. White plastic pails were scattered everywhere, two kids plastic purple pools were full of ice. Despite this clear attempt to catch rainwater at some point, the damage was extensive. The roof was collapsing in several areas and the floorboards were warped and jutting up from the floor in waves. A lone, long wooden desk rested against a wall and all of the doors were sealed shut, yet again.
From a broken window inside, the stairs to the first floor were visible. The door to access the stairs was sealed, and climbing through the window, while possible, would be dangerous, and our explorers didn't do it on this day. It has been rumoured that there were more old cars on this southern side of the first floor.
It appeared to the explorers that every single room was sealed and needed to be accessed independently. Some rooms could be peeked into but not entered. Along the river, which was frozen only in places, there were several points that the water used to enter and exit the building, to power it. But at this time the riverbed was not accessible, neither was the southern half of the plant.
In late summer, when the river has receded, would be the ideal time to explore this gem further, the explorers noted, with smiles and that truly alive feeling.
A victory. Well, half of a victory.
***February 2nd, 2013***
In the summer of 2011, a few months after the explorers first visit, Vancouver based graffiti artist and dear friend Open5 informed the explorers that he had randomly stumbled upon the old file factory in his travels, and did some interior decorating. This excited the explorers, but subsequent attempts at gaining entry proved fruitless.
In January of 2012, a gentleman contacted the explorer online, and informed him that he had purchased the property and planned to redevelop the building into viable commercial and residential space. He made an offer to the explorer, inviting him to come for one last look around. The explorer caught a bad vibe, and sticking with his intuition, declined the invitation.
Something just didn't seem right.
For months and months after, rumours swirled that work was indeed taking place. Rumours of both demolition and construction inside different parts of the building left the explorer confused. Trash was being removed by the truckload, including cars and boats and so on, a friend told him. Whenever he stopped by, there were one or two people on site, or he just caught that bad vibe again, and he did not attempt entry.
Something just didn't seem right.
On Wednesday, November 21st, 2012, the Port Hope Police raided the former file factory and seized 1824 marijuana plants worth an estimated street value of $1.8 million, in what was described as a very sophisticated grow op. A newspaper article described an ongoing construction process, with three rooms up and operational, already containing $150,000 of state of the art equipment, including lighting, timers, hundreds of ballasts, hoses, fans, barrels of water, mylar surrounding the grow rooms and an elaborate security system with infrared cameras around the building.
Upon hearing this news, the explorer shook his head, so glad to have trusted his gut every step of the way.
Something just didn't seem right. And it wasn't. Surely even a laymen understands the potential danger one could encounter trespassing and finding one's self inside a large scale secret grow-op such as this.
In early February 2013, the explorer finally returned to try his luck, in the company of friends. And good luck he found. Almost a full two years since that first explore, he took another tour. This time, they explored the entire building, every nook and cranny. Most of the contents present two years before, were nowhere to be found. The rumours were true. Some floors had been reinforced, others had deteriorated further. Plastic sheets still hung from the ceiling in the completed areas of the grow op, which had been decimated. Although remnants remain scattered throughout. Tarps used by the growers to collect rainwater from the leaky roof on the second floor still sat in place, containing frozen lakes. Open5's graffiti finally revealed itself in a room in the far corner. The large open room with the purple pools was virtually empty two years ago, but was now filled with debris. The opposite was true in almost every other room. The building was naked in comparison.
Take another look around.
And so I close the file on Globe/Nicholson.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES