Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Abandonment Issues: Bowmanville Senior Public School
This past Easter weekend, I took my family out to Bowmanville for a visit to Camp 30. After an hour or so of exploring every building, my brothers, my Mom, Ninja and I were approached by a police officer that politely asked us to leave. So we figured we would head over to the abandoned Bowmanville Senior Public School nearby.
We came upon quite the scene at the rear of the school. Two men were standing beside a white pick-up truck that had a trailer full of copper attached to the back of it. They were yelling up the hill to a teenage boy, and threatening him. "You can't expect to steal from us and not pay a fee!" The teenager had red marks under his nose that I assumed was blood. It appeared as though he had been assaulted. I told Ninja to take my Mom for a walk, and my brothers and I stepped in between the men and the kid, in an attempt to protect the boy, who was quite small in stature. The two men were irate and clearly not happy that we were getting involved. One of them yelled to us: "He stole a computer, so we are taking his bike." Like fuck you are, my brothers and I responded in unison, each of us making the same point with a different set of words. Hang on though, I'm getting ahead of myself.
Schools out for ever
Bowmanville Senior Public School was built in 1921 and for several decades functioned as a high school. For its final 30 years of use, the school was home to classes for grade 7 and 8 students. Throughout the 1990s, pressure mounted from the public to close senior public schools in Ontario and house students from kindergarten through grade 8 in the same buildings, as it is more cost effective. At the end of the school year, in June 2007, Bowmanville Senior Public School was closed, but it still operates under the same name a few blocks away at the Bowmanville High School.
The large red brick building has sat vacant since 2007, with it's windows boarded up. At some point between then and now, Durham Regional Police have used the building as a training facility. Hoards of teenage toys have tagged up the interior of the building. Windows have been smashed. Paint-ball guns have been fired. Copper has been stolen, as have many other objects. The building has been no stranger to all of the usual activity that takes place in abandoned buildings smack dab in the centre of a small community.
My first foray into this old school was a few months before. This was when all of these pictures were taken. I was accompanied on this first visit by fellow explorers Dallas and Emceeay. A sheet of glare ice lined the floor of the hallway on the bottom floor of the school, which we took a running start at and slid down, smiling and laughing. There is a kid in all of us. Rows of lockers lined each of the long hallways on all three floors, some of them still containing binders and school work. The usual magazine pages of teeny-bopper icons and someone loves someone messages still adorned the insides of locker doors. A piano was tipped on its side. Large posters of graduating classes, student assignments and educational resource materials littered the floor throughout. This was the first large abandoned school that I had explored and it was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. As we exited the school, a gang of parents turned their gaze from their children tobogganing down the snowy hill, to the three of us walking out and passing them. None of them said a word, but their eyes spoke volumes of confusion.
So there we were, this past Easter weekend, my brothers and I, standing between the kid and the two angry men. I asked the men what they were doing with the truckload of copper, to which they responded angrily that they were working for the new owner, stripping the building, as there has been a lot of copper theft happening. I doubted the truthfulness of their response. I then asked the kid what he was doing, to which he responded that he was stealing the shell of a computer tower, because his was broken. When asked if he was assaulted, the kid told us no, the men had set a can of red paint powder up on the top of the door and waited for him to exit, and when he did it poured all over him. That was when we showed up, he said, "just in time". While wiping the powder, he smeared it across his face, which is why I thought it was blood. The kid said that they won't let him take his bike, they are going to steal it from him because he was stealing from them. My brother told him to go get his bike and take off, which he was too scared to do. His bike was behind the two men, and behind their truck. "Go get your bike and take off, if they touch you, we'll break their noses", my brother yelled. At this point, the two men hopped into their truck and rolled up the windows. Smart move. The kid was still too scared to leave, he huddled up beside us and continued to brush the paint powder from his hair and clothing. It wasn't until then that I noticed that he was covered in it. "You don't want to go home to your parents covered in that do you?" I asked him with a smirk, still watching the two men in my periphery. "No", he responded, with a quiver in his voice. The two men then proceeded to pull away, only to get out on the other side of the fence and lock the gate, which made us believe they really were working for the new owner and had permission to remove the copper. But even if their copper removal was justified, they fully intended to rob the kid of his bike and there is no doubt in my mind that if we hadn't arrived at that moment, they would have assaulted him.
After they pulled away, we calmed the kid down and waited for a while in case the police showed up. When we were confident that it was safe to enter, we sent him on his way and we went inside. Even if they show up, it's just a ticket, who cares, we agreed.
Within minutes, I peered out a third floor window at a cruiser parked beside our vehicle. We normally wouldn't park so close and heat off our presence, but under the circumstances, that was what happened. We booked it down three flights of stairs and out the door, directly into the waiting arms of the Durham Regional Police. The two men called the police on us, with no mention of the kid that they caught stealing, doused in paint powder, and threatened to rob. Within minutes, 4 cruisers were on scene. After searching us and discussing our intentions, the officers were willing to let us go without issuing us trespassing fines. That is, if they could search the car. So I texted Nicole to return to the car with my Mom, and as we waited, an officer asked "We aren't going to find anything in the trunk are we, copper or bodies?" To which my younger brother replied "No, we'd never have a body in the trunk on Good Friday." We all had a laugh. We took this opportunity to ask a few questions about the status of the building. The officers informed us that the building was recently purchased and the new owner has plans to renovate the school into condominiums. Once Ninja and my Mom returned, a quick search of the car ensued, and just like that, we were on our way, the whole family laughing in the car.
My Mom really enjoyed our trip and now has a better understanding of why I love exploring these derelict buildings. While she didn't enter the school, she thoroughly enjoyed visiting Camp 30 earlier in the day. My Camp 30 post will be up in due time. She also has a better understanding of how this activity is dealt with by law enforcement if you treat them with honesty and respect, which will hopefully help her to worry less about me and the crazy adventures that she reads about on my blog.
Without any further adieu, come on inside the abandoned Bowmanville Senior Public School.
We don't need no education
JOURNEYS IN Math 7
CUSTODIAN OFFICE CUSTODIAN LUNCH ROOM
No custodian on duty
My lung looks like the one on the right
jerm IX jerm IX jerm IX
Prof. Logtec's Science 101
Put your best foot forward
No running in the halls
Nothing left to learn
Female Reproductive System
Male Reproductive System
The children are our future
Too cool for school
The Art room
B.S.P.S. June 2007
Slip and slide
White kids can't jump
Keepin' it peel
Off the hook
Class is dismissed
Class of 1993
Taylor is really hot
Mirror mirror on the wall of the little boy's room
Target No. 1
7 = D in a W
Tear down the walls
The kids in the hall
Ice ice baby
Another door opens
Please have a seat at your desk
Grade 7 art projects
Sink in the art room
Target No. 2
Cable: The Wire
Down and out
I know the school is closed, but I hope that kid learned his lesson.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES