The ghost town of Rockingham, Ontario was settled in 1859 by John S.J. Watson, after he was banished from England for marrying beneath his station. He was given a large sum of money by his father (The Lord of Rockingham Castle) on the condition that he would emigrate to Canada. He would name this new settlement after his former home. On the thousand acres that he was granted, John and his fellow settlers built a grist mill, hotel, school, tannery, general store, blacksmith's shop, and eventually, a church. In 1888, a population of about 60 people called Rockingham home, and by 1899, that number had grown to 110. But with the turn of the century came a great decline, as many of the farmers moved on, after the red and white pine trees had been logged.
Many of the buildings are long gone now, but the church is still active, and a few old homes remain, clustered around the former general store, including the former home of Cecil and Mamie Kinder. The only information that I have been able to ascertain online about Mr. & Mrs. Kinder is an article from the Ottawa Citizen dated July 6, 1982, titled Old-fashioned general store making go of it. The following is an excerpt from that article.
"Rockingham was a thriving little town at the turn of the century," says Cecil Kinder, a retired farmer whose family owned and operated the store before the Muracks and the Aldersons.
"This particular store was the only one of the original three to survive."
Kinder can point out the location of other long-gone landmarks - a grist mill, a tannery, a water-powered saw-mill, the tiny rustic church on the hillside, the hotel, and the octagonal schoolhouse.
The article also stated that at the time it was written, the town of Rockingham had "a population of eight souls after the school bus left for the day."
On this sunny day in late July of 2012, we had already explored the old log cabins left behind in the hillside ghost town of Newfoundout. And we had cut up our legs something fierce in the thick raspberry bushes outside another abandoned house, while being chased by a massive angry neighbour wielding a large stick. We escaped in the knick of time, with our hearts beating out of our chests. Needless to say, soon after, tensions were still high as we approached this house with a caution that seemed foreign to me.
On the other side of another batch of raspberry bushes, the home welcomed us inside and an introduction to Cecil and Mamie Kinder slowed our racing hearts and calmed us down. Brass wind chimes hanging silently over a Zig Zag tobacco tin and an empty bottle of Royal Command Canadian Whiskey immediately caught my eye, and after snapping the first few photographs, I felt at home in the calm silence. With no people to do so, the couch and chair sat rotting in front of the television. A bible rested atop the old rusting wood stove, and another on an adjacent antique end table. The kitchen was jam packed with everything you'd imagine to find, and more. It was obvious that someone had rummaged through the cupboards in years past since the abandonment. A meat grinder was clasped to the window sill, amongst pill bottles and medicine jars. Dishes and spice jars still filled the cupboards, long after the last meal was prepared and eaten here. On the kitchen table, a pair of glasses sat in a case that read Mrs. Cecil Kinder, I put them on for a moment, and looked around, all too aware that this was not the home as she would have seen it through these lenses. I placed them back in the case, and turned down the skinny hallway covered in that faux wood beaver puke siding that was in my Dad's old house when I was just a young boy.
The rooms down this hallway were still packed with the possessions of Mr. and Mrs. Kinder. Paperwork and books collecting dust on the shelves, from which I lifted a little blue book and opened it slowly. It was their address book, listing contact information for their friends, family and associates. A framed Practical Nursing Degree from The Lincoln Institute of Practical Nursing in Los Angeles, California, dated 1962, hung from the wall, with fractured glass. Clothing rested on hangers in the closets, and from the shower rod over the bathtub, as if the chore of doing laundry was under way when it all came to an end here. In the far bedroom, the bed stood on its side, on an angle, resting against the wall, another sign that people have been here messing about, likely bored local youth, we discussed. After a few more minutes of poking around and reading random papers, we followed in the footsteps of Mr. and Mrs. Kinder, and left this old place behind.
Rotting in front of the television
Chime stands still
Smokin' and drinkin'
Holy Name Bible
The hands of time
Spice up your life
Barns & No Bull
Dinner time is up
Recipe for disaster
Mrs. Cecil Kinder's glasses
Kiss the cook
Read the label before using
Pencils and pens and bears, oh my!
Connect the dots
Degree of separation
Back outside, we wave goodbye to Cecil and Mamie, and begin our voyage back to the cottage for a dip in the lake.
click here to check out all of jerm & ninja IX's ABANDONMENT ISSUES