Big House

Ontario Behind the Boarding: A Morning in The 'Big House'

The chill in the air on one of Toronto's coldest days was topped only by one thing - our destination. I had heard about the decommissioned prison some years back, but being a fan of the aesthetics of decay as opposed to mere vacancy, I thought it better to hold off until nature had her run of the place.

Big House


Big House


Big House

After only 5 minutes in the building, we heard voices; with bated breath we held our silence, and out of the darkness heard "this is why I only explore on Sundays!" Relieved that our invisible friends were merely other explorers, one of my sojourners decided to have a little fun with them, yelling stern demands down the dark guard-tower stairs...

Big House





Remember: you only get ONE call...



Row after row, cell after cell, the place seemed like a maze; I actually got separated from my group for 20 minutes at one point, and had a bit of a 'Session-9 moment'...especially when I came upon an examination room.

Big HouseBig House


Big House


After finding my compatriots, we headed to some of the softer places, all of which still had the majority of their contents intact. The most beautiful of these was probably the sewing-room...

Big House


Big House


The washing room and chapel were very sterile, but somehow beautiful in the absence of their respective curators...

Big House


Big House


It is only a matter of time before looters, copper-strippers and vandals get their paws on this place; I consider myself very fortunate to have been able to visit it in a somewhat pure state - well, as pure as a place such as this can be.

I used ultra-wide, portrait and selective-focus lenses in order to try and convey the place as I encountered it.

To see high resolution images of the complete set, view the full screen version of the slideshow.


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Door to door sales are about to be banned in Toronto

Sold! High Park ravine house goes for $1.8 million

Tiny Toronto library is getting a big upgrade

Someone wants to build a huge condo above a church in the Annex

Union Station renovations further delayed and over budget

The TTC still won't turn on $2 million art installation

King Street nightclub is shutting down

Condo of the week: 155 St. Clair Avenue West