We’ve driven past the road signs countless times before and wondered what was behind them. Having lived on Vancouver Island since 1980, I am pretty much familiar with all the high points on the island here in terms of history and things of interest… but this was news to me. A ghost town? In our midst?
Welcome back to The Hollow today, everyone, we’re going to run a 2 part special series here today and Monday for Halloween. The only thing is, this is a true story. Every word.
In the early 1900’s, a young man lived in the town of Paldi in the Punjab region of India. He had dreams to come to Canada to build a bright future for himself and his family. I can’t help but wonder if he realized the impact he would have on the region. In 1955 Mayo Singh Manhas passed away, leaving a huge legacy that still lives on today. This family was paramount to the formation and creation of the Cowichan Valley, building a lumber facility and a town from nothing, in the middle of nowhere.
As you come into town the way it sits today, the only remaining active structure left is that of the Sikh Temple. As the town was being formed during a difficult time in world history, Mayo truly had a vision to create a community for the people, of the people. He welcomed and fostered a diverse and multicultural population that in short order grew to the point where the town had a corner store and its own high school. A picture from circa 1920 shows the town as it was during the boom times.
The temple itself is well maintained, and we understand it is still in active use. It seems to be an odd entity, living by itself in the midst of a huge tract of land that bears little in terms of structures.
As Mrs. Toad and myself stood here on this hot summer day, planning our shoot and taking in our surroundings, the wind gently blows through the tall unkempt grasses, and the only real sound we could hear was that of water trickling.
Deep wells continue to provide water to the town. No one is here to take it, though, and the trickle of the faucet only serves to hydrate the vegetation.
Modern era faucet handles are connected, leading us to believe that the town was inhabited fairly recently. Our guess would be that the ground here knew the pitter-patter of children’s feet in the last 20 or 30 years. But, no longer.
As you turn to face the direction of where the town once stood, this lone garage remains. Mother Nature has begun her job of disassembling the structure, as is evidenced by the soffits that are beginning to deteriorate. Now, it’s boarded up. What was originally stored in here? Is there anything left? What a strange find in a ghost town.
A water tower still stands. Tiny houses peppered the landscape all around it at one point, but no longer. Today it stands as a lone sentry in a forgotten place. The lush forests of the west coast and particularly Vancouver Island are beginning to make their presence known once again as Mother Nature and the land begin to reclaim what was once theirs.
As we look down the road that once was the centre of town, we see little left. Seeming to be a ribbon to nowhere, no cars travel this road much anymore. As we stood, we could hear the screams and cries of the children as they happily played stick ball on the street and the boys chased the girls into the forest. Then, nothing… the sound of the wind in the trees and the muffled trickle of water from the wells and pumps that were hastily left behind as everyone left.
This is just the first part of our 2 part series. Our next post will take us to the last remaining abode, now long abandoned. We will get inside and see what remains. We were filled with a distinctly eery sense that we were not alone…
Our gallery of photographs “The Ghost Town of Paldi” discusses in slightly more detail the factual history of the town for those who may be interested. And please stay tuned for our spooky and eery Part 2 of this mini-series, right in time for Halloween.
Please feel free to leave us any comments you may have, as we truly love to hear from all our visitors. And in the meantime, we hope you have a spooktacular weekend and look forward to our second part of this blog on Monday.