Paldi the Ghost Town: Part 1

Posted: 28th October 2011 by ToadHollowPhoto in Photography
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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.

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

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.

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

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.

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

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.

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

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.

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

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.

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

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.

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Paldi - Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

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.

  1. A wonderful post Toad. You and Mrs. Toad certainly find the nicest gems. What an interesting history. I’m looking forward to Monday to see what you have in store for us. Beautiful images. Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. avatar A.Barlow says:

    I found the images of the wells very interesting. Very nice set and write up my friend!

  3. avatar Tom Barnett says:

    What an interesting find! And a great story. Thanks for sharing this, Toads. Cool stuff!

  4. avatar Curt Fleenor says:

    What an interesting find! Looking forward to part 2.

  5. very cool. I love these old abandoned places.

  6. avatar Fred Norris says:

    Great shots and a very interesting story,looking forward to part 2.I would love to know how you Toads keep hopping across these incredible places,this Vancouver Island has many hidden secrets .Thanks for sharing some!

  7. avatar Chris Nitz says:

    I really gotta know, is that an outhouse in the third photo?

    • Hey Chris, how are you! Well, no, it’s actually what we believe to be a well head. There is a spigot on top there and I believe this is how the earlier residents got their fresh water supply. Really appreciate you taking the time to pop by here and leave us your comments, my friend, thank you!

  8. Seems appropriate prelude to Halloween – nice work as always

  9. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Wow, it’s hard to see something so empty and believe that it was once a happening place! Can’t wait to see Part 2!

  10. avatar Jim Nix says:

    wow Toad great series of shots and interesting spot, thanks for sharing!

  11. This is so beautifully written and well-researched. As always, your writing gives the reader an almost tangible sense of the place. Your photography makes a ghost town look beautiful. Well done!

  12. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Excellent post! I always enjoy a nice series like this. The photos tie everything together and create a really nice experience. Well done, my friend.

    Now, on to part two. 😉

  13. avatar ChrisdMRF says:

    Amazing what you find in your little corner of the world Scott. Stunning photography as usual.

  14. avatar kaylyn says:

    HA ! I used to live in Paldi, roughly about 14-15 years ago…there was 12 houses or so, very old houses…but a cool lil’ community we had…i’ll have to dig out some old photos !

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      We really feel a connection to Paldi, it’s in such a lovely spot on the island here! Thank you for taking the time to come and visit our blog today, and for leaving these fabulous comments for everyone to enjoy! We hope that we did the little town justice here and hope to see you here at The Hollow again soon!

  15. avatar Ellen says:

    This land and the ghost town that you are naming belongs to the \Original Peoples of Turtle Island. If you would kindly pursue the knowledge of the time before 1900 and before this Island was colonized by Douglas and everyone who came , the diaspora of European people. you will find that this lands belong to the Original Peoples of this Turtle Island. Please do your homework before displaying these picture as what you are doing today. Thank-you for your considerations initiative and researchers of truths.

    • Hi Ellen, thank you very much for your visit and comments. The context of our article here is all within the last 100 years of Vancouver Island history. The deep history of the area you refer to in your comments dates back thousands of years and we really appreciate it, but it is out of scope of this particular project. Many thanks for taking the time to pop by and for leaving these insightful comments.

  16. avatar jagga jatt says:

    WOW great job here i am in Duncan for work i will def check this out tonight. Learn something bout my people.

  17. avatar Vic Jaswal says:

    What an amazing set of photos, and some interesting history of this part of Vancouver Island. Thanks for posting!

    • Hi Vic, nice to meet you here at The Hollow today! Thank you kindly for visiting our special feature article, and for leaving your wonderful thoughts behind, we really appreciate it!

  18. avatar Jaspinder singh says:

    Hi Toad
    I found your article interesting. I searched for PALDI town after reading a news in an Indian newspaper online. It is in tribune on today’s date (27/01/2019).
    As I was reading your article, I sensed a strange connection to that place. As if I know this place, I have been there. The fact is that I live in Australia and I came from India. I have never visited Canada but I think next year will be the time to visit.
    The name of the first Sikh who settled in that town was Mayo Singh. Every year in July, Sikhs from Canada organise a big cultural gathering that place. I read this information in that tribune India news.
    I am looking forward to learn more about that place and explore my source of togetherness with that place.
    Thank you for your article.
    Jaspinder singh

    • Many heartfelt thanks for your kind visit and comments here Jaspinder! We always love to connect with our readers like this and we really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on your visit! Cheers!!