I never thought I’d sympathize with a church

This is an amazing photo series of an abandoned church in Ontario, documenting its decay over a decade. I feel ya, church.

It’s got the appearance of an apocalyptically sudden departure — there’s an old open bible in the pulpit, with a pair of reading glasses casually left on top. It’s like one day they were holding services, and the next day every one was gone, never to return.

Also interesting how it falls: it starts with a little water leak in the roof, leading to mold and rot spreading across the ceiling, and then one winter, ka-boom, the roof caves in.

It’s reminding me that maintenance is important. Little problems lead to big problems lead to complete system collapse, so tend to those little problems as you go.

(Speaking of which — this was a bad winter for me, with annoying tendinitis issues basically crippling me for months. I got these new shoes with a good fit and great ankle support two weeks ago, and it’s almost miraculous how much better I feel, walking around fairly freely now with barely a twinge. Appreciate your mobility while you’ve got it, it’s awful when a little problem messes you up. Get good shoes. Patch those roof leaks.)


  1. R. L. Foster says

    As you say, routine maintenance is important. Two years ago we had to replace our 30-year-old roof. Ours is not a large house, but it still cost $10,000. When you own a home it’s a on ongoing process. You can’t call the landlord when something fails, it’s all on you.

  2. Susan Montgomery says

    “Little problems lead to big problems lead to complete system collapse, so tend to those little problems as you go.”

    Remember that at the next city council election. ;)

  3. Dennis K says

    @1 — The ugly truth. My wife and I are suffering a financial downturn and I’ve had to plumb the depths of my frugal creativity to keep the appearance of our property from flagging the wrath of our (goddamned) HOA.

  4. robro says

    While I get that little problems can lead to system collapse, that’s a pretty rapid progression from a little leak to the complete collapse of the building in 8-10 years. I’m no builder, but it suggests shoddy construction in the first place, or other problems.

    We had a house in San Francisco for decades with lots of deferred maintenance. Prior to our buying the house in 1992 the previous owner had built an add-on to the back with a flat-ish roof, a parapet surround and a drain through the parapet. Any time it rained water would pour…not just leak…into the backroom under the drain in the parapet. This went on for quite a few years before I got a friend to take down the parapet and redo the roofing. At the other end of the room, the footing was below grade so there was always dampness. Despite that, and ample mold, the structure is still standing. Hell, I slept in one area of that room for about 10 years.

  5. ajbjasus says

    It does look a bit shoddy.

    We brits have Churches from Norman times in better Nick than that. Some of them were neglected for years.

  6. whheydt says

    Quite some years ago, the city I lived in ran a telephone survey for opinions about floating bonds to do major storm sewer maintenance and repair. The person calling was quite startled when I pointed out that doing the work as an ongoing budget line item would avoid both the need for a vote on bonds and be considerably cheaper in the long run (avoiding interest on the bonds). The idea of preventative maintenance appeared to be a foreign concept.

  7. robro says

    whheydt @ #6 — I suspect this is a case of “where there’s money to be made, instead of saved.”

  8. pgator says

    In 2015: the cross is hanging on the wall (back right).
    In 2018: it’s down from the wall, but leaning against the back wall.
    In 2020: it’s leaning against the side wall, barely visible behind the piano.
    In 2021: it’s back up, hanging on the wall.

    It’s a MIRACLE!

  9. PaulBC says

    pgator@9 Yeah, I was about to comment on the cross moving around.

    And that’s probably the only thing that prevented it from becoming a vampire nest before it collapsed.

  10. jay matteo says

    “Be kind to your knees
    You’ll miss them when they’re gone…”
    – Baz Luhrmann

  11. says

    — A house is a hole in the ground into which you pour money. — Not being wealthy, we learned a long time ago that it’s a lot less painful to pour it in slowly over time as preventative maint. and repair than wait until ‘the roof falls in’.

    That Ontario church faced lots of harsh weather and likely snow loading. As Prof. Myers poinst out It looks like it was constructed in the 1910’s or 1920’s of lath and plaster. Old wood like that doesn’t retain much strength.

    Why didn’t the sky fairy protect this church?? Why did people abandon it?? Why isn’t Ted Cruz blaming it’s collapse on Supreme Court nominee Jackson?? (excuse me, it’s currently the Supreme Corruption) Did the spiders put the cross back up?? And, why?? These are monumental questions.

  12. wzrd1 says

    Reminds me of my old high school. It was in two primary parts, the original building built in the late 1940’s and the new wings built in the 1970’s.
    The district pushed through construction of a brand new building, as the old building had a roof leak and apparently, there is no way to repair roofs or something and the 1970’s wing largely had to do as well, other roof leaks and maintenance problems.
    You know, no money spent on maintenance.
    So, the new building got shoved through against taxpayer resistance, only costing the board two members.
    Completed and in use, to sit for 18 months with a window that a ball went through open to the elements, as they didn’t have anyone contracted to maintain it.
    That cost them a couple more board members. My original question being answered, “If they couldn’t be trusted to take care of the old buildings, how can we trust them to maintain a new and far more expensive one?”.

    Oh, the newest iteration of the school board is far better! They only killed three students during the pandemic, got rid of those anticonstitutional masks ASAP and refuse to close again for any silly fake news “flue”.
    Odd to not want to close if flame exhaust gases are blowing over students, but they’ll also not close for pandemics either.
    Yeah, the worshipers of the Moronic Messiah* and former tea tards are running the show again – straight into the ground.

    *Proclaimed by SCOTUS advisor Ginni Thomas, who declared the originator of Stupid Flakes the King of Kings to Meadows…
    I’m hoping to be able to tolerate food again soon.

  13. bcw bcw says

    I learned the hard way. I had a little shed building the previous owner had had built and weatherproofed with vinyl siding. An animal borrowed through the outer siding and the sheet rock underneath to create a home. (yeah quality construction.) Unfortunately the squirrel entered on the side of the shed only visible from the next door property but that house was actually empty. After as much as two years I noticed wet on the inside of the shed, looked and saw the now much enlarged hole on the outside wall and called a contractor. He insisted he could just repair the wall and I was too stupid to probe the building further. As sheetrock came down inside it became clear the base of every 2×4 was rotten along with the footing plank of (untreated) lumber on the cement slab. It was cheaper to just take the whole thing down and put in a prefab.

  14. springa73 says

    I’ll bet the roof at least was in rough shape even when the first photo was taken, it just wasn’t visible yet.

  15. dorght says

    I think it was The World Without Us by Alan Weisman were he interviews an expert that says an extremely quick way to have a building collapse is cut a 2 foot square hole in the roof. It might have been The Earth After Us by Jan Zalasiewicz. Both really good books.

  16. malleefowl says

    Regarding your shoes. You know there is a story about that. The story of our times.

    In the beginning you went to a cobbler and got a pair of perfectly fitting shoes.
    Then someone realized that he could have a shop to make fitted shoes, but also to make them in times of slack to a full range of sizes and sold as premade.
    Then someone else realized that he could have a shop, make a better profit and eliminate the cobblers’ competition by employing cobblers to make shoes, but omit the more extreme sizes. He could supply 90% of the market with properly fitting shoes. The other 10% just had to make do with something that came close.
    Then shoe chains came along and realized they could make a better profit still, eliminate the competition from the single shoe shops, and fitted 80% of the shoe market reasonably if they only made a smaller range of the more common sizes. The last 20% just had to make do with something that came close.
    Then multinationals realized they could stock just the very few common sizes, with ‘multifit’ designs, provide stiff competition to the shoe shop chains (and hopefully put them out of business) and still fit 70% of the market, mostly rather poorly.
    That is why half the population hobbles around in poorly fitting shoes, ruining their feet and usually with little alternative.
    Hope the new shoes continue well.

  17. jrkrideau says

    Never buy cheap shoes. Standard rule.

    I remember sitting at a bar with about 6-7 other cooks. There was an intense debate on what shoes were best. Basically we agreed to stick with what we were wearing but you could see a couple of people thinking about a change. I am still debating a change. One new idea sounds good.

  18. birgerjohansson says

    If you build a temple to Bel-Shamaroth nearby, entrophy will be afraid to go near (readers of the first Discworld book will get it).

  19. jimzy says

    Interesting how the torture device on the far right wall was there in the 2012 & 2015 photos. Leaning in the corner In 2018, missing in 2020, and back on the wall again in 2021. Someone hoping that by replacing it, the church would be miraculously renewed with the pews full? Did he salvage it from the carcass, and is he still in there somewhere?

  20. ajbjasus says


    Ultimately leads to the dreaded shoe event The Shoe Event Horizon :

    “An economic theory that draws a correlation between the level of economic (and emotional) depression of a society and the number of shoe shops the society has.

    The theory is summarized as such: as a society sinks into depression, the people of the society need to cheer themselves up by buying themselves gifts, often shoes. It is also linked to the fact that when you are depressed you look down at your shoes and decide they aren’t good enough quality so buy more expensive replacements. As more money is spent on shoes, more shoe shops are built, and the quality of the shoes begins to diminish as the demand for different types of shoes increases. This makes people buy more shoes.

    The above turns into a vicious cycle, causing other industries to decline.

    Eventually the titular Shoe Event Horizon is reached, where the only type of store economically viable to build is a shoe shop. At this point, society ceases to function, and the economy collapses, sending a world spiralling into ruin. In the case of Brontitall and Frogstar World B, the population forsook shoes and evolved into birds.