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One day in late May last year, in Canada, my two companions and I drove north from the densely populated Lake Ontario through towns until we reached Haileybury, a town of less than 9000 people more than 500km from Toronto.
In the bay of the lake in the center of the town, there is an abandoned mansion covering an area of more than 160000 square meters, which is currently the largest abandoned mansion in Canada. And we, carrying sleeping bags and dry food, are going to sneak in at night and camp here for one night.
The mansion, which was built in 2005, has a floor area of about 6000 square meters alone, not to mention 160000 square meters of front and backyard and other usable land.
At the time of this writing, the largest house ever sold in the Canadian real estate market was a lakeside villa in Oakville, Ontario, with an area of only 4459 square meters, which sold for $45 million in 2006.
No wonder Canadian broadcaster CBC rated it as the largest mansion in Canada in 2010. Today, after years of fruitless sales, this mansion, which has never been built, deserves to be crowned as “the largest abandoned building in Canada”.
When it entered the market in 2010, its starting price was $250 million. In a radio interview, nearby neighbors thought who was “crazy” to buy the place, and he later added: “it is estimated that one day, Asians will buy it.”
But even “rich Asians” don’t seem to want to get their hands on the mansion, first, because the mansion owes nearly $20 million in taxes; second, “with this money, you can buy a big house with a yard and a swimming pool in Toronto or Vancouver, why buy an unfinished one in such a shitless place?” In an interview with the Toronto Star, an Asian buyer who spoke on condition of anonymity commented here.
As he said, this mansion, in addition to tens of millions of unpaid taxes, and from “bag check-in” is also 108000 miles away.
He is a forestry tycoon who has owned a timber company across several provinces since the 1990s. The company was once the third largest oriented particleboard manufacturer in North America, with six processing plants and thousands of employees across Canada in its heyday, while another branch and two processing plants expanded to the United States, located in South Carolina.
Sitting on a large sum of money, Peter Grant hired someone to design and build the mansion of his dreams in the late 1990s. And when the 10 million-level mansion broke ground, everyone was optimistic about this “brave and beneficial” move-after all, the completion of the mansion will greatly boost the economy of its small town.
All of Peter Grant’s remaining assets were sold, including the mansion, which was valued at nearly $200m at the time. But as early as 2008, the mansion was shut down, and when it began selling in 2009, LePage Royal Real Estate, which took over, estimated that it would need at least $1 million to upgrade to a habitable level; what’s more, it would cost at least $20 million to complete all the “accessories” according to the current year’s drawings.
Surprisingly, such an expensive and seemingly useless mansion was sold in 2013. The buyer is not a “rich Asian”, but a real estate company in the greater Toronto area. After the purchase, the expected restoration of the luxury house did not begin.
One day in late May 2020, two of my companions and I drove north for more than seven hours to arrive here. The mansion is like a steel beast, curled up quietly in the bay of the lake under the setting sun, without any sense of beauty, but it arouses my awe of the giant.
Re-enter the next morning to get a glimpse of the “largest abandoned building in Canada”-the marina that was originally used to hold the yacht was built on the ground floor, like an indoor garage, but on a larger scale; compared to other rooms, the shipyard is the most finished part of the mansion. However, perhaps because it is not completely completed, or because it has not been maintained for many years, the water is still leaking everywhere.
The three of us climbed in the dark in the boathouse to the second and third floors, most of the rooms were empty; the wooden ceilings and floors were exposed. The moss erodes into most of the rooms, but the windows are still intact and the vegetation invasion that is common in most of the ruins has not occurred yet.