Adventures in Rural Exploration

A photo of an old, abandoned home evokes emotion… Emotion and questions. Who were they? Where did they go? Why did they abandon their homes? Why did they leave personal possessions, and even furniture in the home?

I don’t have the answers to these questions in all cases of abandonment but, knowing a bit about Alberta, I think I can suggest some answers as they apply here.

I think the key to understanding how a home ends up like the one you see below, is to know that the home is located in a rural setting, and that rural = lots of space. Generally, homes aren’t left abandoned for very long in a city. In a city, abandoned homes are sold and restored or demolished. The land is re-purposed because not doing so is a waste of space where that space is needed.

Not so on a farm. On a farm, residents have the luxury of space allowing them to build a new, often larger home on the same land. Farmers live in their old home until the new one is finished, and then simply move, leaving the old one intact. Why not demolish the old house? Well, would you go through all that extra effort when you can just leave the building standing – especially if you can use it as a storage building? Exactly.

Another common thing about farms (Alberta farms, anyway) is that they are very often generational homes. Farms are passed down to children but, in the passing down of the land, many of the older generation remain in their homes, while the new generation builds a new home on a different yard, far enough away so each has their privacy, but close enough to support the aging generation. Years go by and, as we humans are prone to do, the older generation passes on. As with most families, the younger generation divvies  up the deceased belongings. However,  in contrast to what happens in cities, the belongings that nobody wants (including old furniture) are simply left to decay along with the now abandoned house. Again, why haul everything way and burn down the house when you can just let your childhood home (and all those memories that go along with it) slowly fade away.

I have to say there is something really beautiful about that.


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