Capturing Canada’s Abandoned Places on Video

An adventurous videographer applies his talents to urban exploration, documenting amazing sites before they’re lost forever.

There have been many stories told of some very bad things happening at old, abandoned places, because not only are these locales a magnet for urban explorers and history buffs, they also attract vandals, thieves, squatters, wild animals and stray pets. Nevertheless, over the years I have researched and explored abandoned mines, bridges, houses, schools, theatres, jails, boats, planes, trains and ghost towns, documenting it on video and taping interviews whenever possible so others can get a sense of the experience, albeit vicariously via my YouTube channel.

Abandoned Places - Brent HendrickPhoto: Courtesy Brent Hendrick
Brent at Birkenhead Lake, B.C., on a scouting trip.

Gear For Exploring Abandoned Places

I get a lot of people asking me what equipment I use when exploring these remarkable abandoned places. So here’s what I pack: water, cell phone, steel-toe boots, gloves, protective masks, bug spray, as well as my Panasonic 4K camera with stabilizer, camera lights and an external mic. I have also added a drone to my bag of equipment, which is what I use for filming and also for aerial shots of the sites I visit. This drone was an excellent addition to my equipment because it gives the viewer another view from the sky.

Abandoned Places in Canada - Spooky FarmhousePhoto: Brent Hendrick
This abandoned site looks as though someone walked out one day and never returned.

Why Abandoned Places Exist

Why are all these places abandoned, you ask? Developers have been buying up land at a fast pace and usually leave the houses and buildings for years before demolishing them. Other reasons include death with no family, default on the mortgage or property tax, and some farmland has old abandoned farmhouses on the property.

Abandoned places - red brick mansion drone shotPhoto: Brent Hendrick
Brent used drone photography to document this sprawling estate.

The Appeal of Abandoned Places

Over the years, I have explored abandoned places alone or with a few family members and friends. I truly thought that I was the only one into this sort of hobby. I decided to start filming my abandoned exploring adventures within Canada. I soon realized that there are many others like me and that they have their very own YouTube channels and social media accounts, posting pictures and videos of abandoned places. I was so excited and I started watching hours of such videos. I decided to start my own YouTube channel, posting episodes of abandoned places I explore (Abandoned Urbex Canada). At first, I thought that only a few people would watch, and I was hoping for 1,000 subscribers. My channel quickly blew up and I have now reached over 85,000 subscribers, and over ten million views. People from all over the world started watching my videos and commenting on them. I have been featured in a few magazines, news articles, TV shows and I was also an inspiration for the low budget motion picture horror film Red Woods. I am also an amateur photographer and have been learning as I go.

Read the fascinating story behind Ontario’s most famous ghost town.

North America's smallest jailPhoto: Brent Hendrick
This stone structure is claimed to be North America’s smallest jail. Click here to watch Brent’s video.

Where My Fascination Began

When I was a teenager I was at my friend’s parents’ cottage and a local told us about an abandoned cottage in the forest on the water’s edge that had a black bear living in the crawl space under the cottage. I was very excited and convinced a few friends to go and check it out. We explored the cottage, finding it heavily vandalized inside. The roof had holes so the floors were mouldy and rotten. We proceeded down the side of the house to find the crawl space. We noticed two large doors, wide open. With our flashlights we spotted the black bear in a dirt pile in the three-foot crawl space. We quickly left and never returned.

Abandoned places - Toronto Ghost TowerPhoto: Brent Hendrick
The “Toronto Ghost Tower.” Click here to watch Brent’s video.

An Act of Preservation

Sadly, most of the abandoned places I visit will at some point be demolished, so having a chance to explore and document them by taking pictures and video is fascinating to me and my viewers.

Dilapidated House InteriorPhoto: Brent Hendrick
The dilapidated interior of an abandoned family estate.

“Demolition By Neglect”

Some locations I explore are historic places, so they are maintained, preserved and protected from being demolished. Sadly, some historic places that are supposed to be preserved and protected are neglected and forgotten. They quickly start to decay and eventually collapse or have to be demolished as they can’t be saved or they are a safety concern. This is called “demolition by neglect.” Newer buildings also tend to have a life expectancy of only 40 years, but most of the houses and buildings I have explored were made to last a lot longer.

Next, check out 10 of Canada’s most haunted places.

Originally Published in Our Canada