Deserted In Deseronto|
I spent the formative years of my life breaking and entering into a factory in the small town of Deseronto.
The factory is called Arctic Gardens, and it's located on Green Street. If you don't know where Deseronto
is, it's about half way between Belleville and Kingston, the closest town is Napanee. If you still don't know
where that is, chances are you are too far away to experience the factory that I'm going to tell you about.
The abandoned factory as seen from the outside.
The Factory is huge. It's about as long as two small city blocks, and about a block wide, but it's kind of
out of the way of the town so the streets going down there are gravel. I'd say it's about a million square
feet, but that's just a guess. It's mostly huge open rooms. I'll try to give you a run down of all the rooms.
There are two huge freezer rooms, called number one and number two rooms because of the numbers
painted on their doors. They were originally big freezers, as the factory was a frozen food processing
plant. The freezer rooms are air-tight when their doors are closed. Beside the freezer rooms are the offices,
big plywood offices built inside a huge room. Next are two rooms, side by side, each about as big as a
football field. Then there is another room, where we spent most of our time as kids. It had metal catwalks
which formed another level that you could run around on. Originally, the catwalks lead up to the
processing equipment. There's also the main offices and the lab, which were off to the side and a cafeteria
that was on top of the two football-field-sized rooms. Across the road is a big equipment shed, and on the
grounds of the factory is a supply room and a treatment plant and an enormous tank, about 50 feet across
that used to hold water I guess.
When I first started going there as a kid, we didn't go in much, we pretty much stayed outside and
skateboarded on a really cool bank that was outside. It was paved and it was a nice slant. We would also
play in a huge maze of crates that were there. The crates were stacked about four high and about 20 wide
and probably 40 long. We would take hammers and prybars and rip tunnels through the crates we had a
pretty huge maze built. Then someone was playing with fire in the crates and burned them down. No more
crates, we had to do something else. So we started playing inside the factory.
|One of the two football-field-sized rooms.
We got bored of the bank so we decided to build a little skatepark inside. I wish I had pictures of it. We
tore down all the plywood from what used to be the purification plant I think. We got about 10 4x8 sheets
from that room and we made ramps. We moved them around from time to time so sometimes we had a
half pipe and other times it resembled a square bowl. There was also an old station wagon in there so we
flattened the tires and built ramps to it. It was a good place to skate in the winter, just a little cold. We
would also break into the lab and smash stuff, after all, we were kids, probably only 12 or 13 so that's
what we did. We used to smash bottles of I don't know what, probably carcinogens and LSD. What do I
know, it all looked like bottles of water to me.
It was easier to get in the factory then: there were lots of doors that were left open on a regular basis,
there were huge holes in the cafeteria walls that you could climb on the roof to get into, it wasn't a
problem. Now the factory is locked up tight. When I went back to take pictures for this article, I couldn't
actually get in, as I didn't bring the proper tools. I imagine you could get in pretty easily with a hammer or
a pry bar, all you have to do is bang through a loading dock door. It wouldn't be too hard, the factory has
been sitting unused since I moved to Deseronto in 1985. The reason they locked it up is pretty simple. It's
|The large hole in the roof was created when freezer room two exploded.
There are big holes in the roof now because of the big fire, which I will explain. I remember when it
happened. In Deseronto, they didn't get radios for the volunteer fire department until the early 90s, instead
they used an old air-raid siren that you could hear from every corner of the town. When I heard it go, I
raced to the fire station on my bike. If you were fast you could beat the firemen to the station, and the
factory is only a block away from my house. Actually, the town's so small that you could only possibly live
five blocks away from the fire department. Anyhow, a fire was a big deal so we went to check it out.
The fire was started in the number two room, which was a big freezer. It was started by a guy who's
real name I can't remember. Everyone just knew him as "Dougy Na Na" because he had a hare lip and
everything he said sounded like "Na na". Everyone suspected that he was a horrible result of inbreeding.
The guy would rock around on one of those old BMX bikes with the front shocks and a gas tank and brag
about how he didn't have to be in until midnight. We all laughed at him because he was 22 and carried a
copy of Woman's World in his back pocket. Really soft porn I guess.
Anyhow, he took a can of gas in the number two room, poured it all over the piles of boxes (which
contained very odd things like stickers which said "4x6" or "69 cents" or those plastic things that you poke
into the end of corn cobs so you don't burn your hands), lit it, and closed the doors. The room was lined
with an odd styrofoam stuff, about three inches thick, so when it was lit and the doors were closed, the
pressure built up and blew the room to bits. The doors were blown open and a fireball went shooting
through a few rooms of the factory. There wasn't much left in the factory that could possibly burn so it
was fairly easy to contain. The fire was put out and everything was alright after that. We didn't go in the
factory much after that. It just wasn't as fun. It was all burnt.
Anyhow, that's the story of Arctic Gardens, my first adventure in a place where I should not have been.
Hey, what else is there to do in a small town? I had to do something.
This article originally appeared in Infiltration 2, together with an article on the guts of St. Mike's hospital.