Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

DesTination: Boscobel Ghost Town

Welcome To The Boscobel Ghost Town!
What better way to start the riding season in earnest than by beginning with Quebec's various ghost towns with Bella, my Moto Guzzi V7 Racer. Admittedly, the decision was inspired by an article that I came across titled 9 Creepy But Beautiful Ghost Towns You Need To Visit In Quebec by Jeremy Hazan. Boscobel is listed as number 2 on Hazan's list. A quick Google search yielded some supporting evidence to the existence of this ghost town as both Katrina of Globeventures and another website by the name of Barraclou share some of the history along with various pictures of this otherwise obscure little area. So with a full tank of petrol, a fully charged camera and the promise of a beautiful day Bella and I set off this morning with high hopes of exploring a semi-abandoned village.

That Red Dot Is Pretty Much All There Is To Boscobel
Pic © Google Maps
Word to the wise, unless you're sporting a Honda Africa Twin or even a Moto Guzzi V7II Stornello, you may want to stick to the main roads. The back roads to Boscobel was both beautiful and somewhat nerve racking. I found myself riding between 20-30 kph (12-18 mph) in lieu of some areas being nothing more than rock pits. I don't mean pebbles either. Some rocks were the size of oranges. I'd be lying if I didn't say how proud I was that Bella took it all in stride. When I turned left on 10e Rang the Boscobel Ghost Town is immediately on your right.

Like Katrina, Bella and I were completely underwhelmed.
Boscobel is less of a town (or even village) and more a hodgepodge of buildings on someone's private property. Situated only 8 minutes away from the small town of Béthanie in the Canton de Valcourt, it's hard to believe that this once thriving town was abandoned because Béthanie was chosen over Boscobel instead for the Saint John the Divine Church. Such was the importance of religion in the 1800's. To help put things in perspective, an 8 minute drive between Boscobel and Béthanie would have been a 1 hour and 24 minute walk back then. Ironically, the Saint John the Divine Church no longer exists nor does many of the buildings that were on this very property back in 2005 or even as early as March 29, 2017!

Boscobel 2005

The buildings seen in this picture are no longer present! 😞
Pic © Jean-Francois Brulotte

Pic © Jean-Francois Brulotte

Pic © Jean-Francois Brulotte

Pic © Jean-Francois Brulotte

Pic © Jean-Francois Brulotte

Pic © Jean-Francois Brulotte

Boscobel May 2017

This Large Piece of Property Barely Resembles Its Former Glory

One of Two Houses - Someone Lives In This House!
(So Not A Ghost Town After All 😏 )

The Second House - Under Renovation!


The Basement is Flooded

Former Pantry/Fridge?

The Old Mill Has Burned Down Recently! 😞

Many of The Items Left Inside Are Now Only Scrap Metal


Even since Katrina's visit on March 29, 2017, some of the buildings seems to have been burnt to the ground. 😢 Thus, it should come as no surprise that I was confused for the most part of the first half of the journey. I rode all along the countryside for several hours in search of other buildings that resembled the pictures that I had seen in Barraclou's website. It wasn't until I found myself at Benoit Sylvie Convenience Store in Béthanie that things became somewhat clearer. Sylvie, the store owner seemed puzzled when I tried to ask about the ghost village. It wasn't until I took out my camera and showed her pictures of what I now know was the Old Mill that she realized what I was talking about. According to her, the two houses on the property belonged to a rich British couple. They used one of the houses as a guest home for friends and family during their visits. However, as with all things, this family's reign came to an end and with it, the property fell into disarray. Sylvie was not sure of the name of the family per se, perhaps it was William Hackwell?!  Interestingly, in the 40 years that Sylvie and her family has run the only convenience store (and gas station I think) in Béthanie there was no knowledge that there was even a ghost town 8 minutes away from them. Nor was she even aware of the Boscobel Cemetery. Whilst that may not be surprising in a city of millions, Béthanie only has a population of only 300. 😏

Boscobel Cemetery
Pic © Joan Cruickshank

Original Founders of Boscobel, including William Hackwell.
Pic © Joan Cruickshank
Joan Cruickshank walked this cemetery in 2008 and undertook the laborious task of transcribing all the names from headstones that were still legible. You can review them on Interment: Cemetery Records Online. Neither Sylvie or I realized that this cemetery was located on 8e Rang in Boscobel. However, that didn't stop her from giving me directions to another cemetery just minutes down the road from where her store was located. In fact, there were two, only the one she directed me too was nothing more than a well hidden English cemetery that you would never know was there if not for her telling me where to look. There are no signs or markings. The cemetery is just a sliver of land surrounded by farmland on either side.

Bella Keeping Guard Whilst I Go Exploring!

Where most people may find cemeteries uncomfortable, personally I find them quite peaceful. Buried in this small and nearly forgotten cemetery were the Lariviere and Norris families. Their stories long forgotten as they rest in this otherwise beautiful Quebec landscape. There were children buried here as well and admittedly, thoughts of my own deceased family members crept into my mind. It was one of those moments wherein you could lose yourself in said memories if not for the simple reminder that the living are still waiting for us to return home. Whilst Sylvie had sent me to the wrong place, in a way, it couldn't have been more perfect. Here amongst families who had helped contribute to the fabric of Canadian culture in Quebec, I found myself overwhelmed by how quickly time goes by. Undoubtedly the Lariviere's and Norris's must have felt the same regarding the passage of time.

In my attempt to find Boscobel I stopped every now and then to take pictures. The silence was deafening at times as neither a car/truck/tractor nor even a bird could be heard. When Bella's motor rumbled to life I half expected it to echo. There are abandoned buildings, homes, stores and barns riddled throughout the Eastern Township. Thus, whilst the Boscobel Ghost Town is officially no more, the area is stunning and well worth the ride. Villages like Béthanie add a certain charm to an otherwise underwhelming ghost hunt.

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  1. I love your post, I think you got a lot of insight into the history and it's quite interesting to learn more about this town! Thank you for mentioning me by the way, I love your work.

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words! Also, my pleasure. We ghost hunters have to stick together! ;-)

  2. Here I thought maybe WI on the river.