Ottawa is a charming city, known for its architecture and history. However, the city also has some dark and derelict abandoned sites, and places you won’t find on a tourist map. If you’re interested in exploring abandoned places in Ottawa or taking a quick road trip to a ghost town, you’ve come to the right place. But beware, some of these spots will send shivers down your spine.
Canada’s capital city is full of thriving businesses, bustling offices, high-rise apartments and modern condos amid an abandoned house or two. While the region continues to expand, build and renovate, there are some places around the city that seem to have been left behind over the years.
Sadly for urban explorers, many of the capital’s abandoned buildings end up being restored or knocked down. However, a few still remain, and they’re mysterious reminders of the city’s fascinating history.
These places often stand eerie and abandoned in some of the places you’d least expect.
If you’re curious (and brave) enough to go on an adventure, here’s exactly what should be on your abandoned places bucket list.
Allan's Mill on Tay River.
Location: Allan's Mill Road, Tay Valley, ON
Allan’s Mills is an abandoned town, just one hour’s drive from downtown Ottawa. The old village was left behind during the 19th century when local businesses started to decline. All of the town’s original buildings still exist, including an old general store, a post office and even a small schoolhouse.
As the mill and surrounding buildings are now privately owned, it is not possible to explore inside. However, you can drive down Allan’s Mill Road to check out the eerie scenes from your car.
Rideau Trail Car Dump
Location: Rideau Trail (Through Monaghan Forest), ON
This old collection of 1940s cars is believed to have been a local farmer's personal dump. Nature is taking back the vintage vehicles here, and photos from the site are strangely beautiful.
The best way to find this spot is to park your vehicle in the NCC Monaghan Forest parking lot, located just off of Fallowfield Road. Exact coordinates can be found here.
Willson Carbide Mill
Location: 639 Chem. du Lac Meech, Chelsea, QC
The building was erected back in 1892, by a scientist named Thomas 'Carbide' Willson. According to Atlas Obscura, Wilson learned to create calcium carbide, an important industrial chemical.
The man eventually became bankrupt and his home fell into disrepair. Fortunately for urban explorers, it’s still standing now. The abandoned Carbide Willson historical ruin is as mystical and mysterious as they come.
To find this spot, follow directions to Meech Lake in Gatineau Park. Just before you see the lake, you'll spot the O’Brien Beach Parking Lot. From here, follow the 30-minute walking trail to the ruins.
CFS Lac St. Denis
Location: 820 Chem. du Village #794, Saint-Adolphe-d'Howard, QC
This huge property is a 5-storey abandoned military complex. The original purpose of the station was to detect potential enemy missiles during the Cold War era. Since then, it has stood empty and left behind.
It is reportedly now fenced off to visitors, but the graffiti-covered structure remains.
Make your way to Lac St. Denis, and to the intersection of Rue des Musiciens and Chemin du Village. Here, take the uphill route, following the dirt road past the big, white sign. You'll find the base is at the top of this hill.
More information about the location's coordinates can be found here.
Parliament Hill Steam Mill
Location: Along the river at the base of Parliament Hill, coordinates 45.426420, -75.700585
Just five minutes from downtown Ottawa, this historic site was built as a steam-powered lumbered mill right on the Rideau Canal.
Located just beneath Canadian parliament, the country's first prime minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, believed the old mill was a representation of Canadians' hard-working spirit, according to the Capital Gems website.
Now, all that's left is the remnants of exterior stone walls, the base of the smokestack that once towered 60 feet above the Ottawa River and subterranean arches still intact.
The old mill ruins are found off the NCC bike path below Parliament Hill along the water.
Stony Swamp Ruins
Location: Stony Swamp, Nepean, ON
According to Capital Gems, this old stone house is early evidence of some of Ottawa's first-ever settlers. While this curious location is definitely scary in the dark, it's a cool piece of history that is worth checking out.
Park your car in the NCC parking lot P11. From here you'll need to track coordinates, which can be found by clicking here.
Location: 3929 Carp Road, Carp, ON
Although it's now a museum, this chilling space used to be an abandoned former nuclear fallout shelter. The bunker was built in the 1960s amid rising geopolitical tensions during the Cold War. The soon abandoned building was designed to allow the government to function entirely underground for 30 days in the event of a nuclear attack.
While it's been renovated into an educational experience, the bunker is still dark, cold, and will definitely give you goosebumps.
It goes quite deep underground (understandably), and it's not for the faint-hearted. If you're claustrophobic — forget it!
Find more information on the Diefenbunker website.
Ottawa Jail Hostel
Location: 75 Nicholas St., Ottawa, ON
Previously known as The Carleton County Gaol, this prison was once home to some of Canada's most notorious criminals. In fact, many of them even died here, and now it's open to visitors.
Although it was originally abandoned, it has since been privately purchased. Now, ghost-hunters can spend a night in the allegedly haunted original prison cells. It's intense, but it's a pretty authentic experience.
One of the most notable captives was Patrick James Whelan, who was charged with the murder of Thomas D'arcy McGee, a prominent politician in the 1800s.
Soper's Fountain & Rockville Rockeries
Location: Rockcliffe Rockeries, 600 Acacia Ave. Rockcliffe Park, ON
Along the Ottawa River, you'll find Rockcliffe Park, a picturesque escape from the city. Hidden among the spring blooms and flowering trees is a monument graveyard of sorts — an ornate fountain that won the “Prix de Paris” in the early 1900s and towering stone pillars.
Soper's Fountain used to reside on private property but was donated to the city in 1960 before being moved to Rockcliffe Park, according to Captial Gems.
On the same grounds stand pillars that once framed the entrance to the now-demolished Carnegie Public Library of Ottawa. The ruins were relocated from where they stood for years on Metcalfe Street — a main street cutting through the city's growing downtown.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.
This article has been updated since it was originally published on April 26, 2020.