This photographer found a fortune in an abandoned house



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According to Dave, the home’s story starts at the turn of the 20th century, when a Polish family moved to Ontario and set up home in the property. They reportedly made their living selling fruit from the orchard at a roadside stand, which was well known amongst locals. However, they abruptly upped sticks and left in 1985, leaving the home frozen in time.



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From the piles of belongings and family photos scattered around the property, it’s clear that the family left in a rush, leaving behind precious mementos like this one. But why did the previous residents leave in such a hurry?



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As told to Freaktography’s Dave by relatives of the family, the story goes that the couple had three children, but their eldest son is said to have developed a drinking problem as he grew older. One day in 1979, he purportedly hit a pregnant woman and her two-year-old child while driving drunk, sadly killing them both. As punishment, he was put behind bars for three years, which devastated the family.



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The home is packed full of furnishings from years gone by, including this antique hand-crank clothes wringer which sits in a corner of the kitchen. Used to wring out clothes after they were handwashed in a pot, it was made and sold in Canada by the T. Eaton Company, known as Eaton’s.



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No longer a cosy family space, the cluttered living room still has old family photos scattered around and a calendar from 1979. The adjoining living room accommodates what appears to be an old hospital bed – according to Dave, who spoke with relatives of the former residents, this was brought in for the grandmother of the family when she was sadly battling cancer.



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Among the debris in the living space was this liquor permit, which shows what life would have been like in 1952 when it was issued. After the prohibition era, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario issued liquor licenses from 1927 to 1962. The passport-sized book meant that the family would have had to record the alcohol they bought.



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It’s also clear to see that the family were big fans of music, with a number of record players dotted around the house as well as this antique radio, which sits tucked away in a corner downstairs. We can only imagine the evenings the family must’ve spent gathered around this beauty as music drifted through the house.



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Inside one of the bedrooms, this rich green wallpaper has been affected by damp and is now cracked and peeling. You can just make out the pale outlines left by absent picture frames, though one has been seemingly left behind and long forgotten.



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While the bedrooms upstairs are derelict and cluttered, they offer up a treasure trove of antiques and personal items which have been piled up and left to rot. Now damp and inhospitable, this attic space would’ve once been a warm and cosy bedroom in the eaves.



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Remarkably, this photo album has survived amongst the debris and looks to be in relatively good shape. Other mementos of the home’s past life include this mini portable radio and a pin-striped suit jacket that lies beneath the album – probably worn to family events and smart occasions.



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Elsewhere, a dust-covered dressing table featuring a mahogany-framed mirror accommodates an antique radio, baseball and jewellery box, though whether it still holds the family jewels is anyone’s guess. Atop the radio sits a mysterious key and we can’t help but wonder what it opens…



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Next to the dresser is this Ledos record player – we can just imagine it crackling away into the early hours, spinning the latest hits of yesteryear. With built-in speakers, it would have been the height of sophistication back in the day. We wonder if it still works today?



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What looks like a simple storage unit at first glance is actually revealed to be another record player when the lid is lifted up. As well as playing records, the Mason & Risch phonograph would have actually recorded sounds and played them back – a pretty high-tech piece of kit for your average homeowner, though the family’s wealth would soon become even more apparent…



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Elsewhere, this beautiful dress seems to have escaped the derelict fate suffered by the rest of the house. The beautiful lace and silk piece in light green has been left hanging over a bedroom doorway, as though waiting for its owner to return.



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Also left behind, this hairbrush and mirror set would have likely belonged to the mysterious owner of the dress. Preserved in a box, these antique heirlooms haven’t suffered the test of time as much as their surroundings have.



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In another of the bedrooms, perhaps one that belonged to one of the younger members of the family, are these old school and college books. Surrounded by debris and a small tray of money, the mementos offer an intriguing insight into life growing up in mid-century Canada.



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Among the items left behind in the wake of their hasty departure were a number of fine silk clothes, pictured here hanging on the back door of one of the bedrooms. But there was something even more intriguing concealed downstairs that urban explorer Dave stumbled upon during his visit…



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Found in a yellow plastic bag tucked discreetly behind an upturned mattress in the kitchen was a vast collection of money. Rolled up, the money was mainly US dollars, with a few Canadian dollars, which all added up to a grand total of $6,800 (£5,260).



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So just why did the family hide their money? Bundled up in elastic bands and marked in pencil with dates spanning from the mid-1960s to the 1970s, the stash was extremely well organised. How they came about the money is something of a mystery, but it has been suggested that the notes could have been collected from their fruit stand and kept as undeclared income.



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32/32 SLIDES

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