The mysterious farm on the University of Waterloo north campus

Back in 1990, when I was living in the columbia lake townhoses at the University of Waterloo, I remember having taken a picture of a farm not far from where I lived.  Years later, looking at the black and white print, I could't figure out where that might have been.  There was no farm on the UW north campus, and there was no other farms nearby.

The farm, as seen in 1990

The whole thing seemed a bit shrouded in mystery.  Especially with me having only the one black and white picture, which I had taken with a telephoto lens through a slight fog.

I was gazing at my topographical maps, when I noticed that on the north campus, not far from the columbia lake townhouses, there WAS some buildings marked on the map, where now there was none.  And the map I was looking at was not outrageously old, so I was pretty sure that that must have been the farm that I'd photographed back in 1990.  On the map at right, the crosshairs in the middle of the picture is on the marked buildings.

So I programmed those coordinates into my GPS receiver and headed out to the spot.

North campus on topographical map

The farm wasn't there anymore, but the trees still where.  The spot where the farm was was just plowed over, with no clues as to where even the foundations had stood.  This only got me more curious.

Using my old photograph as a guide, I found roughly the direction from where I had taken the picture in 1990, and took another picutre, this time digitally, and in colour.  The trees look surprisingly the same as they did in 1990, but the farm buildings seem to be vanished without a trace.

Same view in 2002  

Map section from 1992 master plan
Although I didn't put much hope in it, I did try a google search to see if it would turn up any clue.  I searched for "University of Waterloo north campus farm".  Sifting through various links, I came across some PDFs of the UW campus's master plan from 1992 at .  In there I found a map of the north campus, as of 1992.  This map was a bit more detailed than the topographical map, and showed three instead of two buildings at the site of the farm.  This map also shows the planned westmount road extension.  Preparatory work for this was done in the late 1980's.   There are signs indicating "A regional road will be constructed here", dated 1995.  Fortunately, not much has happened since, at least not at the site.  I hope that road never happens.  Note because I care about that spot so much, but because I don't like more roads.  The only thing that keeps people from driving more and working further from their homes is traffic congestion, so building more roads just leads to people driving further.

I later found this awesome website with aerial photos of Waterloo region at  
This is unfortunately one of those evil pages that requires Internet explorer to fully function, but its a lot of fun to browse.

On the black and white aerial photos, taken some time in 2000, you can see where the farm house had once stood, but  traces of the other two buildings are pretty much nonexistent.
Aerial photo from 2000
The driveway is still in use for driving tractors into the fields.
   Looking at the colour photographs, the farm was still there.  Obviously, that photo had been taken much earlier.  By checking the state of various properties around town in the colour photographs, I was able to determine that the date of the colour photograph was some time in 1993.
Aerial photo from 1993
The green strip on the right is the prepared road bed for the westmount road extension.  There's just grass growing in it at this point, which is why its so green on the photo.

And that's all I know about that farm. I just have a morbid fascination with old ruins and things like that, and I figured maybe somebody else might find it interesting too.

I put a Geocache near the site of this farm, becauase I think its an interesting spot.

Update 2005

The mentioned road past the farm has unfortunately been built and opened in the fall of 2004. I'm sure its great progress in terms of releiving congestion elsewhere, but its sad to see more land turned into roads.

The spot is no longer suitable for a geocache, so the cache is no longer.

Go to My ruins page