While I've always known that there were ruins from the late 1800s of the old settlement houses, general store, and equipment sheds somewhere in the area, I've never before had the chance to come across anything more than the foundations below. They're interesting, and no doubt historically significant, but square holes in the ground are a far cry from what I've been looking for.
Fortunately, armed with some GPS coordinates (courtesy of Ontario Abandoned Places), I was able to better target my search. That's not to say navigating the terrain was any easier, although I do understand now why I've never found the more significant ruins before. As it turns out, they're deep in the bush, far from the Bruce Trail, and almost completely obscured by thick trees and heavy brush. Even now, in the dead of winter, I had to be almost on top of them to find them.
With things in full bloom, and no tracks to follow in the snow, I don't see how anyone could hope to just stumble upon the in the Spring or Summer. I did find one trail leading up the escarpment that would bring a hiker at least into the immediate vicinity, but it would be suicide on anything but a hot, dry day. The photo below doesn't begin to do it justice. That spot where it looks as if the trail simply dips under the log? Yeah, that's where the trail drops almost completely straight down, for a good hundred feet or so, before continuing on in a sort of insane bobsled run.
As for the ruins themselves, seen up close, they're quite impressive - exactly what I'd been hoping for. Maybe it's way they were constructed, or maybe it's the hidden/inaccessible nature of the location, but they are in remarkably good condition, despite 120 or so years of weathering the elements.
Here's building #1, a large, open structure with a large doorway and several square windows.
And here's building #2, a larger structure, divided into what seems 4 equal rooms, with square windows in a line, and even some evidence of basement foundations.
There's not much remaining of building #2, but the layout of the foundation does give a sense of scale.
It's one of the few areas fenced off along the whole Bruce Trail, and for good reason. Only the one kiln remains completely open to the elements, allowing a fascinating look inside, but it's definitely deteriorating. Given how much of the brickwork has collapsed, it's not a place you'd want to be when the rest comes tumbling down.