I always love a big location & the Abandoned Bluewater Youth Detention Centre was perfect! Massive, creepy & having a checkered past checked all of Zenning with Zay & my boxes!
Originally built in 1961, The Ontario Hospital was a mental health facility. 15 years later it was renamed to Bluewater Centre for the Developmentally Handicapped & operated as such until 1983. Two years later the facility was given a face lift at a cost of $10 million to accommodate young offenders.
The Facility reopened in 1985 as Bluewater Youth Detention Centre. In 1996, just one day into a public service strike against the Ontario government, a riot, then a fire broke out at the prison. The inmates were incited by the guards to riot to help support their cause. The inmates were more than willing to kick off caused $175,000 in damage & that night 40 inmates were transferred to Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre where they claimed they were humiliated, verbally & physically intimidated, prodded, struck & kicked, with some sustaining injuries at the hands of prison managers who were filling in for striking guards. 6 years later a settlement was made with a dozen former inmates who received a considerable sum of money & apology from the province. The incident caused significant changes in the youth justice system in an attempt to reduce the number of youths incarcerated by implementing community-based programs. The facility, located near Goderich could accommodate hundreds of youths however when it closed there was it was at a mere 26% capacity. In 2015 Bluewater closed suddenly putting nearly 200 people out of work.
In 2017 & 2018 Canadian Forces visited the facility to perform training exercises on several occasions. Explosions & gun shots echoed through the air for a week at a time.
The damage done by Canadian forces was extensive but certainly made for some awesome shots! Breach training was done throughout the facility with walls blown apart, doors cut open. It was pretty cool to see the damage & must have been incredibly loud during the exercises.
Former staff made attempts to have the facility re-opened however the gate was sealed. The province has decided that the sprawling 300 acre property should be sold & locals hope that the land is used for a resort or some sort of year round attraction. The buildings have extensive damage & will likely need to be demolished. Hopefully a new use is found quickly & new jobs created for those put out of work when it closed.