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Centralia College of Agricultural Technology

Mouldering away in the middle of rural Ontario sits a building with a very distinct architecture. Comprised of red brick set at angles, which is typical of 1960's style, the building itself matches none of those in the surrounding area. With little vandalism to account for save some graffiti on the exterior and a few broken windows, likely from weather events, the building appears to have been forgotten to history.

Location attributes for Centralia College of Agricultural Technology
Location   Huron Park, Ontario
Built :: Closed   1967 :: 1994
Status   Abandoned
Difficulty   ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
Hazards Risk   ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Security Risk   ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
AUE Rating   ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

The Centralia College of Agricultural Technology, which is not actually located in Centralia proper but in the small town of Huron Park and adjacent to an old Canadian Forces base, was created in 1967 to provide diplomas in Agricultural Business Management, Animal Health Technology, and Home Economics. The first two diplomas make sense in the broad scheme (farming and livestock), while the Home Economics seems a bit more out of place. The College was naturally sited in a location that would be beneficial to these studies; namely, in the middle of rural farming operations. The College itself was overseen by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF).

Centralia College did not have any demonstration farms or equipment on the campus grounds; rather, the school paid a stipend to local farmers to allow the students to study their operations and prepare reports on the operations. The program proved to be a success in this regard, with many local farmers accepting the students onto their farms.

Ultimately, Centralia College was shut down in 1994 due to government cutbacks and consolidation plans; the school generally had about 300 students attending at any given time. It's small size compared to the other colleges, proximity to other agricultural colleges in Ridgetown (near Chatham) and Guelph, the larger size of these towns, and their proximity to freeways providing easier access, made the closing of Centralia a smart move. Ridgetown joined the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph in 1997, becoming a satellite campus.

As discovered during the trip to visit the building, Centralia College is not in a pleasant area for weather, being battered by lake effect weather coming in from Lake Huron, located approximately 20km to the west, and sits in the snowbelt that begins around London, Ontario. The rain was coming in fierce during our trip, the only refuge being the shelter provided by the rapidly decaying buildings once we were in.

That shelter came at a cost, however. We had been tipped in advance that we would want to bring respirators. Thankfully, we did. The dormitory pods are in terrible shape, partly due to the poor construction used on parts of the roofing (wood framing with corrugated sheet metal over top). Without maintenance, this construction had failed in places, allowing water in and promoting lot of mould growth. Pod B in particular was bad; even with the respirator it seemed like a poor idea to venture in.

We were unable to visit the two classroom buildings during our visit, given that they were secured with no access points. That said, through the windows we could see that the rooms were empty, so it didn't seem like an overwhelming loss.

I can't say that Centralia College was an amazing success; but I had gone in with fairly low expectations given the small size, I walked away pleasantly surprised, especially by the lack of vandalism for having sat disused for almost 20 years. A return trip in the future is unlikely, but I'm glad I at least made the one trip.

Spore City - October 2013 (Extra Restricted Content)
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