France has its catacombs, America has abandoned malls, and Canada has its vacant homes – all 1.3 million of them, according to the OECD. For decades, urban explorers have been touring abandoned buildings and sites. The activity of questionable legality has been a niche subculture for some time. However, the rise of TikTok (and YouTube to a lesser extent), has helped them find a new audience – Americans shocked by the number of vacant homes kicking around Canada.
We thought we’d save you some time and round up our favorite viral accounts exploring vacant homes. Now fire up the Volcano, grab a bag of chips, and let’s go through some of our favorite videos.
Ethan Minnie @ethanminnieSouthern Ontario
First up is Ethan Minnie, aka @ethanminnie. They’ve run an urban exploration channel on YouTube for a few years, but really found their audience on TikTok. Topping 200,000 followers and 2.3 million likes, he has a knack for finding homes seized as the proceeds of crime.
One of his most popular videos is “Mafia Boss’s Untouched Abandoned $ 8,000,000 Custom Mansion.” It’s unclear who, and whether it’s an actual mafia boss, but the community says it’s been empty since 2015.
Another of his greatest hits – “Drug Dealers Forgotten Abandoned 7 Million Dollar Mansion.” The video has racked up over 400,000 views, and explains it also went vacant in 2015… also because the government seized it…. yes, it’s a different home.
Not into government seized asset tours? Then perhaps, “Abandoned 1980’s Mansion Forgotten For 18 Years,” is more up your alley? The circa 1980s-Toronto area mansion caught fire in 2004 and has sat vacant ever since.
Lomar Mendz, @LaceyDecay, Southern Ontario
Lomar Mendz, @ 1aceydecay, appears to be more focused on smaller, lesser known places. Most of the videos are from Southern Ontario, with his latest being “the Grandma’s House.” The video tours a home that looks frozen in time, that’s also partially dilapidated. Outfits are still laid out to wear.
jdooms, @jdooms, British Columbia
jdooms… does not have a real name they’d like to share. They focus on exploring the Lower Mainland, including the “Model’s Pool House.” It’s not an actual pool house, but a large house with a pool.
He claims the home belonged to a model in the 80s, with a number of photographs still in the home. He’s also found plane tickets from the 90s scattered around, so it’s probably been vacant for a minute.
They also have a few “crispy” homes – urban explorer slang for abandoned after a fire. It is not clear how long this was abandoned, but there are signs it has been a substantial amount of time.
“Dave,” @Freaktography, Southern Ontario
Freaktography, from what we gather, is a Yoda-life figure in Southern Ontario’s urban exploration community. His latest TikTok, “$ 20 million billionaire’s mansion,” takes us through a sea of paneled mahogany that looks like a cartoon billionaire’s home. It is not in too bad of shape but has clearly been empty for a while.
Over on their YouTube, they do longer-format tours for their 75.5K subscribers. One of his more recent videos explores places like this 1960s-era mid-century modern home in Toronto, that’s been sitting vacant for some time.
Riddim Ryder, @RiddimRyder, Southern Ontario
Riddim Ryder on YoutTube has racked up tens of thousands of followers exploring abandoned places in Southern Ontario. One of his latest videos is the “Exploring A Vacant Seven Million Dollar Villa Mansion in Toronto!” It’s also called the Doctor’s Mansion by the urban exploration community in Southern Ontario.
In a blog post for a “$ 7 million abandoned mansion,” Riddim explains why he sees so many abandoned homes in Canada.
“Oftentimes these places are owned by foreign investors waiting for prices to continue to rise before eventually selling, wealthy people looking to build a dream house or even foreign nationals purchasing them to move money out of one country to another,” he concisely explains.
But, you know. Canada’s vacant home situation is just 1.3 million myths.
Photo: Freaktograhy’s YouTube Channel.