Getting Lost on The Lost Highway

The expansion of Hwy 7 in the 1930s was part of Ontario’s economic stimulus after the Great Depression. As the main link between Toronto and Ottawa, it had a decent beginning with motels, restaurants and gas stations springing up for truck drivers and tourists to stop along their way. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. When the four-lane divided Hwy 401 was finished in the 1960s, people took that route instead, taking the flow of trade with it. My husband and I needed to use the now nearly deserted highway this summer to get to a campground just north of Hwy 7 on Hwy 41.

When I first heard about The Lost Highway as a photography Meetup, I knew Norm and I would want to check out the rust bucket heaps, the Hubcap Hotel and the other abandoned vehicles and businesses. We couldn’t attend the Meetup, but we used the information provided to check it out on our way to the campground. I envisioned creating black and white images with a derelict truck providing a splash of colour and sepia-tone images of long-forgotten motels, diners and gas stations. The section on the Hubcap Hotel is particularly worth scrolling through.

The 2013 TVO documentary, The Lost Highway, included the owner of the Kaladar Motel talking about how the motel business dried up and how he now sells hubcaps at the Hubcap Hotel. Hubcaps for cars made decades ago now fill the rooms; nuts fill the dressers.

Norm and I tried to find the Hubcap Hotel using the Google Map of Lost Highway landmarks. Appearing to be on the south side of Hwy 7, just west of Hwy 41, we drove back and forth on that stretch with a GPS telling us that we were passing it, but just not seeing it out in the field. Turning south on Hwy 41, we tried to access it from the side, along the Trans-Canada Trail. We walked about a kilometer along one trail before heading back as the GPS told us we were still too close to the highway. We walked a couple of kilometers along a second trail, which was closer, but still we saw nothing more than mosquitoes in the woods. The hotel and the rust bucket heap near it were to remain lost on The Lost Highway.

We did find one pair of rust bucket heaps off Hwy 7 on N Rd/Mountain Grove Rd. I always find it amazing how many pictures Norm and I can take of the same thing, from different sides, different angles, different points of view. We could each post more than a few images online with no two being alike. I’ve shared three of my photographs here.

The only other Lost Highway landmarks we found were the many wooden shacks selling blueberries, which made the outing that much sweeter. It may be cliché that life is about the journey, not the destination, but we certainly did have fun getting lost on The Lost Highway.

If you have any better luck finding The Lost Highway, please let me know. I would be happy to hear from you.

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