Oakville Trafalgar Highschool
The old OTHS was so far my favorite project. We returned to this building for weeks and never came close to exploring it all. This was the site where our summer time explorations formulated into 'infiltration'. Looking back on it now I can see how this really came close to crossing the line of infiltrating and violated some ethics. After finding out about the security we really should have cut it out, but that was way back then.
for the history lesson. Forgive me if I ramble, but this was one cool place.
History Lesson -
The school was originally built prior to World War One and was just a little brick building at the time. As the years past and the population of Oakville increased, so did the student population. The school was naturally renovated and expanded to the size of you average highschool of today. But it didn't stop there, some time after that the school was once again 'upgraded' into the mega building it is now, adding a second building connecting to the first with a series of catwalks. These three expansions have left the inside of the school as one great maze, which only adds to the appeal. About ten years ago the school was condemned due to asbestos insulation and the government considered upgrading the school to modern standards but that would have meant upgrading all of the wiring in a very complex school, and going through the maze ripping out asbestos from the ceilings. The government decided it would be cheaper to just build a new school, so up popped the new OTHS across town.
The new school is a nice looking school, but nowhere near as interesting as the old one, not to mention it's half the size as the old school, (go figure). Apparently the school was supposed to be twice the size it is now but the architects overlooked the size of land they were building the school on.
Now because the old school is literally right next door to the Oakville Trafalgar Hospital, the hospital now controls the school. It's basically their junk drawer now. Over the past summer they had hospital crew removing the metal inards of the school for resale. This act normally preludes a knockdown...so that's right, this mighty beast will soon be leveled. A sad fate for an incredible, and historic building. BUT, now that the school is empty, locked up, and almost abandoned, it's perfect for us.
So now it's story time -
maiden exploration of the school happened by fluke actually. Shame
of All Nations and I (EvolvingFucker) had
heard of people who had made it into the school over the years (even the rumor
of the odd underground party there), but had no idea how to get in ourselves.
After a quick walk around the property we found it all locked up so we gave
up and went home. Returning again last Labour Day just took look around, we
found an open window on the bottom floor!
They obviously didn't design the damn things to make it easy to go in and out of so these windows are the most inconvenient buggers to climb through. After a lady walking her dog passed by, after a vain attempt at shutting the window (she was such a good citizen), we slid in. It all began with that one window. In we slid and it all began.
We found ourselves in a science lab on the bottom level of the school and were hit immediately by the old OTHS smell. Very damp and mildewish. Looking around we entered some more science labs and eventually made our way down into the basement where we explored what once would have been the guidance offices I think. All around us was a mixture of school and hospital artifacts which made for a pretty cool scene. Wheel chairs and more hospital junk mixed with old text books and chairs. Moving on through a set of doors into a hallway we heard a sudden beeping, we looked at eachother, went pale and ran like hell. Motion detectors.
The next time we came to the school we brought our friend Ryokirah and entered the same way. As we walked through the science room in the eerie silence I took out my tape player and played the mission impossible theme. Dramatic relief. While we did some more exploring on this trip, we didn't make it into any new areas...so again we left with the sound of the beeping, this time leaving through an emergency exit that we left partly open. Thus ending our use of the window for a time being. As we ran away from the school I took out my tape player again and played the Indiana Jones theme. It was that night that we stood out in the pouring rain timing the response and procedures of security. Oh, while exploring a room I joked about us moving in and decorating the place...just as I said that I found a 1998 Ikea catalogue on a desk. Creepy?
old oths artifact
The Newbies -
next trip was once again just Shame of All Nations
and myself but with an added surprise. While doing walking around the school
we ran into some people we knew who were exploring the outside of the school
looking for an entrance.
While our motive was exploration, they were really on a mission. On the bottom floor of the second building there is a creepy little mannequin head sitting on the inside window sill. this little head has become rather famous in some circles of Oakville kids. when you drive by that side of the school the head is merely a silhouette which tends to creep out a lot of kids...there's probably an urban legend about it by now. They were after this head.
Thinking they would be a fine addition to our infiltration group, we took them under our wings and took them to our window entrance. That was our first mistake. We didn't show them the actually door we had left open because we didn't want them just walking in whenever they wanted. We felt the door was safe since it was safely covered with overgrowth and spiders. you had to earn the door, and they hadn't. but we did show them our rabbit hole. never show/tell anyone where your rabbit hole to a site is. never. one of the newbies was afraid to come in the school through the window so the two of them opted to wait for us to open a door for them. in we went and it was there that we decided not to bring them in. they giving off tourist vibes, and tourists are nothing but trouble. it was that night that we made a break through and found a new safe zone to explore, the theater. the school's theater is one huge room witha balcony and stage. the acoustics in this place are incredible. while in here, one of the newbies started throwing stones at the windows of the theater because he saw our flashlight beams and thought for some reason, he should let us know he was outside there. Shortly after that we discovered another hot spot and ran like hell. That concluded our third visit. Before we parted ways, one of the newbies exchanged phone numbers with us so he could tag along next time. Afterwards Shame of All Nations and I decided the newbies wouldn't tag along, and that we were now in competition for the head.
Enter the tourists -
time after our third visit the newbies returned with more numbers and a video
camera. The group discovered our hidden entrance and entered the school.
There are two kinds of people in this hobby. Vaders (infiltrators) and tourists. Vaders do it for the thrill of exploration and are more orthodox to this culture, while tourists have no respect for infiltrating and do it to cause mischief or to get kicks. vaders typically despise tourists. These newbies were tourists. We officially despised them.
The thought of these kids going through our school and advertising to others about this secret was horrifying.
The following night we returned to the school to protect the school.
It's War -
The minute we entered the school we locked up the emergency exit and all of the window. If the tourists wanted to explore the school, they had to earn it. That night we had to find a new entrance to the school that only a true vader would find and have the gull to use. When our work was done we relaxed in the theater balcony just talking. This was the first night that we left under our own will. No alarms. We left on our own. The following day we contacted the newbies and warned them that the entire school was locked up and now patrolled by security.
They Called our Bluff -
following trip was the most exciting night of discovery to date. The night began
pretty slow as Shame of All Nations was a half
hour late, leaving me at the site killing time. At one point I had left our
meeting spot to circle the school, as I was completing my circle and crossing
the parking lot, a car arrived at the drive way and three people shot out of
it trying to pull up the parking bar. I began walking towards them when they
saw me coming. As soon as the caught site of me they took off, but continued
to drive around the area for ten minutes. The tourists had returned and I can
only guess they thought I was one of the security guards patrolling the area
and I scared them off. They called out bluff so to speak, but as long as they
think that I was security, we won't have to worry about them for a while.
Shame of All Nations brought along a friend of ours for that nights adventures, and is a true vader at heart as well.
That night we found a small safe corridor that opened up to a huge chunk of the school. Before this night we hadn't covered more then 10% of the school. Now we're somewhere near 30% I think. Again, it's a really big school. One of the nights highlights was running into the dead body of a raccoon. Imagine exploring this monster of a school in the dark, with only one flash light (Shame of All Nations forgot his), pumped with adrenaline fearing that you were going to set off an alarm, you're only exit is a long ways away, then running right into a dead raccoon. Gets the blood moving I can tell you.
Another highlight that relieved the tension was finding a tag done by a friend of ours who worked in the hospital crew that was in the school all summer.
Victory was almost ours that night, as we came about a hundred feet from the head before setting off a motion detector.
The night was a great success.
The Night After -
were so close to winning the head from the tourists that was just had to come
back the next night. We really shouldn't have done this. Showing up the night
after setting off the alarm, when the alarm had been set off nearly every weekend
prior to that thanks to us and the tourists, was a huge mistake.
The night began pretty ruff. Shame of All Nations was about 45 minutes late and I was starting to wonder if he would show. Frustrated of standing in one spot for so long, I decided to take a walk around the school...It was then that Shame of All Nations and I discovered that we had been standing right around the corner of a building from each other for the past half hour, not twenty feet away from eachother.
We laughed, and decided to move our bikes to a different location for a change. I don't know why we did this, we just did. It was a complete break from routine. Thank God we did it though.
After hiding our bikes we saw the same car from the night before cruising by the school and came to a stop, then two people got out and made there way to the school. The tourists had returned, we guessed it was the two newbies. Following them from a distance, hiding in shadows, and behind trees we watched as they first checked the emergency exit door. When the found it was locked they walked to the original window that was now locked. Finding that locked they left. I find it rather insulting when tourists try to imitate us vaders. They don't even work for it. They checked the two entrances they knew about and the just left. They didn't even try to find a new entrance for themselves. To them it's just a fad...and a rapidly growing fad as they tell their friends about it. After they left we shook our heads at them and went back to the school. We realized we needed a new exit for when we went after the head that night. If an alarm went off it would be too risky to run back to our entrance and would probably run straight into the arms of security.
While standing outside our prospective door, I was shinning my flashlight inside to get a good idea of the area. At that point a police car drove by the school. I shut off my light and we ducked down. The car was gone. The police were patrolling the area. Nothing out of the ordinary, I often saw them in the area as I arrived to the school and the night before I had seen them patrolling the area. Just then the police car turned on its lights and pulled into the parking lot where we usually met, and parked our bikes (!!). The officer had spotted us. We took off, and found a place to hide on the hospital grounds.
this is where Shame of All Nations and I hid from the cops that warm spring evening.
Terrified of being caught we remained in that spot for an hour. What we didn't realize when we chose that spot to hide in, was that the hospital security guards patrolled the area. Not only did we have a police officer possibly looking for us, but now there were hospital guards walking all around. We sat there in silence for sometime, then got our stories straight in case we were caught. Well, time passes and so does fear. After sometime we were calming down and started to just talk about life and such. Feeling safe we left, got our bikes, laughed and headed home. The OTHS project is on hold for the time being, and I recommend it being left alone until late October. But don't worry, we have other projects in store for the time being.
The following day we also found out that the two people we had seen trying to enter the school had been Ryokirah and one of his friends.
Old OTHS Sacked!!
week from our last visit, that ended horrifically with our encounter with the
police, we returned to the school. This visit wasn't meant as an attempt to
infiltrate, but a side track on our way for donuts.
From a distance Cam could see the lights in the theater were on so we went to check it out. Parked outside the theater was a large white truck. Apparently the hospital had hired a company to shred all of the documents that were being stored in the theatre...at midnight.
Since we were already at the school we went to check out our entrance but found it closed off.
on a winter follow up, EvolvingFucker (civilian clothes) takes a moment to mourn the sealed entrance to the school.
right folks, Old OTHS is all locked up nice and tight. So ends our infiltration's
to the great school, and so rests the legendary head.
It is a sad day for all.
Winter Follow-up -
one boring winter night, Shame of All Nations and
myself took Ryokirah and Willto
to the old school to show them the actual location of our last stand with the
cops, a story which is now well known. Well, to our horror the school is no
longer the abandoned building of mystery but is being renovated. Lights are
on and windows are left open and it has finally be confirmed that the school
is to be terminated, well most of it. If you read the history lesson you can
guess that the original building to the school is a historical building, so
the hospital is knocking down part of the new renovation which is currently
the library and cafeteria I think. In it's place there building some care center
or something. Selfish bastards. So they're tearing down the part that we never
got to explore not to mention the contractors are walking around our precious
school, touching our stuff...stole the head.
head used to sit on the sill of the far left window. creepy little head it was.
more, the contractors in their endless changes to our school had to keep walking
between buildings and because the buggers had previously sealed up the catwalks
(although some previous infiltrators had knocked holes in the dry walling for
us) they had to make a new one. under the catwalk on both ends were doors leading
outside, so you could do the same trip as the cat walk but you'd be walking
outside. well they made their own walls and now they had a new sheltered pathway.
thing is, where they blocked now closes in the area where Shame
of All Nations and I ran through from the cops.
one of the above mentioned doors. writing reads "Door. Made it to Level 2?" (left). Courtyard with cat walk in distance. below it is boarded up, preventing passage (right).
so the school is all locked up being prepared for semi-demolition, so all I can say is try and do this place while you can. It's roomy and warm and would make a great place for some underground paintball or a rave. we'll sell tickets.
- Long live old OTHS -
building in the foreground is the library and cafeteria on the lower level.
never made it there.
- kudos to Willto for scans and photos