Ghost Towns Reborn near London

Angela Foreman-Bobier holds a photo of an original hotel, now a residence, in Coynes Corner, Ontario. (CTV News / Sean Irvine)

COYNES CORNERS, ONTARIO -- Today, there are two houses, but on the same corner over a century ago, there were three hotels.

The location is Coynes Corners, a crossroads south of Dutton, Ontario.

Just a few weeks back only a road sign gave a clue there was once a village here, but now there is an actual sign, with more pieces of the past to come.

The sign arrived here after an area heritage group convinced the local council to install entrance signs in four - largely forgotten -places.

The resurrected place names are ‘Largie’, ‘Coynes Corners’, ‘Tyrconnell’, and ‘Cowal’.

Well each one has a handful of people living around them in 2020, the days of them being bustling communities of up to 500 people are long over.

In Coynes Corners, Jim Barber is one of the few descendants of the original residents. His family once operated one of the three hotels on the corner. He tells CTV people can’t believe it when he tells the story of what was, even though one of the former hotels still stands as a residence.

Angela Foreman-Bobier, one of the committee members behind the project, was among those intrigued by stories like Barbers.

She says the signs are just the beginning. Her group now wants historical photos and stories from the public which they will place on boards below the new sign markers.

It is hoped photos, beyond those already held in the archives of Elgin County, will be discovered.

Once collected and placed on the signs, the plan is to promote a daytripping tour of the lost hamlets.

There are also plans to resurrect more communities also lost to maps and map apps today.

But Foreman-Bobier warns none of it will happen without the help of local residents, and those who once lived here and have moved on.

“If you live here locally, you might know it, but if you never tell anyone, or share you pictures or share you stories your grandparents, or grandparents told you, it doesn't mean anything."