Thunder Bay·Audio

Manitouwadge: Where a house costs less than a pickup truck

While the average price of a home in Canada hit $508,567 this year, there's one community in northwestern Ontario where you could snap up a three bedroom bungalow for under $30,000.

Starting price on a home in town: $14,000

Wendigo Street in Manitouwadge, Ont., is one of the subdivisions built in 1985 when the Golden Giant Mine opened in nearby Hemlo. These homes were sold, mainly to seniors, when the mine ceased operations in 2005. (Jeff Walters/CBC)
One community in the northwest is re-inventing itself, after it did the same thing a decade ago. We'll hear about turning another economic corner in Manitouwadge. 7:48
While the average price of a home in Canada hit $508,567 this year, there's one community in northwestern Ontario where you could snap up a three bedroom bungalow for under $30,000.

Manitouwadge, Ont., about 400 km northeast of Thunder Bay has nearly 40 homes on the market. Many of them are about 30 years old.

The only local realtor, Patricia Maltais, notes that many of the homes are cheaper than the cost of buying a pickup truck.

She said she has sold about five homes this year, with the cheapest going for $14,000 and the most expensive going for $32,500.
This home on Graham Drive in Manitouwage, Ont., is one of the most expensive homes on the market. It's listed for $67,000, featuring 3+1 bedrooms and 80 feet of frontage. It also has a new kitchen, windows, furnace and shingles. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

Kevin Turner helps tour newcomers around town. He recently had a couple from Barrie, Ont., who were looking at properties in the community.

"The people that I toured from Barrie were surprised how good the majority of the houses were." said Turner. "They were saying the town is very well kept up too."

Tough to bring in newcomers

But, attracting newcomers to Manitouwadge is a challenge.

"It's very hard. It is", said Mayor Andy Major. "Living in the north is not for everyone. You have to get your hobbies set ahead of yourself so you know what you're going to do here, you know what you're going to want to do."

Major joked that some expected a shopping centre in the community. Manitouwadge has one main street, Huron Walk, that features two restaurants, a grocery store, LCBO, and a handful of other shops.

Major said one hope is that retirees will come and snap up some of the cheap housing.
A view of Manitouwadge, Ontario taken from Ski Hill Road. There are approximately 40 homes for sale in the community. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

It's worked before, when the Golden Giant Mine shut down in 2005, and the company sold off the so-called 'Hemlo houses' in town, mainly to seniors.

Major says many of those seniors are now moving away, to be closer to a larger centre with more medical facilities, or extended family.

He said other homes are purchased by hunters, who use the house for only a few weeks of the year during hunting season.

Major said there still is some industry in the area, including prospecting, and mines about 100 km away in White River. But, he hopes another influx of retirees will come to the community, complete with its own golf course, ski hill, and curling club to bring new life into the community.

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