masthead image



Town site photo

Derelict structure

©Copyright: Jeri Danyleyko

Portland cement, now a staple in today's building industry, first hit the markets in the late 1800s. Composed of marl and clay dredged up from the bottom of the lakes, it was much harder and more durable than the old lime variety and instantly captured worldwide attention. Everyone wanted to jump on the bandwagon and it seemed quite natural for established building companies to expand their businesses into the brick and mortar trade.

In 1889, the Rathbun Lumber Company built a huge portland cement plant and company town on the west side of the present day village of Marlbank. Demand was fierce and the plant was wildly successful, so much so, that it was enlarged in 1903. As was common in the early 20th century, most of the workers lived right on site in one of the many worker houses or boarding homes.

The Marlbank plant was a early victim of, what came to be know in the late 20th century as, downsizing and the mega merger. In 1909 the Canada Portland Cement Company, after quietly taking over most of the cement industry in Ontario, purchased the Rathbun plant. They immediately consolidated operations, shut down the plant and abandoned the area.

Although, the town of Marlbank itself is not a ghost town, the extensive ruins just outside the town comprised of buildings, shells and silos, remain just as they were left almost 100 years ago, with a young forest slowly growing around up them.

Today only three original structures remain; an office, one home and a bunkhouse. The structures are located on privately owned land, which contain several newer and older buildings. Permission is required to enter the former town site.