A place of love, a place of hope, a place now abandoned. This is a post we’ve been working on for a few weeks now, post-processing a huge amount of images and doing some background research. Today we roll out the first post in our new photoblog series “The Toad And The Lodge“, showcasing Tillicum Lodge which was a facility for Seniors that has been closed and pretty much abandoned since 1995. This series will bring you along on a big adventure the Mudpuppy and I had on a weekend, walking around the facility and documenting many interesting facets of the structure and its current condition.
The act of photographing a place like this is just the first step in a long journey to bring the story to life to share with everyone. Once the shutter goes quiet, the act of post-processing and research begins to create the back story to the shoot. This is just as, or more important, than the physical photo shoot itself. We want to paint an accurate picture of the story behind the facility, and to also bring a bit of the feeling that remains in both the community and within ourselves as we set about this adventure. We hope you enjoy this series as much as we did in bringing it to you.
Mrs. Toad set about trying to find as much background information as possible on the facility once Mr. Mudpuppy and I returned from the shoot. Very little information can be found online about the facility, and rumors and personal thoughts abound here in Victoria about it. It’s got quite the galvanizing effect on local residents, some stories are good, some not so much. Here is a synopsis of the information she was able to find by reaching out to local people who are familiar with the story:
Tillicum Lodge is situated in Victoria, BC, Canada on Vancouver Island. Opened in 1972 originally as a facility for low-cost sheltered housing for Seniors, in 1978 it was designated as a Long Term Care Facility. Shortly thereafter, it was deemed to not meet minimum requirements for Long Term Care and the process began to find another location and move the lodge. In April of 1995, the new facility was opened and the residents of Tillicum Lodge were transferred. Since then, the facility has remained closed. Camosun College now owns the land and facility and has been struggling with financial issues and a vision for using this space. In the meantime, it sits abandoned and closed for over 17 years.
Let’s begin our photo-adventure together…
In the early seventies when this facility came online and was opened to receive residents, we were entering a bit of a new time in society. One where we started to really emphasize and care for our elders and seniors. Money was allocated and plans were drawn to create centralized, low-cost, facilities for our family members to move to during this stage of their lives. The only residents left here now are the many blackberry vines.
As mentioned, the facility closed in 1995, over 17 years ago now. Yet, when we look in the front door we see signs of semi-recent activity. We’re unsure if the work stopped due to financial restraints, or some other reason. We’ll touch on this in a future post in the series, but for this post we’ll leave you with this view through the front door.
This is one of the few areas left in the entire facility with the windows not boarded up.
Access to all the zones in the facility were via these little solarium type structures. Each area had one, with windows that let the ample sunlight into the hospital, adding a warm and inviting sense to the place. Today, these solarium type entrances are some of the pieces that are in the worst condition, as you’ll see as we go about this tour together.
The main entrance area has a roundabout parking piece, and in this shot we can see a few of the windows that remain unboarded that look into this central court. The blackberry bushes are the primary tenants of the land now, and are busy forming an army that will eventually take over the entire structure if left to their own devices.
In this shot, we see our first real “KEEP OUT” sign posted. The building had these posted everywhere, and the entire facility was secured tight with no access at all. As we continue to tour the perimeter, we find a pretty big series of dichotomies at play here. Bits and pieces are rather well maintained, and obviously so. Others are not. There is a sense of some recent activity, yet right beside that you will find other elements that are in terrible condition; almost to the point of falling down.
A slightly different view of the photograph above. Here, it doesn’t look too bad, really. A lick of paint, a little reworking on the trim and siding… it looks like it could be operational again in short order. This is far from the true story here, so don’t run away just yet…
Our final image for today’s post looks at one of the solarium entrances discussed above. If you look closely at the sloping roof line, you can see a lot of weathering and deterioration at play. Just wait till you see some of the shots from around the other side of the facility, they are beyond description.
In the left part of the frame, behind the solarium, we see a row of windows. This used to be the cafeteria. As you came to the facility to visit your loved one, or for business purposes, you’d see this room filled with delightful people enjoying a bite of food and looking out into the courtyard. Today the curtains are closed and no souls remain.
No earthly souls, that is.
Many stories exist about Tillicum Lodge now. Stories of joy, stories of grandchildren visiting their grandparents, stories of care workers going beyond the call of duty to care for our elders… but there are also sad stories, stories of suffering and loss. I guess when it comes to places like this, it’s hard to have one without the other.
Today all that remains are the memories. As time progresses, as it seems to do rather quickly, these stories become entrenched further in the recesses of our minds and they begin to dwindle themselves. Soon, our generation will be gone and most of those stories will go with us.
We have so many more photographs to share with you on Tillicum Lodge, and as we journey together and go around the back of the facility, the images become more and more alarming and interesting. All the windows are boarded, and parts of the facility are in dire condition. This is all very difficult to describe, you’ve simply got to see the pictures to believe it yourself.
On that note, we wrap up today’s post. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and we also hope you’ll be back to follow along the rest of the story as we share it with you. Please feel free to leave us any comments or thoughts you may have as we truly love to hear from all our visitors.