What once was home to people’s mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters is now just a hull of it’s previous incarnation.  Today we continue our latest photoblog series “The Toad And The Lodge” exploring what remains of Tillicum Lodge, on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada.  As the journey unfolds and we make our way around the facility, we find that things are in much worse shape than originally thought.

Leaving the front entrance and it’s courtyard, we begin to work our way to the north side of the building.  One last scene presents itself, creating an image that at first was undoubtedly not going to make its way from the cutting room floor to our blog series, but when processed and reviewed…  a story emerged.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

One of the last unboarded windows in the entire facility gives us a peek inside.  Once someone’s home, this room now sits empty save for a few plastic chairs left behind.  The reflection in the window was strong, and while we were shooting this image I was rather certain the picture was going to be absolutely unusable.

Until we processed it and took a close look at it.  We get a glimpse into the dichotomy that fills the entire place here, with a shot that gives us both a view into the long abandoned room, as well as a dramatic reflection that splits the image near in half exposing the active and vibrant world that exists right behind us.  The gnarly tree only serves as a reminder of the drama that surrounds us, and the view into both worlds produced an image that was a metaphor for our experience here and in the end was well worthy of including in our series.

This was the last unboarded window we would find for the rest of the day.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

As we come around the back to the north side of the building, we enter the dense Vancouver Island forest.  We get our first view of this side, and see that all the windows and entrances are securely boarded up.  A sense of urgency comes over us as we begin this stage of the shoot, we’re determined to get the pictures we came for and are trying to avoid being noticed and asked to leave.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

The extent of the weathering and the damage that Mother Nature is incurring on the facility become quickly evident.  The true dichotomy of the experience we had begins to set in as we see a stark contrast in sections of the building that have been tended to recently against the ones that are obviously not.  Over top of the roof-line here we see some of the graffiti on the building.  The artists responsible for this must have put themselves in grave danger to get on the roof and produce these art-works.  The entire building is utterly unsafe, as you will see, and personally there is no way I’d get up on the roof here, for any reason.  An abrupt and sudden drop would undoubtedly be the result.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

A closer look at one of the sun-room type entrance-ways into the lodges shows considerable water damage and weathering.  The plywood is dark from the water, and a close look shows the overhang is literally falling apart in front of our eyes.  Great textures and details are here to be found, and we are excited to have a chance to capture these to share with everyone, but this is tempered with a sense of sadness as we see what has become of the facility over the years.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

This side view begins to tell the story of the dichotomy that is Tillicum Lodge today.  Several pieces of the plywood used to board the building up are almost completely deteriorated, while others look to be rather new.  Just below the roof-line in this shot we see some significant weathering, as the harsh environment slowly works about disassembling the facility.  We also get a peek at one of the pervasive KEEP OUT signs we found everywhere.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Now a set of boarded up windows, these used to be the view out into the world that the residents had from their rooms.  A Mr. Mudpuppy and myself set ourselves up for this shot, we found ourselves speaking in whispers.  Both as a means to avoid being noticed, but also to avoid disturbing anyone who may have been here with us.  The only earthly sound was that of the wind as it howled through the tall trees; but that sense of being watched, of being followed, was strong and was something we couldn’t shake.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

The back service driveway meanders its way around the west side, taking us deeper into the complex.  Here we see another of the always evident KEEP OUT signs.  A lone poplar tree stands sentry, waiting and watching for any sign of life.  A fern seems to stand out in the scene, almost as if to say that life does indeed still exist here.  We’re hardly convinced of this as we capture the photograph and begin to make our way around the west side and down towards the service and maintenance area of the facility.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

This is definitely one of the most evocative and dramatic scenes we found during our journey.  The full extent of the condition begins to really deliver a strong sense as to what we’re looking at.  This sun-room/entrance to the lodge is deteriorating quickly, not much time remains before Mother Nature wins her race and this section completely falls down to once again merge with the earth.

Vancouver Island is composed mainly of rainforest and the winters are harsh.  Cold, damp and relentless rains are the typical patterns we see during the winter months, and this does play havoc with buildings and structures.  Tillicum Lodge is not above this all, and her age and condition really come out in the dead of winter when the trees have no leaves, and the story of the Lodge that once was continues to unfurl.

We have quite a few more images to share with everyone from Tillicum Lodge, coming over the next few days.  Please do stay tuned if you are enjoying this series, and as always, we encourage everyone to leave us some comments as we really do love to hear from all our visitors.




  1. Another wonderful post Toad. You really make this place come alive through words and images…if that’s possible.

  2. I’m loving this series scott. It’s really shaping up to be something special. Personally I’d love to get inside this building and see more of what’s there.

    • Thank you so much Chris, that really means an awful lot to us my friend! The place was locked up super tight.. we’re actually trying to work through channels to see if we can get legitimate access to it to grab some internal shots. I’ll bet it’s absolutely amazing in there! Thanks so much for your friendship & support here Chris, we really appreciate it!

  3. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    What a great continuation of this series Toad. The images are great as usual with wonderful processing that convey it’s decay. What I always love about your posts is the writing. You don’t right a post, you right a story. This one wants us to find out what’s on the inside. Great job.

  4. avatar Jim Denham says:

    It’s obvious this building is quickly losing ground to the elements and will soon be worth nothing but a bulldozer, with which all memories will leave with. Great story telling Toads!

  5. avatar Fred Norris says:

    Very powerful images Toad,and an amazing storyline…More please!!

  6. avatar ehpem says:

    Toad, these are great images. It sure is a nice setting. I can see that the vision behind this place was a good one, a good place to spend one’s last days nestled in the edge of a forest. This building really reminds me a lot of the Sedgewick Building at the University of Victoria. I wonder if there is an architectural connection of some kind. Here are some pictures of that building for comparison:
    http://vancouverlights.blogspot.com/2010/08/barry-downs-at-uvic.html

    • avatar ehpem says:

      My curiosity is aroused – see what an effective post this is Toad? I should have let it run the course before I commented above. But here you go. I appear to have been wrong about a connection as the Sedgewick is designed by Barry Downs. The architect that designed Tillicum Lodge also designed the Faculty Building at U-Vic which is within a stones throw from the Sedgewick, though more recent. Here is a link to the architect Ray Goldsworthy (not much of a link I am afraid, he seems long retired): http://www.maltwood.uvic.ca/Architecture/ma/design_story/architects/goldsworthy.html.

      And to tie this together into my own personal geography some more – Barry Downs wrote a great book illustrated with his own photos of heritage churches in BC called Sacred Places. That book was an inspiration to me when I had a project to document churches along the Yellowhead Highway in the early 80’s, which incidentally included taking photos. I learned a lot from that book.

      • FASCINATING! Wow, my friend, you really add so much to our blog, I am very delighted that we met online here. Isn’t that so very interesting! Those churches you mention, on your adventure to document them, that must be a fabulous collection! Do you have it posted anywhere? You are really well learned in the arena of architecture, thank you for your visit and for sharing your valuable insight… it means an awful lot to us here!!

    • Wow, my friend, I TOTALLY see the connection you speak of here, the Sedgewick is a ringer for Tillicum Lodge, really! Thank you so, so much for taking the time to pop by and for leaving us these great thoughts!

      • avatar ehpem says:

        Hi Toad – I don’t have those church images posted anywhere. There were some good ones. Some of them ended up in a government report. It would be nice to resurrect them sometime.

  7. avatar A.Barlow says:

    Seems like in a place like this unless it is kept up yearly at the very least it sure doesn’t take long for things to go under. Nice read man.

  8. avatar Viveca Koh says:

    This looks as if it was once a really nice place to live. It seems such a shame that it ‘didn’t meet standards’ and was closed down 🙁 Another great set of images Toad!