During the height of its operation, this would have been a place filled with joy and hope. Today all that remains are the echoes of those who lived and worked here. Thank you for joining us today on our final installment of our latest photoblog series “The Toad And The Lodge“, featuring the now long abandoned facility Tillicum Lodge in Victoria, BC, Canada. As of the time of this writing, this facility has been abandoned and unused for over 17 years, and time and weather are definitely taking its toll. It won’t be much longer before the elements finally take over and all that is left of this storied place are the memories, stories and photographs.
By the time we had worked our way around the perimeter taking photos of the key elements we really wanted to capture and started to make our way out to the front to wrap-up, a strong sense of relief began to take over. We knew we had what we came for, and all that was left now was to grab final shots of some of the details we wanted. This was definitely one such shot we had identified as a key picture on our way in and really wanted to capture this one just right.
I love this picture. We have weathering, grit, moss, staining and 2 different pieces of plywood at play here that came from 2 different times. The perfect subject matter for the HDR technique we love to use in our work.
As we stood at the front of the facility, we could hear some birds and signs of life. It was almost as if the world stood still while Mr. Mudpuppy and I went about our task, holding it’s breath, giving us much-needed support. It was as if all the spirits that followed and joined us on our journey had reason to breath out finally, the core task of documenting this place was almost complete.
The story was to be told after-all, and this was what was really important.
During the seventies and eighties when the facility was operating at full capacity, it was a truly spectacular place. The tall, rich, lush forests that make up Vancouver Island provided the perfect place and setting for such a facility. The air is fresh, wildlife is abundant and the city is close-by for errands and shopping. The color of green picked for the stain is a common color here on the West Coast for this style and type of architecture. Back then, the white trim and overhangs would have added a nice detail to the scene; today they are all grey and weathered, showing the age of the Lodge.
This was another spectacular scene. The roof of the facility is in very poor condition. Here we can see fields of moss and pools of water interspersed amongst the many skylights that would have served to make this a bright, happy and vibrant place to be. Again the graffiti makes itself known here, a highly dangerous undertaking for the artists to perform due to the extremely poor condition of the roof itself. We also get a bit of a sense of the scale of the place in this shot. This was a huge facility, with many little lodges and areas all interconnected to each other.
The railings are all rusty, moss is starting to grow on the concrete by the driveway and the vegetation is slowing creeping over the landscape. And the ever pervasive KEEP OUT sign is posted for all to see. What a radically different feeling and look this has compared to the way it must have been during the operation of the facility. The entire neighborhood, it’s surroundings and the architecture and density have all changed radically over the last 30 years so it’s really hard to imagine what this must have looked and felt like before.
Today it is frozen in time.
As we closed the gate during the final moments of our visit, it became a bit of a metaphor for our adventure this day. Those dichotomies we have encountered and discussed in this series really presented themselves with strong contrast here. The gate is in good condition, the cedar posts that hold it up look to be near-perfect. But, the electric motor mechanism that opens and closes the gate automatically is completely broken. And just behind the gate we see the weathered facility, water-stained plywood and that sign once again… KEEP OUT.
We were done. By now the entire day felt brighter and we could hear the rustle and chirps of the birds around us and sounds of people in the neighborhood going about their day. The splash of color in the tree here helped to drive home a key point for us… death precludes rebirth. Loss comes before new creation. After we’re gone, our own remains help to nourish the earth and bring forth new life.
And thus the circle of life becomes a metaphor for our entire shoot and this series we’ve presented here.
And so we close this series with this final, parting shot. The building is dark and eery, yet up against the wall springs forth a truly beautiful and vibrant red tree. And with this picture we now know that at some point in the future you could come back to this very place and find it completely different… reborn if you will. A new structure, a new facility will live here one day. And it will be full of joy and life, and those who live here will be hopeful about the future.
This has been a highly evocative and emotional piece to work on and deliver, and we are so thankful to have had the opportunity to do this. We find that it’s critically important to photographically document and share these stories with everyone so that our past is not totally forgotten, and that the future has a foundation based upon that which came before us. This was a profound experience for us, and I can honestly say I’ve walked away from it with a new view of the meaning of our existence and the cycle of life. None of the lessons learned here are good or bad; they just are. And it’s important to remember them.
With these final parting thoughts we wrap up this photoblog series. We truly hope you enjoyed following along as much as we did in bringing it to you, and as always we encourage everyone to leave us any comments you may have as we love to hear from all our visitors.