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.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

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.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

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.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

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.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

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.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

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.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

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.

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

Tillicum Lodge - Victoria, BC, Canada

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.



  1. avatar Jim Denham says:

    Great series Toad. While appreciating your picture-story telling, I’m sure the stories this place could tell on its own, if it could speak, would be truly amazing. Thankfully, there are the photographers who can at least give a decent burial to those untold by trapping the moment in time. These images let our minds wander into the past and dream up what may have been , which is one of the beauties of the art! Well done!

    • Profound words of wisdom, my friend! Thanks, Jim! This is exactly why we do what we do here at The Hollow, and I am quite certain this is true for you as well. We really appreciate all your friendship & support here, my friend, it means an awful lot to us. Thank you ever so kindly… you are the best of the best!! :)

  2. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Terrific conclusion to the series Toad. Your words “Frozen in Time” seems appropriate here as you have indeed frozen this place in our minds. Great job. I can see why you love the first image as I think it is your best of the series.

  3. This was a terrific series Toad. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Wonderful write-up and shots to finish it up.

  4. A truly great series Toad. I love the processing which has brought out the various elements that are inter playing with each other here.
    The text is both descriptive and informative and brings with it a sense of excitement and urgency that puts the reader in the scene.
    Top notch.

    • That just means so much to us here, Chris! Thank you kindly, my good, good friend! I have to admit, when we do this sort of work, I often think of you and your work in the UK. It seems we have some similarities in our passions and it means an awful lot to me here. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.

  5. avatar andy gimino says:

    Great ending to this series toad….hats off to you my friend!

  6. avatar Fred Norris says:

    What a cracking series Toad!!Your stunning images combined with your unbelievable storylines always leaves us wanting more…Cheers Mate

  7. avatar Eden says:

    Nicely processed with lots of details

  8. avatar Rick says:

    Wonderful series, Toad! That shot above the roof top with the storm clouds is awesome!

  9. avatar ehpem says:

    Great series of posts with sensitively processed images and a good read too. Thanks for such a detailed tour of a bit of Victoria/Saanich that I had never known about even after living here for more than 40 years.

    • What a great comment, my friend, thank you so much for your support of our series here and for adding so much value and interest to the posts. I am so happy you had a chance to see these and came away with something, that really means a lot to us here. You sir are the best of the best.

  10. avatar kerryl29 says:

    Fascinating series.

    BTW–and not incidentally–I like the light, deft touch you’ve applied to the HDR work.

  11. Great series Toad! I’m glad you enjoy documenting these places to share with the world because someday photographs are all that will be left of a place in time. Your writing is always very captivating and puts the reader in the story so that one feels like they are right there with you. I love the shot with the red tree and the gate!

  12. avatar Andrew says:

    Toad, thanks for sharing this. Amazing work, and I LOVE the setting. If you’d like, visit our site https://www.facebook.com/HauntedBritishColumbia and link back to your sets that involve abandoned places. Folks there would LOVE to see this stuff.

    Andrew

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hey there Andrew, welcome to The Hollow! Thanks so much for taking the time to pop by, and for your awesome comments! Los to me like you guys found all the haunted locations we’ve shot here on Vancouver Island! Sure is great to hookup with another Island photographer, my friend!

    • avatar Maureen says:

      If you encounter the ghost of my nana at Tillicum Lodge, let me know! She died there. :-)

      • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

        You bet, Maureen! We were so happy to hear your positive story on the facility, it sure was a meaningful place to many people and we love to hear these stories!

  13. avatar Michael says:

    You were half right when you guessed asbestos. That along with extreme levels of toxic mold is why the building is sealed up and untouched by the college for so long due to the costs involved in removing the hazards.

    That said, this land is will be home to the new trades building and demolition will soon start. Security does keep a very close eye on this place though, it is quite amazing that you didn’t get caught.

    Camosun was always only interested in the land, and it’s great that soon life will return to this space.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Great comments, thank you so much for taking the time to both visit and leave us these thoughts!! One on hand it’s been a bit of a shame to see the facility sitting there in the condition it’s in, but on the other I am so glad to hear that something is going to become of the land. It’s a wonderful piece of property and the new trades programs will really be nestled in one of the most beautiful little spots on the island. Very happy to hear this news today. Thanks so very kindly for popping by, Michael, it really means a lot to us.

  14. avatar Jason King says:

    Ran across your blog, nice pictures! Not sure if you know, but the past few weeks has seen the demolition of the site, with the final portion coming down this morning. We have been documenting the entire process via video and stills and if you are interested, I will forward you some links to share with your readers in a week or so once we have the material up on the web.

    Jason King
    AudioVisual Technologist
    Camosun College

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Hey Jason, thank you so much for the visit, and the terrific comments my friend! Really nice of you, we sure appreciate it. I would LOVE to share these links with our readers, as a matter of fact I could do a new blog post update that includes links to your great material and kind of brings a fresh look at it’s current status! Please, let me know when your material is ready and how we can use this to share the story with our readers! Much appreciated!!

  15. avatar Andrew says:

    Hi Jason, that would be awesome! We would love to share your pics on Hauntedbc.ca for our viewers too if you’re open to that. We have a couple albums on our site of Tillicum as well. Make sure to check out the video too, under the page’s YouTube link.

    Thx
    Andrew

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Andrew’s page at Hauntedbc.ca has some great photos, everyone, if you’re enjoying this post head on over to see Andrew’s too!! Thanks for the visit today, Andrew, we really appreciate it!

  16. avatar Andrew says:

    Thank you Toad. Your work inspires me. I look forward to seeing the followup blog post!

    If you are in Kamloops in the future anytime, let me know and I can show you some amazing spots :)

    Andrew.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      You know it, Andrew, for sure my friend! We’re actually hoping to make it off the island this summer if everything aligns! I’d really love a chance to meetup!

  17. avatar Jason King says:

    As promised, here is a link to photos of the demolition of Tillicum Lodge, with a video to follow later. While some may decry the violence in which the building came down, take comfort in the fact that while the building itself had reached its useful end of life, 95 to 98 percent of the structure was sorted on site and recycled. Soon the site will see construction start on the new trades building for the college.

    Prior to the demolition, the inside was completely remediated to remove all traces of asbestos and toxic mold.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/26399591@N03/sets/72157632983218142/

    http://www.newsroom.gov.bc.ca/2012/09/trades-renewal-begins-at-camosun-college.html

    Please note that none of the information I have submitted should be considered official language from the college, I am just forwarding the information for your interest. For any official information you should contact College Relations at http://camosun.ca/ccr/

    Jason King
    AudioVisual Technologist
    Camosun College

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      We simply cannot thank you enough here, Jason, what a wonderful update! I am going to send you a personal note right now to see if there’s a chance we might do an update for our readers and include your new content here! Thanks so much for staying in touch and for your support of our project here. We’re thrilled that Camosun is so open to all this and are thankful for your personal visits and comments that add such a great dimension to the big picture here (if you’ll pardon the pun). :) Thanks, Jason, this really means a lot to us.

  18. avatar Maureen says:

    I visited my grandmother here many many times. It was a very nice facility, nicer than some I have visited these days in Victoria. I can’t understand why it was closed. I have a newspaper clipping from the Times Colonist showing the residents (my nana included) doing Easter crafts. She loved to play the piano here…she could only play by ear and it had been many a year since she’d been near a piano. She even had a boyfriend…old Harry. She died here but she seemed to be contented during her stay. It was interesting to see the photos as I hadn’t been here since about 1974. My daughter will be most interested to see the photos as she was never in this neck of the woods.

    • avatar ToadHollowPhoto says:

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting with your great story here! I am sure all our visitors will enjoy your comments, and we really hope your daughter enjoyed the photos! Thank you so so much for taking the time here, we really appreciate it!

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