Toad Hall: The Poster Returns


With the holiday season fast approaching we’ve started taking particular notice of holiday-themed photos in our collections.  These photos can vary from Whistler Mountain ski instructors dressed up as reindeer to Santa finding hidden powder to Season’s Greetings from the Philip family.  One of the more interesting holiday photos shows a roasted turkey in a wood burning stove called “Master Climax” (so named for the make of the stove).

Master Climax Turkey Glory – Christmas Dinner at Toad Hall in 1969! Benjamin Collection.

This stove was part of the kitchen set up at the first Toad Hall, one of Whistler’s most famous (or infamous) lodgings.  This Toad Hall was built by Alta Lake resident Alf Gebhart, who first came to live in the area in 1936.  In the mid-1960s, Alf sold his property to Charles Hillman, a high-school teacher working in Vancouver.  Charles, in turn, rented his property to a “respectable-looking” father with two daughters.  The rent was paid consistently and on time, though after a while the names on the cheques started to change.

By the time Charles Hillman decided to start using his cabin to ski, unbeknownst to him, the property had been renamed Toad Hall and was gaining a reputation across the country.  Charles arrived to find a young resident from Montreal cooking breakfast, evidence of a campfire in one of the bedrooms, and sleeping quarters set up wherever possible, including the chicken house.

The first Toad Hall, 1969. Benjamin Collection.

With help from the RCMP in Squamish and a court order, the residents of Toad Hall were amicably evicted, with enough time given for a farewell party.

By the 1970s, the Soo Valley Logging Camp, near the northern end of Green Lake, was no longer in use by the forestry industry.  This became the second incarnation of Toad Hall.  Perhaps the best known image of Toad Hall, the Toad Hall Poster, was taken here.

The second Toad Hall was scheduled for demolition in the summer of 1973.  (Though no buildings remain today, some photos of Parkhurst donated by the Clausen family show the in-use camp across the lake.)

The Toad Hall Poster.

That spring, knowing their time there was limited, residents gathered with their ski gear and little else for a memorable photo shoot set up by photographer Chris Speedie – 10,000 copies of this poster were printed and sold for two to three dollars each.  Copies were distributed along the World Cup ski circuit by Terry “Toulouse” Spence.

Over the decades, copies of these posters became harder to obtain.  Then, in 2013, Terry brought a box to the museum.  The museum officially sold out of the original run of Toad Hall posters this past January, almost 45 years after it was first printed.

The first official reprint of the Toad Hall Poster is now available to purchase at the Whistler Museum.

6 thoughts on “Toad Hall: The Poster Returns”

  1. Can I still purchase the image “Toad Hall” by Chris Speedie? If so how do I find the image in archives?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      You can certainly purchase the Toad Hall Poster! The image is not in the archives and the poster is only available in one size, but you can purchase it at the Whistler Museum. We are currently open six days a week (closed on Wednesdays) or give us a call at 604-932-2019 if you are out of town.

  2. Wow!!! I have an original print hanging in my place here in Collingwood that I bought over 45? years ago at a run down store on the way back to Banf from Whistler after a wild weekend skiing and partying!! So pleased to find out about the photograph that I loved instantly and bought for a couple of bucks so long ago! Which one in the photo is Chris Speedie it would be good to know?

    1. The man on the end wearing red boots is Christopher Speedie, the photographer. The fellow on your left side with light coloured skis. He is on the end, having had to hurry to get into position as he had just set everyone up for the photo. I knew him quite well earlier, having met and worked with him at Sunshine Village.

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