The Story of the Toad Hall Poster

Although the Toad Hall poster’s infamy has persisted through the years, it became harder and harder to get your hands on one. Until 2013, when  Toulouse himself came into the museum with a box of the original, 1973 print, posters that are still in mint condition. You can now get yourself one of these absolute classic pieces of Whistler history for yourself, available exclusively from the Whistler Museum!

(Warning: Nudity Alert)

This is the story of Whistler’s most famous photo, created on a whim one care-free spring afternoon four decades ago. 1973 in Whistler was another era. Less than a decade earlier, the construction of ski lifts on Whistler Mountain had put the previously quiet fishing resort on the map,  attracting an influx of youthful, free-spirited ski bums.

Meanwhile,  Whistler Village, Blackcomb Mountain, the Olympics and other major development remained little more than a pipe dream. Heck, many locals still lived without electricity or running water. Throughout the valley the ski bums lived in a wide variety of hand-built cabins, and conveniently vacated structures, perhaps none more revered than Toad Hall.

Toad Hall volleyball

Enjoying an idyllic volleyball match along the shores of Green Lake.

With a mere $75/month lease (for the property, not per person), this collection of wooden shacks near the north end of Green Lake, formerly known as the Soo Valley Logging Camp, came to be a focal point of the revelrous ski bum community. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say that by the spring of 1973 tales of debauchery left local powers wholly unenthused with this shag-carpeted Shangri-la.

Toad Hall was slated for demolition later that summer. One sunny spring day, whoever was milling about was asked to convene out front with their ski gear, but wearing nothing else.  The photographer, Chris Speedie, orchestrated the photo simply to provide residents with a memento before Toad Hall met its demise. The completely uninhibited and playful posing perfectly captured the spirit of the times.

Later, sensing the image’s iconic potential, a few “Toadies” scrounged together some cash and printed off 10,000 posters. At 2 or 3 bucks a pop, guerilla poster sales funded abundant “apres” sessions for years to come. The poster’s mastermind, Terry ”Toulouse” Spence, also worked for the Canadian National Ski Team.

During the height of  the Crazy Canuck era, Toulouse brought boxes of posters along for the ride on the World Cup ski circuit. To this day it  can still be found decorating the walls of some of the world’s most cherished ski bars. Despite the annotation in Kitzbuhel’s famed Londoner Bar, this is not “Canada’s National Ski Team”. The poster simply provides an unencumbered gaze back in time at early Whistler’s care-free lifestyle. And yes, some of the “models” still call Whistler home, but good luck getting any of them to admit it!

Chris Speedie's original photograph.

Chris Speedie’s original photograph.

 

Toad Hall:Bradley

The museum’s gift shop, with the Toad Hall display poster on the left.

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14 responses to “The Story of the Toad Hall Poster

  1. I look forward to seeing those interested in the historical value of this poster to acquire one and help fund the museum. It was the first poster created in Whistler.

  2. I guess being on display in our museum means I can finally display my first-run Toad Hall poster Toulouse gave me. Although the poster was free, the accompanying Head t-shirt was $30!! Twice the going price. Love ya Toulouse.

  3. why not go into more debauchery detail? check out the book “all roads lead to wells” to see an example of bc’s naughtier modern history

  4. Oh my! What a great historic Whistler photo! I wonder if it would be possible to snap that photo today…

  5. Hi there, do you any of you know if there are still copies of this poster available? I’d like to purchase one. Thanks!

  6. Debbie ritchie

    Hmmmmm, i thought i had the last pile of posters!

  7. Pingback: Wild and Free – Naked in Nature | Mountain Life

  8. Can I purchase one of these posters, or a copy? If so, where? Thanks

  9. Speedie didnt take that photo. My dad Tony Nelson did. He has since passed away.
    _Ryan Nelson

  10. Pingback: Things to do in Whistler – My Great Big Adventure

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