History: The West Lawn building opened on April 1, 1913, the first of the structures to be built. I believe it’s been closed since at least 1988.

Team: Jester, Pixie, and Jolt

Mission Brief: This building had been a target for almost 2 years. Various circumstances combined to keep us from exploring it until now. There have been several arson attempts upon this building in the last few years, so security has been upped around it. Westlawn is located at the core of the hospital grounds, right beside the active (Riverview still houses several hundred patients) Centrelawn building , which has the pharmacy in it, again meaning more security in that area of the Riverview grounds. As well, the building has a very high asbestos risk, so we needed to get some new respirators. Film crews are only allowed to use the outside of the building and are not cleared to film inside because of the asbestos. When they do go in the front doors to alter things on the front windows, it is with the white suits and respirators on.

We had scouted this building numerous times. It’s actually quite well sealed, with the first 2 floors boarded up almost entirely. We had come by, just to show Jolt one of the places from our “to do list” and happened upon a great way in. But we weren’t prepared, so had to head home, then back out to get respirators before going in. We got back, and careful not to draw any attention to ourselves ( the area where we had to enter from being quite visible from Centrelawn ) we headed in. Just steps inside, we had our respirators on… Our entrance took us to a bathroom very quickly…

This building, overall, is in quite a state of decay. Everywhere, roof tiles and flooring was coming apart and it was almost impossible to find a wall with no peeling paint. The bottom floor was a complete shambles, with most rooms falling and/or torn apart. Broken glass and other things littered the floors in lots of places. The constant crackle of broken light bulbs underfoot echoed through the halls. Some sections on the bottom floor had been painted all silvery, most likely from when they had done filming in here years ago ( before they stopped access to the building due to the asbestos and deterioration of the building in general ). In the stairwells here, pipes were enclosed in ornate old iron cages.

When we got to the buildings main staircase, we were totally in awe of what we saw. The staircase had a huge cage in the centre, from bottom to top floor. Very nicely constructed, as beautiful as it was imposing. Clearly it served a dual purpose; a way to lock floors, as well as keep patients from being able to jump down the staircase. The pictures cannot begin to convey how powerful a setting this was. I couldn’t capture the entire scene in any pic. Such a foreboding thing… I can imagine what it would have been like for patients seeing this when they were brought in… At the edge of the cage was some hazmat bags with used protective suits. A ripped piece of artwork at the base of the stairs gave an eerie reminder that people had to exist in here…

Onto the second floor, which is where the main entrance leads to, we saw the signs of previous infiltrators ( though from what we saw, they were vandals ). The “Coquitlam Crew” had tagged on a wall, and there would be more tagging throughout the building. Remnants of old sets still stood, in bad shape, the cheap construction not holding up over the years. So much dust everywhere. I was very glad we had held off on making any attempts into here until we had respirators with us. Asbestos warnings were everywhere in this place. Plastic sealed many rooms and bore the standard “Danger: Asbestos” warning tape. When I was here and film crews were working on the front of the building for a movie, I had seen a particular tag inside through the temporarily uncovered window, that was of interest to me. A message from “Adam & Eric” stating their claim. I kind of see tagging as the human equivalent of a dog lifting it’s leg and pissing on everything to mark it’s territory…

This building was truly a great piece of architecture. I need to go and get a few pics of the exterior so people can see the grandeur of the main entrance ( the reason it is used for filming quite frequently when an old but impressive facade is needed ). Because of the hazards here, most of these halls have had very few visitors in the last few years. You truly got that feeling here, more so than other hospital buildings I’ve visited in the past.  More tagging throughout the building. I loved a lot of the windows and hallways in this place… they had character. There was a weird Air flow thing of some sort with little stalls under it, which Jolt called the gas chamber… We did see an inhabitant that never left… a pigeon, that looked like it’s head had exploded…

Lots of open rooms, old wards and day rooms on every floor. A strange find… a lone shopping cart on the 3rd or 4th floor… and an obvious statement spray painted on the wall… The place has only one small elevator in it, with all the controls removed. The old pull gate was broken and no longer attached, just leaning against the elevator… So much decay, as well as some wanton destruction here. At least it wasn’t totally tagged everywhere and smashed to bits like some places. I don’t think any of the tags were done within the last 5 years. The security keeps this place pretty well protected. One of the cool features of Westlawn is at the end nearest to Centrelawn, it has dayrooms, that may or may not have ever held glass in their window frames. It gives an outdoor area from inside. Just wired/barred windows between you and nature.

The top floor is honestly in pretty bad shape, with damage to the floor evident in buckling floorboards and soft spots. The roof itself has some holes to the outside and extensive water damage is apparent. Pigeons were around on this floor more than on other floors. We did not venture everywhere on this floor due to the weakness of the floors. A ladder led to a small crawlspace in the attic, but nothing interesting was there.

Now we’d been in here for about 2 hours, though it seemed like only about 30 minutes… We were about to try to find the tunnel entrance ( which will connect with the active main buildings ) and had gotten to the bottom floor, when we heard the main door open and someone moving inside. So upon hearing that, we abandoned our plans for the tunnel, and I led us back to our entrance/exit point. Jolt and Pixie weren’t sure how to get back there, but I knew the way ( glad I have a great sense of direction ~ Jester ). So we very quickly got to our target, and took off our masks and headed out into fresh air once again. I sealed up the entrance again, and we stayed hidden while a Riverview staff got into her car and left… Casually we headed back to the car and off we went… A little disappointed about that we didn’t get to check out the tunnels, but still very happy with the exploration of a place that had been on our minds for years…

images to come…