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Featured Article Of The Week

Whitby Psychiatric Hospital


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In 1911, the architect, James Govan, working with a team of advisory psychiatrists, physicians and government officials, presented his design for the Whitby Hospital. Govan's design called for a series of 16 cottages, each housing approximately 70 patients, situated in a village-like setting amongst winding treed avenues. While the exterior design of the cottages was strongly influenced by German architecture, any other similarity stopped there. Canadian physicians worked closely with their architect to make sure the Whitby Hospital would offer a calmer and more humane atmosphere for patients than other institutions they had seen in their travels. The buildings must be situated in such a way, said the physicians, that all wards in all cottages receive some form of direct sunlight, even during the shortest days. An overhead view of the site plan indicates that Govan did exactly that. The main group of cottages faced south west, slightly back from the shore of Lake Ontario.

In the initial building stages, prisoners from nearby Central Prison supplied much of the labor. During later stages of construction, paid laborers and mechanics worked for wages ranging from $0.55 to $1.00 per hour. To ease the transfer of building materials from the local railway station a mile to the north east, workers built a narrow gauge trunk-line across several fields of pasture into the construction site. Click here for more...