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Featured Article Of The Week

Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital


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The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane, also called the Ontario Hospital and later the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, was initially intended to be an asylum for ‘inebriates’. However there was more need for beds for the mentally disturbed and this became its sole concern. The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane began operation in 1876 on 529 acres of land with 202 patients. The two closest asylums were Toronto and London. The first structure, the Barton Building, opened in 1876 with Dr. R. Bucke, internationally known for his humane treatment of the mentally ill, as the first Medical Superintendent. The hospital grew quickly to meet the expanding health needs of the province.

Until well into the 20th century it was accessible only by a dirt road and was therefore quite isolated. However it was largely self-sufficient with the farm, on which the hospital stood, providing all the necessary food. Cattle, chickens and pigs as well as fruits and vegetables all came from the farm. It had its own bakery, butcher's shop, greenhouse, root cellar, milk-processing house, tailor's shop, sewing room, upholstery shop, fire hall, power house, a fleet of vehicles, skating and curling rinks, a bowling green, tennis courts and chapel. In 1890 it housed 915 patients and employed 119 people. The Asylum Ball was an annual event in the Hamilton community for many years. Its guest list was a who’s who of Hamilton society. Click here for more...