Mental Health University Institute of Quebec

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Mental Health University Institute of Quebec
Established 1844
Opened 1845
Current Status Active
Building Style Pre-1854 Plans
Location Quebec City, QC
Alternate Names
  • Provisional Asylum of Beauport
  • Quebec Lunatic Asylum
  • Quebec City Lunatic Asylum
  • Asylum St Michael the Archangel
  • Centre Hospitalier Robert-Giffard


The mid-19th century, the State had not yet decided to care for its most vulnerable citizens. Often, the mentally ill were confined in boxes or kept in prison. But things would soon change thanks to the intervention of a philanthropist from Maine, Dorothea Lynde Dix. In response, the first Quebec asylum, temporary asylum of Beauport, opens its doors on September 15, 1845. At the request of the Governor general, Lord Charles Metcalfe, James Douglas Charles - Jacques Frémont and Joseph Morrin, doctors keep and treat the mentally ill in a suitable institution.

In 1845, the first 23 patients are greeted in the oldest House of the Canada, the manor house erected in Beauport by Robert Giffard de Moncel, Lord and first physician of new France. Subsequently, asylum is installed in the former residence of judge Amable de Bonne. Enlarged and redesigned, the establishment of a capacity of 275 beds is incorporated in 1850, under the name of Quebec Lunatic Asylum. The establishment interested visitors and foreigners. The bourgeoisie of Québec in fact even his point rally. In 1865, became the asylum for the insane, Québec. For decades, the contracts are renewed without discussion between the Government and the owners. In 1883, the renewal raises a political debate. The future of asylum is played to the Government where a new intervention looks imminent. For ten years, a heated debate surrounds the psychiatric institutions.

By 1893 the Government entrusts the care, custody and maintenance of the sick to the congregation of the Sisters of charity of Quebec. The new owners are gradually modernizing places. They use the most reputable alienists. They build gardens and parks around the buildings. Parents, friends and volunteers provide support and comfort to the sick. There was concern more the ethical treatment of the insane, as advocated by Philippe Pinel, France.

In 1912, the asylum for the insane, Quebec becomes the asylum Saint-Michel-Archange, then in 1914, the Saint-Michel-Archange hospital. Very quickly, the establishment becomes synonymous with academic training. Lay joined the coaching structures and patients participate in civic life.

Recognized as a municipality since 1897, the institution is a small city that has its network of aqueduct and sewer, its fire department and police, its private railway, its butchery, bakery, its gardens, its tunnels, his radio station, etc. Also, everyone is used to provide patients the best quality of life possible. Opening of the Roy-Rousseau clinic in 1926, adding the school La Jemmerais in 1928 and flag Dufrost in 1931, give a new face to the institution.

February 16, 1939, a fire giant broke out, the building was almost completely destroyed. The reconstruction of the hospital began in the same year. A major turning point in the treatment of mental illness occurs in 1954 with the introduction of Neuroleptics and antidepressants a few years later. The physiognomy of the institution is transformed. Doctors, nurses and hospital staff are working with new therapeutic means the rehabilitation and social reintegration of patients. Until then, Pinel theory based on occupational therapy, recreation and work is and will remain so for a few years yet.

A company reform in the early 1960s changed the vocation of the hospital. Since its Foundation, it had always been a very broad territory; patients that he received came from all regions of Quebec. Psychiatric wings in most developing Quebec hospitals and the establishment of regional centres for psychiatric care thus lead the Archangel hospital to treat the population from which it is geographically closest.

In the mid-1960s, the institution changes its legal and administrative structures to ensure harmonization with the social and legislative of the time changes. The collaboration of the religious and the laity will in intensifying at all levels of the organization. In 1976, the hospital became the Centre hospitalier Robert-Giffard.

During the 1990s, the development of the concepts of psycho-social rehabilitation and community integration give a boost the de-institutionalization began in the 1960s. More and more people hospitalized for many years return to live in the society. Residential resources multiply and specialty services are developed to focus on intensive monitoring in the community rather than a hospital.

In 1997, the Government retook possession of the institution administered by the community of the Sisters of charity of Quebec for more than 100 years. Today, the University Institute in mental health of Quebec is one large institutions incorporated into the vast network of health of Quebec and is recognized as a leader, not only with regard to care, but also in education and research. The sick he load, but also their families and all those who are keen to ensure their well-being, can rely on a solidarity that is undeniable. In 2006, The Centre hospitalier Robert-Giffard officially became the University Institute in Mental Health of Quebec.