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If Walls Could Talk

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Uploaded on May 15, 2009

Built during the late 1880's, the former Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital (now operated by Humber College) is located in Etobicoke Ontario. Despite the college's take over of the site, the design of the original hospital structures remain intact. While words such as "asylum" tend to conjure unpleasant images in most of our minds, in reality the original hospital and surrounding grounds were a source of pride to it's designers and administrators. It provided the optimum in late 19th century therapeutic care. Postcards (archives of Canadian Psychiatry and Mental Health Services) from the early 20th century show a "village-like" complex, surrounded by trees and flower beds. It is obvious from descriptions that the patients were given the best care available during that particular era, despite the fact that some of these treatments are considered wholly unacceptable by us now. The following is a quote from a former patient: "In terms of meaningful activities and personal relationships, I had lived better when I was a patient (six months in 1968) at the Lake Shore Psychiatric Hospital in Toronto. In the hospital, an attendant made sure that I got up every morning, went to bed at night, took several showers a week, and had three meals a day. In the institution, I also participated in group therapy, attended a daily workshop, and went to the weekly bingos, dances, and movies (run by the hospital). The hospital also had a gymnasium for basketball and volleyball. My stay at the hospital was in the active treatment ward, but even the long term patients on the other two wards seemed to live a more meaningful and productive life than I did when living on my own in the community between 1972 and 1979. Their quality of life was better than that of many chronically ill psychiatric patients who are living in the community today."

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