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The Founders


The Patients

The Staff

The Services

The Research

The volunteering

Douglas Pictures
The founders

Alfred Perry

The initial “push” for the creation of the Hospital came from Alfred Perry, a prominent citizen and a Montreal fire marshal. Mr. Perry was determined to improve the quality of care for the mentally ill. In the 1870s, he criticized Quebec’s “farming out” system, where private citizens were paid to care for patients. Mr. Perry claimed that many did so as cheaply as possible, in order to pocket the money for their personal use. Historical accounts of the day support his claim.

When the Roman Catholic Asylum at Longue-Pointe (today’s Hôpital Louis-H Lafontaine) was built in 1875, Mr. Perry was not satisfied. Although he acknowledged that the asylum supplied patients with food, clothing and shelter, he believed that no attempt was being made to improve their mental condition, and complained that no religious services were offered for Protestant patients.

After repeated lobbying by Mr. Perry, Protestant clergymen, and other citizens, the Quebec Government passed an act titled “An Act to Incorporate the Protestant Hospital for the Insane” and the idea for our hospital was born.


James Douglas

Although he looks rather stern, James Douglas, MD, was a compassionate and progressive doctor for his time. He promoted the idea that people with mental illness should have a healthy environment, with a full program of work and amusement—a philosophy that appealed to Medical Superintendent T.J.W.Burgess, MD, and profoundly shaped our approach to care. In 1965, the Hospital was named after him, and also after his son, James Douglas, LLB, whose donations helped keep the Hospital alive during the fiscally challenging early years.


Thomas Joseph Workman Burgess

The first medical superintendent of the Douglas Hospital, Thomas Joseph Workman Burgess, MD, came to the post in 1889 with twenty years of experience in three Ontario psychiatric hospitals. He was a remarkable doctor, administrator, fundraiser, and humanitarian, and ran the Hospital as a captain would a tight ship.

He believed that good food, sound sleep and regular exercise were the best treatments for patients, since there were no effective medications or other treatments at the time. He fought passionately against the use of restraints, writing in 1895, “A patient who is brought to us and finds that, however excited… is not put in solitary confinement….not trussed up helpless in a strait-jacket, is not even drugged into insensibility, forgets to be violent in his surprise at finding that no cause for violence is given him.”

For 33 years, he oversaw everything from patient treatment to hiring to maintenance to food production. Just as important, he was a master at attracting and holding the interest of wealthy donors.

If one person could be said to represent the optimism, caring, humanity and drive of the Douglas spirit, it is undoubtedly T.J.W. Burgess.
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