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The Founders


The Patients

The First Patients

Patients in the Community

Patients and Work

Religious Beliefs of Patients

Patient Amusements

The Services to Patients

The Staff

The Services

The Research

The volunteering

The Firts Patients

Many Arrived Sick and Weak

In the 1890s, many patients arrived at the Hospital a sad state of health. To boost patient stamina, the medical superintendent advocated “tonics, with ample nourishment in the form of good food: eggs and milk, cod liver oil, liquid extract of malt…and beef, iron and wine.”

"Probable Causes of Insanity"

Here is a list of what the Hospital documented as "probable causes of insanity" between 1890 and 1910:

  Hommes Femmes
Abuse of opium 26 11
Abuse of tobacco 2 0
Brain tumor 2 5
Cerebral hemorrhage 12 8
Change of life (menopause) 0 53
Disappointed affection 19 23
Domestic trouble, grief etc. 55 136
Epilepsy 70 42
Excessive study 19 18
Fever 12 85
Fright 13 140
General ill-health 67 14
Heredity 120 4
Injury to head 57 46
Insomnia 8 11
Intemperance in drink 195 12
Isolated life 3 5
Flu 18 2
Masturbation 56 14
Meningitis 3 122
Menstrual irregularity 0 1
Mental anxiety, worry, overwork 143 8
Monotonous employment 3 17
Ovarian irritation 0 98
Financial difficulty 78 23
Childbirth 0 58
Religious excitement 19 2
Senility 75 6
Sunstroke 88 10
Syphilis 86 6
Uterine disorders 0 10
Vicious indulgences 20 5
Congenital 79 64
Unascertained 438 371
Total 1836 1558

How Educated Were Our First Patients?

According to this 1892 patient profile, many of our first patients had limited schooling:
More highly educated: 19 percent
Can read and write: 50 percent
Can read only: 18 percent
Cannot read or write: 13 percent

An Aversion to Restraints

A progressive man for his time, Medical Superintendent Thomas Burgess, MD, reported in 1892, “I am pleased to be able to report that still another year has passed without our being obliged to resort to restraint in any form. While not so bigoted as to deny the possibility of…cases in which restraint must be resorted to, I have yet to see one so violent and troublesome as not to be manageable by kind and [fair] treatment.”

Stigma Hampers Treatment

The Hospital’s first medical superintendent met families who had hid their loved ones’ illness for months, even years, out of fear and shame. He called for the public to be better educated about mental illness, and seek treatment sooner, “Relatives are very loath to admit the existence of insanity in their family, though why brain disease should be regarded as a disgrace any more than consumption (tuberculosis) or other bodily disorder, I am at a loss to see. Such, however, is the fact, and until the general public is educated out of this belief, friends will continue to lie about it most unblushingly.”

Concern Over Foreign Patients

Between 1890 and 1895, patients from the following countries were admitted to our Hospital:



Canada 438
France 4
Germany 5
Great Britain 133
Holland 1
Newfoundland 1
Norway 3
Poland 4
Romania 9
Russia 56
Scotland 2
Sweden 32
West Indies 1
Unknown 7
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Affiliated with McGill University. A WHO/PAHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health