When visiting old facilities such as hospitals and military bases, it's fascinating to look at the equipment that was considered modern at the time. It's almost frightening to envsion what went on in the rooms of the hospitals.
There was a stigma associated with mental hospitals, or "lunatic asylums" and the treatment patients received was questionable to say the least. In Whitby, Ontario, the Government of Ontario purchased 640 acres of rich farming land and proceeded to build a hospital that would be more concentrated on humane care.
Architect James Govan worked with an advisory board made up of hospital staff and government officials to ensure the design would be unlike that of past hospitals, dark and damp and barred windows. The design called for 16 cottages where patients would live while receiving treatment. In addition each cottage was constructed in such a manner as to allow natural sunlight through the windows. Each cottage could hold up to 70 patients. The patients could move freely without having to travel through underground tunnels.
Construction on Whitby Psychiatric Hospital began on May 6th, 1913 with approximately 220 men working on the construction. Half of those men were prisoners. Later on paid workers would finish the construction, receiving a wage of no more than $1 per hour. Due to the enormous amount of building materials required, a junction line was built from the railway station to the hospital site. This allowed materials to be delivered directly on site. The hospital opened in 1919 and contained a powerhouse, recreation hall, two infirmaries (one for each sex), isolation hospital, church, greenhouses, general stores and a nursery.
The hospital saw many soldiers returning from the war, as patients. As Whitby was better suited to their long term needs than a regular hospital, the cottages were leased out for the sole purpose of treating soldiers. The hospitl became temporarily known as the "Ontario Military Hospital" and saw approx. 3000 soliders between 1917 and 1919. In 1919 the hospital resumed providing psychiatric services.
When construction was finished in 1926, they hospital could boast a 1,542 bed facility.
By the 1980's the buildings were beginning to show their age. Many of them had deteriorated to the point of being unsafe, not to mention the fact that they were insulated with asbestos (linked to cancer). The unsafe cottages were shut down and sealed up.
On October 23rd, 1994 the hospital celebrated 75 years of service and was renamed to Whitby Mental Health Centre. By that time all of the original cottages were obsolete and used for storage.
There are some who believe the place to be haunted but there have been no comfirmed paranormal sightings. The hospital is very popular with explorers. One explorer found what appeared to be fresh blood on the floor of one of the rooms as well as old dried blood on the walls. A few music videos have been filmed in the old buildings as well as parts of a movie, entitled (SESSION 9), which circulates around an old psychiatric hospital, and a team of Asbestos removers.
It has also been said that Canada's (and possibly the world's) first Frontal Lobotomies were conducted at Whitby Psych, although no evidence of this has been discovered.
As this article is being written in October of 2005, demolition has commenced on the old facility. All of the old buildings were demolished in 2007 and replaced by townhouses. The address is 700 Gordon Street in Whitby.
Member SeeTee writes:
Growing up in Whitby during the late 90's early 00's meant that most weekends were spent exploring the many buildings and tunnels of the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital. There were rumours that the tunnels lead to many places around the town, including the library, Henry Street High School, the Courthouse Theatre, and even Camp X. We explored those tunnels for years, but never found the end. We did find many weird thing though, and none were as weird as the bedroom we found at the end of one of the tunnels. My boyfriend at the time had a video camera, so most of our exploring was done on video. I don't have the tapes, and will probably never be able to get my hands on them. Such is life. I do, however, have these photos and many more. I have scanned a bunch, but need to scan the rest. I have literally hundreds.
I'd love to hear some stories about this place if you have any. It was an important part of my adolescence, and the beginning of my love for exploring abandoned places.