Latlng: (44.604402, -79.471320)

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Huronia Regional Centre

Orillia, Ontario

Location Owner vintagebabe1
Creation Date Jun 17 2009
Status Repurposed
Category Hospital
Location Orillia, Ontario
Site number #717

It was the 1850's and in the town of Orillia, Ontario an innkeeper named Henry Fraser was a man with an idea. Fraser felt that Orillia might one day become a tourist destination and that if he constructed a hotel, he'd become a wealthy man. On the shores of Lake Couchiching he built a three-storey hotel with two separate wings. The timing was questionable because at the time there were only two ways to reach the hotel - by stagecoach or steamer. The arrival of the railway was still two decades away. Fraser eventually ran out of money and construction on his dream hotel was never completed. Fortunately for Fraser, at this time the province of Ontario was looking for a building to take their overflow patients at the Toronto Lunatic Asylum. In 1859 they purchased Fraser's hotel and property for the amount of $16,800. In 1861 the Convalescent Lunatic Asylum was ready for use and was occupied with 140 patients. Doctors counseling parents encouraged them to send their children to these asylums in an effort to shelter them from the everyday stresses of living and to protect them from the judgments of society. The lunatic asylum remained in operation for nine years until a newly constructed asylum opened in London during the fall of 1870. At that time the Orillia facility closed. The language used back in the day to refer to persons with disabilities was harsh. A newspaper article written in the 1870's mentioned that there were still a lot of 'idiots' in the province with no place to turn for treatment. To resolve the problem of people being without treatment, on September 25th, 1876 the province reopened the former Orillia Lunatic Asylum under the name of the Orillia Idiot Asylum. The Orillia Idiot Asylum provided treatment of up to 150 'idiot and imbecile' children. The services provided were so popular that some patients had to be housed at the Queens Hotel located downtown. During the 1930's the Orillia Idiot Asylum changed its name to the Ontario Hospital School. In the 1960s, an organization would bring a small midway to the Ontario Hospital School grounds and offer entertainment to the residents. Everyone would receive a gift to take home. The staff also made up approximately 1,000 taffy apples and bags of popcorn for the event. For many years, a Mardi Gras parade, featuring the Ontario Hospital Band and cheerleaders took place on the grounds. Residents and staff competed for the trophies awarded for the best floats. Busloads of residents' families, staff and the families of staff were encouraged to attend and had a good time. During the summers, The Masonic Lodge of Orillia would take 20 to 30 Ontario Hospital School clients to a park or a cottage for a great barbecue with treats, gifts and entertainment. In 1971 the population of patients stood at 1,875. Three years later the institution was renamed to Huronia Regional Centre. By this time there were approximately sixteen government operated institutions running across Ontario. Each provincial institution had on-site doctors, dentists, hearing and sight specialists. Patients helped with the laundry chores and were taken out on field trips. The Ministry of Education ran a school on site Over the next few decades, society's attitudes towards persons with developmental disabilities changed. The term 'idiot' was deemed to be offensive and politically incorrect. Society felt that persons with disabilities should not be hidden away from society but rather included in it. The 1980's and beyond During the 1980's many facilities saw fewer residents as residents were moved out into the community. Nursing homes for children and young adults who had multiple handicaps, were closed or downsized. By this time more than 50% of government funding for developmental services was going to the community rather than the institutional facilities. In response to changing perceptions and beliefs, in 1987 the Ontario government announced their "Challenges and Opportunities" policy. The policy would see the closure of all institutions by 2012. Patients would be transferred to smaller group homes or other community living agencies. By 2009 only three institutions remained in operation out of the original sixteen. The three institutions were Huronia Regional Centre, Rideau Regional Centre and Southwestern Regional Centre. Since the plan to close the institutions was announced, $276 million has been invested to help move the nearly 1000 patients into new homes and to strengthen community services available to them. The average age of residents at the remaining three centres was 51, and they'd been institutionalized for approximately 39 years. It would be a drastic change to go from living in an institution to a home-like environment such as a group home. The move away from institutions was widely regarded as being positive. There was some controversy. A few families of the patients ended up taking the government to court to stop the closings. A three-judge panel in Ontario Divisional Court ordered a stop to the last three facilities. A group of Orillia residents known as The Huronia Helpers, also fought the closure of the HRC. They argued that community settings would be devastating for loved ones who had lived at the centre for as long as 50 years. When the case was finally decided the courts ruled that the province could close the institutions but must provide patient placements that are satisfactory to the resident's families - or return to court. By June 30, 2007 only 479 residents remained within the last three facilities. One month later that number fell to 460. And on March 31, 2009 with no residents remaining, the Huronia Regional Centre closed its doors permanently. All reports, files, artwork and other material from the facility was taken offsite to be housed in ministry storage facilities. The HRC is located at 700 Memorial Ave in Orillia. The area is private property and security is active on the site. Sources: -The Orillia Spirit (Randy Richmond) -ORILLIA PACKET AND TIMES (April 3, 2009) -Dianne Roach

Latlng: (44.604402, -79.471320)

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avatar of holsmarie
holsmarie OPP continue to use it, right across from the HQ it is where they train, as well as Police Foundations students may have some use of it from the college
Aug 26 2020
avatar of ForgottenPlaces
ForgottenPlaces Was just there last week. OPP still use it, you can drive in and around, but there is security, so don't chance getting out of your vehicle. We got followed out, after they seen us taking photos of the houses.
Feb 15 2017
avatar of ann_faith
ann_faith Any updates on location would be appreciated. Anyobe kbow if OPP still use it?
Jan 04 2017
avatar of Kenndruuh
Kenndruuh The OPP are using the whole thing now. I drove by hoping to go in and it was absolutely swarmed with them. I guess it's repurposed for now until they're done with it.
Oct 26 2012
avatar of Kenndruuh
Kenndruuh I'll be going here sometime this week to check out the status of the building.
Oct 22 2012