4.07.2010

Orillia Asylum

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Local businessman Henry Fraser began the construction of a large stone and brick building at this site for use as a hotel in 1858. Only partially complete, the province including many municipal councils in the area acquired the property and building in 1860 and began preparing the site to accommodate mentally handicapped patients from other over-crowded facilities including the nearby Convalescent Lunatic Asylum located in Orillia's Couchiching Beach Park.














Huronia Regional Centre opened in 1876. It was originally called the Orillia Asylum for Idiots but was renamed the Ontario Hospital School for obvious reasons. In 1974, it was renamed the Huronia Regional Centre.












Initial construction included a female residence (opened in November 1887), a male residence (opened in February 1888), a central building serving as a water tower, boiler house and kitchen and, about a quarter mile distant, a small plant to create coal gas for lighting located near the railway tracks. The present Administration Building, added to the front of the existing complex, was opened in April 1891.

There are approximately 1.5 kilometers of tunnels which link most of the structures on the property - some tunnels have been sealed.




















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Video time - grab your respirator and bag 'o' popKorn.

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The peak population at one time was approximately 2,800 in 1960.
Beginning in 1987, the Province of Ontario began closing all such facilities and began integration of those with developmental disability into the general community.






















The facility closed in March, 2009.

Many buildings now on the formers grounds have found new life such as the Ontario Provincial Police Academy, the family Courthouse and offices for other crown agencies.




















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18 comments:

phrenzee said...

Nice work CopySix! Another great find.

Laura said...

Were those murals on the walls of the tunnels? What a shame no one gets to see those any longer. Always seems especially sad when things like art and books are abandoned/ derelict. But really sad if it is a one of a kind thing, versus a print.

Heather said...

Wow, some cool shots - great choice in music for the video too. And, love the new header.

Anonymous said...

Wow, me and friends used to run in them tunnels in the 80's, their were some pretty wild murals on the walls, and most had the eyes gouged out, 3 inches into concrete on some, freaky place. G.R

Anonymous said...

I have some amazing pictures of Prince Edward Heights in Picton. Not sure how to post them to this site, or how to become a member or whatever. Let me know.

Anonymous said...

I work with people who used to live here. They suffered horrible abuse. People were admitted as young as 6 years old to this place. I can't even image the thoughts that ran through their heads.

Anonymous said...

I passed by this place from about 1954 until 1980 when my family sold a cottage they owned in Scarlet Park just north of Orillia.I remember the people standing at the gates waving to you as you drove by.You often saw some of them when you shopped in Orillia.Maybe some day I will stop by and take photos of the place.This may be one of the most haunted places in the area besides the former grounds of the asylum in Orillia Couchiching Park.Keep in touch viruss@rogers.com

Anonymous said...

I worked there for 30 years and was one of the counsellors who participated in the discharge of the last 3 residents of HRC. I was proud to say that I worked there! No there were no holes gouged in any eyes of the artwork on the walls in the trams. What there was, was a group of people who had a heart for the developmentally challenged. I think that this government should be ashamed to let these buildings with such character and history go to ruin!

Donna said...

I too worked there for 23 yrs. The murals were not gouged, and they are well done by staff who donated their time to paint them. The buildings sadly will likely fall to pieces as have the other goverment owned buildings that have been abandoned.

Sue from Canada said...

In 1949 I accompanied my mother who was taking a young boy of six, Dickie Duckworth, to the Orillia Hospital for the Insane. Dickie was a ward of the Children's Aid Society and was deemed retarded. I spent the afternoon in the back seat with Dickie and I was sure he wasn't retarded. I was only 15 at the time, but I was bright and observant. My mother, a Social Worker also felt it was not the place for him, but apparently he had a sister already a resident and the powers that be felt he would be best off with his sister. Poor Dickie, I have always wondered how he faired. The administration gave us a tour of the place and it was an eye-opener. I recall several rooms with cribs and a number of deformed and hydrocephalic babies, mostly just lying there but some standing up holding the railings and looking vacantly at me. Fortunately we have come a long way in our understanding but still have a distance to go.

MDavidson said...

I have been searching for my mother's cousin who she visited at this place many years ago. Her parents were dead and my grandparents felt they couldn't care for her. She was deaf, not retarded or anything else. Deaf. These pictures make me feel sick for her. Elsie Penelton I pray you didn't spend your entire life in this place.

Anonymous said...

You people that worked there never seen the cells, in the tunnels out towards the steam plant (not in the pretty trams) there was/is a hallway to the left of the bathrooms, and a room at the end that stepped down 2 steps at the door, was 3 cells with old wooden doors, and YES outside these cells were cartoon figures painted on the wall, medusa, wizard of id, and all the eye areas were gouged out, I was there many times, it's a fact !

fall2grace@yahoo.ca said...

I was born and raised here in Orillia for many generations. The original asylum pic you have is from couchiching beach where the asylum was built on which is now the baseball diamond. They built the new asylum on memorial ave wherein the tunnells were built in the early 1900s. There are many haunted places here I believe.

Patti D. said...

Apparently my great grandmother was institutionalized here in the early part of the 20th Century for post partum depression. Her children were given to a neighbour to raise. She never got out of the "asylum" and lived the rest of her life there.

Anonymous said...

In researching info on the Huronia Regional Centre I came across your site. Thank you. My brother went to live here when he was 6 or 7 until it closed. The atrocities that occurred here are inexcusable. As kids there was nothing we could do to help; it was heartbreaking picking and dropping my brother off. Thanks to the courageous and wonderful Ladies who came forward to share the abuse those who lived here endured with all of us. Thank you for the work you put into the video and still images.

Mark said...

When I was 12 I hung myself in the barn when I came out of it I was taken here and locked up drugged and given shock treatment. I still wet myself when I go near this place. I was informed I was mentally retarded. What a relief I thought it was from all the torture and molestation my father was doing to me and all those years of him telling me he would kill me and bury me in a ditch if I told.

MDavidson said...

Oh Mark. I am so sorry and I am so glad you are physically free of that now. You deserve many good things for what you suffered.

livetoshopgirl said...

Shameful and a blight on the Province of Ontario. Did these poor souls receive financial restitution,from the Province?