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The Moorehouse, 1969–c.1986

It was a patient lounge, and the funding for it was raised due to the dedicated efforts of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital Volunteer Association of. The total cost of the construction, estimated at the time of the official opening, was $40,000, and local community and businesses were among the donors of the money, collected through fundraising.

A brief article from the Toronto Star annouced the opening of the Moorehouse on April 6, 1969:

“Volunteers at Lakeshore Psychiatric Hopsital Saturday opened The Moorehousea building named for former hospital superintendent Doctor H.C. Moorehousewhere patients can meet visitos, p1ay games or music and get away from the institutional hospital atmosphere. Patients released to the community can come back there for visits to ease the transttion. The voluneetrs will staff the building seven days a week.”

A patient in the library of the Moorehouse.

The Moorehouse deserves special recognition within the history of the hospital because it was a very unique program in Canada. As mentioned in the article, the building was named after Herbert Clayton Moorehouse, a former superintendent, who administrated the institution between 1959 and 1967, before he retired. It was officially open on April 20, 1968 by Dr. Moorehouse. It was essentially independent from the hospital, but the institution provided water, heat, and electricity in order to facilitate its services. Until the closure of the institution in 1979, volunteers operated the Moorehouse was twice daily from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm and from 7:30 pm until 9:30 pm, every day of the week. Minimum of two volunteers were required for the building to be open.

Two patients with a volunteer in the Moorehouse.

Inside, the volunteers offered tea, coffee, cold drinks, and cookies for the patients, who could also choose from a variety of activities: play cards, listen to radio, watch television, engage in a conversation, or read a book from the Moorehouse’s library. The building was also equipped with a piano, a set of comfortable chairs, and dishwasher. At any single time, there were as many as thirty visiting patients, who were also allowed to receive their visitors there, in more comfortable and non-institutional surroundings, which sharply contrasted from the conditions inside the hospital.

A patient with a volunteer.

It appears that the program was quite successful, but it occasionally suffered due to shortage of people willing to volunteer. The Association reported that many people were not willing to provide their time and volunteer, which they blamed on prejudice against psychiatric patients. A letter to the local newspaper, The Advertiser, entitled “Moorehouse,” dated July 13, 1972, and signed by “just a volunteer”, pleadsto “Please help it keep going, it’s too nice a project to let it go to waste for lack of help.”

A volunteer preparing refreshments for visiting patients in the kitchen of the Moorehouse.

It is not known when the Moorehouse stopped operating as a program for patients. The Association remained active after the closure of the hospital in 1979. According to several maps, it was still open when an outpatient clinic was established in Cottage 2 and volunteers continued to staff the canteen, clothing bank, as well as various social and recreational programs.

The building also appears on a map from 1986, but it is not specified whether it was still in operation. After the closure, the structure quickly fell into a state of disrepair. It was finally demolished in the early nineties, around 1992, when Humber College started to renovate the former hospital buildings.

Volunteer and patient in the clothing bank.

References

The Executive, Volunteer Association, Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital. “Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital Should Not be Closed.” Letter. Oakville Journal Record February 9, 1979: 5.
“just a volunteer.” Letter. The Advertiser July 13, 1972.
“Moorehouse Marks Anniverary Ten.” Rapport April, 1978: 7.
Peter Barnard Associates, in Association with A.J. Diamond Planners Ltd. Lakeshore Planning Study, Final Report: Future Use Options for the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital Property. Prepared for the Ministry of Government Services and the City of Etobicoke. Toronto: Ministry of Government Services, September 1986.
“Psychiatric Centre Opened.” Toronto Star April 8, 1969: 25.
“Sod is Turned Today.” The Advertiser.

All primary sources retrieved from the Archives for the History of Canadian Psychiatry and Mental Health Services, January 30 and April 21–22, 2005.

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