1888–1893: the Moral Treatment Experiment


  • construction of the new branch asylum, employing patients from the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, begins
  • summer: an additional group of ten male patients of the Provincial Lunatic Asylum and two attendants came to prepare the institution for incoming patients
  • they live on “the north farm” as described in institutional records, referring to an old model farm that is owned by the provinicial government
  • the patients are not compensated for their work, as this is perceived to be a form of therapy, as dictated by the principles of moral therapy.
The earliest photograph of the asylum complex, looking southwest. Late 1880s.


  • January 20: Mimico Branch Asylum opens its doors for first one hundred and sixteen patients transferred from the asylum in Toronto
  • they are deemed as chronically and incurably insane
  • the asylum has only forty staff members and consists of three cottages and three general buildings, connected to each other by underground tunnels
  • it is designed to be a self-sufficient institution, not depended on founding from the provincial government for its operations and maintenance
  • as a result, the patients are required to work on the land accumulated for farming, which surrounds the asylum to the south and north.


  • Doctor Thomas William Reynolds, followed by Doctor John Cascaden, become the resident physicians
  • Doctor John Bernard Murphy becomes the first permanent superintendent.


  • Kivas Tully designates a cemetery, located at Evans and Horner Avenues.
  • cricket oval, located immediately south of the buildings, is levelled by patients
  • reportedly, it is one of finest in the Township of Etobicoke, and the incorporation of the Mimico Asylum Cricket Club soon follows
  • the superintendent’s residence is constructed (later known as the Cumberland House, today it houses the Jean Tweed Centre)
  • two separate pavilions are built near the shore for the leisure of male and female patients and staff
  • an engineer’s house (containing a pumping house) and the carriage house are constructed.


  • two Cottages are added on the north and the south side for the most severely ill and the criminally insane
  • Carriage House is built, known today as William’s Coffee Pub (according to another source, it was built in 1900).


  • the Gatehouse (originally called an entrance lodge) is erected by patients.


Anonymous. “History of Ontario Hospital, New Toronto, Henceforth to be Known as Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital” [Unpublished, written by an unnamed patient with the assistance of John Sutherland, Chief Attendant, c. 1964].
Bond, Ian K. “History of Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.” July 1976.
Court, John. “Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital–A Vital Part of the CAMH Legacy.” May 1, 2001.
Court, John. “Re: Humber College Timeline.” E-mail to Jim Graves. March 1, 2004.
Fisher, Honey R. From Vision to Legacy: CAMH’s Four Pre-Merger Institutions. Toronto: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 2000.
“It All Started Back in 1890.” Rapport February 1975.
Keefer, Alec. “Excerpt of Market Gallery Exhibition Didactics re Lakeshore.”
“Lakeshore Volunteers Meet.” The Advertiser April, 1971.
Melamet-Vetter, Walther. “The Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, A World of Its Own, Another Coocoo’s Nest, In New Toronto.” Toronto: July 1989.
Ontario Heritage Properties Program. Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, Etobicoke, Ontario: N00406. April, 1986.
Paine, Cecelia. “Origins of Therapeutic Landscape Design in Ontario: Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.” CSLA/AAPC Congress ’98. Accessed September 2, 2012.
Psychiatric Survivor Archives of Toronto. Heritage Sites. Retrieved November 11, 2004.
Rogers, E.R. Esq., Inspector of Asylums, Parliament Buildings, Toronto. [Untitled].
“Volunteers Hear History of Psychiatric Hospital.” Mississauga Times May 5, 1971.

All primary sources retrieved from the Archives for the History of Canadian Psychiatry and Mental Health Services, January 30 and April 21–22, 2005. Images from the Archives of Ontario, Asylum Projects, RootsWeb, City of Toronto Archives, and from author’s collections. Additional information and corrections were provided by Ed Janiszewski and Ron McKinley.