1894–1908: Beginnings of the Independent Institution and Growth


  • asylum districts in Ontario are redistributed and Mimico is allocated its own district from which to admit patients
  • the asylum gains administrative autonomy by becoming an independent institution from the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, and is subsequently renamed as the Mimico Insane Asylum
  • the institution is now responsible for the care of patients with all types of mental disorders, representing a significant change in its orientation to treatment
  • Doctor Nelson Henry Beemer becomes the superintendent and begins to promote contact with the outside community.

The district of the asylum consisted of the following geographic areas:

  • County of Peel
  • County of Simcoe
  • County of Ontario
  • County of Victoria
  • County of Peterborough
  • District of Muskoka
  • District of Parry Sound
  • District of Nippising
  • District of Algoma
  • District of Thunder Bay
  • District of Rainy River.
Patients strolling under the watchful eyes of the orderlies. Notice the turret of the Administration Building, which was removed in the 1930s, early 1900s. Archives of Ontario


  • Assembly Hall is constructed, using patient labour (another date suggests that it was built in 1897).


  • a new stores facility, located on the ground floor of the Assembly Hall, is constructed.
Postcard, 1909


  • the asylum now consists of ten cottages, housing 590 patients and a staff of 93.


  • a conservatory is built. It has not survived and it was possibly a former greenhouse.


  • the asylum acquires seventy-six acres of H.J. McNeil Farm (the name refers to a provincial creditor) from the west of the hospital, marked on maps of surveyors as “Lot 6.”
  • the land is to be worked by the patients as part of their therapy in order to continue maintaining the expanding asylum as a self-sufficient institution.
Two patients on the asylum farm. The asylum regime, as influenced by the principles of moral management, dictated that patients were required to perform unpaid labour as part of their treatment. As a result, the asylum was economically self-sufficient. Year unknown.


  • the interior of Cottage 2 is destroyed by fire.


  • the interior Cottage 2 is rebuilt.


  • a barn is constructed on the north side of the McNeil farm.


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 “History of Ontario Hospital, New Toronto, Henceforth to be Known as Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital” [Unpublished, written by an unnamed patient with the assistance of John Sutherland, Chief Attendant, c. 1964].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.
Deverell, Rex. “The Assembly Hall: A Lakeshore Landmark, 1898–2001.” May 2001.
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.