1929–1959: Failure of Moral Treatment


  • Doctor Hugh Alexander McKay is appointed as the superintendent
  • Powerhouse is erected (another reference suggests that it was constructed in 1937)
  • the asylum now consists of 795 patients and 177 staff members


  • a root house (used for vegetable storage) is constructed
  • Administration Building is partially renovated, with the turret being removed in order to avoid the cost of the restoration
  • Carriage House is modified to store vehicles rather than horses and thus divided into three sections
  • the renovations are completed by patients who are not awarded any financial compensation for their work.


  • due to severe overcrowding, an extension is built to the Cottage A, thus joining it to the Cottage B
  • Cottages F, G, and J are extended to the Cottage 1
  • Nurses’ Residence and a laundry building are constructed.


  • the underground railroad (located in the underground tunnels and used to transport food from the main kitchen to the Cottages) ceases its operations to due to its deteriorated conditions.


  • the hospital is renamed Ontario Hospital, New Toronto
  • the approved homes program begins under the supervision of Lillian Oliver, the chief social worker
  • the homes are located in rural areas and provide residential care for long-term patients
  • a foundation is built for a new building to house patients just immidiately north of the Nurses’ Residence, but it is never completed.


  • Doctor Thomas Daly Cumberland becomes the superintendent.


  • insulin shock treatment starts to be administrated as a form of therapy
  • Powerhouse, described as “the most modern plant owned by the provincial government,” is built.


  • the original stone gate at the hospital entrance is replaced by a brick gate, still standing today
  • Cottage 2 becomes a reception ward for the admission of incoming patients.


  • the patient population increases to 1,348 patients and there are 296 staff members.


  • Administration Building is altered to provide consultation offices for medical staff.



  • the hospital now has 1,391 patients and a staff of 260.


  • farming operations are discontinued
  • Teachers’ College acquires the former McNeil farm and opens a campus at the corner of Lakeshore Boulevard West and Twenty-Third Street
  • rection of a kitchen and new service building
  • absorbed by this new construction is the original Centre Building, which contained the main kitchen, recreation rooms, storerooms, and bedrooms for the staff, as well as an old fire hall and the carpenter shop.


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. “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.
“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. Department of Health. Annual Report. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 1956.
Ontario Heritage Properties Program. Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital, Etobicoke, Ontario: N00406. April, 1986.
Vancouver Art Therapy Institute. “Art Therapy in Canada.” Accessed April 2, 2005.
“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.