The First Patient

The first patient admitted to the Mimico Branch Asylum was a twenty-two-year-old single Canadian male, whose name was not recorded in his medical file. He was first admitted to an asylum in an unknown location when he was only about twelve in April of 1878. Later, he was transferred to the Mimico Branch Asylum on January 23, 1890, from the Provincial Lunatic Asylum, located at 999 Queen Street West. The fact that he was transferred to Mimico indicates that he was chronically ill, as at first the asylum only admitted patients in this category. Little is known of his background, except for the fact that he came from a family with a “bad history.” He was also sunstroke and considered dangerous to others.

The earliest photograph of the asylum, looking southwest. Late 1880s.

Upon his admission to Mimico, Dr. Heggie notes that the patient’s reasoning was blunted, his memory appeared to be confused, and his temper “morose”, which indicates his depression. In addition, Dr. Thomas William Reynolds, the first superintendent, certified that the patient came from a family where insanity was hereditary.

While he was an inmate at Mimico, the patient threatened suicide, had erotic dreams, and masturbated. At the end of his medical file, his doctors noted that he was “gradually becoming more stupid.”

In 1893, the patient’s conditions seemed to get worse, since he was reportedly diagnosed with “becoming [even] more stupid.” A year later, he was described as “failing gradually and afflicted with boils,” a term at that time used to describe rage. In February of 1895, the doctor noted that the patient became untidy in dress and his mental health deteriorated even further. However, until the turn of the century, he was still in good physical health. The patient had an accident while he was working on the asylum farm. When he was firing stones and his pants caught on fire. After the accident, he was confided to bed with very badly swollen testicles.

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 patient was transferred on April 29, 1901 to Hamilton Asylum, but no reason was given. His tragic, but in some ways, typical story, remains blackened by obscurity due to lack of compassion and care from his custodians, as evidenced by the irresponsible and careless handling of his medical record.


“First Patient: ‘He Grew More Stupid.’” Rapport January 20, 1975.
Retrieved from the Archives for the History of Canadian Psychiatry and Mental Health Services, April 21–22, 2005.