Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital

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Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital

Main Building
Opened 1876
Closed 1972 (original campus)
Demolished 1976
Current Status Demolished
Building Style Echelon Plan
Location Hamilton, ON
Alternate Names
  • Ontario Hospital
  • Hamilton Asylum for the Insane


The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane, also called the Ontario Hospital and later the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital, was initially intended to be an asylum for ‘inebriates’. However there was more need for beds for the mentally disturbed and this became its sole concern. The Hamilton Asylum for the Insane began operation in 1876 on 529 acres of land with 202 patients. The two closest asylums were Toronto and London. The first structure, the Barton Building, opened in 1876 with Dr. R. Bucke, internationally known for his humane treatment of the mentally ill, as the first Medical Superintendent. The hospital grew quickly to meet the expanding health needs of the province.

Until well into the 20th century it was accessible only by a dirt road and was therefore quite isolated. However it was largely self-sufficient with the farm, on which the hospital stood, providing all the necessary food. Cattle, chickens and pigs as well as fruits and vegetables all came from the farm. It had its own bakery, butcher's shop, greenhouse, root cellar, milk-processing house, tailor's shop, sewing room, upholstery shop, fire hall, power house, a fleet of vehicles, skating and curling rinks, a bowling green, tennis courts and chapel. In 1890 it housed 915 patients and employed 119 people. The Asylum Ball was an annual event in the Hamilton community for many years. Its guest list was a who’s who of Hamilton society.

By 1909 it contained 529 acres and facilities for 1,200 patients and staff. Renamed the Ontario Hospital, Hamilton, in 1929, it was recognized as the best asylum in Ontario. Advances in the treatment of mental illness led to significant changes. By 1956, all but 86 acres of the farmland that made the hospital self-sufficient and provided physical therapy for patients, had been auctioned off for residential and Community College development. In 1968, the institution was renamed the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital (HPH).

Around 1902, it established a training school for psychiatric nursing which was accredited in 1924. It graduated over 240 nurses before it closed in 1956. The facility also provided training in psychiatric nursing to nurses from the other city hospitals. The Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital was owned and operated for more than 124 years by the Ontario government. In November 2000 it was transferred to the authority of the St. Joseph's Healthcare and has been renamed the Centre for Mountain Health Services.

With the construction of new buildings, three of the century-old original buildings were demolished except for East House, built in 1884 and renamed Century Manor in 1972. It continued as a Day Patient facility until it was closed in 1995. As the last of the original Hamilton Asylum Victorian facilities and one of the few remaining in the province, it was designated a heritage building under the Ontario Heritage Act in 1997. The era of provincial hospitals ended in 2000 with the administration transferred to community hospitals. HPH was renamed St. Joseph's Centre for Mountain Health Care Services. With extensive construction, completed in 2014, it became the Margaret and Charles Juravinski Centre for Integrated Healthcare -an innovative facility designed for mental health and addiction treatment, research and education, combined with medical services.