Woodstock Hospital for Epileptics
Late in the 1800s, the Ontario Government began to establish and operate a series of Ontario Hospitals (O.H.s) to care for the mentally ill and the mentally retarded. O.H. Woodstock was built on 100 acres, north of Woodstock, on the west side of what is now Highway 59, specifically to look after epileptic patients from all over Ontario: epilepsy was then considered a mental illness.
When first opened on April 22, 1906, it was called the Hospital for Epileptics, Woodstock, and consisted of two cottages, ‘May’ and ‘George’, plus an administration building. It admitted 58 adult and child patients in its first year.
Many epileptic patients also suffered from mental illness or retardation. As a part of therapy, the hospital grounds included a working farm on which fruit, vegetables and grain were grown, and patients were given tasks according to their abilities. A dairy herd was added in 1919.
By 1932, the hospital had expanded to 324 acres, had 486 patients and a staff of 120, including a professional staff of doctors and nurses.
Tuberculosis had long been a problem up to the mid 1900s and its usual treatment was rest, good food and isolation. This highly infectious respiratory disease spread easily among the mentally ill and mentally challenged patients of the crowded Ontario Hospitals. In response, a Chest Diseases Division was added in 1939, in new buildings on the east side of Hwy 59. It included isolation wards and laboratory facilities for TB diagnosis. The epilepsy division remained on the west side of Hwy 59. Click here for more...