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Longue Pointe Asylum
Founded in 1873, Saint-Jean de Dieu Hospital was born from an agreement between the Government of Quebec and the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence, who were entrusted the task of clothing, lodging and caring of the mentally handicapped. Sister Thérèse de Jésus was the soul and director of this important healthcare facility in Quebec.
The Sisters of Providence already had a great deal of experience in working with mental patients. Mother Émilie-Gamelin took in a number of them at the Asile de la Providence, as early as 1845. In 1852, their Saint-Isidore farm was renovated to accommodate 17 patients. In 1863, an annex named Saint-Jean de Dieu was built and added to the Sister’s convent in the east end of Montreal.
The construction of the Saint-Jean de Dieu Hospital, then known as the Longue Pointe Lunatic Asylum, would be done on this very site. In April 1874, the Sisters commissioned architect Benjamin Lamontagne to design and build the asylum, north of Notre-Dame St. It is interesting to know that Louis Riel was committed to the Asylum at Longue Pointe for a few months in 1876. Click here for more...
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Although the government
played a larger role in the care of the insane, often considered a threat to social order, than it did in relation to poverty, philanthropy was still important. The move to create specialized insane asylums spread across the western world in the mid-19th century. The model used in Quebec differed from that in many places, since the government paid per-patient fees to private institutions rather than open state-run asylums. As was the norm, the Montreal Catholic asylum was run by nuns.
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The following sixth-eight minute documentary entitled "If these walls could talk stories behind Toronto's psychiatric patient built wall" is about the Queen Street Mental Health Centre. It was created by Toronto filmmakers Naomi Berlyne and Sibyl Likely.