Upper Canada (Ontario) Insane Asylum Inmates

The establishment of mental hospitals in Upper Canada from the 1840s to the 1880s brought some relief to mentally ill people who had previously been placed in jails, almshouses, or who had been left to care for themselves. Throughout Upper Canada’s early history, many mentally ill people were left to wander at will, provided that they neither endangered nor were perceived to endanger people or property. Others, who were viewed as disruptive or who elicited fear in the populace, were placed in almshouses, poorhouses, jails, and penitentiaries. This rise of institutional psychiatry in the form of asylums, while it did bring some relief to mentally ill people, also caused a considerable amount of misery for a portion of the asylum residents.

What they shared was a sense -- among fellow citizens, families, doctors, judges, policemen, and in time social workers -- that they were, if not actually violent, then certainly aberrant. Their odd ways were often a burden to friends and loved ones, to others offputting at best: unconventional; unpredictable; unsettling. They were disturbing -- therefore "disturbed." And maybe dangerous.

The aberrances deemed most disturbing, even if not violent (most in fact not), were those seen linked to sex. Of women locked up at the Toronto Queen Street Asylum prior to 1900, a quarter were in for "female trouble" -- "childbirth, lactation, miscarriage, menstrual disorders, uterine disorders" and other natural conditions seen as "the predisposing cause of insanity."

The following database has been constructed from records of the Toronto (Queen Street) Insane Asylum. Each record in my index consists of the name of the inmate, the home residence of the inmate (ie District,county,town), and the age of the resident.

The COMPLETE insane asylum records contain a wealth of information on your ancestor that will not be found in any other records available.

Data that may be included (* inmate details vary from case to case) in the registers includes country of birth, by whom supported (ie friends,province), sex, age, stature (mainly in pre 1850 records), color of hair and eyes (mainly in pre 1852 records), temperament (mainly in pre 1852 records), original disposition and intellect (mainly in pre 1852 records), single or married, number of children, occupation, degree of education, religion, habits of life (ie. sober,sedate,intemperate), times admitted, date of admission, date of discharge (this often death date in asylum), time in asylum, age at first attack, number of previous attacks, duration of present attack, cause of disorder (ie. hereditary, life event), form of mental disorder, hallucinations, accompanying body disorder, results (ie. died, discharged), cause of death, general observations.

* As far as locations are concerned, county, township, or town/village are recorded. Many were listed as being from Toronto, but researchers should keep in mind that most of these individuals probably were originally from elsewhere in the province. It also would appear that many of these individuals moved to or reported their residence as a nearby larger town such as Hamilton, or Ottawa...or any other town that may have been near their rural residence.

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Toronto Queen Street Asylum for the Insane Patient Index

Toronto Insane Asylum Records Part 1 Surnames A-G

Toronto Insane Asylum Records Part 2 Surnames H-N

Toronto Insane Asylum Records Part 3 Surnames O-Z

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Also see links below for the Hamilton Asylum, London Asylum Databases, Malden Asylum, and the Kingston Insane Asylum

Kingston, Ontario, Insane Asylum Database

Malden Insane Asylum Database

London, Ontario - Insane Asylum Database

Hamilton, Ontario - Insane Asylum Database


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