of the oldest and interesting group of buildings in New Toronto, are those on
the grounds of the former
Dr. Daniel K. Clark was the superintendent of the Queen
Street Asylum during the inception of the Mimico
Branch. He worked closely with Kivas Tully, the
provincial architect at the time, and Samuel Matheson, a landscape gardener, to
design and create the village like setting on the 52-hectare site. (
Dr. Nelson Henry Beemer became the first superintendent of the Mimico Asylum
first occupants in 1889 were 10 male patients and 2 attendants from the Queen
Street Asylum who were sent there to ready the institution for the influx of
inmates. Dr. Beemer was a strong believer in meaningful work as a form of
rehabilitative therapy. But, like all other male and female asylum inmate labourers in
The Assembly Hall, located on the southeast corner of Kipling and Lakeshore, "was originally constructed using patient labour in 1897 to provide the residents of the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital with a recreational facility and a place to come together as a community; as such, it served as a place of healing, celebration and worship. In the earliest days, the second floor of the Assembly Hall was used for performances and dances by the residents of the Psychiatric Hospital - and on Sundays the chairs were turned to face the chapel at the south end so the residents could worship." (City of Toronto Council Report, 1998/03/04).
Cecilia Paine, an Associate Professor at the
I was provided the following photographs from a former
resident of New Toronto, Mr. George Mallen. The first is an old postcard
showing the asylum in 1910 during a cricket match. (Credit:
seems to have been quite the popular sport in the early 1900's. The
sports news sections of the newspapers consistently provided reports of the
matches, players and scores. The Mimico Asylum
Cricket Club seemed to be the team to beat in those days. In fact, in
August 1905, three of Mimico's players were selected
for the International Cricket team to play against the
Another interesting story that I came across described the
buying practices of food for the asylum. The May 19th, 1900 edition of
the Toronto Daily Star touts that the Ontario Government had the best system of
meat supply in existence. The article talks about how the buyer would
scour the country to select the choicest of animals, which were brought to
By the late 1930’s, the hospital was in such a state of disrepair, it was described as a “firetrap” during an inspection. In 1959, Dr. H.C. Moorhouse became the new superintendent and revitalized the entire facility. The Assembly Hall was used for square dances, religious services and local celebrations until the hospital closed it doors in September 1979.
In 1999, Teeple Architects and Lett/Smith Architects, with McBride Group Construction, began restoration on the Assembly Hall. On Valentine’s Day 2000, Mayor Mel Lastman hosted the official groundbreaking. Opening celebrations were held during May and June of 2001. Today, the Hall is a vital community centre, with rental facilities for both public and private use.
Given the buildings' "looney" past, there are, not surprisingly, a few ghost stories that have risen up over the years. Check out the Toronto Ghosts and Hauntings' website and the Para-Researcher's of Ontario website.
The Humber College Website gives some details on the recent and upcoming renovation, and it also has an old photo from 1900 with a picturesque map of the grounds which is now the Robert A. Gordon Learning Centre. The architects, Taylor Hazell Architects Ltd., commissioned for the restoration, include several pages detailing the renovation & restoration of the various buildings in one of their promotional brochures. Start at page 6 of this Adobe document, and find more historical facts and pictures!