Intellectually unstable, ruined mind, incurable, insane, lunatic, mad and defective. Over 140 years ago these were common descriptions of patients that occupied this grand High Victorian structure known as Hamilton Asylum for the Insane.
Century Manor is the main building still remaining and was once previously nestled between the Barton Building and the Orchard House.
Now sitting abandoned in isolation, sullen and filled with tenebrous memories of the past, Century Manor continues to tell its story as a pivotal part of Hamilton’s history. A history that demands respect, deserves to be told and is constituent to the patients’ unheard voices left trapped inside this asylum.
With nearly 300 patients dying over a 50 year period, the remains of this asylum has been speculated by some as haunted. Others suggest it is more haunted by the past of experimental treatments and misguided souls. With over years of documented footage within these walls, I take you inside to not only the main remaining building but also the documented existence that forms Hamilton’s history.
Back in the mid 1800s it was believed that the inebriated where mentally ill and to get them off of the streets, the Provincial Government’s solution was the Hamilton asylum for the insane, built in 1876. With this taken care of, the next decision was housing lunatics.
What could have been deemed a lunatic in those times? Overthinking, woman trouble, jealousy, masturbation, tobacco, business troubles, superstition, immoral lifestyle, novel reading,
and many more reasons have been listed from asylums across north america. Built on 526 acres of land, partially donated by Sir Isaac Buchanan whos estate and mansion still remain across a main road from the hospital grounds to this day.
With a capacity of 300 patients, the hospital quickly grew. The East House also known as Century Manor was built in 1884 as a reception hospital, followed by the Orchard House completed in 1888. The addition of these buildings raised the patient capacity to nearly 900.
Shortly after its construction, Century Manor was converted from a reception hospital to a detention center for the criminally insane. Housing some of the worst and violent criminals in the province!
This explore has comprised over 5 years of footage and observations from inside Century Manor and the surrounding area. With a history rich past full of stories and medical practices that changed the way many think of mental illness today. Century Manor needs to be preserved, preserved as part of our history and preserved as part of our future. It remains a reminder of medical progression, perceptions of mental illness today and yesteryear and perhaps a sense of gratitude to those who paid the ultimate price for being deemed as ‘society’s misfit’.
For the link to the petition to preserve Century Manor, visit: https://www.change.org/p/infrastructure-ontario-save-century-manor