Institutional Abuse at Huronia

Readers are warned that parts of the content in the Huronia section of this website may contain disturbing material.

Disclaimer:    The terms used to describe children and others with intellectual disabilities on this web-site are those that were in use throughout the early twentieth century and do not reflect the usage or the attitude of Thelma Wheatley.  Such terms, idiots, feeble-minded, mentally defective, imbeciles, Mongoloids, morons, High Grades, Low Grades, etc. indicated levels of intelligence for the purpose of medical diagnosis.
Those who were placed in the institution were variously known, at different times in their history, as “inmates”, “patients”, “residents” and “clients.”  For the sake of brevity, we will refer to those who were committed to the institution as “patients”.

Please note: The photographs in Huronia section are copyrighted to Thelma Wheatley’s website. They may not be reproduced, copied  electronically or otherwise by any other means.  People wishing to have archival photos may apply for them at the various archives themselves, such as Archives of Ontario. The photos from the author’s own collection remain copyrighted and can not be reproduced.


PART ONE:  The Rise of the Orillia Asylum

1. Before 1876: jails, work-houses, asylums
2. The Asylum for Idiots and Feeble-Minded, Orillia, 1876


PART TWO: Canadian Eugenics, Early 1900's

1. What is ‘Eugenics’?
   i. What is ‘Eugenics’?
   ii. The Slums and the “Feeble-Minded”
   iii. The Menace of the Feeble-Minded
   iv. The Eugenics Society of Canada

2. Canadian Eugenicists
    Dr Charles Clarke
    Dr Helen MacMurchy, Inspector of the Feeble-Minded for Ontario, 1906-1919.
    Dr Clarence Hincks
    Alfred Binet: The Simon-Binet Scales of Intelligence 1908
    The Role of the Children’s Aid Societies


PART THREE: The Role of the Parents

    Voluntary Institutionalization
    Children with disabilities: “Put Away”
    Author Thelma Wheatley’s experience
    Custodial care  -  ‘for life’
    Psychological Pressure Put On Parents by Medical Professionals
    Stigma and shame
    Institutional Parents versus Community Parents
    “Gray VS Ontario”

PART FOUR: The Institution: Ontario Hospital School Orillia, 1936-1974

1.  The Institution: Physical Appearance

2.  Role of Government Inspectors: Testimony

3.  Life in the Huronia Institution
        Confinement and Curtailment of Freedom

1.  The Institution: Physical Appearance

2.  Role of Government Inspectors: Testimony

3.  Life in the Huronia Institution
     Confinement and Curtailment of Freedom
     Segregation of the severely retarded
     Fire Hazard
     Passes and ground privileges
     “What’s Wrong At Orillia: Out of Sight, Out of Mind”
       -  Pierre Berton’s Expose, Toronto Daily Star, January 6, 1960:
     Overcrowding and underfunding

4.  Punishment and Cruel Treatment at Huronia
     Rubber punishment
     Testimony of mother volunteers
     Psychological Suffering
     “Side” Room or “Punishment” Room
     Wet-Packs, Cold Baths, Straight Jackets (Restraints) and Sheet Restraints  

5.  Sexual Abuse at Huronia
     The Willard Report 1976
     Physical and Psychological Humiliation
     Sterilization, Drugging and Medications
     Chemical Sterilization of Females
     Drugging Patients

6.  Patient Labour at Huronia
     Boys and Men: Labour
     Girls and Women: Labour