Role of Government Inspectors: Testimony

At first these inspectors were called the Inspectors of Prisons, Asylums and Public Charities; later, in the 1930s, Inspectors from the Department of Health. They were invariably medical doctors who sometimes later rose up to become superintendents themselves of the Orillia institution, such as Dr R.C. Montgomery.

Though complaints about poor conditions were common in the superintendents’ own Annual  Reports to the government, the superintendents invariably concluded their reports with a rosy picture of life inside the institution.

Thus Dr Horne, superintendent of Ontario Hospital School, as the institution was called after 1936, notes in his Annual Report that patients had:

“the usual magnitude of Physical Instruction and Recreation – 37 baseball teams, football, volley-ball, skating, snow-shoeing, callisthenics, Danish exercises, moving pictures, band concerts, amateur plays, a Christmas Concert with the play “Little Red Riding Hood”, an enjoyable evening for patients and staff.”

This may well have been, but beneath this façade lay disturbing conditions that ex-patients well recall.