In this piece, we will virtually explore some very creepy abandoned buildings in Canada, most of which still exist today. Try to stick around until the end if you can, as some of the stories connected with these buildings are truly mind-blowing. If this piece inspires you to explore some of these forgotten structures, please ensure that you’re aware of the risks before heading out on your adventure. Most of these buildings are off-limits to the public, and trespassers caught exploring them could be fined. Some of the buildings contain exposed friable (crumbly) asbestos, the dust from which can cause very serious health problems if inhaled. Be informed, be safe, and enjoy the article.
Since at least the early days of Victorian spiritualism, students of the paranormal have observed that very strong emotions seem to have a tendency to linger in an area long after the person who emoted them has left it. Historic battlefields, ancient buildings, destinations of religious pilgrimage, and sites of terrible disasters often seem to be imbued with distinct atmospheres potent enough to stir our own passions, as if echoes of the joy, fear, rage, and despair poured out at these places in centuries past continue to reverberate throughout history, whispering to us through the stones. Although skeptics might attribute this phenomenon to the power of suggestion, our widespread cultural belief in its reality is reflected by that impartial judge, the real estate market. A residence once occupied by a famous personage, or at which a historically significant event occurred, will usually be appraised at a sum many times the magnitude of its intrinsic value. A house in which a grisly murder was committed, on the other hand, though physically unaltered by the crime, will plummet in price expressly on account of the dark aura with which it is perceived to be imbued.
Of all the stigmatized properties tainted by bad vibes, among the eeriest are former lunatic asylums where the outcasts of society, in a more brutal age, were subjected to forced sterilizations, lobotomies, and other horrific indignities. In this video, we’ll explore 13 of the creepiest abandoned insane asylums in Canada.
#1: London Asylum for the Insane
In the middle of London, Ontario, lies the rotting shell of an infirmary which was once the living heart of the London Asylum for the Insane. This 1902 brick hospital initially served as the companion to an older and grander Victorian edifice which was constructed in 1870 and demolished ninety-eight years later. It was out of these two buildings that the asylum’s first psychiatrists, Drs. Richard Maurice Bucke and Henry Landor, subjected their patients to a variety of revolutionary treatments. Drs. Bucke and Landor were firm proponents of the therapeutic benefits of exercise and fresh air, and assigned their patients manual labour on a farm just beyond the infirmary’s walls – a treatment now considered ahead of its time. In an effort to treat certain antiquated maladies, on the other hand, they also performed gruesome surgeries on patients of both sexes – procedures now relegated to the shadowy annals of medical malpractice, the details of which this author considers too lurid to recount in this piece.
After undergoing several name changes throughout the 20th Century, the London Asylum for the Insane closed its doors for good in September 2014. Today, the doors and windows of the old infirmary are boarded up, creating a dark and eerie atmosphere for enterprising urban explorers.
#2: Century Manor
Built in 1884 on what was then the outskirts of Hamilton, Ontario, Century Manor was the second major structural component of the Hamilton Asylum for the Insane, an institution initially established for the treatment of alcoholics.
The story of Century Manor is an unusually grim one, even for an asylum. Newspaper articles published in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries documented at least nine suicides committed in the building, as well as several suicide attempts made by inmates who escaped the hospital. Century Manor was also the scene of several strange accidents and horrific crimes. One female patient fell to her death while attempting to escape out a window using a rope made from bedsheets, while another had her skull crushed by a falling elevator. One particularly troublesome male inmate was allegedly beaten to death by orderlies, while another split open the head of the asylum’s head baker with an axe.
The staggering number of escape attempts, suicides, and violent crimes committed at Century Manor are more comprehensible in light of the appalling state in which the institution was kept. As one former inmate put it in a 1910 letter to members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, “Your insane asylum at Hamilton is an outrage to civilization. Wretched, vile abuse is the order of the institution… I have seen patients pounded, choked insensible time and time again until blood would run from their nostrils.”
Of all the dramas that unfolded on the stage of Century Manor, perhaps the strangest was that surrounding a fire which mysteriously broke out on the building’s top floor on the morning of August 1st, 1911. Firefighters who battled the blaze claimed that three of the inmates whom they rescued from the burning building broke away from them and leapt back into the inferno. When the embers finally cooled, firefighters found eight bodies among the ashes, including a paralytic who had burned to death in his cell, as well as five men huddled together in a small room, burnt to a crisp.
The historic building shut its doors for good in 1995 and has sat derelict ever since, serving as a haunting reminder of Hamilton’s dark and tragic history.
#3: Charles Camsell Hospital
In the city of Edmonton, Alberta, in the heart of the historic Inglewood district, stands a huge empty building called the Charles Camsell Hospital. Named after a great Canadian geologist and politician whom some readers may recall from my book Legends of the Nahanni Valley, this ghoulish landmark was built in 1967, on the ruins of an older Jesuit school-turned-infirmary, to house indigenous tuberculosis patients from reserves across Alberta and the Northwest Territories. As might be expected, many of the consumptives who came to the hospital wracked by the ravages of that “Great White Plague” never lived to be discharged.
Although a surprising number of the hospital’s long-term patients have described the Charles Camsell as a home-away-from-home in which many happy memories were made, the Edmonton infirmary was also the scene of several well-documented atrocities. In addition to those lesser delinquencies which regrettably seem to pervade all medical institutions, like abuse inflicted by heavy-handed orderlies or the administration of excessively harsh shock therapies, the halls of the Charles Camsell were tainted by abomination of forced sterilization. From the hospital’s founding until the 1972 repeal of Alberta’s barbaric Sexual Sterilization Act, hundreds to thousands of native patients at the Charles Camsell whom physicians diagnosed as mentally deficient were sterilized against their will.
In 1993, after nearly two decades of employment as a general hospital, the Charles Camsell was vacated and left to decay. Today, the old building appears empty and lifeless, its parking lot weed-ridden and its windows dark. Despite its desolate exterior, however, some say that the tortured souls of some of its former residents still haunt its halls.
One of those who witnessed some of the uncanny happenings which gave the Charles Camsell its haunted reputation is my own cousin, who had a chilling experience while working there as a security guard some years ago. What follows is his story in his own words, published with his permission:
“The two stories that come to mind are being on patrol around 2 am and hearing a noise from inside the building (at that point it was condemned and shuttered so there was no access inside, unless you were already there…) and my eyes shot up to about the 4th story halfway across the columned windows where I saw – for a moment – a ghostly apparition of a little girl in a pearl white dress gazing down at me before she vanished. It haunted me for a long time.
“The other story is being on patrol back when you could still go inside the building before it was condemned. I was walking through a long hallway covered in trash, broken medical equipment like Gernie’s, IV poles and rotten newspapers, quipping to my partner about the “artwork” on the walls which consisted of pentagrams which appeared to be drawn in blood, monsters scratched into the brick walls and other graffiti creatures and animals, all of which instilled fear into both of us. Not soon after, while we continued down this dark and dreary hallway, we saw a large desk like a secretary office maybe 15 feet in front of us. It had long been abandoned and the building had been un-operational (but not yet shuttered) for a long time. My partner and I got within just a few feet and were about to round the desk to continue our interior patrol of the building when a phone on the secretary desk rang…I don’t think it hardly rang a 2nd time before my partner and I had cleared the hallway back the way we came and were breathing heavily as we sprinted back to our vehicles, not letting up our speed until we were at least a few blocks away driving… that one also bothered me for a long while.
It’s interesting how the details come back as I write this. I haven’t thought of it in a long time, but I do remember it quite well when I think back on it.”
#4. Rideau Regional Centre
In the town of Smith’s Falls, Ontario, on the banks of the storied Rideau Canal, stands a multipurpose facility called the Gallipeau Centre. Although this building now houses apartments, a theatre, and a swimming pool, it was until recently one of Ontario’s eeriest abandoned asylums.
Constructed in 1951, the Rideau Regional Centre, as the building was once called, served as a care home and school for people cognitive disabilities. This institution – the oldest of its kind in the province – was purportedly an overcrowded house of horrors, where staff neglected many of the residents under their care, and routinely abused others with impunity. In 2016, an Ontario court awarded $36 million in pecuniary damages to former inmates who had suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of staff members.
On March 31st, 2009, the Rideau Regional Centre was abandoned, and for over a decade existed in a state of neglect mirroring that of the residents it once housed. The vibrant community which exists in the refurbished Gallipeau Centre masks the years of decay and corruption that are the heritage of the Rideau Regional Centre.
#5: The Mimico Asylum
In southwestern Toronto, Ontario, near the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario, lies the Lakeshore Campus of a polytechnic school called Humber College. In stark contrast with the college’s northwesterly North Campus, dominated by the modern-looking, glass-covered Learning Resource Commons, the Lakeshore Campus is composed of a scattering of antiquated red brick buildings referred to as “cottages”. Long before the first academic lectures were held within them in 1991, these elegant Victorian structures made up the Mimico Asylum, a psychiatric hospital established in 1889.
Similar to the residents of the London Asylum, the inmates at Mimico were encouraged to spend time outside engaged in physical labour like farming or construction work. Many of the red bricks of which the cottages are comprised were laid by the hands of patients.
The Mimico cottages fell into disuse in 1979, when the hospital turned off its lights for the last time, and lay abandoned until 1991, when Humber College repurposed them as the lecture halls and libraries of its new Lakeshore Campus. Although most of the old buildings are as lively and well-kept today as they were in their Victorian heyday, there is one secret part of the campus on which the heavy hand of decay still rests. Hidden beneath the campus lawn is a network of underground tunnels built by the asylum inmates, which connects to nearly every building on campus. Although this subterranean highway is usually off-limits to students and staff, visitors interested in exploring Humber College’s underground world can do so legally by attending the Lakeshore Campus Tunnel Tour.
#6. Maison Notre-Dame de la Chesnaie
I owe my knowledge of this abandoned asylum to a subscriber’s comment.
In the Quebec countryside southeast of Trois-Rivieres, not far from the town of St. Clothilde de Horton, stands the Maison Notre Dame de La Chesnaie, an abandoned hospital with a gruesome history. The Maison began its life on an innocuous note in 1939, when members of a Catholic missionary congregation called the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus constructed it for use as a monastery. In 1953, the monastery was sold to a Catholic educational organization called the Brothers of Christian Instruction, who converted it into a boy’s school.
On Christmas Day, 1959, three pupils shared a cigarette in a small confined corner of the school. In one version of the story, the students of la Maison passed around their illicit treat in a storage room far from the prying eyes of teachers. In another variation, the boys were locked together inside a closet as punishment for being in possession of tobacco, and lit up a cigarette inside in an effort to make the best of their incarceration. Whatever the case, the boys accidentally started a fire while smoking. Unable to escape in time, the three students burned to death.
The school was closed in the wake of the tragedy, and remained vacant until 1969, when the Province of Quebec converted it to a home for the developmentally delayed. Legend has it that some of the treatments to which the asylum’s inmates were subjected included lobotomies and torturous shock therapies.
On the evening of January 23rd, 1988, one of the handicapped patients at la Maison stole a cigarette lighter from a staff member and set fire to a bed on the fourth floor. The toxic smoke which this fire generated choked nine dormitory residents to death.
The accursed building was abandoned in 2002, and has remained vacant ever since. In 2009, it was purchased by a Quebec couple who initially intended to restore it as a senior’s home. When they failed to secure sufficient investment in their project, the asylum’s new owners opened their derelict and heavily-vandalized property to urban explorers, photographers, and paranormal investigators for the price of a small entry fee. Ever since, visitors to the abandoned asylum claim to have encountered the ghosts of several children in the halls of the decaying property and at the edge of the wood that surrounds it, while others have reported catching whiffs of phantom smoke while touring the asylum’s dilapidated corridors.
#7: Tranquille Sanatorium
If you drive along the northern shores of Kamloops Lake west of the city of Kamloops, British Columbia, into what this author considers some of the creepiest and simultaneously most beautiful country he’s ever passed through, you’ll drive by Tranquille Peak and the gold-bearing Tranquille River. These geographical features were named after a sobriquet which French-Canadian voyageurs gave to a calm, coolheaded 19th Century Shuswap chief named Pacamoose, a friend of the ill-fated explorer Samuel Black.
Another feature bearing the name of that well-loved Shuswap chief is the Tranquille Sanatorium, an abandoned insane asylum just west of the Kamloops Airport. Built in 1907 for the purpose of treating tuberculosis patients, the Tranquille Sanatorium was converted into a mental institution in 1958. Like the asylums in London and Toronto, the sanatorium had a farm on site in which patients were encouraged to work, the surrounding soil being especially fertile. And like the Mimico Asylum, its underground is crisscrossed by tunnels.
The Tranquille Sanatorium closed its doors in 1983, and remained abandoned for 35 years. In 2018, the site was purchased by a company called Tranquille Farm Fresh, which not only restored the asylum’s farm to its former glory, but also established several tourist attractions which take advantage of the abandoned building’s spooky atmosphere. Today, visitors to the Tranquille Sanatorium can take a guided tour through the dark tunnels beneath the asylum, or attempt to break themselves out of an escape room in the old infirmary itself. If they’re lucky, they might have a run-in with one of the many spirits which local legend says haunt the grounds.
#8: Riverview Hospital
This next asylum on our list is one of the most-filmed buildings in Western Canada.
Built in 1904 atop an old Stahlo Indian burial ground on the outskirts of Coquitlam, British Columbia, the Riverview Hospital was initially employed as an asylum for the mentally ill. It quickly developed a reputation as the home of the province’s most dangerous mental patients, housing psychopaths, sociopaths, and the criminally insane. Like other Canadian asylums, the Riverview Hospital boasted a patient-run farm which allowed it to be semi-self-sufficient. Like the Charles Camsell, many of its inmates were subjected to forced sterilization, electroshock therapy, and other treatments now regarded as unethical.
The hospital grew in size throughout the 20th Century, reaching its zenith in the mid-1950s. In the late 1960s, it began to gradually downsize, which trend continued until its closure. Beginning in the 1980s, when Hollywood began turning to the Greater Vancouver Area – so-called ‘Hollywood North’ – for filming locations, the Riverview Hospital appeared in several major movies and TV shows, including the X-Files, Riverdale, Supernatural, and Deadpool. Today, it is estimated that nearly 200 cinematic projects utilized the hospital as a filming location.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the hospital’s downsizing increased dramatically, prompted by overcrowding. In 2012, the Riverview Hospital closed its doors for good, essentially turning its patients out onto the streets of Vancouver. Today, the abandoned building is guarded by professional security personnel, accessible only to preauthorized film crews and participants in infrequently scheduled tours.
#9: Dorea Institute
‘Asylum’ is a bit of a misnomer for the next institution on our list. The abandoned Dorea Institute in the village of Franklin, Quebec, located a mere 600 feet from the U.S. border southwest of the city of Montreal, has its shadowy origins in a dark chapter of Canadian history.
In the 1940s, Quebec was a poor province whose asylums and orphanages were chronically understaffed and underfunded, run by Roman Catholic religious orders. At that time, Canada’s federal government subsidized provincial social services, granting institutions $1.25 a day for every orphan under their care and $2.75 for every psychiatric patient they housed. In a misguided effort to double the funding for his province’s financially-starved orphanages, Quebec’s premiere, Maurice Duplessis, apparently with the cooperation of the College of Physicians of Quebec and various religious orders, converted a handful of orphanages into insane asylums, and had thousands of orphans and illegitimate children misdiagnosed as mentally ill.
In a tragic twist, instead of improving the lots of the so-called ‘Duplessis orphans’ affected by this deception, as appears to have been its aim, Duplessis’ scheme inexplicably resulted in perfectly-healthy children being treated as though they were actually mentally ill, through which process they developed life-long physical and emotional injuries. According to survivors of the Duplessis orphanages, children at certain Quebec institutions were routinely subjected to electric shock treatments, forced into straightjackets, locked in isolation cells for hours at a time, and administered a variety of mind-altering drugs. The impact of such treatment proved to be profound; Duplessis orphans grew up to develop debilitating mental illnesses at a demonstrably higher level than their non-institutionalized lower class peers.
It was out of this maelstrom that the Dorea Institute, an ‘insane asylum’ for orphans and illegitimate children, was born. Although this author was unable to find much reliable English-language information on the history of this asylum, it seems reasonable to assume that the young parentless inmates of the Dorea Institute, which was abandoned to the Quebec forest in 1995, suffered a fate similar to that of other Duplessis orphans. If the reports of ghost hunters are to be believed, the psychic scars left by the asylum’s former inmates could, until recently, be felt in the building’s decrepit gymnasium and rotting dormitories, where shadowy apparitions could be seen and phantom shrieks heard.
Less than a month ago, in November 2022, the main building of the Dorea Institute was demolished, perhaps affording the restless souls trapped within its moldering walls the peace that was so unjustly denied them in life.
#10: Weyburn Mental Hospital
Located in an unassuming corner of the Canadian prairies, this next asylum has a shocking and unexpected connection to one of the darkest elements of modern geopolitics.
On December 29th, 1921, the doors to Canada’s newest insane asylum were opened in a remote area in southeastern Saskatchewan. Located on the outskirts of the city of Weyburn, not far from the Souris River, the Weyburn Mental Hospital was a sprawling brick complex designed expressly for the purpose of housing the mentally ill. This early example of so-called ‘socio-architecture’ was dominated by a four-story centre block from which branched three triple-story wings complete with wide corridors, large dormitories, and numerous verandas.
As was the case with many other Canadian asylums, patients at the Weyburn Mental Hospital spent most of their time working outdoors on the hospital farm or performing domestic chores inside. This unpaid labour was believed to improve the patients’ mental states by providing exercise and a sense of accomplishment, and had the added benefit of reducing hospital expenses. Besides the simple therapy of manual work, inmates were subjected to a variety of cruel treatments typical of 20th Century asylums, including lobotomies, in which the prefrontal cortex of a patient’s brain is surgically removed; insulin shock therapy, in which patients were put into medically-induced comas through the administration of large doses of insulin; hydrotherapy, in which patients were plunged into baths of freezing water; and electroconvulsive therapy, in which patients were put into electrically-induced seizures.
Several physicians recognized for their pioneering work in the field of biological psychiatry have walked the halls of the Weyburn Mental Hospital. Among their number were the biochemist Abram Hoffer, author of the controversial theory that schizophrenia is caused by the inability to metabolize adrenochrome in the brain, and can be cured through the administration of mega doses of vitamin B3; and neuroscientist John Raymond Smythies, the champion of a similar hypothesis which contends that schizophrenia is caused by an inability to metabolize the neurotransmitter catecholamine.
Of all the doctors to darken the asylum’s doors, among the most interesting was an English-born psychiatrist named Humphry Fortescue Osmond, a pioneer in the medical application of psychoactive drugs who joined the staff of the Weyburn Mental Hospital in 1951. Along with Dr. Hoffer, Humphry Osmond experimented on alcoholics in his care by administering them high doses of the psychedelic drug LSD, hoping that the experience might simulate delirium tremens, or severe alcohol withdrawal, the latter being an extremely unpleasant and dangerous experience which often compelled alcoholics to give up the bottle. This exploratory treatment yielded surprisingly positive results, with an astonishing 50% of his human guinea pigs subsequently recovering from their addiction. Similar to his colleagues, Drs. Hoffer and Smythies, he developed a theory that schizophrenia is caused by self-intoxication resultant of an inability to metabolize adrenaline, noting the molecular similarity between adrenaline and the hallucinogenic drug mescaline.
Osmond’s work attracted the attention of the English writer Aldous Huxley, author of the 1932 dystopian novel Brave New World, whose chilling philosophies regarding the merits of a scientific dictatorship and the dangers of global overpopulation seem to have been adopted by many influential members of today’s Western elite. In 1953, Huxley tripped on mescaline that Osmond brought to his home in the Hollywood Hills, under the doctor’s supervision. His experience prompted him to write his famous essay, The Doors of Perception, in which he extolled the virtues of hallucinogenic drugs. And in a 1956 letter to Huxley, written in the Weyburn Mental Hospital, Osmond coined the word “psychedelic,” writing it for the first time in the following couplet: “To fathom Hell or soar angelic, just take a pinch of psychedelic.”
Osmond’s work also drew the interest of America’s Central Intelligence Agency, which hoped to use psychedelic drugs as brainwashing tools, and as ‘truth serums’ by which to extract honest confessions during interrogations. With the help of information they gleaned from Dr. Osmond, the CIA initiated Project MK-Ultra, an illicit top-secret human experimentation program in which the administration of psychoactive drugs and other mind control techniques were tested on unsuspecting subjects.
In 1971, the asylum’s three wings were closed off, with only the centre block remaining in operation. And in 2004, the Weyburn Mental Hospital closed its doors for good. The abandoned brick building fell into rapid decay, and was demolished throughout the summer and fall of 2009. Today, a desolate grassy field at the western edge of town is all that remains of the once-imposing asylum.
#11: St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital
Born on the brink of WWII, the St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital spent most of its infancy under the appropriation of the Royal Canadian Air Force, which employed it as technical training school. By the time the war was over, nearly 50,000 RCAF personnel had been trained within its walls.
The limestone complex resumed its original function in November 1945, housing up to 2,300 patients with mental illnesses from across Ontario. Like many of its Canadian contemporaries, the asylum had a patient-run farm which supplied the inmates with fresh meat, milk, and vegetables.
From 1976 to 1988, patients at the St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital were allegedly subjected to what has been described as an “abusive and punitive patient-run program with no medical merit,” supposedly conducted with the knowledge and tacit consent of the Ontario provincial government. In what has been described as “one of the more bizarre chapters in the annals of Canadian psychiatric history” – a twisted parallel of the patient-run farm concept – psychotic male inmates from another Ontario asylum called Oak Ridge were supposedly brought to St. Thomas and placed in charge of the control, treatment, and punishment of female patients.
Oak Ridge, it must be mentioned, has a horrific history of its own. A wing of the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care, located on the southern shores of Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay, this all-male asylum was dedicated to the treatment of the criminally insane. Its inmates included some of Ontario’s most dangerous offenders, including serial killers and mafia hitmen. In what has been called the ‘Oak Ridge Experiment,’ inmates of the Georgian Bay asylum were subjected to cruel and unusual punishments like sleep deprivation, long periods of sensory deprivation, physical torture, and treatment with LSD, which were intended to break them down emotionally so that they could be rebuilt as higher-functioning members of society.
Graduates of this horrific program were selected to preside over the treatment of St. Thomas’s female inmates. As might be expected, the scheme backfired horribly. Throughout the six-year period in which the program was in place, inmates from the Oak Ridge institution are said to have systematically abused the female patients under their care. Alleged victims of the St. Thomas experiment are currently in the process of seeking legal redress for the indignities they claim to have suffered when inmates really ran the asylum.
The St. Thomas Psychiatric Hospital closed its doors in 2013, and has lay derelict ever since. Although the abandoned asylum has been a popular destination for urban explorers ever since, the Ontario Provincial Police have issued a warning that trespassers caught on the property will be ticketed.
#12: Whitby Psychiatric Hospital
Once located on the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario just southwest of the city of Oshawa, the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital was built in 1914, at the advent of WWI. In a situation similar to that of the St. Thomas Hospital, the asylum at Whitby was taken over by the Canadian government and used as a convalescent hospital for Canadian soldiers wounded on the battlefields of Europe.
The hospital resumed its function as an insane asylum in 1919, and was for many years regarded as a shining example of what a Canadian mental institution could be with proper management. Like the Mimico Asylum, this institution boasted sixteen cottages, many of which, by the 1980s, had lapsed into a state of decay. As the cottages had been insulated with asbestos, the dust from which is carcinogenic, many were condemned and boarded up throughout the latter years of the 20th Century.
In the 1990s, the abandoned cottages of the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital became a popular hangout spot for teenagers, who explored the rotting structures and the asbestos-ridden steam tunnels beneath them in the hope of encountering one of the ghosts said to haunt the site.
In 2003, the old hospital enjoyed one last moment in the spotlight when the Canadian rock band Billy Talent used it as a set for the music video for their debut single, ‘Try Honesty’. Two years later, the abandoned cottages were demolished, sending the Whitby Psychiatric Hospital into the cultural oblivion that is the lot of all vanished buildings.
#13: Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium
This last hospital on our list is not an asylum, although its story closely parallels many of the institutions we have explored in this piece. Constructed from 1913-1917 in the picturesque coulee of Echo Lake, not far from the town of Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, the Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium, also known as Fort San, was established for the purpose of treating tuberculosis patients. It continued to serve this function throughout the first half of the 20th Century, highlights in its history including the establishment of an on-site library by veterans of the Great War in 1918 and the 1919 construction of a Children’s Pavilion. Like other Canadian medical institutions, it had its own farm, which allowed it some self-sufficiency.
In 1967, when the White Plague was no longer a major threat in Canada, the Tudor Revival-style tuberculosis hospital was converted into the Saskatchewan Summer School of the Arts, at which children and teenagers from across the province took lessons in dance, music, theatre, writing, and visual art. In the early 1990s, it was converted again into the Echo Valley Conference Centre.
In 2004, the old sanatorium was abandoned, visited only by photographers, urban explorers, and paranormal investigators. According to local legend, the abandoned building was one of the most haunted places in Saskatchewan. Some of the spirits said to roam its rotting halls included a singing lady whom a young music camp attendee is said to have encountered in the men’s bathroom; and an orderly known as ‘Nurse Jane,’ an alleged murderess and suicide whose shade is said to have been seen folding linens and pushing wheelchairs.
In 2017, despite local protests, the Fort Qu’Appelle Sanatorium was demolished, undergoing what is the inevitable fate of all abandoned hospitals in Canada.
What are your favourite abandoned buildings? Let me know in the comments below.
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