top of page
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle






Architecture of Space;

The Teachers' College

The Hospital;

Psychiatric History

The Carrying Place; 

Trails of Toronto

The Location Scout;

Movies @ Humber

Trunks and Tweets;

Life in Sam Smith Park

Digital Exhibits

Our History, One Click Away

The Hospital; Psychiatric History

The Treatments

This exhibit has three parts!

Click the buttons below to navigate.

The treatments listed below are just a selection of the treatments used throughout the history of the hospital. 

Moral Treatment

Having been used in the early days of the Hospital (1800s), moral treatment involved giving the patients a regimented life, including work, and manners, one that mimicked societal norms outside of the asylum.


The patient's treatment would be centered around employment and their contribution to the hospital. The men would mostly have outdoor jobs like the slaughterhouse and gardening. The women would primarily work indoors, with tasks like laundry.


Some patients benefitted from this therapy, believing that it gave them something to do. Others felt like the lack of compensation for their time was unfair.

Photo of nurses at the Hospital, 1927-1928.Photo courtesy of John Court, CAMH Archives.

Patients and staff harvesting potatoes at the Hospital’s farm.

Photo courtesy of John Court, CAMH Archives.


Hydrotherapy was most commonly used in the nineteenth and twentieth century. A common form of hydrotherapy included a continuous bath. A continuous bath involved putting the patient in a tub lined with cloth and filling the tub with water up to the patient's head so they were completely submerged.


The temperature was heavily monitored as different temperatures were believed to help different symptoms. Warm baths were believed to have a calming effect on melancholic patients while cold water was used on patients who were viewed as overly excited.

Electroshock machine, circa 1960s. Artefact on loan from the Museum of Health Care;

Photographed at the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre by Heather Conyers.

Somatic Therapy

Somatic therapy focuses on the role the body plays on the mind. These types of treatments focused on enacting changes to the body in order to treat mental symptoms. Somatic therapy included electroshock therapy, insulin coma therapy, and metrazol therapy.


These treatments were intended to provide a “shock” to the system with the aim of then affecting the mind. LakeshoreThe Lakeshore location was the first asylum hospital in Ontario to use all three of these shock therapies. Electroshock therapy used a machine and nodes on the temple to issue a shock to the brain.


Insulin coma therapy was a form of shock therapy which involved injecting the patient with insulin to induce a coma, this would happen several times. Metrazol therapy was a drug given to patients in order to induce convulsions.

Somatic Therapy: The Leucotomy

The first leucotomy in Canada was performed on a female patient from Lakeshore at the Toronto Psychiatric Hospital. This form of psychosurgery involved cutting into the frontal lobe of the brain and was typically used on patients with schizophrenia.

Surgical instrument known as a leucotome that was developed by K. G. McKenzie in Hamilton.

Artefact on loan from the Museum of Health Care.

Photographed at the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre by Heather Conyers.

Occupational Therapy and Recreational Therapy

Early occupational therapy combined some of the principles of moral treatment as well as arts and crafts. The early treatment was initially used to help soldiers assimilate to life after returning from WWI. It was later adopted for psychiatric usage.



Psychopharmaceuticals are drugs that seek to stabilize symptoms of various mental illnesses. The first anti-psychotic drug was synthesized in 1951 and marketed a year later. Known as chlorpromazine it ushered in an era of medication-based psychiatric treatment that is still commonly used today.

Occupational Therapist working with two patients on a pottery project in 1959. Photo courtesy of John Court, CAMH Archives.


Curator's Statement:

The Hospital exhibit presented a plethora of information to be navigated. Narrowing the scope of the exhibit proved difficult, but became the three sections of The Treatments, The Names, and The Cottages, which focus on continuing elements of the Hospital’s 89 years of  operation. This exhibit is designed be used as a guide if you were to walk the site, but to also be readable to people not in the area. 

While this information is optimized for readability, I was adamant about accuracy. I also decided, in regards the The Treatments section to leave out some of the surgical details as I wanted it to be family friendly. I have however included further details in my sources for those wishing to learn more.

  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle

Success! We've got your message.

bottom of page